This Austin fixture has built a loyal following with its fresh take on traditional Mexican cuisine. One vibrant brunch dish brings unexpected flavors to a breakfast classic: huevos rancheros. In this version, the fried eggs are accompanied by slow-roasted chicken, crisped potatoes and bacon paste.
Domenica has built up a loyal fan base with its menu of rustic cuisine inspired by Sunday dinners in the Italian countryside. Iron Chef winner Lee Anne Wong finds pasta perfection there,” it’s like you’ve left Bourbon Street and walked into Bologna,” she muses. Their house-made bucatini with shrimp is enrobed in an “unapologetic amount” of lemon-chile butter and crowned with fried oysters. The maltagliati, a type of pasta that is ripped to resemble rags, is topped with succulent braised beef shank. Chef Wong calls the first bite, “romantic.”
The owners of this Brooklyn restaurant ate pizza on their first date, so it's small wonder the bubbly modern American-style pies taste like they're made with love. The dough is hand-mixed and the mozzarella is prepared in-house, under top-quality toppings. Just as popular as the pizza is the house burger, served with dry-aged beef on a fluffy pretzel bun.
Kountry Kitchen was once a tiny cafe with only a six-stool countertop, but the food drew in such large crowds that it expanded to seat 175 guests. The fried catfish is one of the most-popular menu items. For this dish, the catfish is dredged in a cornmeal-flour mixture, then seasoned with spices and fried in hot oil until perfectly crisp. Candied yams and collard greens finish the plate.
Daring diners at this restaurant are offered 50 percent off their entree if they jump, fully clothed, into the restaurant’s pool. Taking the plunge is worth it for the panko-crusted Country-Fried Steak. After the tender filet is fried in a cast-iron skillet, it’s topped with two runny poached eggs and country gravy. Arugula salad completes the plate.
This diner is still going strong after 70-plus years in business, thanks to a varied menu rife with reliable standbys and upscale spins on comforting classics. A standout is the Lobster Mac & Cheese, which earned rave reviews on Top 5 Restaurants. Canadian hard-shell lobster is the star of this creamy dish, which combines succulent tail and claw meat with a cognac-laced sauce that features three different cheeses: Grana Padano, fontina and sharp Vermont cheddar.
This casual California eatery is home to some of the best gumbo in the country. Chef-Owner Tanya Holland uses caramelized garlic instead of raw garlic to pump up the rich and sweet flavors in the dish. She starts with her homemade chicken stock, then thickens the gumbo roux with sassafras and okra, which add earthy notes to the dish. Tender chicken and shrimp complete the creation.
This operation started as a roving school bus slinging new-school spins on classic burgers, with housemade condiments to boot. Bernie’s has grown into two brick-and-mortar locales serving innovative between-the-bun creations that include the Detention Burger. Two cheese-smothered patties are topped with crisp strips of bacon, then placed between a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches to create this winning burger that’s worthy of an A-plus.
It may seem impossible to find fresh fish in the middle of a desert, but Joyful House is no mirage. The chefs at this seafood-centric spot prepare dishes with fresh lobsters, prawns and more plucked straight from tanks right on the premises. One menu highlight is the Honey Walnut Shrimp. Fresh shrimp are wok-fried, then tossed with a sweet sauce made from pineapple juice and condensed milk. Candied walnuts add to the richness. Bonus: This spot is open until 3 a.m. for your late-night cravings.
This Italian restaurant offers a menu of hearty dishes featuring authentic touches like handmade mozzarella and meat that’s butchered in-house. A standout is the Veal Smash Job: The breaded-and-fried chop comes topped with melty mozzarella and a sauce made from heirloom tomatoes, onions and prosciutto.
Bobby calls Gibsons’ cuts (like the 48-ounce porterhouse) some of the "juiciest steaks around.” Also try the dessert: The Macadamia Turtle Pie features mounds of caramel-drizzled ice cream, while The Meaning of Life features five layers of chocolate cake, rich mousse and raspberry preserves.
Jam quickly became Jeff Mauro's go-to brunch spot, not only because the chef is named Jeffrey Mauro, but also because he’s a fan of the breakfast sandwiches and other morning staples. The menu is loaded with creative twists on brunch classics, like Malted Custard French Toast. This popular dish is topped with a macerated cherry puree laced with pink peppercorns for a floral note.
This spot takes the hot chicken game to a fiery new level with its Tender Royale. Chicken tenders are brined, fried and doused with an oil made from Carolina reaper peppers before being served on a grilled cheese sandwich. Another standout is the Battle Royale, which clocks in at 9 pounds. Cheese sandwiches are fried until golden, then heaped with hot chicken tenders. Another layer of sandwiches and fried tenders are stacked on top, then finished with a mound of sweet apples.
This quirky cafe serves up a slice of Americana with its comforting dishes like the Sweet N’ Salty Pie: A luscious, lard-based crust envelops a dense cookie-dough filling studded with caramel bits and chocolate chips. A sprinkling of sea salt and scoop of vanilla ice cream add to the decadence.
Head to this diner for comforting dishes made from family recipes. A standout is the chicken pot pie, which has a buttery crust composed of dough made fresh daily. The crust serves as the base of the pie, which comes piled with a hearty mix of chicken and vegetables topped with a creamy gravy.