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my 2 cents

This place was so good, we had it twice. I would describe Dishoom as a modern south Asian bistro. It’s one of my favorites in London. It’d be the one stop I make if I had a Heathrow layover. Yes, it’s that good. The hubs and I stopped by the Covent Garden restaurant for the first time during breakfast, and while the place was busy, we were immediately seated. We ordered a bacon and egg naan roll (£6.90)—think breakfast taco with Indian flair. The bacon was dry-cured for five days,

I love me some tapas. My palate gets bored easily so the best way for me to dine is to have a variety of dishes from which I can nibble. Three bites, and I’m ready to move on. Barrafina fulfills all my food fantasies. A Spanish tapas restaurant located in the hip neighborhood of Soho, Barrafina is a small tapas bar serving thoughtful, unfussy food. The service, too, is quick and thorough. There’s nothing not to adore about this place: attentive servers delivering well-executed small plates in a quiet, unadorned,

London is known for having some of the best south Asian food in the world. Because the British long ago colonized India and, thus, many Indians eventually emigrated to the United Kingdom, bringing their cuisines with them, and because the ingredient quality is supposedly superior in the UK, the south Asian food here is purportedly even better than that in its motherland. I wish I’d tried south Asian food during my first trip to London back in 2001 as a backpacker fresh out of college. Instead of curry and lassi,

“You’ve got to try Dinosaur Bar-B-Que,” seemed to be the consensus when I tweeted for Syracuse dining recommendations. Really? Dubious. I mean, I’m from the South where barbecue reigns supreme. But I live in an eternal state of FOMO, so Dinosaur Bar-B-Que for our second dinner in Syracuse it was. We entered the restaurant to find a thick buzz in spite of it being a weeknight. Live music courtesy of a rockabilly band with talent boosted the vibe. We were immediately seated at a booth and looked after by a

The first time I ate at Girl and the Goat, it was a last-minute decision: I’d finished a work engagement in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and my friend and I were driving into Chicago where we’d be flying out the next day. “Let’s try to get a table at Girl and the Goat tonight,” my friend said. I’d heard from a few other friends that Girl and the Goat was hands-down their favorite Chicago eatery or at least a must-try while there. I called and was able to get a table after

We obviously didn’t get enough meat stuffed in between bread because after the hot dog and roast beef sandwich at Portillo’s, we made our way over to Eataly and split a prime rib sandwich. Eataly is the Italian food mecca behind the brains of celebrity chef Mario Batali and the former judge from my season of MasterChef, Joe Bastianich. (In fact, the original Eataly location in New York was where our official season finale party was held.) Eataly is a massive food paradise—think a multiple-storied gastronomic mall. There are different

Hot dogs topped with neon green relish, onion, and tomatoes are a Chicago institution, and I tried my first at Portillo’s, a busy fast food-style local joint that serves quick, greasy foods from chili cheese dogs to Italian roast beef sandwiches to cheese fries. On a Saturday during lunchtime, the place was packed, and it took a few minutes for our group to snag a table. There are different lines selling different foods, so luckily, our group was large enough that two of us could save the table, while the

I love a good cocktail, and even though molecular gastronomy is not really my thing, the experience at The Aviary was pretty spectacular…that is, if you’re willing to burn a small hole in your wallet. That’s because drinks at The Aviary ain’t cheap. It is, after all, the cocktail bar akin to Michelin-starred Alinea. This means three things: whimsical fare, excellent service, and hefty price tags. My friends and I came here on a Friday night after our two dinners at Avec and Blackbird. We’d bought tickets a week ahead

Right after our first meal at Avec, we walked a couple of doors down to Blackbird, a one-Michelin star restaurant which, like Avec, had an extensive beverage menu. The ambience here was upscale casual, the crowd lively and boisterous, the music playlist fantastic (at least for my generation). Since this was our second meal, we opted out of the tasting menu ($130; $200 with additional wine pairings) and instead ordered a few dishes to share. What stood out to me the most were the endive salad ($14) and the burnt

Our friends who frequent Chicago said their favorite local restaurant is Avec, a restaurant serving shared plates I’d describe as a conflation of Basque, Mediterranean, and Arabic. Their wine and beverage program is extensive and fantastic—we were recommended some phenomenal beers and port (in fact, it was the first place I’d ever enjoyed port). Avec doesn’t take reservations, so my advice is to go early (we went at 3:30 PM). Since we’d planned on having a second dinner right after Avec, we decided to keep it light. Among some of

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