12 Fresh Spring Dishes Showcasing the Best of the Season

Chefs love spring. Can you blame them? The days grow longer and warmer, and menus are finally doffing their comforting winter finery for lighter and brighter fare. Root vegetables and hearty braises are giving way to lighter offerings featuring a range of tasty, tender greens. Here are some of the best fresh spring dishes, sprouting up on menus near you.

Peas and Carrots, Finch & Fork, Santa Barbara, California
Finch & Fork typifies the casual, produce-forward cuisine of Santa Barbara and so do chef Siao’s Peas and Carrots. It’s the classic vegetable pairing like you’ve never seen it before, with burrata, golden oranges, Marcona almonds and green goddess dressing. It’s a playful dish, but also drop-dead gorgeous. Make a reservation at Finch & Fork.

Spring Dishes

Kale Caesar Salad, The Kitchen Step, Jersey City, New Jersey
Executive chef Ryan DePersio says, “With its peak season approaching, you’re probably seeing mint pop up at your local farmer’s markets or in your grocery store. Mint’s hardy, cool, and sweet flavor profile makes it one of the most versatile of herbs and one that plays perfectly in both sweet and savory dishes.” Mint is the unexpected green in the Kale Caesar Salad. The combination of the kale’s slight bitterness with the buttery nuttiness of Gouda and the bright, clean coolness of mint transforms the more traditional heavy Caesar salad into something much more refreshing. Make a reservation at The Kitchen Step.

Spring ingredients

Saffron Chitarra Pasta, Navio, Half Moon Bay, California
Dungeness crab season finally opened the end of March in Northern California, and Navio at the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay offers a dish by Chef Jason Pringle, Saffron Chitarra Pasta with fresh-caught Dungeness crab, confit fennel, and lemon. According to executive chef Xavier Salomon, “We are thrilled that we are able to serve fresh, local-caught Dungeness crabs again. Our guests love and appreciate them, and they are easily our number one selling item on the menu when they are in season.” Make a reservation at Navio.

Navio

Poulpe Grille, Gaspar Brasserie, San Francisco, California
One of the best dishes on the menu right now at this intimate French spot downtown is the octopus. The Poulpe Grille features charred-yet-tender octopus, and the bright green accents to the dish add clean levity. It’s served with spring peas, fresh dill, and green garlic. Make a reservation at Gaspar Brasserie.

Spring ingredients

Tomato and Burrata, HEXX Kitchen + Bar, Las Vegas, Nevada
Executive chef Matthew Piekarski’s favorite springtime dish is Tomato and Burrata. Piekarski roasts Campari tomatoes to concentrate the flavors. The dish is served with creamy burrata, sourdough toast, olive oil, and a truffle honey reduction. “Every ingredient is light and simple,” says Piekarski. “But together, the flavors sing in perfect harmony — the perfect complement to a warm, spring day.” Make a reservation at HEXX Kitchen + Bar.

Spring dishes

Spring Citrus and Olio Nuovo Salad, Shed, Healdsburg, California
Fine dining Chef Perry Hoffman has landed at the more casual Shed in Healdsburg where he enjoys sourcing ingredients from local gardens and uses lots of fresh herbs and greens. His love for foraged ingredients is so great; he’s even teased by his staff for his propensity for adding blossoms to almost every dish. His Spring Citrus and Olio Nuovo salad features Hass avocado, and the first of spring greens. Make a reservation at Shed.

Spring Dishes

Lamb Belly with Huckleberry and Cipollini, Oriole, Chicago, Illinois
Lamb belly paired with huckleberry and cipollini is the final savory course in the 15-course tasting menu at Oriole and features an ingredient that is a true harbinger of spring — ramps. This tender green is a member of the wild onion family. The lamb is brined for 24 hours and then cooked for three days confit-style, so the result is meltingly tender. Make a reservation at Oriole.

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Heroes in a Half Shell: 9 Unique Tacos for #TacoTuesday (or Any Day)

Tacos are so awesome that they get a day of the week – Taco Tuesdays. This means there are dozens of days a year when you’re practically required to down a taco (or five; we won’t judge). But why content yourself with shells packed with the usual suspects, like pollo asado or ground beef? Chefs are filling their freshly griddled tortillas with far more interesting ingredients – from duck and Wagyu steak to vindaloo sausage and grasshoppers (really). Here are 9 unique tacos you won’t find on the menu at your local Chipotle.

Johnny Sánchez, New Orleans, Louisiana
Remember make your own taco night? Your mom or dad would put all the components out on the dining room table and you got to play taco chef? Chefs John Besh and Aarón Sánchez have created a similar setup for this DIY dish. Starring fire-roasted amberjack served whole, it arrives with charred avocados, crispy sweet potatoes tossed in jalapeño vinaigrette, and more, so you can make yours just the way you like it. Make a reservation at Johnny Sánchez.

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Nacional 27, Chicago, Illinois
Hawaiian poke – raw fish salad – is having a moment. This secret off-menu taco features tuna poke dressed up with oil, red wine vinegar, ginger, and chipotle powder. It’s topped off with avocado and jicama salsa and served in a gyoza shell. Make a reservation at Nacional 27.

Unique Tacos

Sushi Garage, Miami Beach, Florida
The Far East meets South of the Border in this inventive taco. Chef Sunny Oh uses a perilla (sesame leaf) instead of the traditional tortilla. He folds into it minced toro, kizami wasabi salsa, and sushi rice mixed with crispy shallots. It’s both delicioso and oishii. Make a reservation at Sushi Garage.

Unique Tacos

Kuro, Hollywood, Florida
Chef Alex Becker didn’t want to use your average Angus in his tacos. So, he upped the ante by subbing in Wagyu instead. They’re brightened with spicy cilantro, soy shallots, and aji amarillo aioli. Guests can squeeze on some fresh lime juice to add an acidic pop. Make a reservation at Kuro.

Unique Tacos

Oyamel, Washington, D.C.
Trust José Andrés to come up with a taco that defies stateside convention. He piles a corn tortilla high with chapulines, which sounds dainty and delightful when you say it in Spanish. Before you take a bite, let us translate. It means “grasshoppers.” Let us reassure you though, the crunchy insects taste like what they’ve been sautéed with – shallots, chipotle purée, and tequila – more than anything else. Also, if you were in Mexico, downing a few of these tacos would be no big deal as they’ve been enjoying the little hoppers for centuries. Make a reservation at Oyamel.

Unique Tacos

Kachina Southwestern Grill, Westminster, Colorado
The kitchen crew found inspiration in Native American cuisine when they conceived the Mojave Navajo tacos. Rich duck confit, crispy duck skin, and Manchego cheese get a lift from pickled cactus and spicy sweet chipotle agave. In keeping with the theme, the taco forgoes a tortilla for housemade fry bread. Make a reservation at Kachina Southwestern Grill.

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2016 James Beard Award Winners + a Look Inside Michael Murphy’s Rosé Bowl

Trust us when we say that you’re pretty much guaranteed a delicious meal when you dine with a 2016 James Beard Award winner. We were in Chicago to cheer on all the nominees and celebrate this year’s recipients. Before the big event, we attended Michael Murphy’s Rosé Bowl at Momotaro. We’ve got some bubbly pics from photographer Lynzie Hazan, and then scroll down for our list of the chef and restaurant 2016 James Beard Award winners.

Winners include:

Best New Restaurant
Shaya, New Orleans, Louisiana

Outstanding Restaurant
Alinea, Chicago, Illinois

Outstanding Restaurateur
Ken Friedman, The Breslin, New York, New York

Outstanding Service
Eleven Madison Park, New York, New York

Outstanding Wine Program
Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa, Florida

Outstanding Chef
Suzanne Goin, Lucques, West Hollywood, California

Rising Star of the Year
Daniela Soto-Innes, Cosme, New York, New York

Outstanding Pastry Chef
Dahlia Narvarez, Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles, California

Best Chef: Great Lakes
Curtis Duffy, Grace, Chicago, Illinois

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
Aaron Silverman, Rose’s Luxury, Washington, D.C.

Best Chef: Midwest
Paul Berglund, The Bachelor Farmer, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Best Chef: New York City
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Luxury Is on the Menu: Deliciously Decadent Brunches for Mother’s Day

Ready to up your brunching game in a big way this Mother’s Day? Want to turn an ordinary Sunday into something special? Make a reservation for a meal to remember at one of these restaurants serving fabulously decadent brunches!

Tres by José Andrés, Beverly Hills, California
Tres by José Andrés will feature both Sunday Brunch and Afternoon Tea in celebration of Mother’s Day on May 8. Tres’ Mother’s Day festivities will begin with an elegant Sunday Brunch menu and multiple dining stations, including a luxurious Caviar Display and SLS Holiday Display that will feature carvings of beef tenderloin and porchetta, along with some of Andrés’ famed bites including his Egg 63 with Chicken Confit and Fattoush salad with sumac and feta. For the late risers, Tres will also showcase their signature Afternoon Tea service for the holiday – and a glass of cava for all guests – offering a creative and modern twist on the classic tradition. Brunch (11AM-3PM) is $72 per person; $82 with additional a la carte brunch menu item, and afternoon Tea is $45 (3:30-5PM). Make a reservation at Tres by José Andrés.

Decadent brunches

The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel, New York, New York
The Palm Court and culinary director Geoffrey Zakarian, will be offering special Mother’s Day Tea Tiers. During afternoon tea service (12PM-5PM, and $120 per person), The Palm Court will offer a special tier that comes with a glass of Champagne. In the evening (5PM-midnight), the restaurant will offer a special tier that comes with a glass of champagne or a plaza classic cocktail and a gift card for a special manicure. Luxe ingredients dominate the offerings, from foie gras and lobster to gougeres and oysters, plus elegant sweets. Make a reservation at The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel.

Decadent brunches

Wright’s at the Biltmore, Phoenix, Arizona
Make a little family history with Mother’s Day brunch at Wrights, the signature restaurant of the historic Arizona Biltmore resort. Priced at $105 for adults and $40 for children 12 and under, the menu, available from 9AM-3PM, features an impressive spread of smoked fish, marketplace meats, an iced seafood bar, seasonal salads, and a bounty of savory hot entrees including the Stuffed Roasted Chicken Breast, Jumbo Lump Crab Cake and Butter Whipped Mash Potatoes. End things with an array of sweet desserts, pastries, and more. Make a reservation at Wright’s at the Biltmore.

Decadent brunches

Peacock Alley at The Waldorf Astoria, New York, New York
A New York institution, the absolutely unforgettable Waldorf Brunch is presented in the legendary Peacock Alley and focuses on seasonal and local ingredients incorporating honey and vegetables from the hotel’s 20th floor rooftop garden. The brunch pays homage to famed dishes invented by the iconic hotel, such Eggs Benedict, Waldorf Salad, and Red Velvet Cake, and the raw bar featuring caviar, clams, oysters, lobster, and shrimp is a must for seafood lovers. Join them for Mother’s Day from 10AM-2PM for $175 per person. Make a reservation at Peacock Alley at The Waldorf Astoria.

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