A Cascade of Comfort: Where to Score Decadent Warm Dips

Get your dunk, dip and scoop on with these sumptuous spins on the beloved party staple.

Photo By: Willa Jean

Photo By: Martha Williams

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Photo By: Willa Jean

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Photo By: Alla Spina

Photo By: Easy Bistro & Bar

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Chips All In

Cozy up to these warm dips churned out by restaurants, bars and other top spots across the country. Brimming with silky cheese, luscious seafood, succulent meats and more, these comforting creations are perfect for scooping, dunking or dipping with your vehicle of choice.

Palak Paneer

A Wicker Park pub may not be the first place that springs to mind when searching for Indian food in Chicago. That may well change after you visit Pub Royale, which is proving that brews matched with Northern India-inspired bites make for a pleasing combination. One favorite "dip" at the pub is the Palak Paneer, a traditional Punjabi vegetarian dish. Milky morsels of mild-flavored paneer cheese come enveloped in a blanket of creamed spinach spiced up with plenty of garam masala seasoning. The dish is accompanied by a mound of crisped-up paratha (aka flatbread), which serves as an ideal vehicle for scooping up the velvety and vibrant spread.

Go to: Pub Royale

Bagna Cauda

Angeleno favorite Alimento is known for its beautiful pastas and platters brimming with culinary creativity. One such staple of the Northern Italian restaurant is its take on bagna cauda. A traditional Piedmontese dip that resembles fondue, bagna cauda is typically made with garlic, olive oil, anchovies and butter. At Alimento, however, Chef-Owner Zach Pollack ups the richness of the recipe by dropping a 62-degree egg into the dip. This salty, garlicky creation is served with housemade bread, to sop it all up, and a rainbow of seasonal vegetables, perfect for dunking.

Go to: Alimento

Buffalo Chicken Dip

From the splashes of colorful, cartoony art throughout the dining area to the array of comfort food options that cram the menu, Holsteins Shakes and Buns exudes a playful vibe. In addition to mega-sized shakes and loaded burgers, this Las Vegas spot serves satisfying snacks such as a Buffalo chicken dip that's great for sharing. The signature flavors of Buffalo wings shine through in this spicy dish, which comprises hot sauce, shredded chicken and ranch dressing finished with a blizzard of bleu cheese, an extra drizzle of hot sauce and a flurry of scallions. An ideal pairing for this dunkworthy dip is a crunchy side of tortilla strips or carrot and celery sticks.

Go to: Holsteins Shakes and Buns

Queso Fundido

Though billed as a taqueria, this Steel City spot is far from a no-frills taco joint. Täkō in Pittsburgh features an artful fusion of disparate flavors inspired by Latin American and Asian cuisines. Take the queso fundido, for instance. This Mexican dish starts traditionally enough, with Chihuahua cheese and housemade chorizo, but then it gets amped up with an Asian-inspired topping of shishito peppers and chopped scallions. And to ensure you can sop up every last bit of this distinctive dip, Täkō serves it alongside a toasty stack of fresh flour tortillas.

Go to: Täkō

Artichoke Dip

Though Willa Jean's beauteous display of baked goods is a sweet enough reason to visit this New Orleans spot that was featured on Guilty Pleasures, there are also plenty of savory options that are worth trying; the artichoke dip is one of them. Perfect for anytime of day (it's even served as a breakfast snack here), the sumptuous creation is made with artichoke hearts, Parmesan, mozzarella and hot sauce — complete with a smattering of scallions across its glorious golden-brown surface. Slather it on the complementary crostini to create a creamy, crunchy bite.

Go to: Willa Jean

French Onion Fondue

At sultry Chicago spot Maude's Liquor Bar, the focus is on French food — both classic preparations and creative interpretations of traditional dishes. One of those "almost French" dishes is a popular fondue inspired by an indulgent soup. The rich creation emulates the flavors of French onion soup by pulling in many of the staple's ingredients and translating them to dip form. If you break off a piece of the accompanying baguette and plunge it into the dish, the bubbling Gruyère cheese crust will give way to a silky fondue studded with caramelized onions.

Go to: Maude's Liquor Bar

Spicy Beer Cheese Dip

The name of this Philadelphia gastropub means "from the tap" in Italian, so you can be sure that its draft game is on point. But in addition to the suds sourced from both local and Italian breweries, Alla Spina draws the crowds with its elevated take on typical pub fare. One signature dish is a beer cheese dip whose silky cream cheese base is punched up by the addition of a spicy Asiago fresco and a Belgian-style witbier. It's accompanied by a side of housemade signature soft pretzels, perfect for plunging into the luscious, bubbly dip.

Go to: Alla Spina

Crawfish and Artichoke Dip

Chef-Owner Erik Neil breathed new life into one of the world's first Coca-Cola bottling plants when he opened his restaurant in the historical building back in 2005. This same innovative spirit informs the menu at Easy Bistro & Bar. Neil's Southern dishes tinged with French influences have been drawing the crowds for more than a decade, with house favorites that include a crawfish and artichoke dip. Neil adds a Southern lilt to the typical spinach and artichoke dip by inflecting it with Creole-inspired flavors. He seasons the dip as he would a gumbo or etouffee, then stirs in the trinity (celery, onions and peppers) and juicy morsels of crawfish tail meat. After shaking on a generous amount of Tabasco sauce, Neil bakes his creation in a cast-iron skillet until the dip turns deliciously bubbly and hot. Crunchy shards of the thin flatbread known as lavash round out the plate.

Go to: Easy Bistro & Bar

Pork Neck-Bone Gravy

At the Purple Pig in downtown Chicago, it's all about the wine and swine. Crowds swarm here for the pork-centric creations dished out by Chef-Owner Jimmy Bannos Jr., such as his neck-bone gravy that was featured on Guilty Pleasures. This riff on a traditional Sunday gravy brings together bright tomatoes, fresh basil, chile flakes and wisps of shredded pork. After stewing for a number of hours, the rich concoction is ladled into a cast-iron skillet with a heaping dollop of silky ricotta at its center to offset the acidity of the tomato-laden gravy. This succulent, spicy and creamy combination comes paired with thick slices of toasted bread.

Go to: The Purple Pig

Molten Lobster Dip

Though the rich steakhouse fare served at Stake Chophouse in Coronado, California, definitely catches the eye, make sure to leave some room for the unexpected dishes nestled between the fork-tender cuts of meat and other indulgent standards on the menu. One such sumptuous surprise is the molten lobster dip, which marries lobster with fresh melted cheese curds and fiery Calabrian chiles that pack in the heat. The bubbling pot is served with crisp crostini.

Go to: Stake Chophouse & Bar

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Dip

At The Wren in New York City, you can cozy up with elegant cocktails, craft beers and elevated bar bites in a charming setting that lacks pretention. One standout is an ultra-creamy dip from Chef Nick Testa. To create the dish, he pulls in a trio of cheeses (goat, Parmesan and cream), as well as creme fraiche. A broiled layer of Muenster cheese creates a satisfyingly crunchy crust on the top, which gives way to a silky dip studded with artichoke hearts and pimentos. The dish is garnished with additional artichoke hearts, along with tomatoes and scallions, and served with super-crisp crostini.

Go to: The Wren

Catfish Dip

This chic yet charming spot in Louisville pays homage to its environs by incorporating regional influences into its decor, drinks and dishes. Rotating exhibits at Proof on Main often feature the work of local artists, while the beverage selection leans largely toward Kentucky's signature spirit (you can choose from more than 75 bourbons at the bar). Native flavors are also figured heavily in the food, such as the spot's signature catfish dip. This unique take on the typical smoked trout dip makes one major substitution with Kentucky smoked catfish. A housemade hot sauce and sea salt crackers accompany the silky, spreadable appetizer.

Go to: Proof on Main

Smoked Brisket Queso

Dallas destination Ivy Kitchen churns out a hodgepodge of comfort foods — think flatbreads, sushi and much more. The shareable plates are worth a gander, especially the creamy queso with a distinctly Texan accent. This version is made with 12-hour smoked brisket and slow-roasted poblano peppers, tomatoes and onions that are mixed into a blend of three different cheeses, then slicked with a drizzle of BBQ sauce and finished with a flurry of green onions. Warm tortilla chips are perfect for dunking into the hearty dip.

Go to: Ivy Kitchen

Roasted Shallot Dip

Classic Americana gets an injection of contemporary innovation at Mary Eddy's Kitchen x Lounge, where the artsy dining space in a former Ford assembly plant is as creative as the dishes on the menu. One superb snack at this Oklahoma City spot is the roasted shallot dip. This elevated riff on onion dip combines caramelized shallots with cream cheese, mayonnaise, lemon juice, zest, garlic and other seasonings. The sumptuous mixture is finished with a flurry of scallions, then paired with a side of tangy salt and vinegar chips.

Go to: Mary Eddy's Kitchen x Lounge

Baked Goat Cheese

Classic Italian cuisine is viewed through a Pacific Northwestern lens at Pazzo in downtown Portland, Oregon, where Old-World recipes are reinterpreted with regionally sourced ingredients. Locally sourced goat cheese, for instance, makes for a superb starter. The dish sings with a medley of flavors, thanks to the addition of garlic, chopped basil, salt and pepper — along with a bit of cream cheese to mellow out that distinctive tanginess. The sumptuous mixture is scooped into a ceramic casserole dish, then drenched with ladleful upon ladleful of a housemade tomato sauce that's made fresh daily. The hearty concoction is baked until the center of the cheese is hot, then drizzled with olive oil and served with sliced focaccia bread.

Go to: Pazzo

It's Not Spinach and Artichoke Dip

It's all about the egg at this aptly named New York City haunt, even when it comes to dips. Egg Shop's riff on a spinach and artichoke dip marries sauteed leafy green spinach and tangy artichoke hearts with slow-coddled eggs, which lend a lusciously creamy texture to the dish. The indulgent creation, known as It's Not Spinach and Artichoke Dip, comes paired with crisp pecorino toasts.

Go to: Egg Shop

Scituate Lobster Cheddar Dip

Old meets new at Boston's MET Back Bay. Here, a historic townhouse exterior opens up to a contemporary restaurant within, where the kitchen turns out modern interpretations of beloved American standards. Regional ingredients play a major role here, as the menu is brimming with New England staples such as seafood that's served in various iterations. For instance, a creamy dip makes for the ideal dish to showcase lobster sourced from the nearby harbor town of Scituate. The dip, which comes in a cast-iron skillet, features succulent morsels of lobster submerged in a luscious cascade of warm liquid Cheddar. A side of griddled corn cakes perfectly complements this comforting creation.

Go to: MET Back Bay

Chipotle Crab & Artichoke Dip

The satisfying dishes served at Seabird in New York City sing with the flavors of the ocean, as this West Village spot is known for its comforting spins on seafood staples. Crab is one seasonal favorite that shows up in various iterations, including this indulgent Chipotle Crab and Artichoke Dip. Served warm, this appetizer features a creamy chipotle base studded with crab and artichoke. The sumptuous snack comes flanked by a heap of salty blue corn chips sturdy enough for scooping.

Go to: Seabird

Baked Brie

Casual Louisville, Kentucky, restaurant Noosh Nosh is an ideal destination for a meal of shared dishes. Its Mediterranean-inspired menu is stuffed with snacks and starters dreamed up by Chef-Owner Anoosh Shariat. His baked Brie takes a particularly warming turn during the cooler months, thanks to the addition of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon maple syrup and red wine pear jam. Crunchy crostini provide a satisfyingly crunchy (and bite-size) base on which to spread the boozy, creamy Brie.

Go to: Noosh Nosh

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