The dining room is all clean, fresh whites, making for the perfect setting to allow this restaurant’s modern takes on Bayou favorites—especially elevated boudin and gumbo—to shine. Rabbit loin with spaetzle and duck tartine with ginger-cilantro aioli may not say “swamp” but are worth a trip nonetheless. Save room for elegantly plated coconut bread pudding.
Best known as a proponent of sustainable seafood, chef PJ Stoops shares his expert’s knowledge of Northern Thai cuisine alongside his wife, Apple, who was born and raised in Thailand. For the sake of fresh authenticity, Thai ingredients—including hard-to-find galangal, sweet bamboo, even fertilized duck eggs—are farmed locally. But it’s not all outlandish exotica here; we especially love the khao soi (a pile of fried noodles that slowly softens in its fiery curry broth) and the Thai omelets and coconut crêpes served at weekend brunch.
The patio, overlooking the quirky vintage shops and galleries of 19th Street, is in itself a great reason to visit this former men’s clothing store. The Creole-infused Southern fare, including chicken-and-sausage gumbo and crispy shrimp étouffée balls, is also a draw, but avoid the sticky-sweet pulled pork in favor of something with spice. Happy hour is 11 a.m. through 7 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Consider it the right time to sample a $5 Cosmopolitan flavored with lavender bitters.
There’s no pretense at this ’cue specialist. Line up and order your meat and sides, then fill a bowl at the salad bar while you wait—its offerings are basic, but with the upcoming onslaught of flesh you’ll want a little roughage. Wash the heavy food down with an oversize Mason jar filled with sugary sweet tea. The chicken-fried steak here has starred on the Food Network, but we’re gaga for the giant pork ribs, slow-smoked to competition-style perfection.
James Beard–nominated chef Richard Knight did his time in more than one Michelin-starred restaurant in London, and that British refinement makes itself amply known here. He uses his carefully honed chops to elevate old-fashioned British dishes, including salmagundi (the original chopped salad), beef-and-mushroom pie, and black pudding, but doesn’t ignore the colonies: Look out for huge flavor in his Indian-inspired specials. Brunch offers both a traditional full English breakfast as well as Knight’s vegetarian take on the morning spread.
Even the (lower sodium) soy sauce is house-brewed at Fat Bao owner Pak Tsui’s highly original sushi house. It may not be as fancy as Kuu or Kata Robata, but it’s less expensive and just as interesting. Bags of Pop Rocks sit on the sushi bar, waiting to be added to Hamachi Pop—rolls of yellowtail in citrus ponzu, also topped with candied jalapeño. Ramen bowls aren’t stuck in a rut of miso or shoyu, but flavored with oxtail in a coconut-curry duck broth or with lobster and Brussels sprouts. For a night of hardcore meat eating, go for a Wagyu ribeye—cooked at the table on a hot rock—or a tasting of fried and grilled skewers.
The fried bird made famous at Liberty Kitchen and BRC Gastropub finds a home of its own at this chicken counter. The two-day brining process leaves the meat almost too juicy, so it’s best to order white meat. Bacon jam may sound like the perfect fat-on-fat accompaniment, but go for the contrast of Crystal Hot Sauce mayo and creamed corn. Save room for donuts, particularly the intense Mexican chocolate flavor. Kolaches, hand pies and “Big as Your Face” chocolate chip cookies complete the doughy picture, and are all worth overlooking that diet for a meal or two.
What began as a panadería has grown into a full-scale restaurant where everything is homemade with family recipes by Heights native son Robert Padilla. This place is the real deal, offering deep, dark, tender chicken mole negro, as well as asado de puerco in a guajillo sauce that bursts with meaty flavor. Diners can chow down on breakfast items such as potato, egg and machacado tortas or gorditas until 4 p.m., when the place closes for the day.
Old-fashioned comfort food to satisfy any ajumma rubs elbows with gastropub grub at this petite soju bar, a more successful reincarnation of short-lived Dosi. Flavored sojus are king at the modern bar, but whiskey and beer also make for fine pairings with traditional galbi and bulgogi. The old-school bibimbap, sizzling in a hot stone bowl, is eminently satisfying, but a burger with hand-cut fries topped in Korean beef and kimchi aioli might be a better choice at midnight.
Since 2011, co-owners Ryan Pera and Morgan Weber have been bringing back the neighborhood butcher shop with both fresh and house-cured meat from Weber’s family farm. There’s coffee, baked goods and carefully curated specialty foods, but these days most of the crowd comes to sit down for a meal. Try the Italian grinder, which pairs tangy aioli and olive-pepper relish with a mix of homemade salumi. And don’t miss the variety of house bacons, especially on a buttermilk biscuit sandwich with fresh yard eggs at breakfast.