An Extraordinary, Ultra-seasonal, Japanese-inspired Tasting Menu in Wine Country

What:

Single Thread @ST_Farms Newly opened and it's already been awarded the San Francisco Chronicle's highest honor — four out of four stars by critic Michael Bauer. I don't always share my food opinions with Bauer, but when it comes to the level of brilliance and care coming out of Single Thread, it's hard to disagree.

Where:

Downtown Healdsburg 131 North Street Healdsburg, CA 95448 [wpgmza id="302"]

When:

Despite its high-end concept and rather expensive price point, they do manage to keep the entire experience quite approachable and not stuffy, unlike many other tasting menus at this price point. Still, you'll definitely want to save this one for a VERY special occasion based on cost alone. A 10-course tasting menus costs $255 per person (which comes to around $295 with tip included) and the wine pairing add-on costs $155. We visited Single Thread to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary with a bang.

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Cooking with Smoke and Direct Fire at Primitivo in the Garden District

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).

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There’s a Michelin Starred Chef’s Counter Hidden Inside of This Hot Dog Shop

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.

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This Cozy, Neighborhood Cocktail Bar is Perfect at Any Time of Day

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.

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Emeril Lagasse Still Has A Few New Exciting Tricks Up His Sleeve

What:

NOLA @NOLARestaurant One of three Emeril-owned restaurants in his hometown of New Orleans. The menu is full of Cajun classics, with plenty of unique twists to keep things interesting.

Who:

A first name is all he needs: Emeril. The dude is a legend and one of the major pioneers in food television. He has somehow managed to stay both very relevant and lovable over all of these many drastically different years.

Where:

French Quarter 534 St. Louis St. New Orleans, LA 70130 [wpgmza id="288"]

When:

Perfect for a cautious New Orleans first-timer's first foray into Cajun cuisine. The menu is quite accessible, but everything is still executed really really well. There's also plenty an experienced New Orleans eater can find to love at NOLA too.

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Nina Compton is Bringing the Caribbean Heat to Creole Country

I absolutely love how full of super old school places the New Orleans high-end dining scene is. There are tons of these places that remain as popular, famous, and incredible as they were when they opened well over 100 years ago. But, of course, that's not all that New Orleans has to offer. There are plenty of young upstart chefs doing extremely innovative things, evolving the long-standing culinary traditions.

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Impressive Cocktails and Fine Dining Small Plates with Filipino Flair

What:

1760 @1760SF A well-regarded, two-year-old, high-end restaurant that focuses on globally inspired tapas style small plates.

Who:

New Chef, Carl Foronda, has overhauled the restaurant's entire menu with dishes that include influences from his Filipino heritage.

Where:

Lower Nob Hill On Polk Street 1760 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 [wpgmza id="285"]

When:

Perfect for a date night or dinner with your parents.

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Experimental Meat-tastic Creations at Chris Cosentino’s Cockscomb

Break out the confetti and champagne!! It's a perfect ten! Chef Chris Cosentino knows exactly how to work his way into that soft spot in my heart. All it took was a few of his crazy, funky, zany, inventive, and downright delicious over-the-top meat-filled culinary creations. Yes, that's right — I'm giving this place my first and only flawless 10/10 review, so buckle up for a long one as I explain why I'm so obsessed.You may know of Chris from his many stints on food TV, but I've found myself uncontrollably drawn to him because he cooks only the kind of food that he wants to eat. With his cooking, there's no remorse for pushing people's palettes to the edge of fear. Fear? Yeah, most of his food utilizes all of the delicious miscellaneous organs and obscure cuts of meat that many other chefs won't even dare to work with that most people don't ordinarily choose to consume — frequently involving complete nose-to-tail dishes. Fortunately for me, I share his love for well-prepared organ meats.

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This Incredible Chinese-Creole Cross-Over is Unlike Anything You’ve Ever Had Before

I don't know if you've noticed, but I also don't know how you could have possibly missed it. Over the summer of 2015, fried chicken was quite the hot trend, completely dominating all mainstream food media outlets with hyped up content. With big name heavy-hitters like David Chang opening his much-hyped Fuku and Danny Meyers launching a fried chicken sandwich at his much-loved burger shop Shake Shack, seemingly everyone was scrambling to get into the fried chicken game. Every place was busy concocting their own signature breading type, fry-style, and of course secret spice blend.But, there's one fried chicken variant that I had this year that was invented long before all of this summer's madness and I still can't seem to get it out of my head. This insane fried chicken creation has literally crept into my dreams on more than one occasion like Freddy Krueger, taunting and torturing me to return from within. Unfortunately, this unconscious itch can only be scratched in one place — and this unusually creative shop called Red's Chinese is located in a way-off-the-beaten path New Orleans neighborhood called Bywater. If you're in NOLA without a car, Red's Chinese is not the easiest to access, but if you've got one, it's an absolute cannot-miss. Actually, you better book your flights to NOLA now, you're gonna want to experience this one for yourself.

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A Wild, Wacky, Happy-Go-Lucky Hot Doggery in NOLA

This is probably the most bizarrely happy-go-lucky place anywhere on the entire planet. On this day, torrential rain was falling from the sky, the shop's WiFi was out so the normal music source was unusable, and many of the ingredients had not and were not going to be delivered. But, that couldn't hold the Dat Dog staff down – it's not in their nature. In fact, from the moment I laid my eyes upon that gigantic, two-story, neon, multicolored building on New Orleans' Magazine Street, I knew there was something special about the place. I think passing through those Heinz mustard-colored doors functioned as a sort of portal to a comically super-happy alternate dimension.

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