Chefs' favorite restaurant dishes
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."
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." $$; 1235 Pennsylvania Ave.; cafeaion.com.
Recommended by: Jennifer Jasinski of Denver's Bistro Vendôme and Rioja
At this sleek open-kitchen restaurant, the kale salad served with togarashi chile and candied almonds "blew me away," says Jasinski. "My chef-husband Max and I fought over it" $$$; 1400 Pearl St.; oakatfourteenth.com.
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. $$; 1087 Limahana Place, Lahaina, Maui; 808/661-7711.
Recommended by: Bev Gannon of Gannon's, Hali'imaile General Store, and Joe's Bar & Grill
"Shrimp, onaga [red snapper], mahimahi, galangal, kaffir lime, Thai basil, and green papaya" all make this dish sing, explains Gannon. Never mind the fancy Four Seasons surroundings: "I even drink the leftover sauce from the bowl!" $$$$; 3900 Wailea Alanui Dr., Wailea, Maui; fourseasons.com.
Recommended by: Michael Cimarusti of Connie & Ted's and Providence
At this neo–beer hall known for its exotic sausages, the fries are "perfectly crisp, fluffy, well-salted, and come with brats," says Cimarusti. $; 800 E. Third St.; wurstkuche.com.
Recommended by: Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica and Picca
"These are some tasty burgers," says Zarate, crowning the Hatch as king. "It's really spicy but not overpowering, with house cheese and four kinds of green chiles." $; 850 S. La Brea Ave.; umami.com.
Recipe: The Hatch Burger
Recommended by: John Sedlar of Rivera
This thick, creamy traditional Italian pudding is a meal-ender that Angelenos save up their calories to indulge in. "Destination: dessert," says Sedlar. "No doubt about it. Go now!" $$; 641 N. Highland Ave.; pizzeriamozza.com.
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." $$; 1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia; dintaifungusa.com.
Recommended by: Susan Feniger of Border Grill and Susan Feniger's Street
"Italian cold cuts, mustard, mayo, something acidic, and spicy sauce" make the Godmother a sandwich "you can't miss," Feniger says. Fans wolf it down at the 1925 deli's picnic tables. $; 1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; bcdeli.com.
Recommended by: Wolfgang Puck of Chinois, Cut, Spago, Wolfgang Puck, and WP24
"It's rare to see a whole brisket come to your table that is braised perfectly," says Puck. "It feeds the whole family, and it's delicious to look at too." $$$; 8400 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills; redmedicinela.com.
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.
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." $$; 120 N.E. Russel St.; torobravopdx.com.
Recommended by: Andy Ricker of Pok Pok, Pok Pok Noi, and Whiskey Soda Lounge
"Raw shaved vegetables, different crisp lettuces, and pretzel croutons with a simple red wine vinaigrette," this salad "better never leave the menu," says Ricker. $$$; 527 S.W. 12th Ave.; grunerpdx.com.
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." $$$; 1632 N.W. Thurman St.; olympicprovisions.com.
Recommended by: Ken Forkish of Ken's Artisan Bakery and Ken's Artisan Pizza
"A thick slice of country bread, toasted, slathered with good butter and jam" in flavors like Oregon marionberry and strawberry "satisfies that midmorning, didn't-have-breakfast, need-something-good-with-coffee urge," says Forkish. $; 1740 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.; oui-presse.com.
Recommended by: Ryan Lowder of Copper Onion and Plum Alley
Traditionally served as a post-memorial casserole, this dish is an outrageous take—deep-fried nuggets of cheese, hash browns, and more—that's "a fun play on a classic," says Lowder. "It's kind of fatty, comforting food that goes well with a cold beer." $; 1199 N. Beck St.; garageonbeck.com.
Recipe: Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes
Recommended by: Brian Malarkey of Burlap, Gabardine, Gingham, Herringbone, and Searsucker
Head to Pacific Beach's refined-but-not-stuffy spot for this combo of Mexican shrimp, cilantro coleslaw, salsa fresca, and tomatillo sauce. "Nothing beats these top-notch tacos with a crisp white wine after a day hanging with the kids on the beach," says Malarkey. $$; 5040 Cass St.; thefishery.com.
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
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." $$$; 655 Divisadero St.; barcrudo.com.
Recommended by: Hiro Sone of Ame in S.F. and Terra in St. Helena
At this low-lit steakhouse, Sone asks "for a slice close to the neck, which has a larger deckle," he says (deckle is a band of fat). "Add a baked potato and a Napa Valley Cab, and you don't need anything else." $$$$; 1906 Van Ness Ave.; houseofprimerib.net.
Recommended by: Melissa Perello of Frances
Few ice creams inspire as much fervor as this top seller at small-batch purveyor Bi-Rite. "I love the creamy consistency and depth of flavor that the salt adds," says Perello. 3692 18th St.; biritecreamery.com.
Recommended by: Jake Godby of Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
"Basically a rolled-up croissant with cinnamon and orange" is how Godby describes this bun served at the always-packed bakery. "This would be my last meal. Enough said." $; 600 Guerrero St.; tartinebakery.com.
Recommended by: Chris Cosentino of Boccalone Salumeria and Incanto
A classic dim sum dish is realized here as warm, fluffy buns stuffed with nuggets of honey-glazed barbecued pork. "Remember the to-go window at the Rincon location for a quick in-and-out during their busy times," says Cosentino. $; 101 Spear St.; yanksing.com.
Recommended by: Mourad Lahlou of Aziza
This pizza at the Richmond neighborhood hideaway is "all about balance," says Lahlou. "Sweet and acidic tomatoes, bitter wild arugula, and creamy cheese. Ask them to add anchovies." $$; 211 23rd Ave.; pizzetta211.com.
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.
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." $$$; 1658 Market St.; zunicafe.com.
Recommended by: Martin Rios of Restaurant Martin
Rios loves "going to 315 when the squash blossom beignets are being served" with a tomato sauce and goat-cheese fondue. (Available from late May through summer.) $$$; 315 Old Santa Fe Trail; 315santafe.com.
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." $$; 121 Don Gaspar Ave.; pasquals.com.
Recommended by: Bill Morris of the Rainier Club
Doughnuts are "light and slightly sweetened, served warm and fresh from the fryer" to your cozy booth at this upscale spot, says Morris. "These are awesome!" Vanilla mascarpone and a "fun and tasty" seasonal jam are served alongside. $$$; 2001 Fourth Ave.; tomdouglas.com.
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!" $$; 509 Seventh Ave. S.; seagardenseattle.com.
Recommended by: Mark Fuller of Ma'ono Fried Chicken & Whisky
"Flavorful, crispy, light, and slightly charred," is how Fuller describes this pie's crust. "It's smoky from the burning applewood, with delcious handcrafted toppings such as sweet fennel sausage." $$; 316 Virginia St.; tomdouglas.com.
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." $$$; 300 Westlake Ave. N.; flyingfishrestaurant.com.
Recipe: Thai Crabcakes
Recommended by: Nico Schuermans of Cafe Medina, Chambar, and the Dirty Apron Cooking School & Delicatessen
"Crispy lingcod, served in a caramelized tamarind and palm sugar sauce, is topped with eight different fried herbs and spices" at this sleek Thai restaurant, say Schuermans. $$ U.S.; 1938 W. Fourth Ave.; maenam.ca.
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.