11 Awesome College Town Restaurants: Where to Dine on Your Parents’ Dime

Dear new college students,

If there’s anything that I can say for sure about your upcoming year in college, it is that you will absolutely get your fill of pizza and burritos. So, whether it’s for your school’s official Family Weekend or simply an impromptu delivery of a much-needed winter coat, you should make the most of mom and dad’s visit with an A+ meal, courtesy of the ‘rents. Think beyond the box of mac ‘n’ cheese. Save the cheap eats for late night study binges, and embrace the family meal like you never fully could during those last awkward weeks of summer at home. Bust out your best threads and make a reservation at one of these fine establishments. No doubt, you’ll thank me in a few weeks when you’re all hopped up on Pop Tarts and Skittles.

Here are 11 awesome college town restaurants for a family meal to remember.

L’Etoile, Madison, Wisconsin
Local and carefully sourced ingredients take center stage at the much-revered Madison eatery L’Etoile. A pioneer in the sustainable food movement since 1976, Badgers fans can expect to learn where their food came from before discovering how delicious it is. While mom and dad are perusing the wine list, quickly put in your order for the seven-course prix fixe meal. They’ll forgive you by the time you graduate. Find more great restaurants near the University of Wisconsin at Madison here. [Photo by Samantha Egelhoff]


Goosefoot, Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is a food lover’s paradise. And it’s home to some of the nation’s best colleges. Goosefoot, in Lincoln Square, is well within Uber distance of Northwestern and DePaul universities (heck, it’s even worth the trek from the University of Chicago on the south side), and it offers a nine-course menu that changes regularly. What doesn’t seem to change are the stellar reviews. Drinks are BYOB, and Goosefoot recently added an adjacent shop — Goosefoot Food & Wine — from which your parents are welcome to buy a bottle before your reservation. Corkage fees will be waived for wines purchased there. Find more great restaurants near Northwestern University here. [Photo by Anna Knott]

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Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
College is a fine time to become a vegetarian. But before you do that, students from Butler University or IU Purdue (and, if you’re up for a drive, IU Bloomington) really owe it to themselves to reserve a table at Fogo de Chao Brazilian Steakhouse in downtown Indianapolis. Here you will find sturdy gauchos well versed in the art of cooking all manner of meat. And they’ll serve it to you with expertise at your table until you fight them back and demand dessert. So, boost your iron levels one last time before you start to think of ways to explain to mom and dad why you won’t be eating turkey at Thanksgiving. Find more great restaurants near Butler University here.

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Palme d’Or at The Biltmore Hotel, Miami, Florida
Heck, you’ve already managed to convince your parents that pursuing your degree in Miami is a good idea, so getting them to take you to the Palme d’Or shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Pro tip: Just tell them you want to brush up on your French. Book a table with enough room for your friends and get your folks there before they figure out it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant. Find more great restaurants near the University of Miami here.

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Frankenfruits + Mashuptables: 5 Delicious Dishes Showcasing Hybrid Produce

Love kale? Love Brussels sprouts? Wish you could enjoy them both in a single bite? Now you can! The two vegetables have been crossbred to create an innovative hybrid known as kalettes. Freethinking farmers are playing Dr. Frankenstein by mashing up a variety of fruits and veggies. (Don’t worry, this is a completely natural thing to do, and shouldn’t be confused with genetically modified crops.). Chefs have been enthusiastic first adopters of these new creations. Here are five delightful and delicious dishes showcasing hybrid produce.

Sixteen, Chicago, Illinois
Known as pluots, plumcots, apriplums, or apriums, these plum-apricot fusions contain varying percentages of the stone fruits. The smooth-skinned pluot is one-quarter apricot and three-quarters plum, possessing a rich sweetness that makes it well-fitted for desserts. Executive pastry chef Aya Fukai crafts a chili-pepped jam with them, which accompanies a chocolate-coconut gateau, coconut marshmallow, and bright bangles of confit chili.


Ad Lib, Napa, California
With its fractal-like formations and brilliant chartreuse hue, Romanesco – a.k.a. broccoflower or Roman broccoli – looks like the handiwork of a Sixties stoner. In fact, Italian farmers created it back in the 16th century. They grow an abundance of the psychedelic produce at the French Laundry Culinary Garden, which they use on site and at the group’s other properties including this pop-up. Here it’s served with a variety of vegetables and Green Goddess dressing as a part of the opening crudité platter.

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Ray’s Boathouse, Seattle, Washington
Kalettes have been around for less than a year, but the amalgamated superfood is already starting to earn hardcore fans. Executive chef Paul Duncan likes frying up the “kale sprouts” to add crunch factor to his sablefish poached in sake kasu and complemented with ginger-oyster sauce and jasmine rice. He appreciates the greens’ cabbage-like flavor, which works well in the Asian-accented dish, but never overpowers the other components.

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Put an Egg on (or in) It: 13 ‘Eggcellent’ Dishes for #WorldEggDay

Eggs have long since migrated from breakfast and brunch staples to main attractions on lunch and dinner menus. A sexy, shimmery, perfectly slow-cooked or cheerful sunny side up egg brings rich flavor and lush texture, not to mention a protein punch, to many a dish. To inspire you on this delicious occasion, we’ve rounded up 13 ‘eggcellent’ dishes for #WorldEggDay.

L’Etoile, Madison, Wisconsin
A local duck egg gets top billing from chef Tory Miller in the farro salad at French fine dining restaurant L’Etoile. Made with duck confit, sweet potatoes, and shaved red onion, the duck-centric dish is topped with crispy kale and a sunny side up, farm-raised duck egg. [Photo by Samantha Egelhof]


Ramen-san, Chicago, Illinois
Chef Doug Psaltis’s Berkshire Ham & Cheese Okonomiyaki, crowned with a sunny side up egg, is Ramen-san’s version of the savory Japanese “pancakes” that are gaining popularity both in the U.S. and abroad. [Photo by Jeff Marini]

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Stella Barra Pizzeria, North Bethesda, Maryland
When the moon of Prosciutto and Egg Pizza from Stella Barra chef-partner Jeff Mahin hits your eye with its sunny side up egg nestled on a white base, four types of cheese, and chilies? That’s amore. [Photo by Rey Lopez]

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Melisse, Los Angeles, California
At the only two Michelin-starred restaurant in Los Angeles, Chef Josiah Citrin serves his Egg Caviar dish, a sublimely cooked soft poached egg appointed with a tangy lemon-chive crème frâiche and American Osetra caviar. The ingredients are served inside the eggshell for a stunning presentation and accompanied by toasted brioche for dipping. [Photo by Matthew Kiefer]

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Craftbar, New York, New York
Surf meets turf in chef Luke Wallace’s White Anchovy & Soft Egg Toast at Craftbar. With crunchy bread, plus lemon aioli and confit of leek, every one of your hungry taste buds will be deliciously served.

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Summer House, North Bethesda, Maryland
Bucatini and Brown Butter Carbonara, Summer House Santa Monica’s version of carbonara, elevates a classic dish to new heights with thick-cut braised bacon and heaps of parmesan – all brought together with a farm-fresh egg. [Photo by Anjali Pinto]

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Café Spiaggia, Chicago, Illinois
The Farm Egg at James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano’s Café Spiaggia is a stellar example of happens when a simple pantry staple is paired with fresh, high-quality ingredients, such as Lonesome Stone polenta, Scrozone nero truffles, and Grana Padano cheese. [Photo by Jeff Kauck]

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Osteria, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Chef Brad Daniels serves a freshly thrown pizza with all the trimmings you could want in the way of his Lombarda pie. Topped with baked egg, Bitto and mozzarella cheese, and cotechino sausage, it’ll be love at first bite, guaranteed.

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Inside Vedge + V Street: Kate Jacoby + Rich Landau’s Honest, Feel-Good #VegForward Food

OpenTable_Vedge_VStreet-16-flippedLast week, in honor of Vegetarian Awareness Month, we unveiled the 52 Best Restaurants for Vegetarians in America. No conversation about plant-based dining could be complete without talking about chefs Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau or, rather, talking to them. So, that’s what we did! Read on for a look inside their restaurants Vedge and V Street, with photos from Simon Lewis, and learn about their honest, feel-good #vegforward food that you can believe in.


In the 1972 film The Heartbreak Kid, after eating a humble Midwestern dinner, Charles Grodin’s Lenny Cantrow, rather absurdly, declares, “There’s no insincerity in those potatoes. There’s no deceit in that cauliflower. This is a totally honest meal. You don’t know what a pleasure it is to sit down in this day and age and eat food you can believe in.”

Flash forward 40-plus years, and the same words might be uttered by anyone who has ever had the pleasure of dining at Vedge (hold the side of absurdity, even from a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker like Lenny). The award-winning Philadelphia restaurant from chefs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby has captured the nation’s attention since opening its doors in 2011 with its animal product-free menu that celebrates vegetables in ways both evocative and original.


The seemingly sudden success of Vedge and its brand of food diners can – and do – believe in, be they omnivores or vegans, is actually a story decades in the making. Philadelphia vegetable lovers are long-familiar with the couple’s popular Horizons restaurant, which had a devoted, cultish following, since it opened, first as Horizons Café inside a health food store, in 1994.


In the subsequent 20-odd years, appetites have evolved alongside Landau’s cuisine. Jacoby, who teamed up with Landau personally and professionally in 2001, said of their earliest menus, “It was a lot of tofu and seitan — mock meats, mock tuna salad, faux chicken salad. A lot of these playful ‘isms around protein-centric dishes. But that’s what it was back then. You had to start somewhere, and you had to start with something that was familiar to people.”


As Horizons steadily grew in popularity, there were a few significant culinary climate changes occurring in the U.S. She notes, “In the mid-2000s, people started to really think about where their food was coming from. They wanted to know its origins — who makes it, how organic it is, how local it is. People started to value that.”


At the same time, tapas and small plates began to captivate diners’ imaginations. “People became much more casual and social with their dining. They wanted to graze and have lots of plates in front of them and lots of variety.” These shifts allowed the couple to then shift their attention away from “a giant piece of vegan protein on a plate” and highlight a single vegetable at a time. They also allowed Jacoby and Landau to fully realize their vision for focusing on and celebrating vegetables, shuttering Horizons to open Vedge.


“It’s been this kind of beautiful story because everybody loves vegetables. Very few people refuse to eat them. There’s so much diversity in how you prepare them, the colors, the textures, the flavors. And there’s just so much to do when you get your hands on them. It’s really exciting territory.”


Landau, a self-taught chef who was nominated for a James Beard Award just this year, concurs. “We’re having a pinch-me moment. When people say that Vedge has made a splash on a national level, it’s hard to wrap my head around it. I just go to work and make sure everyone’s good and the food tastes amazing.”


Speaking of food, Vedge’s menu, and that of the newish restaurant V Street, is modest – and efficient (four guests could easily sample every one of Vedge’s offerings in a single sitting). “We keep our menu small because we like to be really focused on what we’re doing and do it really well,” he says.

With 18 dishes, diners can choose from six options at the veg bar, all of which are cold vegetable charcuterie selections. There are six hot, bigger-than-an-appetizer-yet-smaller-than-an-entrée kitchen plates, and their signature dirt list, a collection of freshly sown, at-the-moment farm vegetables. “We try to turn them into these whacky side dishes, doing things people haven’t done with them before. That’s our motto: Do something that hasn’t been done.”

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