Food Week - Favorite Restaurants (Part One)

Food Week has begun!

When I decided to do this gem of a week devoted to all things edible, I emailed a bunch of awesome people I've encountered on the internet to ask them some food related questions. They were kind enough to answer me (thank you everyone!) and over the course of this week I'll be posting their responses.

The question this post is devoted to is - "What's your favorite restaurant in your town or city?". Below, you'll find their answers. Feel free to post your own favorites in the comments!

I loved reading everyone's responses because I keep a running list (well, a running bookmarks folder) of restaurants I want to go to someday - restaurants all over the world. This list has been useful because whenever I find out that I'm going to be traveling somewhere, I have an eating itinerary ready to go. I suggest that you do the same - it comes in handy, and here you are with a perfect excuse to start: tons of restaurant recommendations!

(each image is linked to the source)
Jena / Modish (Portland) - It's so hard to choose a favorite, but one outstanding place that's a Portland must visit, I'd say, is Dove Vivi - they do cornmeal pizza crust and it's so. amazingly. delicious.

Emily / short story design (New York) - Caracas Arepa Bar. A lot of people love this place as evidenced by the crowd that's usually waiting outside the East Village outpost. Go on an "off" time or get an arepa to go from the carry out location a few doors down. I always get the same thing - A10 on the menu: La del Gato (guavanese cheese, fried sweet plantains, and avocado slices). Simple perfection in the most delicious corn flour pocket.

Jen / Honey Kennedy (Portland) - That's really hard because Portland has SO MUCH GOOD FOOD. I'll have to say Navarre, Toro Bravo, Ya Hala, The Farm, Khun Pic and Apizza Scholls. More than one is OK, right?

Mariah / size too small (Cape Town)- My favorite restaurant is The Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town. They have the world's best salad plates. I go at least twice a week.

As far as my favorites go... living in an insanely small town I tend to consider everything in a 50 mile radius as being a part of "my town", so some of these are in New Hampshire not Maine (as I live right on the Maine / New Hampshire border). Okay - Horsefeathers & Aurora Provisions & Po Boys & Pickles & Sea Dog Brewing Company because they all have sandwiches I adore (I'm not a fancy dining girl - I'm a sandwich fiend); Sebago Brewing Company for their lobster quesadilla; and Willard Scoops, Beal's Ice Cream and Mount Desert Island Ice Cream, for, well, ice cream! Also, call me lame, but the one Whole Foods in Maine used to make the most delicious peanut butter cheesecake I have ever consumed. I would make special trips there just to buy one (they were individually sized). Sadly, they swapped pastry preparers (or I was the only one eating them?), because they haven't been in the case for months. That doesn't stop me from checking (in vain) every single time I go though.

Finally, if you want the real ocean-y-Maine eating experience, you need to go to The Lobster Shack. My family goes there every single year for Mother's Day (because my mom loves it, although everyone else does too). You eat delicious seafood right on the rocks with the waves crashing below you. It's pretty great.
Elise / Pennyweight (Nashville) - Marche: not only do they have amazing food, but the vibe is very rustic, bright and natural. Delicious, freshly harvested meals served beautifully in this European-style cafe. My favorite time to go is brunch - their croissant french toast is out of this world.

Maggie / Folkloric (Seattle) - I love El Chupacabra in Greenwood. It's a little divey, and often there's a bit of a wait for a table, but the food is so good, the margaritas strong, and the atmosphere eclectic. I love taking friends from out of town here for a loud and fun dinner out.

Hannah / banana meet-cute (Melbourne) - This is hard to narrow down! A new favorite is Shanghai Street Dumpling House on Little Bourke Street in the Melbourne CBD. I am obsessed with dumplings and could eat at this place every day. A "classic" favorite that I always love to visit, particularly with out of town guests, is Next Door Diner in Northcote. It's a little out of the way, but really sums up a cozy local restaurant - yummy and unpretentious.

Allira / so on and so forth (Melbourne) - If you head a little way out of Melbourne, there's a lovely town called Kyneton and a restaurant called Mr. Carsisi (admittedly, I've stolen this place from a friend) and the mezze menu is DELISH! The restaurant is beautifully decked out, has the charm of a farm barn, but is stylish and sans hay and animals.

Kate / Lovelorn Unicorn (Wellington) - It's tough to pick, but probably Floriditas. It's a lovely cafe/restaurant with amazing brunch, baking and coffee, pretty plates and enormous windows which make for excellent people watching. Their rocket and walnut pesto pasta with crushed olives, pea shoots and parmesan is for sure the best pasta I've ever had (though I've never been to Italy). For a more relaxed time I love Monterey, a cool diner and bar where you can draw on the paper table cloth, eat great burgers, play board games, listen to records and drink old timey cocktails.

Melanie / you are my fave (Denver) - Breakfast is my favorite meal to go out for and the entire morning menu at Root Down makes you want to vie up on any other type of food entirely. The lemon ricotta pancakes make my stomach dance.
Leslie Knope - Why would anybody ever eat anything besides breakfast food?
Ron Swanson - People are idiots, Leslie 

Diana / Miss Moss (Stellenbosch) - This is an easy one to answer because I actually live with one of my best & oldest friends who owns a restaurant with her fiance in our home town of Stellenbosch. It's called Nook and, I'm not being biased, it's the best place to eat in town.

Megan / Commas and Clauses (Philadelphia) - Some of the places I frequent most:

  • Distrito in University City: It has the best-mixed drinks in all of Philly (I am convinced), and the food is pretty amazing (though there really aren't many veg options), as the restaurant's owned and operated by one of the Iron Chef dudes.
  • National Mechanics in Old City: My favorite brunch in the city, with the tofu scramble and Bellini being my usual.
  • Copabanana in University City: Crazy delicious margs (but expensive as hell).
  • Gojjo on Baltimore Ave.: Right in my neighborhood, with the perfect backyard patio to just hang and drink beer at in the warm weather.

Anabela / fieldguided (Toronto) - It changes, but at the moment I really love a restaurant called Pizzeria Libretto. I don't know if it's sacrilegious to say this about pizza that is made in the traditional Neapolitan way (certified!) but the dough tastes like naan bread to me. So good.

Gemma Correll (Norwich) - A dim sum place called Baby Buddha (in Norwich, England).

M. Fay / Amateur Couture (Des Moines) - I've been around the world and I, I, I, - I can't find a better sushi restaurant than the one in my hometown (Des Moines, Iowa). Yes, you can get fresh sushi in a land locked state. Go to Miyabi 9, ask for the Captain Crunch roll and thank me later.

Katie / thank you, ok (Toronto) - I like The Black Hoof for special occasions / fancy cocktails, Brockton General for the brunch prix fixe, and The Harbord Room for eating burgers up at their bar.

Sara / Matchbox Kitchen (Los Angeles) - Zelo in Arcadia, California doesn't make any ordinary pizza: their cornmeal crust adds the best texture to accompany their fresh toppings (like corn, sautéed onions and an assortment of cheeses). You must try the corn pizza!

Kate / For Me, For You (Los Angeles) - I recently became a vegetarian (again, after a long hiatus) so it's hard to say because my favorite can no longer be my favorite! But right now I'm obsessed with finding the best Thai food in my neighborhood - Jitlada, Wat Dong Moon Lek and Bulan are my top contenders.
Dabito / Old Brand New (Los Angeles) - The Spice Table: flavorful dishes inspired by traditional cuisines of Singapore and Vietnam. My go-to dish is their catfish claypot: it reminds me of my mom's cooking.

Liza / Length x Wit (Dallas) - Dallas is a restaurant-rich city, so a question like this is both exciting (there is so much to share!) and slightly stumping (there is so much to share...). I tried to narrow it down, but I know that by the time you're reading this, I'll have thought of three other places I should have mentioned. Such is good food, no?

  • The first place that comes to mind is Yutaka, which is the best sushi restaurant I have ever been to, hands down. Going there will make a sushi-lover out of anyone, even the raw/shellfish-sensitive.
  • For a fancy-pants dinner, I'm torn between St. Martin's and The Capital Grille, which is located inside a super nice hotel and is always impeccable, from the wait staff to the steaks. St. Martin's, however, looks like a total hole in the wall from the outside. The first time I went there I was completely suspicious, but as soon as you walk through the door, you're inside a wood-paneled, romantic dream. The surprise of that definitely adds to the meal.
  • And since this is Texas, I feel obligated to mention a burger place and there is no where else for me but Angry Dog. Flavorful juicy burgers that don't soak through the bun - flawless.

Sara / Brown Paper Bag (Baltimore) - Woodberry Kitchen: BEAUTIFUL space, delicious new American food, very into sustainable farming practices and using what's local to shape their menu.

Erin / butter and brass (Ann Arbor) - You can't live in Michigan and not crave pasties and coney islands, but for the Ann Arbor alternative I love the Aut Bar for its weekend brunch, Frita Batidos for its cuban sandwiches on brioche, and Sidetrack (in Ypsilanti) for its $6 black bean sliders and depot meets hunting lodge decor.

Jen / hellojenuine (Scotland) - My current situation is in limbo, as I'm going back & forth between Dundee & Glasgow:

  • In Dundee, my favorite is - hands down - the Parlour Cafe. It's a tiny cozy little place that has an amazing menu with lots of amazing salads (don't scoff! you haven't tried them!) and dishes all freshly prepared. They did a special tapas menu for Valentine's Day which my boyfriend and I took advantage of. I ate so much I thought I might cry, but everything was so tasty! We ended up taking dessert home. Most of their menu is vegetarian too, which is a bonus. I recently had the pleasure of illustrating a cookbook for them and I can't wait until it's published.
  • I'm still a novice when it comes to eating out in Glasgow, but so far I'm not disappointed - not least due to there being lots of vegetarian restaurants/cafes, something Dundee hasn't managed yet. So far I love Stereo, Mono and 13th Note (good veggie fry-up). My boyfriend tried a couple more places which I need to visit. Ask me in a year & maybe I'll be able to pick just one!