People often ask me for restaurant advice, and I can certainly give some, but I get more enthusiastic when I recommend specific dishes. In no particular order, here are the best things I’ve eaten in recent months.
The sweet potatoes, the crispy panisse, the lima beans in mint pesto…. Bettina has so many terrific dishes that you might be tempted to skip pizza altogether. But as I like to say, if there’s any left over, we can always take it home. (There never is.) The current star is the pie with Boxcarr Campo cheese, mozzarella, prosciutto, Castelvetrano olives, rosemary, and garlic. What sounds simple is somehow alchemical; it might be the perfect pizza. Unfortunately, it’s also coming off the menu very soon.
If I’m going to eat chicken, I need it to be really good—like the chicken shawarma at Tamar, at Third Window Brewing Monday through Wednesday, noon to 4 p.m. Here’s hoping for a broader menu and hours someday.
Ditto re: Na Na Thai, which pops up on Tuesdays at Bar Le Côte in Los Olivos. “Fried chicken is a flex,” said cofounder Ashley Ramirez, meaning it’s a chance to show off your skills, and chef Nik Ramirez does just that. (Photo courtesy Na Na Thai.)
At the other end of the healthfulness spectrum is The Daisy‘s farm grain bowl, which—while pretty!—doesn’t look like it belongs at the same party as pizza and fried chicken. Chef Carmen Deforest makes virtue interesting by curating a delightful mix of the roasted, pickled, creamy, chewy, and crunchy. And rare for a vegan dish, it satisfies.
At Aperitivo, I’m content to let cofounder Andrea Girardello decide what I drink. He’s always devising new spritzes with vermouths and aperitifs from Italy. My favorite so far is his take on a negroni—we call it the fauxgroni because instead of gin (Aperitivo can’t serve hard liquor), it contains agave wine and is infused with juniper berries.
I’ll say it again: Hook & Press has the best biscuits in town, and the soft, whipped butter certainly helps. For something more substantial, get the G.O.A.T. breakfast sandwich (pictured in the grid at the top of the page), which puts a fried egg, bourbon bacon jam, goat cheese, and arugula on the aforementioned biscuit.
Speaking of breakfast sandwiches, Merci‘s is a top contender for the best in town. And the kitchen is one of the most consistent around: everything is good. But the item on the menu (besides the chicken paillard) that always makes me swoon is the potato chips that come with the sandwiches.
Fish and chips is usually my defensive order—i.e., when I think a restaurant can’t handle anything more complicated. At Broad Street Oyster Company, however, the hot, crispy fish and chips is a straight-up winner.
Everyone else seems to like crudo more than I do, and I rarely find it memorable. That’s not the case with Bar Le Côte‘s scallop version, with pickled mushrooms, crème fraîche, and dill pollen. It truly shines. (Photo by John Troxell.)
Something sweet to finish: the extraordinary doughnuts at Bossie’s Kitchen. I’ve given up complaining that they’re only available after 12:30 p.m., because if I could get my hands on them any earlier, I’d have to buy new pants.
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