Chefs' favorite restaurant dishes

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

Eat Like a Chef

Photo by Jeff Minton

Eat like a chef

There's so much buzz around food in the West, it can be tough to decide what to eat first. To help, we're partnering with Chefs Feed, a new app that enlists top chefs to share not only their favorite restaurants—but also exactly what they eat there.

We've pulled together the most delectable dishes from their recommendations. Their picks come from all corners of the West, spanning Seattle to Santa Fe, and classic old restaurants to strip-mall joints you might walk right by if a chef hadn't told you: "Go there—now."

Paella

Photo by Ashley Davis Tilly

Paella

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.; cafeaion.com.

Shaved Honeycrisp Apple and Kale Salad

Photo by Annabelle Breakey

Shaved Honeycrisp Apple and Kale Salad

Restaurant: Oak at Fourteenth, Boulder
Recommended by: Jennifer Jasinski of Denver's Bistro Vendôme and Rioja

At this sleek open-kitchen restaurant, the kale salad served with togarashi chile and candied almonds "blew me away," says Jasinski. "My chef-husband Max and I fought over it" $$$; 1400 Pearl St.; oakatfourteenth.com.

Recipe: Shaved Honeycrisp Apple and Kale Salad

 

Green Buzz Açaí Bowl

Photo by Peter Lovera

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; 808/661-7711.

Thai Seafood and Pineapple-Coconut Red Curry

Photo courtesy of Spago at the Four Seasons

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; fourseasons.com.

Belgian Fries

Photo courtesy of Wurstküche

Belgian Fries

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.; wurstkuche.com.

The Hatch Burger

Photo courtesy of Umami Burger

The Hatch Burger

Restaurant: Umami Burger, Los Angeles
Recommended by: Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica and Picca

"These are some tasty burgers," says Zarate, crowning the Hatch as king. "It's really spicy but not overpowering, with house cheese and four kinds of green chiles." $; 850 S. La Brea Ave.; umami.com.

Recipe: The Hatch Burger

Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce and Sea Salt

Photo by Jeff Minton

Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce and Sea Salt

Restaurant: Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
Recommended by: John Sedlar of Rivera

This thick, creamy traditional Italian pudding is a meal-ender that Angelenos save up their calories to indulge in. "Destination: dessert," says Sedlar. "No doubt about it. Go now!" $$; 641 N. Highland Ave.; pizzeriamozza.com.

Recipe: Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce and Sea Salt

Soup Dumplings

Photo courtesy of Din Tai Fung

Soup Dumplings

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; dintaifungusa.com.

The Godmother

Photo by Andrea Gómez Romero

The Godmother

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; bcdeli.com.

Wagyu Beef Brisket

Photo courtesy of Red Medicine

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; redmedicinela.com.

Ecuadorian Tamales

Photo by Brandon Sullivan

Ecuadorian Tamales

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.; 602/548-7900.

Squid Ink Fideo

Photo by David Reamer

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.; torobravopdx.com.

"Grüner" Salad

Photo by John Clark

"Grüner" Salad

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.; grunerpdx.com.

Rotisserie Chicken

Photo courtesy of Olympic Provisions

Rotisserie Chicken

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.; olympicprovisions.com.

Toast with Butter and Jam

Photo by John Clark

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 midmorning, didn't-have-breakfast, need-something-good-with-coffee urge," says Forkish. $; 1740 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.; oui-presse.com.

Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes

Photo by Annabelle Breakey

Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes

Restaurant: The Garage, Salt Lake City
Recommended by: Ryan Lowder of Copper Onion and Plum Alley

Traditionally served as a post-memorial casserole, this dish is an outrageous take—deep-fried nuggets of cheese, hash browns, and more—that's "a fun play on a classic," says Lowder. "It's kind of fatty, comforting food that goes well with a cold beer." $; 1199 N. Beck St.; garageonbeck.com.

Recipe: Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes

Shrimp Tacos

Photo courtesy of The Fishery

Shrimp Tacos

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.; thefishery.com.

Tacos de Carnitas

Photo by Jeff Minton

Tacos de Carnitas

Restaurant: La Taqueria, San Francisco
Recommended by: Michael Mina of Bourbon Steak, Michael Mina, and RN74

Leave it to a Michelin-starred chef to settle the taco wars: "I love the balance of juicy meat, both crisp and soft shell, and spicy salsa," Mina says of the tacos de carnitas served at this humbly appointed 40-year-old Mission District spot. $; 2889 Mission St.; 415/285-7117.

Recipe: Tacos de Carnitas

Seafood Chowder

Photo courtesy of Bar Crudo

Seafood Chowder

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.; barcrudo.com.

House of Prime Rib Cut

Photo courtesy of House of Prime Rib

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 (deckle is a band of fat). "Add a baked potato and a Napa Valley Cab, and you don't need anything else." $$$$; 1906 Van Ness Ave.; houseofprimerib.net.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of Bi-Rite Creamery

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Restaurant: Bi-Rite Creamery
Recommended by: Melissa Perello of Frances

Few ice creams inspire as much fervor as this top seller at small-batch purveyor Bi-Rite. "I love the creamy consistency and depth of flavor that the salt adds," says Perello. 3692 18th St.; biritecreamery.com.

Morning Bun

Photo by Eric Wolfinger

Morning Bun

Restaurant: Tartine Bakery
Recommended by: Jake Godby of Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream

"Basically a rolled-up croissant with cinnamon and orange" is how Godby describes this bun served at the always-packed bakery. "This would be my last meal. Enough said." $; 600 Guerrero St.; tartinebakery.com.

Steamed Pork Buns

Photo by David Fenton

Steamed Pork Buns

Restaurant: Yank Sing, San Francisco
Recommended by: Chris Cosentino of Boccalone Salumeria and Incanto

A classic dim sum dish is realized here as warm, fluffy buns stuffed with nuggets of honey-glazed barbecued pork. "Remember the to-go window at the Rincon location for a quick in-and-out during their busy times," says Cosentino. $; 101 Spear St.; yanksing.com.

San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Arugula, and Mascarpone Pizza

Photo courtesy of Pizzetta 211

San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Arugula, and Mascarpone Pizza

Restaurant: Pizzetta 211, San Francisco
Recommended by: Mourad Lahlou of Aziza

This pizza at the Richmond neighborhood hideaway is "all about balance," says Lahlou. "Sweet and acidic tomatoes, bitter wild arugula, and creamy cheese. Ask them to add anchovies." $$; 211 23rd Ave.; pizzetta211.com.

Brown Derby Cocktail

Photo courtesy of Bar Agricole

Brown Derby Cocktail

Restaurant: Bar Agricole
Recommended by: Jennifer Puccio of Marlowe and Park Tavern

Of all the drinks on the James Beard award-nominated cocktail list, start here: "Paired with grapefruit, lemon, honey, and bitters, this drink made me discover my inner bourbon lover," says Puccio. 355 11th St.; baragricole.com.

Roast Chicken for Two

Photo by David Fenton

Roast Chicken for Two

Restaurant: Zuni Cafe, San Francisco
Recommended by: Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn

The gold standard for roast chicken for 25 years, this dish reminds Crenn "of my mother's chicken," she says. "The crispy skin from the wood-fired oven is so comforting, and I love the bread salad that soaks up all the juices." $$$; 1658 Market St.; zunicafe.com.

Squash Blossom Beignets

Photo by Jackie Munro

Squash Blossom Beignets

Restaurant: 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar, Santa Fe
Recommended by: Martin Rios of Restaurant Martin

Rios loves "going to 315 when the squash blossom beignets are being served" with a tomato sauce and goat-cheese fondue. (Available from late May through summer.) $$$; 315 Old Santa Fe Trail; 315santafe.com.

Smoked Trout Hash

Photo by Kitty Leaken

Smoked Trout Hash

Restaurant: Cafe Pasqual's, Santa Fe
Recommended by: James Campbell Caruso of La Boca and Taberna La Boca

At this brightly decorated bistro, eggs, potatoes, cheese, chives, and "trout that always tastes nice and fresh" combine in a "hearty but light breakfast," says Caruso. "I top my order with some authentic New Mexican chiles." $$; 121 Don Gaspar Ave.; pasquals.com.

Made-to-Order Doughnuts

Photo by Ed Anderson

Made-to-Order Doughnuts

Restaurant: Dahlia Lounge, Seattle
Recommended by: Bill Morris of the Rainier Club

Doughnuts are "light and slightly sweetened, served warm and fresh from the fryer" to your cozy booth at this upscale spot, says Morris. "These are awesome!" Vanilla mascarpone and a "fun and tasty" seasonal jam are served alongside. $$$; 2001 Fourth Ave.; tomdouglas.com.

 

Salt and Pepper Squid

Photo courtesy of Sea Garden

Salt and Pepper Squid

Restaurant: Sea Garden, Seattle
Recommended by: Tom Douglas of Brave Horse Tavern, Cuoco, Dahlia Lounge, Etta's, Lola, Palace Kitchen, Seatown, and Serious Pie

At this tavern full of seafood tanks, "the squid are dredged in cornstarch and potato starch and deep-fried alive," says Douglas. "Then they're seared in a red-hot wok with salt and pepper, garlic, and chiles. Kaboom!" $$; 509 Seventh Ave. S.; seagardenseattle.com.

Sweet Fennel Sausage Pizza

Photo by Sarah Flotard

Sweet Fennel Sausage Pizza

Restaurant: Serious Pie, Seattle
Recommended by: Mark Fuller of Ma'ono Fried Chicken & Whisky

"Flavorful, crispy, light, and slightly charred," is how Fuller describes this pie's crust. "It's smoky from the burning applewood, with delcious handcrafted toppings such as sweet fennel sausage." $$; 316 Virginia St.; tomdouglas.com.

Thai Crabcakes

Photo by Jeff Minton

Thai Crabcakes

Restaurant: Flying Fish, Seattle
Recommended by: Maria Hines of Agrodolce, Golden Beetle, and Tilth

"A classic!" Hines says. The "combination of Northwest ingredients and Pacific Rim flavors" kicks "the standard crabcake up a notch." $$$; 300 Westlake Ave. N.; flyingfishrestaurant.com.

Recipe: Thai Crabcakes

8 Spice Fish

Photo courtesy of Maenam

8 Spice Fish

Restaurant: Maenam, Vancouver
Recommended by: Nico Schuermans of Cafe Medina, Chambar, and the Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen

"Crispy lingcod, served in a caramelized tamarind and palm sugar sauce, is topped with eight different fried herbs and spices" at this sleek Thai restaurant, say Schuermans. $$ U.S.; 1938 W. Fourth Ave.; maenam.ca.

Ricotta, Pea, and Mint Agnolotti with Braised Lamb Cheeks

Photo courtesy of La Buca

Ricotta, Pea, and Mint Agnolotti with Braised Lamb Cheeks

Restaurant: La Buca, Vancouver
Recommended by: Rob Feenie of Cactus Club Cafe

"If you love Italian food, chef Andrey Durbach takes you there without having to get on a plane," Feenie says of this rich pasta dish. "He uses the finest local ingredients available." $$$ U.S.; 4025 MacDonald St.; labuca.ca.

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