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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Unusual Yucatan Specialties from a North Beach Hole-In-The-Wall

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!

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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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Date Night with Fancy, Open-Faced Sandwiches at Tartinery in Nolita

I'd never thought to go to Tartinery in Nolita before, but I'll be damned if that place wasn't an absolutely perfect spot for an impressive first date. You wouldn't know it from the street, but inside the understated exterior of this restaurant there's an incredibly sexy, well-thought-out, subterranean dining room with large vaulted ceilings with exposed brick walls accented by lots of black iron and flickering candle lights. It's a really incredible space and if you're looking to put the vibe in the air, this place is perfect for that.The menu is also great for two people getting to know each other. It features a vast array of French-inspired open-faced sandwiches known as tartines. And there's a wide selection of very accessible toppings offered – so you know that picky eater Tinder first date is going to be able to find something they can eat – yes, even vegetarians.

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The Very Best Airport Food I’ve Ever Eaten

airport_signIt's getting to be that time when we look back on the year in review and 2014 was a very big year of travel for me. Between working remotely in Silicon Valley while still officially living in NYC, moving from NYC to SF, and other miscellaneous leisure travel, I spent a lot of time in airports.I know that airports get a bad rap when it comes to dining options and you know what, most of the time the food really does suck. But, every now and then I've been able to come across some truly excellent dishes. Beyond that, I've even managed to find a number of dishes served in airports that blew me away – the overacheivers – the kinds of things I would get even if I wasn't stuck eating in an airport. Without further ado, read on below to see the best of the best to eat before you fly in the sky.

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La Texanita: Guy Fieri’s Go-To Hometown Mexican Spot

I ventured into the land that birthed Guy Fieri.Santa Rosa is the place the spiky Food Network demigod calls home. I wasn't intending to eat at another place that had been featured on Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives so soon, but given the fact our day trip that ended up taking us to his hometown, it shouldn't be too big of a surprise that we did. We were actually in Santa Rosa exploring the area's wineries, but pre-noon wine tasting on an empty stomach pretty much always necessitates a good, filling meal. My growling stomach went straight to Foursquare to find a killer lunch spot nearby which led us to the Fieri-favorite La Texanita.

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Rincon Taqueria in Norwalk, CT Has a Thing or Two to Teach You Northeasterners About Mexican Food

WOAH YEAH. Who'd a thought you could find super-legit Mexican food in Eastern Connecticut? I certainly didn't. But there I was, sitting on the SoNo waterfront (South Norwalk for all you out-of-towners) searching for a solid lunch spot and when I stumbled across a little taqueria on Yelp with only a few reviews, but every single one of them was utterly ecstatic about the place. It was settled, Amy and I were going to drive across town to Rincon Taqueria in Norwalk to see what all the people were buzzing about.

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Everyone Seems to Love Starbelly Except Me

Starbelly is generally regarded as the best restaurant in The Castro so I definitely went into this meal with high expectations. People rave about this place and their renditions of Californian farm-to-table local organic comfort food. I certainly haven't dined in the Castro enough to be able to confirm or deny if it really is the best restaurant in the neighborhood, but I knew I definitely had to check it out for myself.

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