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How Portugal Became the Greatest Place to Eat Right Now

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The best restaurant is Lisbon is not actually in Lisbon.

It’s on the other side of the Tagus River in Cacilhas, a tiny port neighborhood you take a ferry to get to that is home to some abandoned factories and adorable feral cats who enjoy uninterrupted views of Lisbon’s very spectacular hills. There are tourists here but far fewer of them. And very few are at the best restaurant, which is a bodega-type café where a guy in a Corona hat who doesn’t speak English will ask you, “Sardinhas?” to which you will respond yes. And he will spend the next 20 minutes seasoning ten plump sardines with a wet chunky salt, grilling the sardines on a small charcoal grill on the sidewalk, asking other passersby the all-important question (“Sardinhas?”), until he disappears with the sardines inside the best restaurant in Lisbon that’s not quite in Lisbon. After several minutes he will return with a platter of grilled sardines topped with a few slices of boiled waxy potatoes, a salad of lettuce, onions, and what appear to be unripe tomatoes and which are in fact delicious and dressed with lemon and salt, and a beer if you were smart enough to ask for one, and it is amazing. There are much prettier places to eat grilled sardines in Lisbon; there are even much prettier places to eat grilled sardines right here in Cacilhas. But this place, with A Petisqueira (“The Snackery” or maybe “The Snack Shop”?) on its awning, is the best because I found it and I loved it.

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Photo by Alex Lau

Looking over the city

I came to Lisbon to see if I could get to the heart of why this city is the new “It” destination and why Portuguese is the new “It” cuisine that’s having such a big Moment on the world’s culinary stage. I should take this opportunity to make clear that I had no idea that Portuguese food had suddenly become so cool because I have a 20-month-old baby and I have stopped caring about most things that sound like that last sentence. But I assured the editors at this magazine that I could handle the assignment and now it’s too late for them to do anything about it. I dragged my wife, Katherine, along and we ditched our baby with the grandparents to give it our best shot.

But we’re not even in Lisbon, and the guy in the Corona hat has no idea that he is the chef at the best restaurant in the city, let alone the restaurant at the epicenter of one of the most exciting food trends, because his restaurant is totally unremarkable in Lisbon. I’ll bet that if somebody told him, “Hey, an American magazine says this is the best restaurant in Lisbon!” he would probably call to his wife who works the register and is always busting his balls about how they’ll pay rent, or how they’ll keep their daughter from marrying Carlinhos the Uber driver who has no interest in working at the store, and he’ll sit down in a chair next to the grill and say, “Do you hear that? The best!” Only he’ll say it in Portuguese and then he’ll take off his Corona hat to wipe his brow, flip the rack that is holding ten plump sardines for his buddies that came in for lunch, and get on with his day.

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Photo by Alex Lau

If Portugal had a national sandwich, it would be the bifana: thin slices of griddled pork on a squishy bun.

Lisbon is full of tiny cobblestone streets that open up to the occasional grand boulevard or ridiculously beautiful panoramic view of the river, and it might be any old European city, but Lisbon has way more graffiti, and the seafood is plentiful, and sometimes people smoke cigarettes in nice restaurants, and instead of Vespas there are tuk tuks (basically motorcycles with minivans on the back, like vehicular mullets, possibly even worse than Vespas). And I loved it. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that if many people in Lisbon are thrilled that literal exponential increases in tourists have done something good for the hospitality industry, there are just as many watching their beloved Lisbon get spruced up and sanitized at the expense of the people who actually live there. It doesn’t take long wandering around Alfama, one of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods, and seeing a few of the tags that say “Tourists Suck,” or some less elegant suggestions for what Airbnb should do, scrawled on the walls of adorable alleys to understand that being trendy can take a toll.

But you need to walk only a little farther down that adorable alley, past all the oblivious visitors, to find an old lady sitting in a doorway selling shots of ginjinha, a sweet liqueur made from sour cherries, as if to say, “Help yourself, you are my grandson now and I love you,” to feel welcome and a little drunk and like you are exactly where you need to be at that moment. Or get a beer and petisco (which is a category of snack, often fried, cured, involving seafood, or a combination of those three things) while staring up at a castle and try to figure out how not to go back to New York City.

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Photo by Alex Lau

Jeny Sulemange, the chef at Cantinho do Aziz

We hadn’t come up with an answer before we got hungry again, so we went to Cantinho do Aziz. The chef and co-owner, Jeny Sulemange, is from Mozambique, and her tiny restaurant in the Mouraria neighborhood serves food that is influenced by a few of the countries that were colonized by the Portuguese Empire. And while it’s tempting to act like a food writer and suggest I know exactly the historical gastronomic path that brought palm oil and green plantains into the sensational shrimp stew called miamba wa macua, that would be reductive. But start a meal here with makorro, a chutney-like spread of mashed onions and cilantro, and a Kingfisher beer, and everything will start to make sense, and actually, maybe this is the best restaurant in Lisbon. Though I don’t think this is the food that Bon Appétit was talking about when they asked for this article, not because it isn’t amazing, but because even I would have noticed if Mozambican-Goan-influenced Portuguese food was having a Moment since that would frankly be one of the coolest things ever.

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Photo by Alex Lau

Clams with garlic sauce at Cervejaria Ramiro

A lot of people would tell you that the best restaurant in Lisbon is Cervejaria Ramiro. It’s like the Peter Luger of seafood restaurants, which is to say that it is touristy, boasts a menu of extremely simple seafood preparations, and is undeniably amazing. You are invited to get drunk while you wait a long time to be seated, and then once it’s your turn, you are hustled into a very brightly lit room with long communal tables where a waiter seems surprised that you don’t know what you want to eat, and then you are brought what look like cartoon versions of the most beautiful crustaceans and mollusks you’ve ever eaten in your life: tiny shrimp sizzling in a ton of olive oil with garlic threatening to get too dark; enormous shrimp, full of bright red meat; clams, clams, clams; and rock lobsters, like in the B-52s song! We ordered a boiled lobster, and it came to the table split open, steaming hot, and with a bottle of mayonnaise that tasted more exciting than mayonnaise. A rock lobster’s tail is full of meat, and there is a middle section about two inches long that is also full of meat, and the head has some guts and a lot more meat. It’s like a lobster but with extra lobster in it! This is the kind of seafood excitement that happens at Ramiro.

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Photo by Alex Lau

Alfama, one of Lisbon’s oldest neighborhoods

I said I didn’t realize that Portuguese food was cool. What I also didn’t realize until I got to Lisbon was how little the people in Lisbon seem to care. At Cervejaria Ramiro, they are not interested in telling you about which fisherman caught that crab or how it is prepared. That’s just not a priority. Instead it’s seeing your exuberant wife, Katherine (well, my exuberant wife, Katherine, but you should really see her), sitting next to a tank of enormous rock lobsters, and every time one is pulled out she gets splashed a little and you love her a little bit more each time even though you are also mentally reminding yourself to wash your hands if you happen to touch her beautiful hair and then your rock lobster comes out and it is so magnificent and full of extra lobster. And you just can’t write all of that on a menu.

At this point I’ve drunk about 300 porto tónicos, a drink made by mixing a couple ounces of port with a few ounces of tonic, two beverages I never thought I really needed in my life but that come together to form one of my new favorite drinks. But: “They’re just for tourists” is what I was told by the owner of Nova Wine Bar as he made me the best porto tónico I had in Lisbon. We walked in while Portugal was playing Iran in the World Cup and everybody in Lisbon was in the Praça do Comércio, one of the biggest plazas in the city, watching the game on a giant screen. So Nova was empty. The owner jokingly invited us to sit in the back and watch the game with him and his cook, not realizing that for the purposes of this story, and also because I enjoy sitting and drinking in the backs of restaurants with the staff, we would take him up on his offer. He got me to try some port without the tonic and it was wonderful. As was his rendition of cod with chickpeas, which involved boiling the salt cod before giving it a good drizzle of olive oil and serving it with chickpea purée and toast. While everybody in Portugal was watching the world’s most popular sport, I was consuming Portugal’s favorite things, salted codfish and port, and I could not have felt better about it.

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Photo by Alex Lau

Among the almost comically perfect crustaceans at Ramiro: these giant prawns

I smiled at my wife, who smiled back, probably thinking, “I want to go back to Ramiro and eat another rock lobster,” and it was as romantic as the scene in Love Actually where Colin Firth flies to Lisbon to propose to a woman he has never spoken to, which I think we can all agree is a weird thing to do. I’ve never seen a porto tónico outside of Portugal, but by the time this story gets published you can probably get one at No. 7 Restaurant, which I run, and which is conveniently located in the heart of Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood.

But honestly, it won’t be as good as the one I had at the best restaurant in Lisbon: O Magano. The restaurant had white tablecloths and different shapes of wine glasses and every customer was smoking cigarettes. The porto tónicos were big and juicy and so perfect alongside a fava bean and Portuguese sausage salad that I almost flipped the table over and walked out (does that ever happen to you?). We stayed for the grilled fish for two (we asked for a smaller portion and got grilled fish for four to six instead), and for dessert we ordered a cake-shaped thing that tasted like layers of raw egg yolk thickened with sugar and it was incredible even though it sounds a bit disgusting. But O Magano was not cool in the way that trendy things like windbreakers are cool (sorry, I just realized that I don’t have any idea what is cool!). It was deeply cool because it was not trying to be cool, and that made it the coolest.

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Photo by Alex Lau

The iconic egg tarts at Pastéis de Belém

And speaking of eggs and sugar, those egg custard thingies! Anybody who has ever been to Portugal will tell you all about them the moment you mention that you are considering going to Portugal. They’re called pastéis de nata, and they are one of the coolest pastries I’ve ever had. The pastry has a flaky crust and is filled with a sweet, eggy custard that has been baked pretty dark, almost like crème brûlée inside a croissant, and I challenge you to describe something that sounds more delicious than that.

When asked what else we should try at Lisbon’s most famous old pastéis de nata bakery, Pastéis de Belém, the cashier suggested I try a pastel de bacalhau, a cod fritter that was served a little warmer than room temperature. And if a room-temp cod fritter for breakfast sounds better to you than crème brûlée in a croissant, then you are a lot more like me than you realize. We walked around and stopped at a little fruit store, and I tried to buy one perfect and tiny apricot and the lady just gave it to me because she didn’t feel like making change and I asked her to be my grandmother but she didn’t speak English and Katherine agreed that it was a very delicious apricot. But seriously, pastéis de bacalhau are exceptional and I wish that they would come have a Moment at a place near my apartment in Brooklyn.

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Photo by Alex Lau

Shelling crabs at Ramiro

I got a little off track, and I’m still thinking about the shrimp with the palm oil and plantains, so, apologies, I guess that means Cantinho do Aziz is the best restaurant in Lisbon, and the second best has to be Damas. We went to Damas our last night in Lisbon. It’s on a quiet street near the top of the hill in Graça. Damas felt cooler than any place we’d been on the trip, with a hip café up front and a music venue in the back. (“Hip café”? How old am I?)

We ate a bowl of shell-on shrimp covered in garlic and chiles and with a lime to squeeze. We also had a dish of veal with a giardiniera-like mix of pickled carrots, cauliflower, olives, and a ton of garlic in a slightly thick, mustardy broth that knocked my socks off, which wasn’t super hard to do as I was wearing some little vacation-y ankle socks.

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Photo by Alex Lau

Tinned fish at Miss Can

I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore. I have no idea what the best restaurant in Lisbon is. There are so many different kinds of food experiences to be had there, just like in any city full of people from all over the world. I bought about 25 different cans of seafood from three different spots—the famous old shop Conserveira de Lisboa, an awesome restaurant specializing in canned seafood called Miss Can, and the grocery store—and brought them home. I’ve been eating one every day for breakfast, and my favorite so far was tuna in tomato sauce. It’s a neat way to bring a bit of the trip back home so I can share it with my daughter, who didn’t miss me even a little bit and didn’t seem like she even wanted to leave Grandma and Grandpa’s. But these little fish don’t taste like some hot new trend. They taste like a rad tradition that is just hanging out in Lisbon, sipping ginjinha with old ladies in the doorways of Alfama. And no one there needs you to show up and terrorize their port city with selfie sticks and seafood allergies, but if you do they will welcome you with open arms and offer a spectacular pork sandwich called a bifana and you would be wise to accept it.



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Santé Et Nutrition

This Cookie Scoop Will Fool Your Friends Into Thinking the Rest of Your Life Is Perfect Too

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My first purchase with my HomeGoods employee discount in the early-2000s was a cookie scoop. I had just watched Ina Garten make chocolate chunk cookies on Barefoot Contessa and admired the precise, equal-sized dollops that she dropped across the baking sheet. I needed to have perfect cookies.

It wasn’t just about the way they’d look all piled just so on a platter at the cookie swap. This uniformity, she informed me, would also ensure that the cookies bake evenly, and thusly, taste like perfection too. So, I lingered in the baking aisle in the middle of a work day, bought a scoop as close to a 1¾-inch diameter as I could find (following Ina’s very specific instructions), went home, and started making dough. I’ve used it to bake dozens of meticulous cookies ever since.

The OXO medium cookie scoop ($14 on Amazon) is my platonic ideal of a scooper, thanks to its built-in wiper—a reliable mechanism that releases the dough in a no-stick kind of way. Thanks to this little helper, I can get close to a dozen cookies onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in two minutes, which means I’m that much closer to brown butter and toffee chocolate chip cookies. And since it has a comfortable grip, I don’t get a hand cramp while baking big batches of holiday cookies.

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Photo by Chelsie Craig

This medium size is perfect for most standard cookies and also larger meatballs!

But cookies aren’t all that I make with my trusted scoops. Yes. Plural. I have a collection now. There’s the larger one with a 3 Tbsp. capacity (and a price of $15 on Amazon), that’s the perfect size for filling muffin or cupcake tins, or scooping ice cream for sundaes. A smaller one with 2 tsp. capacity ($13 on Amazon) is ideal for scooping out the insides of potatoes for the twice-baked kind, or used as a melon baller. And that medium scoop (about 1½ Tbsp.), my first love, scoops impeccable Sunday Sauce meatballs, in addition to loads and loads of cookies.

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Photo by Alex Lau, styling by Sean Dooley

I love when all of my favorite brown butter and toffee chocolate chip cookies are all the same size.

Everything in my life might not be flawless, but at least all the small round things can be.

All products featured on Bonappetit.com are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



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These Braisey Chicken Legs in Coconut Milk Are Almost Too Easy to Make | Healthyish

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Like Coco Chanel removing one element of her outfit before stepping outside, sometimes you need to simplify a recipe before sending it into the world. When you’re developing, it’s easy to keep adding ingredients, but it’s much harder to take away. This braised chicken legs recipe gets rid of as many ingredients and techniques as possible without compromising on flavor. The secret to the simplicity lies in one crucial variable: Time spent in the oven.

An hour plus in the oven might sound like a long time for a weeknight but hear me out. Chicken legs are full of fat and connective tissue and benefit from long, slow cooking. In fact, I much prefer the braisey, shreddy texture they get when slowly cooked in liquid to the bouncy, cooked-but-still-not-fully-tender texture they have when part of a whole roasted chicken, where the cook time has to account for the danger of overcooking the breasts. So I took away as many barriers as I could and got this dish into the oven as quickly possible.

There is no searing or chopping. You frankly barely need a knife. The key is to just combine the coconut milk and curry paste (Maesri is our favorite brand) before adding the lemongrass (which is totally optional by the way), ginger (less optional), garlic (not optional). Then lay the seasoned chicken legs in the pan, turning them to coat them in the coconut milk, and get them in the oven.

As they roast, the luscious creaminess of the coconut milk and the chicken’s richness combine and reduce to create a dense, flavorful sauce that begs for rice or bread. Don’t be concerned if the coconut milk breaks and starts to look a bit oily; that may happen depending on the brand of milk you use, and honestly there is nothing more delicious in the world so well done, you.

Aside from spooning some of the juices over the chicken a couple times during baking, you’re free to go about your life while the chicken bakes. You will know it’s done when the leg joint flexes somewhat easily and the skin is nicely browned. Top it with cilantro, maybe a squeeze of lime and some toasted coconut chips (have you tried Dang brand coconut chips? They have earned that name IMHO). The best thing about this dish is that it tastes way more complicated than it actually is. If you don’t have an ingredient or forgot to add something don’t worry, Coco would be proud.

Easy, braisey, beautiful:

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No searing, no chopping, one baking dish. And if you don’t have ginger, garlic, and lemongrass on hand, a combination of any two will be plenty to make this chicken over-the-top delicious in about an hour. You can find curry paste in the Asian aisle at most grocery stores or at an Asian market; we recommend any from Maesri.

SEE RECIPE

All products featured on Healthyish are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



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The 21 Restaurants That Turned Us Into Dedicated Regulars in 2018

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So many restaurants, so little time. Isn’t that how the saying goes? Well, it might as well if you’re dining out as much as we are.

We’re constantly looking for the next big thing that sometimes we miss out on the long-loved icons we should have already visited (a Hawaiian staple serving up sour, sticky poi!), the gems hiding in plain sight (a sublime steakhouse in the Connecticut suburbs!), and even the buzzy new ones (a much-trafficked wine bar in Brooklyn!).

Thankfully, this year we made sure to visit. Again. And again. Now it seems like every time we’re eating out, it’s at the same spots. Specifically these ones. Here, our favorite, new-to-us places that we added to our dining rotation in 2018.

 

“I usually have a rule against going out to eat on weekends in Brooklyn—the crowds!—but I’ve found myself bending for the incredible prix-fixe Saturday-and-Sunday-only lunch at Four Horsemen in Williamsburg time and time again. (I also have a rule about going to Williamsburg specifically on weekends, so a whole lotta rule-bending going on.) A mere $28 gets you three courses, a slab of homemade bread, AND dessert, which means you’ll have ample excuse to pad the check out with a bottle of amazing natty wine. Rules were meant to be broken, right?” —Amiel Stanek, senior editor

 

“I’m very ashamed to admit this, but after about 20 trips to Hawaii, I finally made it to Helena’s, the grande dame of native Hawaiian food, in 2018. For the last 72 years, the restaurant has been supplying locals, tourists, and people who wished they were locals (like me) with staples of the cuisine: pipikaula, jerky-like beef that you rip off the bone with your teeth; lomi lomi salmon, cured cubes tossed in a pico de gallo-like salad; squid luau, taro leaves stewed down with coconut milk and little calamari nubs; and sticky poi, so sour and tangy it makes you pucker and go back for more, like the weirdest palate cleanser. It’s food that’s storied and soulful, a slow burn compared to the click-bait-ification of poke. So, the next time you’re in Honolulu, don’t be like me and make sure you get to Helena’s ASAP.” —Elyse Inamine, digital restaurant editor

 

“A restaurant I can’t stop thinking about and cannot wait to go back to is Res Ipsa in Philadelphia. Res Ipsa was on our top 50 list in 2017, and it took me over a year to actually make it there, which was a huge mistake on my part. I haven’t stopped dreaming about the perfectly chewy pastas, simple but cool vibe, or the incredibly friendly staff. I’m so excited to grab a few bottles of fun natural wine, and make a wholeeee night out of it. It’s BYOB!” —Emily Schultz, social media manager

 

“There are a lot of reasons I don’t ever want to move out of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, but my proximity to June definitely ranks high on that list. The food is thoughtful, playful, and changes often (with some mainstays, like the fantastic little gem salad, evolving from season to season), which means there’s always something new to try. The natural wine list is full of fun bottles (chilled red! Skin-contact! Sparkling orange!), and the staff knows their shit when I’m looking to try something new. The space’s close quarters makes it a perfect spot to catch up with a friend or low-key celebrate over a carafe (or five). It’s where I went to fete a few major moments this year, including my engagement and a new job—this one!” —Sasha Levine, senior editor

 

“Every year I find an excuse to visit San Antonio, and every year I am dazzled by the vibrancy of that city’s dining scene. There are so many places to love but, this past visit, I fell for one of SA’s more old-school spots: a Mexican restaurant called Cascabel. I visited on a rainy Sunday, and was immediately charmed by 1) the colorful murals on the walls and 2) the amuse bouche of fideos (slinky noodles in the chicken-iest chicken soup) that every guest gets. I mean, I could have just eaten bowls and bowls of the fideos and been happy. But instead I feasted on chilaquiles soaked in salsa verde, and squash blossom quesadillas topped with crumbled cotija cheese, and black beans that tasted like they had been stewing for days. I have been thinking about this meal for months and months. I can’t wait to go back next year. Hopefully sooner rather than later.” —Priya Krishna, contributing writer

 

“My family took me to Fat Dan’s when I was home recently—we needed to go to a pro Chicago sports bar to watch the Cubs game! It’s Windy City–style deli food, done right. (Plus, they have great craft beer on rotation!) The Dirty Tots are my favorite: They come piled with smoky pulled pork, scallions, cheese sauce, and housemade hot sauce. Now when I’m home, I always go to Fat Dan’s—even when baseball season is over.” —Kate Fenoglio, associate production manager

“I live in the West Village and there’s this cute standing bar called Bar B on 7th Avenue. It’s from the same owner from Basta Pasta, and I’m slightly obsessed with them too. (You probably know Basta, but if not, it’s a Japanese-owned Italian restaurant that’s been here since the ’90s. Obsessed.) Anyways, I love the vibes in Bar B. Everyone is so friendly and happy, the small plates are delicious, and the wine and Aperol Spritz are fantastic! It’s super easy to pop in for a drink and bite and be on your way!” —Michele Outland, creative director

 

“When I went to New Orleans for my 30th (!!) birthday, we went to N7 three times. I’d never felt so seen by a restaurant. I could eat there every day for the rest of my life and die happy (or full of mercury from all the tinned fish, hard to predict). The wine is divine, the atmosphere is like a sexy secret garden, the fresh seafood and fried bar snacks all pull my heartstrings. Ugh, I want to get on a plane and go back right now.” —Alex Beggs, senior staff writer

 

“After visiting Portland, Oregon, at least once a year for the past five years, I FINALLY made it to Reel M Inn, one of the great dive bars in not just PDX but the United States of America. I truly did not believe that the fried chicken could be as good as everyone—and by everyone, I mean the Ace’s Donald Kenney—said it was, but it is so worth the excruciating wait. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on this for years.” —Julia Kramer, deputy editor

 

“I’m obsessed with this little joint in Houston called Better Luck Tomorrow. It’s from the same people behind Oxheart and Theodore Rex, and I’m in love with the massive shelving system behind the bar lined with neon lights. It’s going to be my go-to watering hole whenever I’m back home. Cool vibes, maddeningly delicious bites like spaghetti sandos, and pasta Tuesday (!!) make the technicolored bar feel simultaneously familiar and brand new.” —Jesse Sparks, editorial assistant

 

“I go to the Jersey Shore most weekends in the summer with my family. They have their own go-to pizza spot, so I hadn’t been to Talula’s…until I found myself in Asbury Park without the whole fam this past July. It’s pretty packed (clearly I’m late to the party!), but the Neapolitan pizza is so worth the wait. The crust is thin and charred in all the right places, and though some people find it controversial to put honey on pizza, the Beekeeper’s Lament with soppressata, mozzarella, and local honey is a pizza I’d eat weekly. I love it because even though it’s trying to be a ‘hip’ Neapolitan restaurant, it can’t shake its laidback Jersey Shore vibe.” —Elaheh Nozari, e-commerce editor

 

“I went to school in Chicago, where I subsisted mainly on a diet of frozen custard and Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza. But when I returned to visit friends this summer, I fell hard for the transcendent pastries and ultra-seasonal dishes at Cellar Door Provisions. The “no-vegetables-in-Chicago” trope isn’t exactly true, but they never tasted as good as this. Their small menu is seasonal, giving me an excellent reason to return again and again (although maybe not in winter) to see what thoughtful dishes are popping up.” —Aliza Abarbanel, editorial assistant

 

“Pyramids Halal has become my go-to lunch spot when I’m visiting family in Syracuse. Hani Mahmood runs the butcher shop while Tatiana, his wife, makes the incredible home-cooked lunches on the side. Everyday she prepares the most incredible beef gyro using a special blend of Egyptian spices. Hailing from Russia and Egypt, respectively, she and Hani relocated to Syracuse in 2004, and she’s inherited a lot of cooking traditions from her in-laws.” —Michelle Heimerman, visuals editor

 

“I stalked Konbi like an ex on Instagram for months before I actually went. But on a recent trip to my hometown of L.A., I got to experience it IRL. There’s the jammy egg salad sandwich that I could happily eat for lunch every day. The unassuming-yet-delightful turnips with toasted rice, sesame, and lemon. And the chocolate croissant featuring an obscene amount of flaky layers. If I lived in L.A., I’d, well, live there.” —Rachel Karten, senior social media manager

 

“I don’t understand why no one knows about David’s Cafe! My friend Jamie Feldmar took me here and we were pretty much the only people eating. Chef David Malbequi is French, so you’ll find cheap (but good) house wine and a raclette special that’s what dreams are made of. But Malbequi is best known his burger—and it may be my favorite in the city right now.” —Andy Baraghani, senior food editor

 

“I recently became obsessed with this totally suburban steakhouse in my boyfriend’s hometown of Bethel, Connecticut, called Barbarie’s Black Angus. It’s the only place in town where you actually need a reservation, and it’s always poppin’. I’ve heard the steaks are the best in Connecticut, but I go there for the grilled swordfish and the sides: roasted sweet potatoes, brussels and bacon, a skillet of mac and cheese that could be an entree for two. Yes, the portions are big, but in a high-quality, you-want-to-eat-the-leftovers way. I believe in fully embracing one’s time in the suburbs—eat like a local and such—and for me that means a trip to this steakhouse. LOL!” —Amanda Shapiro, senior editor

 

“SRV is where I go when I want to eat a bunch of small bites. The Northern Italian/Venetian spot in the South End is not billed as a small-plates restaurant, but they have a sub-menu of actually affordable—in the $2 to $4 range—cicchetti. I order a lot as an excuse to sample things I might not normally order, like olives in the castelvetrano fritte, stuffed with pork sausage and montasio cheese; giant corona beans in a soffritto vinaigrette; my first beef tongue, served with tonnato and gribiche (a twofer); and tempura blowfish tail with grappa sauce (whoa). But I will eat anything they put on crostini, from duck mousse to salt cod on black bread.” —Alyse Whitney, associate editor

 

“There’s a lot I love about Asheville (the Moog synthesizer headquarters! Basement record sales! The most microbreweries per capita in America!), but this West Asheville restaurant is one I’ll always go back to. The cinder block building’s vibe is part dive bar, part destination-worthy dance party, and part chef-driven restaurant. And like so many other places in Asheville, it delivers on each without being smug about it. I don’t know if it’s the drinks named after Rolling Stones deep cuts, the miso-glazed chicken with tatsoi, or the moody velvet curtains, but it sure feels like someone has been peeping my Pinterest page.” —Tommy Werner, video producer

 

“I was late to the Via Carota party. I went for the first time in January, and then went many more times after that. I sat at the sunny bar for a solo lunch of risotto and the most ethereal panna cotta on a chilly Wednesday and it warmed me down to my frozen toes. I found my salad soulmate in the spring pea salad months later, and shared it with some of my favorite people for my birthday in May. Over the summer I invited a man who I thought for a minute could be my human soulmate to dinner, and when he was unimpressed, I knew it wouldn’t work out between us. But it’s the verdue section of the menu that keeps me coming back: salads and sides that seem so simple in concept but are executed just so… all served in a space that feels always feels tumblingly buzzing and warm despite the long waiting list that quickly adds up, the service remains calmly attentive.” —Anna Stockwell, senior food editor

 

“I moved away from the Twin Cities a decade ago, but I would move back just for the restaurant scene, which keeps getting more interesting the longer I’m away. Several times a year, however, I’ll map out an eating plan weeks in advance of family visits, and I’ll always end up in Minneapolis. Not this year. In Bloom has lured me across the Mississippi River several times to St. Paul. It’s located inside the hip Keg and Case Market, a former brewery, and you know you’ve arrived when the scent of oak burning from the open-fire cooking hits you. It smells and feels like you’re hanging out in a cabin in northern Minnesota (albeit a more modern one). The menu is filled with game meats like pheasant and venison, with local ingredients including wild mushrooms and berries sprinkled throughout. It’s the food I’ve been thinking about lately as winter approaches, and I’m missing home.” —Bao Ong, research manager

 

“I’ve been to Philly four times in the past year, and I’ve had lunch at Suraya three of those times. The man’oushe and the labneh and the hummus and the ful madammas and the kafta kebabs and every other thing on the menu of comforting, immensely flavorful Lebanese food all make that two-hour bus ride well worth it. That, and my parents who live nearby, of course. Duh. Love you, Mom. Love you, Dad.” —Alex Delany, associate editor



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