Grab the popcorn; it’s award season. Whether you’re watching all the glamour and glitz with your friends or just craving a shareable snack ideal for pairing with date-night drinks, check out these 15 restaurants for next-level popcorn that is worthy of its own golden statuette. Not near one of these spots? Find a restaurant near you on OpenTable.
The Salted Vine Kitchen + Bar, Squamish, B.C., Canada
The flavors of Ethiopia run through this beloved bar snack. Its kernels are laced with a housemade Berbere spice mix rich with fenugreek, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima (Ethiopian cardamom), rue, nigella, and paprika. Definitely a big step up from your average bowl of popcorn. Make a reservation at the Salted Vine Kitchen + Bar.
Farmers & Distillers, Washington, D.C.
Mushroom popcorn gets its name from the fact it looks like a mushroom cloud when it pops. Here the king-sized kernels are coated with a sweet ‘n’ salty glaze to create a killer kettle corn. To ensure it looks as good as it tastes, the awesometastic app arrives in a Whirly Pop maker. Make a reservation at Farmers & Distillers.
Il Solito, Portland, Oregon
Cacio e pepe’s flavors come alive in this Italian accented snack. The kernels are popped and then deep-fried to add crunch. They’re then tossed in parmesan rind oil, pecorino cheese, and freshly cracked black pepper. Make a reservation at Il Solito.
Swan, Miami, Florida
We don’t mean to be corny, but this dish caught our ear. Called Corn, Corn, Corn, it features the titular vegetable three ways. Creamy polenta mixed with brown butter serves as the foundational layer, which gets capped with corn kernels and seasoned popcorn. Make a reservation at Swan.
Oceana, New York, New York
This dessert is popping off! Executive pastry chef Douglas Hernandez graces popcorn gelato with a tumble of frozen caramel popcorn and a dusting of caramel powder. Beautifully buttery and oh-so-sweet, it’s a picture-perfect ending. Make a reservation at Oceana.
Rasika, Washington, D.C.
Sit down at the bar for a cocktail and you’ll be given a bowl of masala popcorn to savor. The simple snack is surprisingly complex. The puffy kernels come seasoned with fennel, coriander, cumin, green chilies, curry leaves, red chili powder, salt, and sugar. Make a reservation at Rasika.
Ocean Prime, Troy, Michigan
Get ready to hang truff! There’s a complimentary bowl of truffled popcorn for anyone drinking or dining at the bar. Accented with parsley and thyme, it’s a next level nibble. Make a reservation at Ocean Prime.
Casa Sensei, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
How do you gracefully infuse the flavors of kimchi into a bowl of popcorn? Make kimchi butter, of course! It adds a flavor bomb to the kernels so they’re salty, spicy, garlicky, and just a tiny bit sweet. Make a reservation at Casa Sensei.
Acacia House, St. Helena, California
We love us some Porkcorn, even if it doesn’t technically include any popcorn. Instead, the piggy play features pork rinds dressed with black pepper and parmesan. Trust us, you won’t miss the corn. Make a reservation at Acacia House.
KYU, Miami, Florida
Show you’re a pro by ordering this off-menu popcorn at brunch. Caramel popcorn gets graced with nori, Pecorino cheese, and togarashi. It’s sweet, salty, spicy and packed full of umami. Make a reservation at KYU.
Ai Fiori, New York, New York
Sit down at the bar and nibble on comp popcorn while enjoying a bevvie or two. The flavors rotate regularly. Currently, it’s a version redolent with rosemary. Make a reservation at Ai Fiori.
Root & Bone, Miami, Florida
Corn stars in multiple roles in this clever creation. Corn on the cob gets dressed up with cornbread butter puree, hominy, and popcorn. #ShuckYeah. Make a reservation at Root & Bone.
Chauhan Ale & Masala House, Nashville, Tennessee
This popcorn is done with an Indian flourish. The kernels are tossed with chaat masala and spicy red chili powder. It’s finished off with mango mint chutney. Make a reservation at Chauhan Ale & Masala House.
Barton G., West Hollywood, California
We don’t think we could have come up with a better bite to enjoy during awards season. A retro popcorn maker arrives full of crispy popcorn shrimp and Old Bay spiced popcorn. Dunk the kernels and curls into sriracha aioli and sweet chili sesame dipping sauce. Make a reservation at Barton G.
What are your picks for restaurants for next-level popcorn? Let us know here or over on Facebook, G+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.