When Michael Symon is craving barbecue in Los Angeles, he heads to this spot tucked away in a Koreatown strip mall, where platters of meats are grilled tableside and served with a dizzying array of sides (spicy cucumbers, marinated clams, kimchi and more). He stopped by to dine with Chef-Owner Jenee Kim, who recommended the short rib prepared two different ways: long slabs of a bone-in cut marinated in sesame oil and soy sauce, as well as thin strips of a boneless cut that sizzle on the grill.
Barbecue and bluegrass are the name of the game at this Lexington restaurant that has reopened on Southland Drive. Michael Symon stopped in to the old Broadway locale before the move to sample the pork burger. He raved about the “porky, fatty juiciness” of the patty, which comes topped with smoked cheddar cheese, homemade barbecue sauce and an extra-crunchy fried green tomato.
Paulina Meat Market is the oldest sausage shop in Chicago. The sausages are made with fresh ingredients by hand. Jeff Mauro went there looking for the perfect Polish sausage to complete his Maxwell Street Polish sandwich; he found the sausage with the help of store owner Bill Begale.
This spot boasts over-the-top barbecue creations like the Piggy Mac. Chef Keith West starts with 16-hour, cherry-smoked pulled pork and tops it with creamy mac and cheese for a delicious finish. Another decadent dish is the Southern Stack, which won over Michael Psilakis. This breakfast bonanza is composed of sweet potato pancakes heaped with pulled pork, cinnamon-laced apples and a rich fried egg. Another menu mainstay is the meatloaf, which is smoked, then seared to ensure a crisp coating that gives way to the succulent blend of brisket and pork butt underneath. A generous ladle of mushroom gravy completes the dish, which comes served with airy mashed potatoes.
Michael Symon stops by to visit his friend Chef Jonathan Waxman and learn the secret behind his showstopping burgers. A wood-fired cooking technique locks in the juices and adds smokiness, while a layer of onion marmalade hidden beneath a blanket of melty cheese gives a hint of sweet flavor.
At this artsy beer bar, the brews are paired with some of the freshest burgers around (the grass-fed meat is sourced from the owner’s nearby ranch). A highlight is the Hawaii Consolidated: Its cheese-smothered patty is finished with Canadian bacon, housemade teriyaki sauce and sweet pineapple jam.
The wings at this food truck are far from standard fare. Owner Stefano Enjem has created customized toppings made to match the favor profiles of craft brews sold throughout the city. Michael Symon and Billy Gardell tucked into an order of Stefano’s Original Wings, laced with fresh onion and garlic, as well as the sleeper hit: Kickin’ Chicken Tater Tots. A heap of Tater Tots comes blanketed in three different kinds of cheese and a flurry of bacon, grilled chicken and fresh jalapeno.
You can stock up on lotto tickets at this old-school diner, but for a sure win, order the double cheeseburger. Fans include Paul Kahan, who told Michael Symon he’s struck by “the balance of bun to meat to griddled onions” achieved in this simple yet satisfying dish. Michael opted for the Slinger: an over-the-top spin on a double cheeseburger. Two cheese-covered patties are nestled on a thatch of hash browns, then topped with a pair of sunnyside up eggs and completely smothered in spicy chili.
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.
This joint serves “the best barbecue in Detroit,” according to Michael Symon, who has been an avid fan since the restaurant’s first years. It seems many locals agree, as they flock here for standout dishes that include The Charlene. Succulent pulled pork is tossed in a sauce made from the meat’s drippings, then stuffed into a soft yet sturdy bun and topped with a mound of coleslaw and pickled jalapenos. Another popular pick is the Yardbird, which features smoked chicken doused in mustard sauce.
Few can resist the allure of The Little Owl, and Alton Brown and Michael Symon are among the fans who make a beeline for the restaurant at brunch time. While Alton opts for the whole-wheat pancakes adorned with berries and a splash of syrup, Michael favors a meal that’s more on the savory side. He can’t get enough of the sliders, which feature saucy meatballs nestled in pizza-dough buns. These hearty bites go well with the restaurant’s take on chilaquiles: spicy tortilla chips served with eggs.
Locals flock to this San Antonio fixture for the menu of reimagined comfort-food classics. Michael Symon’s favorite sandwich here features a slab of meatloaf that’s made from a pork and beef blend to ensure maximum juiciness and seasoned with a spicy dry rub for kick. The meatloaf comes wrapped in strips of applewood bacon and topped with a fried egg that “adds another layer of richness,” Michael says.