It’s fitting that Speedy Romeo houses a wood-fired oven painted like rocker Eddie Van Halen’s guitar. After all, Chef-Owner Justin Bazdarich is known for his riffs — of the culinary kind. One killer dish is the Paul’s Boutique Pizza. The dough is made from a mix of double-zero and high-gluten flours, resulting in an airy, textured crust. It’s slathered with a Dijon bechamel sauce, then heaped with pastrami, smoked red cabbage kraut and fontina (as well as a flurry of everything-bagel spice) before a quick turn in the oven. Then there’s the KC Royale, a white, clam-studded pizza that Brad Farmerie describes as “almost like taking a bite of clam chowder.”
D.C. barbecue devotees head here for the succulent cuts of meats that are smoked, then finished over a grill fueled by red oak and hickory wood. A standout is the smoke-kissed spare ribs, which come coated in a gorgeous char. They’re not overly seasoned, so the natural flavors of the pork shine through. Another popular pick is the Rocklands Pearl: Creamy mac and cheese is layered with baked beans, then piled with chopped pork and finished with a generous ladleful of housemade barbecue sauce.
This French Quarter gem with a Caribbean vibe serves punch and tropical snacks (think peas and rice cooked with plenty of andouille). The Caribbean flavors really shine through in dishes like the Crispy Rum Ribs. Duroc pork ribs are seasoned and grilled, then braised in Guyanese rum punched up with poblano peppers. A quick dip in the fryer adds a “crazy, crazy crunchy crust” to the ribs, Michael Symon says.
No need to go on safari to get your fill of big game. Just head to this burger joint instead, where patties are made from meats like kangaroo. Michael Symon recommends the venison patty, which is seasoned with spices and sweet chili sauce, then grilled on the flat top. This beauty comes topped with Gorgonzola cheese, mint pesto sauce, lettuce and tomato, all on a pretzel bun. Another standout is the wild boar patty nestled on a flavorful everything bun with fresh greens, tomato, goat cheese and a cranberry jalapeno jam.
Duff's plate of barbecue could have been served in a galvanized bucket. As he says, The Salt Lick BBQ has it all, including pork ribs and sausage. The giant pit in the middle of the restaurant is what makes them special — it's also what makes the best beef ribs Bobby has ever had. As for Michael, he couldn’t get enough of the tender brisket and its “crispy, caramelized bark.”
Chef-Owner Fernando Martinez churns out gourmet burgers at this hot spot. His creativity shines through in menu items like the Argentinean burger. A brisket-sirloin patty is piled high with a mound of caramelized onions and smothered in provolone cheese, then topped with a chorizo patty. The Double Southern Belle burger also ups the meaty, cheesy ante with two 8-ounce Black Angus beef patties blanketed in pimento cheese, then stacked between six slices of fried green tomatoes.
Want to chow down on barbecued ribs, but could do without the sticky mess of eating with your hands? Follow Michael Symon’s lead and order the boneless ribs here. Smoked for two hours and then deboned, these beauties come out tender and caramelized. Also try the baked potato loaded with pulled pork.
Chef Justin Devillier is known for his riffs on traditional New Orleans cuisine, but it was his creative take on an all-American classic that lured Michael Symon to La Petite. The LPG Cheeseburger features a coarsely ground beef patty topped with onion marmalade, melty Gruyère cheese and house-brined pickles, which add up to a dish that “burger dreams are made of,” Michael says.
This longtime fixture of the Baltimore dining scene lures in locals with its fresh seafood dishes. Michael Symon calls the jumbo lump crab cake “wonderful.” The succulent dish is made with a spice-laden sauce and just a bit of breadcrumbs so that the flavor of the meat really shines through. Another standout is the soft-shell crab that’s lightly seasoned, dredged in flour and then pan-fried. “When I think of Baltimore, this is what I think of,” Michael says of the restaurant’s crab dishes.
Chef-Owner Jimmy Gibson describes his restaurant as a “house of carnivores,” so meat lover Michael Symon just had to try the Barge Bash Burger here. For the burger’s 8-ounce patty, Jimmy mixes a ground beef blend with plenty of butter (yes, butter) for added richness. The patty comes loaded with blue cheese and a spicy bacon-tomato jam that puts the burger “over the top,” according to Michael.
For a taste of Germany in Philadelphia, locals head to this beer hall to indulge in sausages, pretzels and other satisfying bites, along with suds from Andechs and other breweries based in the fatherland. So popular are the housemade sausages that Brauhaus Schmitz makes between 500 and 600 pounds’ worth per week, with six different options available on the menu. Michael Symon favors the ungarischewurst, a Hungarian sausage laced with smoked garlic and paprika. “That’s delicious; it’s so balanced,” he said.
This spot serves homemade pub classics that pair perfectly with the craft beers brewed on the premises. All the meats are aged, cured and cut in-house. For a satisfying snack, try the house-smoked corn dogs coated in buttermilk batter (with jalapeno for some kick). The chorizo tacos are also tasty.
This farm-to-table spot is a hometown favorite of Michael Symon, who is a fan of the Brunch Burger. Order it to indulge in an Ohio beef patty piled high with cheddar cheese, housemade ketchup, onion rings and a fried egg. The fluffy biscuits and gravy, and the buttery sticky bun are also standouts.
Korzo’s husband-and-wife duo stay true to their Eastern European roots by dishing up Slovak-inspired comfort foods like fried burgers. Try the Slav: a brisket-short rib patty that’s topped with beer-braised pork, sheep cheese and juniper berry-studded sauerkraut, then enveloped in Hungarian langos dough and fried. Or opt for the Original, which comes layered with cheese, crunchy pickles and homemade red mustard.
Hattie B’s serves the fiery local favorite known as hot chicken in five heat levels, from Southern (no spice) to Shut the Cluck Up (not for the faint of heart). Round out your meal with draft beer, a comforting Southern side like pimento mac and cheese, and blackberry cobbler for a sweet finish.