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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Smoked, Baked + Fried: Stoner Munchies in Pot-Friendly DC, Denver + Seattle for #420Day

April 20th is practically a national holiday for herb enthusiasts. The date – 4/20 – is a reference to 4:20 in the afternoon, the time of day when smokers traditionally spark up. As several states and the District of Columbia move to legalize marijuana, stoners can now puff-puff-pass to their heart’s desire. As anyone who has ever indulged before knows, the practice often awakens the appetite, leading to blissful binges of epic proportions. To give tokers better options than Cheetos, Ho Hos, and DiGiorno, we’ve rounded up the best smoked, baked, and fried stoner munchies in the pot-friendly cities of Washington, D.C., Denver, and Colorado. [Ed. note: One need not partake to appreciate the deliciousness of these dishes.]

Denver

Smoked

Stoner Munchies

Ribs at Russell’s Smokehouse
Funnily enough, the Smokehouse was the nickname for our off-campus duplex during college. But we digress. These generously portioned dry rubbed ribs – your choice of beef, pork, baby back, or a combo – come with three sauces on the side, including a spicy varietal that’s a longtime customer favorite. Don’t forget to ask for plenty of napkins. Make a reservation at Russell’s Smokehouse.

Baked

Stoner Munchies

The Georgio at Pizza Republica
Honestly, if we were only allowed to eat pizza for every meal of the day, we wouldn’t complain. We love ‘za that much. The Georgia is a god amongst men, decked out with rounds of fennel sausage, char-kissed pearl onions, fried garlic, and fresh mozzarella. Just what we crave after a long night of partying – or the morning after. Make a reservation at Pizza Republica.

Fried

Stoner Munchies

Doughnut Sundae at Sugar Mill
Could there be anything greater than a doughnut sundae? Possibly, but who cares? When you’re in the zone digging into a doughnut sundae, nothing else matters. A sweet circle of glazed brioche comes with ice cream, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, and candied nuts. Not included? A gym membership, which you’ll desperately need after you devour this dainty. Make a reservation at Sugar Mill.

Washington, D.C.

Smoked

Stoner Munchies

S’mores at Bourbon Steak
This haute s’more arrives hidden under a smoke-filled cloche, which the server pulls away to release a hazy cloud. You’re welcome to inhale, but, unfortunately, it has no mind-altering properties. Once the smoke clears, you’ll find marshmallow, toasted marshmallow ice cream, hazelnut graham streusel, and caramel and milk chocolate shards. Make a reservation at Bourbon Steak.

 

Baked

Stoner Munchies

Sticky Toffee Pudding at Convivial
Pastry chef Eva Kronenburg soaks dates in dark rum for a week for the base of this gloriously gluttonous sticky toffee pudding. The molasses sweetened mound is enhanced further with dark raisins and prunes. Served warm, the pudding sits in a pool of rum rich toffee sauce, while a scoop of maple ice cream on top slowly melts down the sides. A perfect meal ender for the stoner with a sweet tooth. Make a reservation at Convivial.

Fried

Stoner Munchies

French Fries at Blue Duck Tavern
It takes a full day to make these substantial sticks, which are definitely not your average French fries. Chef de cuisine Brad Deboy begins by steaming gold potatoes until tender and then mixing them until velveteen. The smooth spuds are set in a pan, cut into logs, dried overnight, and fried until golden brown for service. The Jenga tower of outsized frites comes with a spicy smoked pepper aioli. They sure beat the fries at the McDonald’s drive-through you normally scarf down after a smoke session. Make a reservation at Blue Duck Tavern.

Seattle

Smoked

Stoner Munchies

Catfish Deviled Eggs at Sazerac
There are deviled eggs and then there are smoked catfish deviled eggs. The fish is balanced on a peak of whipped yolks, garnished with pickled mustard seeds, and dusted with Spanish smoked paprika. Yes, it’s okay to eat these outrageous oeufs in a single bite. We won’t judge, dude. Make a reservation at Sazerac.

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Perfect Pot Roast: The Roasts with the Most #slowfood

We live in a society that values speed. We push a button on our phones to conjure a ride, then stare at the screen as the car inches closer. We watch an entire season of a buzzy new show in a weekend because waiting a week between episodes would be sheer insanity. In a time when the world is moving at warp speeds, let’s pause to celebrate the things that take a little more time, starting with pot roast. Braised and simmered for hours to tender, flaky perfection, the classic pot roast is the O.G. of slow food and the antithesis of instant gratification in the best possible way. See how chefs around the country put their own signature spin on the beloved American dish that is perfect pot roast.

The Red Cat, New York, New York
Wrap up a stroll around Chelsea’s art galleries with a visit to this charming neighborhood staple. For most artists, the process is as important as the end result, and the same could be said for chef Mike Cooperman’s carefully crafted Brisket Pot Roast. Braised with onion, garlic, red wine, and veal stock, the whole brisket is cut before he adds a horseradish-bread crust to each piece and returns it to the oven for a final slow roast. He makes the accompanying spaetzle by hand-pressing dough through the holes of a colander, boiling, and then pan-crisping the deliciously irregular noodles with broccoli. Finished with a Dijon mustard sauce and broccoli puree, each bite is a work of art. (The dish is being offered as a special in March.) Make a reservation at The Red Cat.

Perfect Pot Roast

Washington Place, Cleveland, Ohio
By all means, order the traditional, perfectly prepared pot roast with mashed potatoes for dinner at this inviting bistro in Cleveland’s Little Italy, but if you’re visiting for brunch don’t miss the Pot Roast Hash. General manager Megan LeFebvre explains, “Brunch is a really big part of what we do at Washington Place. Tying one of our signature comfort food entrees to brunch was a priority to us, and we loved the idea of replacing the traditional corned beef with our fork tender pot roast.” Served with a poached egg, potato hash, white cheddar sauce, and toasted challah, it’s definitive proof that pot roast is a great way to start the day. Make a reservation at Washington Place.

Perfect Pot Roast

Mity Nice, Chicago, Illinois
On Tuesday nights at Mity Nice, two classic comfort dishes become one. The stylish spot on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile serves a Pot Roast-Stuffed Shells special — we’ll pause while your mind is blown — blanketed in fontina and Asiago cheeses and marinara sauce. With each rich, creamy bite, wonder why no one’s thought of this before. Make a reservation at Mity Nice.

Perfect Pot Roast

Beatrix Streeterville, Chicago, Illinois
This popular spot in Chicago’s Near North Side is open all day — from coffee and pastries to dinner and cocktails. In the morning, upgrade your breakfast BEC (bacon, egg, and cheese) with the hearty Braised Pot Roast & Egg Sandwich, featuring aged white cheddar and jalapeno relish for a little kick to get your day going. Circle back for your dinnertime pot roast fix with their Slow Braised Short Rib Farrotto and a slice of the Oh My! Caramel Pie. Finally, congratulate yourself on a banner day of eating. Make a reservation at Beatrix Streeterville.

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You’ll Want Some More: 11 Restaurants Serving Savory Porridge

Porridge is getting a makeover. It’s gone from something dreary and reminiscent of Oliver Twist to a dreamy and savory comfort food. While humble dishes like grits, polenta, and congee have been around for a long time, they are now beginning to show up on more upscale restaurant menus — often embellished with sophisticated or luxe  toppings. Here’s where to find some of the most crave-worthy savory porridge ever to grace a fork (or spoon).

Mushroom Porridge, Juniper and Ivy, San Diego, California
Chef Richard Blais may have lived in Atlanta, but his restaurant in his new hometown of San Diego is his take on the “Left Coast.” Some of the dishes have Southern roots, like buttermilk biscuits and blackened shrimp but always with a twist. The Mushroom Porridge uses local wheat berries, roasted shiitake mushrooms, and mushroom broth and is topped with a parmesan cracker, wild arugula, and an egg poached in parmesan oil. Says chef de cuisine Anthony Wells, “Richard (Blais) always wanted a porridge shop so I like to make dishes that could be a future reference point, and also, everybody likes a big bowl of porridge on a cold day.” Make a reservation at Juniper and Ivy.

savory porridge

Goetta, Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
Goetta, a Cincinnati specialty, is a kind of sausage or mush made from ground meat, pin-head oats, and spices that was popularized by German settlers. At Orchids at Palm Court, it’s served as a breakfast porridge. Chef Todd Kelly explains, “We boil pork bones, celery, and onions until the meat is falling off of the bones. All of the meat and vegetables are chopped and poured back into the strained stock. Pin oats are used to thicken the Goetta and it is poured into loaf pans.” To turn it into porridge, it’s mashed and cooked with chicken stock, then it’s topped with a poached egg. It’s on the menu when the restaurant receives fresh hogs each month. Make a reservation at Orchids at Palm Court.

Savory Porridge

Congee, Little Sister, Los Angeles, California
Little Sister, an East-meets-West restaurant in downtown LA, is known for playing old school gangsta rap and serving Asian small plates just right for sharing. Chef and partner Tin Vuong says, “Congee is a nostalgic dish for me. It’s both hearty and savory. I grew up eating it in the morning, as well as late-night. It’s the epitome of home-cooked soul food, in my opinion.” At the restaurant, it’s served various ways — with confit duck or pork, poached chicken, or fish – as well as cilantro, scallions, and fried shallots, alongside Chinese savory crullers. Make a reservation at Little Sister.

Savory Porridge

Barley Porridge, Outerlands, San Francisco, California
On the very edge of San Francisco is the aptly named Outerlands where comfort food dishes like seasonal soups and an epic grilled cheese sandwich are crowd pleasers. Says chef Yoni Levy, “We love porridge, and our guests love it too. It’s warming and comforting, especially out here in foggy beach town.” The brunch-only dish is made with hulled barley cooked with vegetable stock and white wine, roasted garlic, Pecorino, and butter. The garnish changes often and a similar porridge accompanies steak at dinner.  Make a reservation at Outerlands.

Savory Porridge

Congee, Makan, Decatur, Georgia
Just East of Atlanta, hip and modern Makan offers pan-Asian food, with an emphasis on Chinese and Korean dishes. Their dim sum brunch launched a year ago, and while the menu changes seasonally, the congee is a staple. Says George Yu, “I grew up eating savory congee for breakfast because my mom and grandmother loved it. Just like pizza, it’s like a great base for toppings. We add shredded pork jerky, crispy shallots, scallions, and a tea-poached egg to the one we serve at the restaurant.” Make a reservation at Makan.

Savory Porridge

Heirloom Grain Porridge, Little Park, New York, New York
At Andrew Carmellini’s latest and somewhat vegetable-centric restaurant in Tribeca, savory porridge is made from barley grits and topped with hen of the woods mushrooms, poached eggs, and pine nuts. Says chef de cuisine Min Kong, “When we opened, it was fall, almost winter, and we wanted something hearty and savory, but not too heavy to contrast the typical sweet items for breakfast and brunch.” Make a reservation at Little Park.

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