The philosophy behind Urbanbelly is about creating a communal dining experience, which is why Chef Bill Kim opted for communal dining tables. The menu's also a fusion of flavors. Art Smith's favorite dish, rice noodles, blends both Latin and Korean roots with hominy, kimchi and spicy pork.
Bacon lovers rejoice. At Animal, the Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar means you can have your dessert and bacon, too. On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Duff had a "celebacon" for the bar's rich chocolate and bacon crumble. Animal's menu has plenty more bacon with pig tails, pig ear and even crispy pig's head.
The name may be a tongue twister (Triple Coconut Cream Pie) but Delilah Winder calls it the "nirvana of dessert." On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Delilah devours each layer of toasted coconut, white chocolate and creamy custard. But before dessert, make sure to try the Ahi Tuna With Two Caviars.
For breakfast-lover Bobby, a classic French toast may be good, but the Peanut Butter and Banana Stuffed French Toast at Café 222 deserves a spot on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. On a menu of breakfast classics of pancakes and eggs, the Pumpkin Waffle also deserves a mention as a local favorite.
Credited in 2007 as introducing Vietnamese cuisine to America by the Smithsonian Institute, Crustacean has become an icon in California's Vietnamese dining scene. Duff can't get enough of Chef Helene An's famous garlic noodles, and thousands flock every year for her equally famed roasted crabs.
On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Claire Robinson can't get enough of the French Onion Soup Dumplings at Stanton Social Club. The dumplings exemplify the small plates concept made for "sharing among friends." Unfortunately with duck confit empanadas and goat cheese pierogies, it's easier said than done.
If there's one thing Union Square Cafe knows how to do, it's making plain old nuts taste "so, so good." Giada’s love affair with Union Square Cafe's free bar nuts begins at 4:45pm -- that's when they come out of the oven all warm and toasty. Later on, it's all about the Banana Pretzel Tart.
Holeman and Finch draws the crowds with its burger, available on the nightly menu. Two cheese-smothered chuck-and-brisket patties are topped with slivered red onions and bread-and-butter pickles. They’re served on a brioche bun, alongside hand-cut fries and housemade ketchup and mustard.
Served warm, not cold, and with perfect tanginess, the Dolmades Yialantzi at Agnanti Restaurant has become a go-to dish for Alex Guarnaschelli. Like the dolmades, Agnanti is known for re-creating true Constantinople classics like fire-roasted eggplant spread, grilled octopus and swordfish kebabs.
For Tyler Florence, nothing says the holidays quite like the fresh Dungeness crab in The Seafood Cobb at The Rotunda. Next to the crab, this salad serves rock shrimp, apple wood smoked bacon, Maytag blue cheese, avocado and more. When it's not the holidays, diners love The Rotunda's afternoon tea.
What flows through the river of Flavortown? Guy says it's the Bar-B-Q Chicken at Bar-B-Q King. On The Best Thing I Ever Ate and Triple D, he chows down on their chicken that's been fried and then dunked in their famous barbecue sauce. It's nothing short of a tried-and-true recipe from 1959.
Known for his inventive menus, David Burke has consistently wowed diners with his "Willy Wonka" confections. On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Scott Conant did a double-take when dipping his cheesecake lollipops in bubblegum-flavored whipped cream. No blowing bubbles!
On a road trip to Sun Valley, Idaho, Gina and Pat Neely discovered a tiny bit of Italian heaven: candied orange peels dipped in chocolate. Cristina prides herself on her Tuscan roots, and the menu's filled with Tuscan favorites, including margherita pizza and paninis served on fresh-baked bread.
On The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Ann adores Daddy-O's Herbaceous Mojito made with cilantro vodka and roasted jalapeno simple syrup. But diners have become enamored with "The Plate" made with beef hot sauce, upstate NY Zweigle's burgers (or hotdogs) all on a bed of home fries and macaroni salad.
The Carne Asada a la Oaxaquena at Frontera Grill requires no less than 16 ingredients. Even then, Alex wants to steal the recipe and the chefs — she's that jealous. Chef Rick Bayless is known for his mastery of Mexican cuisine, so the carne asada is to die for, as are his Yucatecan ceviches.