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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Feed a Family of Four with a Single Pastrami Sandwich at Harold’s

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.

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Lord Stanley Brings Super-Restrained Scandinavian Style to Russian Hill

What:

Lord Stanley @Lordstanley_SF You can file this one under 'I just don't get it.' Despite the fact that Bauer and most SF reviewers absolutely adore this trendy Nordic date spot, I just can't seem to understand the effusive outpouring of positivity.

Where:

Russian Hill / Polk Gulch 2065 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 [wpgmza id="269"]

When:

It's definitely suited for an elegant date night, but don't expect extraordinarily exciting flavors.

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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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SF’s Perpetual Hot Spot Has Turned Dim Sum on Its Head

What:

State Bird Provisions @StateBirdSF This restaurant hardly needs an introduction. One of SF's hardest tables to land. Theyare famed for the way they embrace the dim sum system to serve creative New-Californian cuisine.

Who:

The married chef-oweners, Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza, have both earned themselves a James Beard award as Best Chefs: West in 2015 for the restaurant among many other accolades.

Where:

At the intersection of Japantown, Lower Pac Heights, and the Western Addition (aka NoPa) 1529 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA 94115 [wpgmza id="287"]

When:

Perfect for a special occasion splurge or super-impressive date night dinner.

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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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Beat the Heat with Ice Cold, Summer Sweets at Plum St. Snoballs

It's feeling like summer, so let's talk about summery things. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone but, I'll say it anyway – New Orleans gets freaking hot in the summer. And when the people of NOLA find themselves melting under the oppressive sun, they rely on a steady intake of freezing cold shaved ice treats known in this town as Snowballs. You're probably familiar with this sort of summery snack and you also probably know it by another region-specific name – Italian Ice, Water Ice, Shaved Ice, a Snocone, or any other myriad of alternatives. But in NOLA, it's a Snoball. And there's one place that become the most famous for them and draws the biggest crowds of all called Plum St. Snowballs.

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Where to go for Innovative Twists on Japanese Traditions in Austin

Everyone that's even partially aware of the Austin dining scene has heard of Uchiko. It's generally regarded as one of the top dining destinations in the city and I've known for many years that I needed to see what all of the excitement was about for myself. I think the restaurant may have actually first come to attention when the now-famed chef Paul Qui tore his way through Top Chef Season 9. He basically wiped the floor with his competition utilizing his signature Asian fusion style and I took notice. Paul has since moved on from Uchiko to work on other Austin ventures such as his food truck East Side King and namesake restaurant Qui. But, Uchiko remains as exciting and buzz-worthy as ever.

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