We collaborated with the Chefs Feed app to bring you a highly opinionated list from all corners of the West from the people who know food best.
Restaurant: Cafe Aion, Boulder
Recommended by: Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca Caffe, Frasca Food and Wine, and Pizzeria Locale
"A fun meal meant to be shared," says Mackinnon-Patterson of this tapas bar's star dish. "The flavor combination is amazing and well-balanced--sausage, tomato, chicken, and mussels work beautifully with the saffron rice." 1235 Pennsylvania Ave., Boulder, CO; cafeaion.com.
Green Buzz Açaí Bowl
Restaurant: Choice Health Bar, Maui
Recommended by: Sheldon Simeon of Aloha Mixed Plate, Leoda's, and Star Noodle
This simple counter's spoon-worthy smoothie "gives you a super-focused boost of energy," says Simeon, thanks to açaí, berries, spirulina, coconut water, and toppings that include bee pollen and goji berries. 1087 Limahana Place, Lahaina, Maui, HI; 808/661-7711.
Thai Seafood and Pineapple-Coconut Red Curry
Restaurant: Spago at the Four Seasons, Maui
Recommended by: Bev Gannon of Gannon's, Hali'imaile General Store, and Joe's Bar & Grill
"Shrimp, onaga [red snapper], mahimahi, galangal, kaffir lime, Thai basil, and green papaya" all make this dish sing, explains Gannon. Never mind the fancy Four Seasons surroundings: "I even drink the leftover sauce from the bowl!" 3900 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, Maui, HI; fourseasons.com.
Restaurant: Wurstküche, Los Angeles
Recommended by: Michael Cimarusti of Connie & Ted's and Providence
At this neo-beer hall known for its exotic sausages, the fries are "perfectly crisp, fluffy, well-salted, and come with brats," says Cimarusti. 800 E. Third St., Los Angeles, CA; wurstkuche.com.
Restaurant: Din Tai Fung, Los Angeles
Recommended by: Roy Choi of A-Frame, Chego, KogiBBQ Truck, and Sunny Spot
The faithful spend hours awaiting a seat at this strip-mall dumpling mecca. "I could eat 40 of these in one sitting," says Choi. "Juicy morsels of pork ... melt away in little bags of goodness." 1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, CA; dintaifungusa.com.
Restaurant: Bay Cities Italian Deli, Los Angeles
Recommended by: Susan Feniger of Border Grill and Susan Feniger's Street
"Italian cold cuts, mustard, mayo, something acidic, and spicy sauce" make the Godmother a sandwich "you can't miss," Feniger says. Fans wolf it down at the 1925 deli's picnic tables. 1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, CA; bcdeli.com.
Wagyu Beef Brisket
Restaurant: Red Medicine, Los Angeles
Recommended by: Wolfgang Puck of Chinois, Cut, Spago, Wolfgang Puck, and WP24
"It's rare to see a whole brisket come to your table that is braised perfectly," says Puck. "It feeds the whole family, and it's delicious to look at too." 8400 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA; redmedicinela.com.
Restaurant: Mi Comida Restaurante Latino, Phoenix
Recommended by: Kevin Binkley of Binkley's Restaurant and Cafe Bink
"Ecuadorian tamales are different than most tamales, wrapped in banana leaves as opposed to corn husks," explains Binkley. "With its delicate braised pork in the center," this tamale makes it worth hitting the tiny restaurant, which is hidden behind a Taco Bell. 4221 W. Bell Rd., Phoenix, AZ; 602/548-7900.
Locals love Mi Comida Restaurante Latino. Read about some other beloved institutions.
Squid Ink Fideo
Restaurant: Toro Bravo, Portland
Recommended by: Chris Israel of Cask and Grüner
At an always-bustling tapas bar, "this Spanish-style pasta dish has the unusual but delicious combination of wild boar sausage and Dungeness crab," says Israel. "Smoky and salty with just the right chew." 120 N.E. Russel St., Portland, OR; torobravopdx.com.
Simple but satisfying
Restaurant: Grüner, Portland
Recommended by: Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, Pok Pok Noi, and Whiskey Soda Lounge
"Raw shaved vegetables, different crisp lettuces, and pretzel croutons with a simple red wine vinaigrette," this salad "better never leave the menu," says Ricker. 527 S.W. 12th Ave., Portland, OR; grunerpdx.com.
Where do chefs find inspiration? Find out here.
Restaurant: Olympic Provisions, Portland
Recommended by: Vitaly Paley of Imperial, Paley's Place, and Portland Penny Diner
"This yard bird is moist and crispy," Paley says. "Chicken churning on a rotisserie--it's totally worth the anticipation when you're rewarded with it carved on your plate." 1632 N.W. Thurman St., Portland, OR; olympicprovisions.com.
Toast with Butter and Jam
Restaurant: Oui Presse, Portland
Recommended by: Ken Forkish of Ken's Artisan Bakery and Ken's Artisan Pizza
"A thick slice of country bread, toasted, slathered with good butter and jam" in flavors like Oregon marionberry and strawberry "satisfies that mid-morning, didn't-have-breakfast, need-something-good-with-coffee urge," says Forkish. 1740 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, OR; oui-presse.com.
We do love the Portland food scene! Read about our favorite food towns in the West.
Restaurant: The Fishery, San Diego
Recommended by: Brian Malarkey of Burlap, Gabardine, Gingham, Herringbone, and Searsucker
Head to Pacific Beach's refined-but-not-stuffy spot for this combo of Mexican shrimp, cilantro coleslaw, salsa fresca, and tomatillo sauce. "Nothing beats these top-notch tacos with a crisp white wine after a day hanging with the kids on the beach," says Malarkey. 5040 Cass St., San Diego, CA; thefishery.com.
Restaurant: Bar Crudo, San Francisco
Recommended by: Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food
The secret to this tiny oyster bar's cream-based chowder, says Bowien, is that "they drop the fish left over from making crudo [raw fish] in the chowder at the last minute." 655 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA; barcrudo.com.
House of Prime Rib Cut
Restaurant: House of Prime Rib
Recommended by: Hiro Sone of Ame in S.F. and Terra in St. Helena
At this low-lit steakhouse, Sone asks "for a slice close to the neck, which has a larger deckle," he says (a deckle is a band of fat). "Add a baked potato and a Napa Valley Cab, and you don't need anything else." 906 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA; houseofprimerib.net.
Big Dish 2013 winners
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