Chef-Owner Peter Chang beat out other chef contestants in China to become the executive chef at the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. After leaving the embassy, he opened this spot, where he serves dishes bursting with the spicy flavors of the Sichuan Provence in the south of China. The most-fiery item on the menu is the Kung Pao Chicken, made with mouth-numbing peppercorn powder to ensure maximum heat.
When it’s sometime between midnight and 6 in the morning, and you’re not sure if you’re craving dessert or breakfast, head to this 24-hour joint. Their busiest hours are between 1 and 4 in the morning, when night owls pack in for the Boston Cream Pancakes. This spin on the classic pie is made with fluffy pancakes that are layered with creamy Bavarian custard and topped with indulgent chocolate ganache.
This longtime New Orleans eatery draws the crowds with its French Creole cuisine. Particularly popular is the Thanksgiving feast starring Cajun fried turkey. The bird is soaked in a spice-laden brine, seasoned with a secret blend, then roasted over oak and pecan woods to add sweet and smoky flavors.
Hot wings may not have been served when the first tavern opened here in the 1700s, but these days, J. Timothy’s sells 300 tons of them per year. The wings are fried, coated in a robust Buffalo sauce and then fried again to create a caramelized crust. A final bath in the sauce ensures maximum flavor.
Owner Tyrone Bully built this joint by hand from the ground up, and he puts the same care into every rack of ribs he serves. Each rack is dry-rubbed and marinated for three days to start. Smoking the ribs over hickory and cherry woods and steaming them in their own juices create bold, smoky notes and fall-off-the-bone tenderness. A coating of Bully’s barbecue sauce adds a punch of flavor.
This homey restaurant is a go-to breakfast destination. Fuel up for the day with hearty options like sweet potato hash, a chili-stuffed omelet and a short stack of oatmeal pancakes dressed up with whipped cream and strawberries (and chocolate chips, blueberries, pecans or bananas if you so desire).
Executive Chef Skip Steele uses the techniques he honed on the competitive barbecue circuit to turn out succulent ribs infused with an addictive blend of smoky, savory and sweet flavors. The meat is seasoned with Skip’s secret dry rub and sprinkled with brown sugar before being smoked slow and low.
Sink your teeth into seriously succulent pork at this spot, which specializes in the Mexican delicacy known as carnitas. The meat is flash-fried in cauldrons before being slow-cooked, resulting in juicy chunks of porky goodness with satisfyingly crispy edges. Order the meat by the pound or in tacos.
This cavernous restaurant offers an extensive menu of savory Italian dishes, but the sweets here are what draw dessert-obsessed fans like Brooke Burke-Charvet. Her go-to treat is the tiramisu, which is made from an extra-light sponge cake soaked in espresso and layered with rich mascarpone cream.
This longtime fixture just off the Venice boardwalk serves up creative takes on classic beach eats. Curtis Stone tried the Spicy Street Dog, a meaty delight that’s wrapped in bacon and deep-fried. It comes nestled in a brioche bun and loaded with chili, coleslaw and jalapenos for a spicy kick. For a decadent East Coast-inspired combo, opt for a buttery Connecticut-style lobster roll and a bowl of creamy clam chowder studded with bits of slab bacon, freshly shucked corn and clams, of course.
This garage-turned-restaurant offers innovative brunch dishes like the sweet-and-savory mash-up known as the BLT Dutch Baby Pancake. A puffy, pastrylike base made from pancake batter is topped with aioli and bacon jam, then loaded with peppery strips of bacon, marinated tomatoes and fresh greens.
Naming his restaurant Yardbird is proof enough that Chef Jeff McInnis stands by his signature dish. The skillet-fried chicken takes 27 hours to prepare, leaving the chicken supremely tender with crispy skin. Make sure to order buttermilk biscuits with pepper jelly or the Tabasco-spiked honey.
IHead to this hip tavern for your fry fix. Michael Symon favors the Gravy Frites, which are cooked in duck fat and then smothered with mozzarella cheese and brown gravy. The Animal Style Frites are also a must-try: These fries come heaped with cheese curds, pork belly lardons and sunny-side-up eggs.
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 shop churns out individual-sized cheesecakes perfect for giving in to the urge for indulgent desserts. A standout is the Quadruple Chocolate Cheesecake: A cocoa-laced cookie crust, silky cheesecake batter and three varieties of chocolate buttons are layered together to make this rich creation.