What:Primitivo @EatPrimitivo At this NOLA newcomer, our waitress explained that there isn't really a theme or nationality that guides the menu Primitivo, just a philosophy. That philosophy is to use local, seasonal ingredients and prepare them in some manner that involves their gigantic open-flame hearth. Smoke is the key to nearly every dish they serve here.
Where:Off-the-beaten path between the Garden District and Center City 1800 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70113 [wpgmza id="289"]
When:Perfect for dude's night out in NOLA. The decor has a masculine German beer-hall vibe with gothic calligraphy typography and distressed wood defining a majority of the aesthetic. Between the huge, hearty portions and very reasonably priced cocktails, this place was made for the bachelor party "nice-meal". While I do really like the place, I wouldn't necessarily tell NOLA first-timers to go on their first trip — there's plenty of other places in the city I think are more essential to go to first (see: Cochon, Commander's Palace, Red's Chinese, Compère Lapin, or Sylvain for example).
What:Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs @BubbledogsKT A speakeasy-style high-end chef's tasting menu hides behind a curtain in the back of a hot dog shop.
Where:SoHo near the Theatre District 70 Charlotte St. Fitzrovia, London W1T 4QG, UK [wpgmza id="299"]
When:Based on the price point and difficulty of snagging a reservation alone, this definitely falls into the "Special Occasion Restaurant" category. Save this one for when you're celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or any other major occasion worth celebrating and spluging for.
What:Mazzola Bakery @MazzolaBakery A few blocks of the main Court Street drag of Cobble Hill is a tiny, jam-packed, take-out only, old-school sweet and savory baked goods shop called Mazzola Bakery. There's a huge variety of baked treats available, but I'll be honest, I've only ever had a single item from Mazzola, but it's sort of thing I dream about that I'll buy multiples extras of the bring back home on my flight.
Where:Cobble Hill / Carroll Gardens 192 Union St. Brooklyn, NY 11231 [wpgmza id="298"]
When:Seriously, I could be in the mood for this item literally any day – any time of day. I'd also like to mention that it's particularly good at soaking up a hangover. Just cross your fingers that they're not already sold out when you visit.
It's a strange concept. Take a dish that is naturally light, fresh, delicate, and dainty — supersize it — and throw as many crunchy, creamy, fusiony ingredients as you can into it. What do you get? A sushirrito. Even before I had moved to San Francisco, Sushirrito was already near the top of my SF must-eat list. There was just something about that super-hyped, unusual sushi-burrito hybrid that I just couldn't resist trying for myself. Yes, I know the concept sounds a little ridiculous — why would anyone want to shove sushi ingredients into a burrito format. And yes, I know that the Japanese have already mastered the supersized sushi form through handrolls. But, I do love sushi and I do love burritos, so I was curious enough to find out if this Bay Area combined evolution of the two would form a recipe for success.
What:Ijji @IjjiSF A microscopic, unmarked, serene sushi den specializing in high-quality nigiri most of which is imported from Tokyo's famous Tsukiji market
Where:Lower Haight / Divisadero Corridor 252 Divisadero St. San Francisco, CA 94117 [wpgmza id="293"]
When:Definitely splurgy in terms of pricing, so save this one for a special, intimate date night.
What:Harold's NY Deli An old-school NY-style sit-down delicatessen serving monstrous portions of all of the Jewish classics. I'm by no means the first to speak the praised of the place - it's been written about all over the place including in Saveur, the New York Times, as well as a feature on Man vs. Food. And yes, it's worthy of all of the hype.
Where:In a parking lot off of the highway in Edison, NJ 1171 King Georges Post Rd. Edison, NJ 08837 [wpgmza id="296"]
When:For when you feel like shoving more Jewish comfort food down your gullet than should be humanly possible.
What:Panuchos Let's name all the Mexican dishes you're used to finding in restaurants. Tacos, burritos, nachos, tortas, quesadillas, flautas, tostadas, etc, etc, etc. I bet we could go on and on and on. But, how about a "panucho"? Ever heard of that? I certainly hadn't before this meal, but I'll get more into that later. Near the corner of Broadway and Columbus, right where Italian North Beach meet Chinese Chinatown, a brand new eatery recently opened. That's where a tiny shop that formally housed a divey Vietnamese restaurant called Vietnam was and where this Yucatan-region Mexican specialist, Panuchos, is now housed. In my observations, the clientele consists mostly of blue-collar Spanish-speaking workers in the area — which I take as a positive indicator of the authenticity of food made at the place. I guess you'll just have to read more to see.
Where:On the border of North Beach and Chinatown 620 Broadway San Francisco, CA 94133 [wpgmza id="295"]
When:Great for a solo lunch at the counter, take out, but probably even best for a late-night bite to soak up all of your boozy North Beach mistakes. They're open til 3 AM!
What:Two Sister's Bar and Books @2sistersbar The best cocktail spot in Hayes Valley also just so happens to serve up incredibly delicious bar bites.
Where:Hayes Valley 579 Hayes St. San Francisco, CA 94102 [wpgmza id="259"]
When:Perfect for whenever you need a quiet bar and a great cocktail. It's an ideal date night spot, works really well for brunch as well, and is excellent for solo dining/drinking too. Their happy hour is also an excellent deal. Don't miss out on that extra special value Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 pm and Saturday or Sunday from 1 to 4 pm where you can snag $3 draft beers, $5 house wines, a $5 happy hour cocktails, or a $5 happy hour snack.