Off the Beaten Path: Brunch in Chicago


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Brunch in Chicago is not simply a pastime. It is an art. Each Saturday and Sunday Chicagoans flock to the smart restaurants that offer the perfect cure: time to gossip about the week’s adventures, pure comfort food, and the hair of the dog. We like to have our perfect cure without the hour-long waits and unfortunately packed tables and head to these hidden gems instead:

Broadway Cellars

5900 N Broadway St

broadway cellars brunch

A little out of the way from the bustling streets of Lincoln Park and River North, this Edgewater joint is well worth the walk from the Thorndale station. Nestled in the middle of a neighborhood, there is no better place to sit and people-watch than on their tree-lined patio. Not only is the atmosphere the perfect mix of upscale and family-friendly, their portions are also generous and the menu is simply mouth-watering. With time-tested classics like Steak’n’Eggs next to innovative dishes such as Honey-Brined Pork Chop’n’Eggs, you are in for a treat no matter what you decide on. And to make it even sweeter? They offer $10 all-you can-drink mimosas or $15 for both mimosas and bloody mary’s.

All-time favorite: The Ned Beatty, which was a play on a benedict. Never have I ever had a breakfast with chipotle BBQ pulled pork over jalapeño cornbread with adobo hollandaise all topped with the classic poached egg.

Takito Kitchen

2013 W Division St

Takito Kitchen

If you’ve realized that nothing beats a hangover better than spicy food and an even spicier drink then this the brunch place for you. Takito Kitchen is all about the farm-to-table and focuses on making nontraditional tacos filled with seasonal ingredients in a small, trendy space on Division Street in Wicker Park. While you might not have queso to drown your drunken regrets in, you will find delicious and Insta-scrumptious (don’t hate) entrees such as Spanish Ham & Eggs or Lamb Chorizo Tacos, as well as over 20 types of tequilas, 6 margaritas, and a play on a Bloody Mary, the Bloody Maria.


1904 W North Ave


Smack-dab in the middle of Wicker Park, Lokal is quickly becoming a staple for the boozy brunchers of Chicago. Their menu reminds you why comfort food is worth the calories. Truffle fries, duck confit benedict, and a seafood pasta to satisfy any fish-foodie’s cravings, are just a few of the reasons Lokal is the ultimate place to brunch. With a hipster staff that makes you wish you looked that good in a beanie, they will make sure your every need is met, especially when it comes to never letting your champagne flute remain empty. Just make sure to reserve a table, the secret is getting less well kept each week.

The Real MVP Here: Fries topped with bananas, Nutella, and strawberry sauce. Everyone knows Nutella is synonymous with crack, but to put it on top of fries for that added sweet and savory? Simply genius.


3301 N Clark St


Hutch was founded on two ideas: people want to be comfortable where they eat and food should be nothing short of cravable (that’s a word, I swear). With a large patio, a spacious interior, and an intimacy as welcoming as your home, they have achieved this premise. Situated the middle of Wrigleyville, Hutch is frequented by regulars who know and want good food. While your paleo diet may not be happy with this brunch choice, your stomach will definitely thank you.

Brunch cocktails have become a standard, stale affair of mimosas and bloodies, but not here. Hutch’s cocktail, Starsky, has smoked jalapeno and garlic infused vodka, house-made BBQ bitters, and a bacon sea salt rim. Take that, drunchers.

The Ultimate Comfort Food: Chicken and waffles, because what is better than a spicy waffle, sweet maple syrup, and fried chicken? Exactly.


217 N Clinton St


While many brunch-goers love the all-day affair it turns into, we understand that sometimes the real world beckons and we need to eat a delicious breakfast a little quicker. Wafel specializes in fold-and-go food, all in a waffle. They focus on pairing incredible made-from-scratch Belgian and Liege (made with pearl sugar that tricks you into thinking you are biting into a bit of heaven) waffles. They even offer a burger waffle (if that’s not the best of both worlds then I don’t know what is). If you’re feeling in the mood for a traditional sweet waffle then go for the Nutella and Banana, which will make you want to order five more before slipping into a food coma.

THEY PUT WHAT IN A WAFFLE?!: Shaved prime rib, fried onions, peppers, and Belgian style mustard… Nontraditional has never tasted so good.

The Hidden Gem That Is Little Ethiopia


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If you’ve lived in Los Angeles long enough, chances are you know exactly where to find Koreatown on a map, have stuffed your face with ThaiTown Pad Thai, and experienced the exciting Japanese cultural revival currently ongoing in Sawtelle. And as well you should! These ethnic enclaves are thoroughly woven into the fabric of our sprawling city and should be justly celebrated. But beyond the far reaching shadows of these cultural heavyweights lies a hidden gem that many Los Angelenos don’t even realize exist.

That place is Little Ethiopia.

Just south of Wilshire Boulevard on Fairfax Avenue is a three block stretch celebrating a truly incredible East African culture and cuisine. What makes this neighborhood so special is it’s one of the few designated Ethiopian enclaves in the entire country. Lined with bustling shops, one-of-a-kind bakeries, and authentic, top-notch restaurants, it’s high time Los Angeles finally takes note of one of the most important neighborhoods in the city. And here is your guide on how best to experience it!

Meals By Genet

1053 S Fairfax Blvd


After window browsing on Fairfax all afternoon, stopping in stores like Safari Ethiopian and Jah Lamb & Lions, Meals By Genet is a perfect way to end your day. Slightly pricier than other restaurants in the neighborhood, Meals By Genet gives Ethiopian food the high-class, intimate treatment. And you will, in turn, be rewarded with one of the finer Ethiopian meals around.


1044 S Fairfax Ave


If Meals By Genet is reserved for date night, Rosalind’s is where the party goes all night. Perfect for family gatherings and other large groups, Rosalind’s festive atmosphere is all about the communal celebration that is Ethiopian dining. For anyone unfamiliar with how an Ethiopian meal generally works, Rosalind’s is the absolute jumping off point. And afterwards, make a beeline to the quirky 45 Three Modern Vintage Store located right down the block.

Little Ethiopia

1048 S Fairfax Ave


Get up early and sip some authentic Ethiopian coffee at E & M cafe and then make your way over to Little Ethiopia for their cant-be-beat lunch special. At $6.99, how can one refute?

Food Fortunes Investors: Our Newest Critics


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Our newest critics on Taste Savant are the Food Fortunes Investors. Food Fortunes premiers tonight Monday, March 9th, at 10pm ET/7pm PT on Food Network. On this new series, entrepreneurs across the food space will pitch their ideas to a panel of esteemed investors in hopes to raise money to grow their businesses.  One of these investors is our very own CEO and Founder, Sonia Kapadia.

We thought it would be fun to share some of the investors’ favorite restaurants on Taste Savant. So please welcome some of our newest critics and check out where they like to eat! – Pat La Frieda Jr., Sonia Kapadia, Daniel Green, Dan Glickberg, Scott Gerber, and Michele Hoskins.

Pat LaFrieda Jr.


Sonia Kapadia


Daniel Green


Dan Glickberg


Scott Gerber


Michele Hoskins


So get out and enjoy your food, but then make sure to get home and not miss one episode of Food Fortunes – premiering tonight.

The Taste Savant Team

A Chat with Star Pâtissière, Jennifer Yee


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Now, nearly a decade ago, after finishing the meal that completely changed my attitude towards food, I went home and manically wrote eight pages single-spaced to try and capture everything. Sometimes, food makes us do crazy things (or was that love?). Recently, I had one of those moments; Jen Yee’s Fromage Blanc Cheesecake, with a coarse rye crust and paired with frozen and roasted concord and champagne grapes, left me stunned. The cheesecake was creamy, light, and tangy, beautifully harmonized with the grapes, and was rounded off with the rye crust and its hint of sourness and overall grainy base notes. After some incoherent, giddy rambling, a lot of pointing, and wide-eyed expressions, I was barely pulled myself together enough to ask the waitress how I can reach the pastry chef. The waitress kindly provided Jen’s business card and I then had the absolute pleasure of asking Jen a few questions about her career thus far, her other star pastries, as well as the seemingly endless sources of inspiration.

photo by Noah Fecks

photo by Noah Fecks

Below is my interview with Lafayette’s Pâtissière and James-Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef Semi Finalist in 2014, Jennifer Yee.

photo by Noah Fecks

photo by Noah Fecks

TS: When did you decide you wanted to pursue pastry and go to Le Cordon Bleu?

JY: I had always wanted to do something creative with my life since I was a kid. When I found out you could actually make a living making cakes and sweets, I knew I wanted to do that! After graduating with a BFA in interior architecture (another passion), I decided to go to pastry school about a year after.

TS: What did you like about Le Cordon Bleu? What did you not like as much?

JY: I loved the intimacy of the classes – only about 10 people per class. I also just loved the fact that I was now going to school to learn and hone the skills I admired so much about pastry.  There really wasn’t much not to like about LCB, because I was having so much fun.

TS: What drew you to New York City? How have you enjoyed living and working here?

JY: New York was always on my radar, especially after attending pastry school. I wanted to work with and learn from the best and most competitive in the industry. Coming up through the ranks of NYC has been a difficult journey, but also rewarding.

TS: How would you characterize your desserts and pastries?

JY: My skill set is definitely based in French technique, but I love to incorporated classic American ideas into the pastry. An example would be our Birthday Cake Macaron or Apple Pie Eclair.

TS: Do you have a favorite dessert you like to make? Is there one you would consider your signature dish?

JY: I believe our eclairs at Lafayette have garnered a strong following, and I do love making them and coming up with different flavors for them.

TS: You have elegant, and sometimes unconventional flavors at play in a dessert, where do you find the inspiration? Are there any combinations you tried that you found really daring?

JY: I don’t think my flavor combinations are too far out of the box, but I do like to incorporate typically savory herbs or spices into fruit and chocolate desserts. I can find inspiration just by having a conversation with another cook, walking through our dry store, or researching online.  Inspiration really can be anywhere you want it to be. As far as daring flavors go, sometimes the customer doesn’t really appreciate being challenged at dessert, especially at Lafayette. One of my favorite desserts combined pink grapefruit with toasted sesame (a perfect pair), and nobody ordered it. I also love using spring peas in desserts. They marry well with other spring fruit, like strawberries and rhubarb.

TS: Are there any pastry chefs that have had a lasting impact on you?

JY: I tell everyone that David Carmichael is my pastry mentor. He loves what he does, he’s a sweet guy, and he really knows his pastry! The way he runs his kitchen has instilled in me how I would like to run mine.

TS: When you’re not in the kitchen and creating these amazing desserts and pastries at Lafayette, what are you doing?

JY: I’m eating other people’s desserts! NYC is great for restaurant pastry and is growing in the bakery/patisserie market as well.

TS: For our readers, are there any desserts or restaurants that you would highly recommend?

JY: I enjoy dining at the bar at Del Posto. The atmosphere and service is beautiful and friendly, and Brooks Headley’s desserts are some of the best in town. I also really love Fabian Von Hauske’s work at Contra in the LES. His style is completely different from Brooks’, but no less delicious.

The Ultimate LA Food Festival Calendar


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2015 is in full swing and here at TasteSavant, it is our duty to make sure you don’t miss a beat. Sure, Saturday night reservations at the newest restaurant in town can be exciting, but what happens when that restaurant comes together with other restaurants in one space at one time and celebrate their food in our honor? Well, thats called euphoria. Food Festivals have become a dominant force across the country in the past decade, but in Los Angeles, where the sun shines happily year round, we take it to an entirely new level. Frankly, you could find a food festival every weekend of the year in LA and we hope you do, but below are our picks for standout festivals to put into your 2015 calendar this very moment.

LA Street Food Festival | June 27th, 2015 | The Rose Bowl, PasadenaStreetFoodFest No way around it, the LA Street Food Festival is a cultural behemoth and the mother of all food festivals in Southern California. Now going into its 6th year, the Street Food Festival uses the entire grounds of The Rose Bowl in Pasadena and has a capped pre-sale ticket number at 5,000 to keep things orderly. It’s a celebration of all things food-on-the-go, in one of the world’s capital of food truck mania. But that’s not to say it’s limited just to meals-on-wheels. Chefs from Cliff’s Edge, Coni’Seafood, Guelaguetza, and Union (just to name a few) had booths last year, making this festival a must-attend for any food-crazed LA denizen.

LA Sriracha Festival | October, 2015 | ChinatownSrirachaFest Going full-steam into its 3rd year, this festival is about as LA as a food festival can get. It’s no secret that this city has a full-on obsession with this spicy, sweet sauce and it’s no wonder as its main factory is only a few miles from where the festival actually takes place. Though specific dates have yet to be announced, the first two editions have always been in October and featured the likes of Jitlada, Gardarene Swine, Mud Hen Tavern, and Sqirl all coming together in honor of this magic bottle of goodness. Expect a full array of alcoholic stands and live music to make this spice party truly complete.

626 Night Market | July-September, 2015 | Santa Anita Park, Arcadia 626NightMarket Having jumped around for the last few years, organizers have landed on the beautiful and spacious Santa Anita Park in 2015, allowing them to create a re-occurring event that lasts throughout the summer months. Much like the Street Food Fest, the 626 Night Market is a mega event with over 200 food, music, art, merchandise, and entertainment attractions in one space that only costs $3 at the door. And now residing back in the cultural and geographic heart of SoCal’s Asian community, 2015 expects to be bigger than ever. Expect the San Gabriel Valley’s culinary elite in attendance as well.

The Taste 2015 | Labor Day Weekend | Paramount Studios, HollywoodTasteFest Though still technically unannounced for 2015, there’s no reason this epic Los Angeles food festival won’t return. Almost every single heavy-hitter in the industry was represented here last year and it’s a quantifiable blockbuster event. Heck, the whole thing is put on by the LA Times and sponsored by Citi, among other national sponsors. Set within the cityscape backlots of Paramount Studios, organizers claim Taste to be the most “authentically LA” festival in the city and they’re probably not wrong. It’s glitzy and glamorous, but with attendees ranging from Alma to Osteria Mozza, Chi Spacca to smoke.oil.salt, you’re getting the best that Los Angeles has to offer.

An Interview with Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room Executive Chef Brad Warner


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Between Hidechan and Totto’s addicting ramen, classy brunch at The Smith, and now a restaurant seemingly spit out of Brooklyn with a knockout dinner menu, inventive cocktail program, and local craft beers, I think I’ll stay a little longer in Midtown East. Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room is not only a pioneer, but a beacon of hope for those who long for a place to go to after work for a drink and/or a bite to eat that isn’t Turtle Bay or another dark and rowdy pub.

Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room_Rivergate Hospitality_Photo by Oleg March 1

I had the pleasure of being introduced to Executive Chef Brad Warner over at Atwood and got to pick his brain a bit about his path to Atwood and things to look forward to (next brunch spot, anyone!?).

Interview with Atwood Kitchen & Bar Executive Chef Brad Warner

2_Chef Brad Warner_Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room_photo by Shaun Vakil,

TS:  When did you “discover” food and more so, realize that you wanted to be a chef? Was there a specific moment you can recall?

BW: I enjoyed cooking as a child and into my teenage years, and friends and family would always tell me I should go to culinary school, or become a chef. After years of hearing that, I finally began to consider it, and I realized that it was what I wanted to do. I applied to the CIA and they accepted me right out of high school, which was unusual at the time. After a few years working to get the loans to go to school, I started in 2000. I think I discovered food at the CIA, I like to cook, and enjoyed food before I went to school, but while I was there I began to understand why I enjoyed being a cook.

TS: Leaving Florida must have been an exciting decision, what made you decide to come to NYC? How was the transition?

BW: It was a now or never decision. I always wanted to work and live in New York City, but after I graduated it was difficult to find work, I think the restaurant industry in the city was still recovering after September 11th. So I moved back to Florida and worked all over the state for about eight years. When I left, I was faced with a decision of either moving to Texas with the company I was working for, or finally giving New York a chance. I knew that either way I would be far away from the comfort of my home and family, and when I really thought about it I realized that I would never really be happy unless I gave it a shot up here. The transition was shockingly easy, I was lucky to find a job within a week of moving here. I found a great apartment that I shared with my best friend for 2 ½ years, I still live there now, and I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of two restaurant openings in Manhattan. This one being my first as the Executive Chef.

TS: What have you enjoyed most about being a chef? What do you enjoy the least?

BW: I love the process of creating, testing, and refining a dish. I also love opening restaurants, the creation of a concept, from an idea is really exciting for me. My least favorite thing would be that I get tired. I really enjoy being at work, nearly every day is fun for me, but I get really annoyed with myself when I get tired, and I wish that I could just skip that part.

TS:  What was it like leading up to the opening of Atwood? I would imagine it was pretty hectic!

BW: In some ways it was very hectic, but there was also a bit of a delay for our opening, so there was also a lot of energy being stored up.

TS:  What do you look forward to as Executive Chef of this brand new restaurant?

BW: Creating and executing great food on a daily basis. This is a unique space, people have responded positively to the atmosphere and to our craft cocktail and beer program. I look forward to making sure the food makes people as excited as the atmosphere and beverage program. I want all of our guests to be happy on a consistent basis.

TS: What about the menu are you most excited about? Anything new you’re trying out? I know it’s a seasonal menu, but how often do you plan on rotating the dishes?

BW: I really love the Hot Honey Chicken, and the Country Pâte. They’re fun to make and our guests have responded well to them. I really enjoy when the guests get excited about a dish and those two we hear about a lot.

I am working on Brunch items for next month, and I hope we have a few dishes that everyone will be interested in.

Our menu will be updated first in late March. Then we’ll likely change it again in June, and October.

TS: What Atwood dish would you say most reflects your personal style?

BW: I think the Boneless Pork Short Rib is a great example of what I tried to achieve with the menu. My hope is that it comes across as a simple, delicious dish, but that the flavors and the technique create something that lingers with you.

TS: When you’re not in the kitchen, do you cook for yourself, order in, or go out to eat? If you eat out, any recommendations for our readers?

BW: I like to cook for myself and my friends, but I don’t often have the time.

I do order out regularly from places like Max Bratwurst und Bier and Butcher Bar in Astoria where I live.

As far as a recommendation for dinner out, I think ABC Kitchen is consistently one of the best meals in the city. I enjoy it every time I go there. I really like Taïm for a nice lunch.

Numero 28 is great for pizza. I wish I lived near there so I could eat it all the time. All of those are places that your readers are aware of, but I like to recommend places where I’ve had consistently good meals and service.

Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room, located at 986 Second Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets in Midtown East, is open 4:00pm-4:00am daily for dinner, drinks, and a late night bar menu. Atwood Kitchen & Bar accepts reservations via telephone, (212) 371-2233, or Open Table.

The Best Places in Los Angeles To Say “I Love You”


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Tis the season, haters. It’s that one special week each year where all questions you may have about a friend’s love life are answered through the level of pure, unadulterated hatred expelling from his or her Facebook status updates. It’s a thrilling time for all. But deep down in the darkest bowels of Valentine’s Day, that L word still somehow finds a way. In reality, it’s the perfect chance each year to renew your love for the significant people in your life, or even perhaps announce significant feelings for a brand new person. Now we’re talking. And while almost every place in town will happily provide the backdrop for such an important moment, a few stick out above the rest. Here are our choices for best places in LA to say “I Love You.”

Cliff’s Edge

3626 W Sunset Blvd, Silverlake


Talk about having a good year. Long considered one of the great hidden gems in the city, Cliff’s Edge is back in the limelight thanks to Vartan Abgaryan’s take over in the kitchen and raising the game in the Eastside fine-dining scene. Everyone from LAWeekly to Eater has been in to see what the buzz is about and what they found is a re-invigorated menu in that same, iconic setting. Just about every restaurant in Los Angeles envies what Cliff’s Edge has captured in that back patio. It is those canopy trees? Perhaps. The perfectly strewn lights? Maybe. But it’s more likely the residual energy that comes from being one of our city’s elite romantic restaurants for more than a decade. And a perfect place to take that next step this coming Saturday. 

Nobu – Malibu

22706 E Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu


If you’re able to see and mentally register the picture directly above, chances are my work here is already done. It’s no secret that Nobu’s recently opened Malibu outpost is quite possibly the most naturally stunning location of any restaurant in the Los Angeles Basin. Directly hovering over one of Malibu’s few remaining unspoiled beaches, with views of that famous turquoise water in every direction, it’s actually impossible to not feel special here. Combine that with the world-famous sushi only Chef Nobu knows how to serve and this spot is what we refer to as a home run Valentine’s Day selection.


2121 E 7th Pl, Arts District, Los Angeles


Cause hipsters can feel love, too, guys. It’s fairly ironic how, in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles (the Arts District), one goes now to purely feel something new. In just 5 years, these dusty warehouses in the Eastern shadows of downtown have filled up with ground-breaking restaurants, run by today’s premiere chefs and packed full of Los Angelenos trying to experience it all first. And the beacon of this renaissance radiates brilliantly from the industrial rafters of the game-changing Bestia. Tucked away in one of the neighborhood’s many industrial back-alleys, walking into Bestia almost doesn’t seem real. It must be a movie set. Or maybe where New Girl just wrapped. But it’s not. It is real and beautiful and smothered in young romance perfect for an “I Love You.”


624 S La Brea Ave


Republique opened just over a year ago and seemingly overnight became one of the most talked about restaurant debuts in the city, if not the entire country. Taking over the formerly-iconic Campanile space, Republique admittedly had a massive microscope hovering over it from the very beginning. But now, a year later, it’s safe to say it’s succeeded almost every critic’s expectation. From the French country interior (even the pictures don’t do it justice), to the family-style Parisian cuisine, Republique is a completely immersive experience for all diners. The three separate kitchens open out into restaurant, providing a festive sense of community, all while keeping it mutedly romantic.

The Little Door

8164 W 3rd St, Los Angeles


The Little Door is hardly a diamond in the LA rough. But this mid-city favorite succeeds so brilliantly because every time you walk through their doors, it feels like you accidentally stumbled into your tiny unfound paradise. Unlike the glitz and glamour of Nobu Malibu, or the hustle and bustle of Republique and Bestia, The Little Door is a quiet oasis in the center of it all. Intimate and personalized, The Little Door thrives on making each and every costumer count. And its clean, mediterranean-inspired menu caters perfectly to its surroundings and the romantic glow that hovers delicately over each table. What in the world could sound better than that for this Saturday evening?

Hidden Gems of Louisville


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When people think “good food,” their thoughts gravitate towards New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. What some may not realize is that there’s a new city on the rise: Louisville.

Right on the border of Indiana and Kentucky, Louisville brandishes diversity in its cuisine that would make any big city jealous. It’s first known for horse racing and big hats, but that’s all changing. While there are tons of chic restaurants, Louisville shines in the dives, the restaurants with one little room, handwritten menus, and hour-long waits on weekends. Here are just a few of the gems:


921 Swan St

Hammerheads 2

Hammerhead’s is located in a tiny basement; You’ll know you have arrived when you spot at small crowd of people lurking outside waiting for a seat. They don’t take reservations and you can’t call ahead, so whatever you do, do not leave. You would be missing some of the best barbeque in Kentucky. The menu is predominantly conventional southern barbeque fare with stunners such as the brisket, fried catfish, and ribs. You’ll be pleased to hear that the masterminds behind this delightful meal elevate the dishes with truffle oil and various aiolis. You will leave Hammerhead’s in a daze and wonder if you will ever eat anything as decadently again. If I had one meal left, I think I may just head to this little basement and order one (or ten) of everything on the menu.

What to get:

  • To start: Duck and pork sliders
  • If you want to split: Whole Rack of BBQ Lamb Ribs
  • Something different: Elk burger with brie cheese on a pretzel bun
  • If you’re adhering to “Meatless Monday”: the Garcia Burger with shiitake, portabella and sun-dried tomato falafel all piled onto a Kaiser bun
  • On the side: Grippo Fries (word to the wise? Get two orders)

El Mundo

2345 Frankfort Ave

el mundo 2

A staple of the Clifton neighborhood since 1995, this hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint perfectly executes dishes and drinks that cure any hangover and make your stomach sing with joy. It is a quintessential “keep Louisville weird” establishment. From the outdoor seating, to the first floor fitted with an open kitchen and order-at-the-counter dining room, to the second floor with table service, they have it all. With a menu that is both reasonable and delicious, they do a great job of blending Tex-Mex with authentic fare. And if all that hasn’t convinced to give them a try, they have daily specials that are out of this world, especially the chorizo enchiladas. Oh, and did I mention their award-winning margaritas? They make them in a variety of styles from traditional to fruity to spicy and offer flights of their handpicked tequila and mezcal selection. On Wednesdays and Thursdays their margaritas are only $4. You just can’t beat El Mundo.

What to get:

  • To start: Chips & Black Bean and Chipotle Dip
  • If you want to have your mind blown: Chile Relleno with Pulled Pork
  • If you are all about those veggies: Tamales stuffed with fresh corn, poblano peppers, onion, and cheese
  • To get the party started: Mosquito (tequila, jalapeno, lime, agave nectar, and cilantro)

Mojito Tapas Restaurant

2231 Holiday Manor Center

Mojitos 2

Mojito may seem a little off the beaten track being located in the middle of a strip mall near Prospect, KY, but the food will transport you to the middle of Barcelona. Mojito’s specializes in delicious tapas dishes inspired by Spain and Latin America. Meals are about making memories with the people you care about and there is nowhere better to do this than over little tasting plates at Mojito. I highly recommend getting three to four plates per two people and if the dish is gone in less than a minute then do yourself a favor and order a second.

What to get:

  • To start: Queso Fundido
  • If you want to pretend you’re on a tropical vacation: Ceviche de Camarones
  • If you’re starving: Paella Valenciana for 2
  • If you want to fight for the next bite: Chuleta de Cordero (Lamb Chops)

Queen of Sheba

2804 Taylorsville Rd

queen of sheba 2

When I think Louisville, the first thing that comes to my mind isn’t Ethiopian food, but after Queen of Sheba maybe it should be. Queen of Sheba serves their food authentically on a large round tray in the center of your table, making it perfect for sharing with friends or family. Each dish comes with Injera, Ethiopian flat bread, to aid in eating with your hands. It’s also delicious! At Queen of Sheba the fragrant spices will knock you back onto the pillow you’re sitting on.

What to get:

  • To start: Seneg Karia, stuffed jalapenos with diced onion, tomatoes, and seasonings in lemon dressing
  • To clear your sinuses: Gored-Gored: Fresh tender beef cubes sautéed in Awaze (special hot sauce)
  • If you want the full experience: Ethiopian coffee in a clay coffee pot

Why I Love Valentine’s Day More Than Christmas


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One word: chocolate. Dark, rich, and satisfying, chocolate in its many forms never fails to deliver that intoxicating punch. If there is one single thing I ask for Valentine’s Day each and every year, whether I’m single or not, it’s that I am able to show zero restraint on a chocolate bomb of a dessert without judgement (or at least obvious judgement). After nearly two decades of living in New York City, I’ve concluded that this town is ridden with chocolate, it’s practically drowning in it, leaving me with ample options each year. With the copious chocolatey treasures in and around the city, I am fortunate enough to constantly come across new, heavenly masterpieces, some of which you’ll find below to treat yourself to this Valentine’s Day.

Dominique Ansel Bakery

189 Spring St

dominique ansel chocolate cake

Cronut shmonut, hand over the chocolate cake and nobody gets hurt. This may be the most interesting of all my chocolate cake encounters; I mean, talk about texture! From the mousse, to the flourless cake, to the ganache, to the little meringues atop, it seems he left nothing out of this chocolatey dessert. Ready to dazzle, Dominique’s creation comes together through the power of technique, creativity, and Valrhona’s A+ quality chocolate.

Empire Diner

210 10th Ave

Brooklyn blackout cake by chef Amanda Freitag of Empire Diner.

While the doughnut holes may be delicious and highly regarded by critics such as Time Out and Tasting Table, I’m more concerned with the towering layers of chocolate I could be digging into. I will also retract what I said about polishing off the whole plate for this Brooklyn Blackout Cake only. This cake is incredibly rich and sweet in all its six-tiered glory, and simply requires a helping hand.


203 E 10th St


Chika Tillman’s dessert bar holds the key to the balance between indulgence and elegance. This is exactly where I want to be for Valentine’s Day. It’s actually where I always want to be, but for the sake of argument, the chocolate tart provides you with a glimpse into pure delight and is a menu staple for good reason. It is melty, warm, homey, delicate, and perfectly-portioned. There’s nothing overly sweet and overwhelming about the space, the classic chocolate tart; your senses leave intact and your endorphins soaring.

Jean Georges

1 Central Park West

Jean Georges

Yes, I did it, I casually threw Jean Georges into the mix. While his dishes are for me in another, less thrifty life, I wanted to point out the chocolate tasting menu, and really, the molten chocolate cake. There are plenty of delicious molten chocolate cakes in this city, but if I’m putting up the best molten chocolate cake, its going to be this guy’s.

Lady M Confections

41 E 78th St

lady m mille repe

And my last recommendation, my go-to, my rock, my haven, and hopefully no mystery to anyone in this city, Lady M. The two approaches with Lady M you can try are choosing individual slices to try different cakes, or, for special occasions, choose an entire, perfect cake. No matter which approach you go with, you will likely polish off everything like I do each and every time (not always by myself). No crumb, nor smidgen of icing can be left behind. For Valentine’s Day, the prime real estate is the chocolate mille-crepe.


The Best Restaurants With Even Better Drinks


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History has us believe that humans have been eating and drinking simultaneously for a very, very long time. But now, more than ever, it seems restauranteurs are putting just as much time and thought into their drink service as any other aspect of their dining experience. And in the hyper-foodie-blogsphere universe we all live in now, many times a premiere drink program is the edge that a restaurant needs to be thought of as truly elite. Here are our picks for outstanding restaurants who’ve elevated their game by way of their drinks.

Commissary at The Line Hotel

3515 Wilshire Blvd, Koreatown


Drink To Try: Gin n’ Juice

Sitting on the pool deck of Roy Choi’s Palais de Triumphe (The Line Hotel), Commissary is a truly beautiful experiment in fresh food cultivation. If I was ever going to write about how the carrot became a culinary rockstar, Commissary would most certainly be credited. But beyond the food lies a drink program so well-fitted to its menu, you almost take it for granted. Served in what looks like a to-go container of Tom Kha soup, the Gin n’ Juice (with multiple flavors) is quite possibly perfection. Delicious, refreshing, and secretly strong, I’m tempted to name it the best in-dinner cocktail in the city. And who needs just one, when you can stroll out to the pool afterwards and sip one more under the stars?

Petty Cash Taqueria

7360 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles


Drink To Try: The Brixton

Petty Cash made quite the splash early last year, opening their high-end (and expensive) taco service on Beverly Boulevard. But after the roar of $6 tacos died down, what remained was one of the finer Mexican restaurants in the city. And thanks to Julian Cox, a truly superb drink and cocktails list emerged as well. The drinks at Petty Cash have personality, and none shine brighter than The Brixton. A favorite since opening, The Brixton is a brilliant combination of gin, lime juice, and poblano sorbet (!!). If that wasn’t enough, it’s served with a flaming habanero pepper filled to the brim with Green Chartreuse. The Brixton is a visual crowd-pleaser with light flavors and a serious punch of heat and is perfect for washing down a menu chock full of world-class tacos.


522 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica


Drink To Try: Autumn Sour No. 2

Remember Julian Cox? He’s back. Noted as one of LA’s great cocktail engineers, Cox has become a pioneer in the drink world and at Brilliantshine, he is finally able to run free. While almost every cocktail is worth an order, the king of the castle has to be the Autumn Sour No. 2. Made with apple brandy, Alsatian peach liqueur, lime, and egg white, this cocktail is all California sun with a major dose of Midwest Autumn. Just please don’t wait till next Fall to drink it.

Gracias Madre

8905 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood


Drink To Try: Boozy Horchata

From the team that brought us the indelible Cafe Gratitude, Gracias Madre opened only a few years ago and quickly engrained itself as a true West Hollywood go-to spot. With one of the most beautiful outdoor patios in the city and a delicious meat-free menu, Gracias Madre was almost fool-proof in opening at its chic Melrose locale. And while patrons flock in droves for the food, the not-so-secret superstar is the cocktail program. Owning one of the more impressive Mezcal collections in the city, tequila is the way to go at Gracias Madre with the Boozy Horchata being the first order of business. Made with almond milk and Mezcal, its nothing overly-complicated but still provides that perfect refresher after a long night out on Santa Monica Boulevard.

Petit Trois

718 N Highland Ave, Hollywood

Petit Trois 718 N Highland Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90038

Drink To Try: Belle Du Jour

The little sister of Chef Ludo’s titanic Trois Mec, Petit Trois hardly needs an introduction. Its no-frills cafe ambience and steak-frites, undoubtedly the best in the city, have made Petit Trois a fast favorite. But you know Chef Ludo wasn’t going to open a Parisian-style sidewalk cafe without accompanying it with a top-notch wine selection and an even better cocktail list. Brought to us by the fantastic Danielle Motor, the drink menu at Petit Trois shines brilliantly and changes frequently. Right now, the Belle Du Jour has our attention; Gin, Casoni, Averna, St. Germain, and a toasted grapefruit zest provides the perfect bite to any of Ludo’s savory French favorites.


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