Where to find good food & drinks. All cities are listed alphabetically and the places listed are also alphabetically – not playing favorites.  This list will change and expand as I find new places and food I love and new cities that have been explored. I update periodically to add new places and remove ones that have closed or gone downhill, so check back frequently.

3-forks

 

Chicago

Bandera – It’s part of a small chain and one of my exceptions to the “No Chains” rules call for reservations – (312) 644-3524 – ask for a seat by the windows so you can overlook bustling Michigan Ave while you eat.

Lou Malnati’s (IMHO the best Chicago style pizza) – several locations, all in the Chicago area

Portillo’s – just go and eat the Italian Beef – sweet & natural – you can thank me later

The Purple Pig – just go.

Las Vegas

Aces & Ales – locals bar with an incredible beer selection and decidedly terrific bar food. Try the Buffalo Mac & Cheese. Two locations. If you go to the one on Tenaya, tell Misty I sent you.

Atomic Liquors and The Kitchen at Atomic Liquors– the oldest bar in Vegas. I love that there are no TVs, always great beer selections and a terrific cocktail list. Friendly bartenders who know their regulars is a big plus. The Kitchen is headed up by Justin Kingsley Hall and you are assured a good meal. The menu, like many throughout the country is seasonal, so don’t get married to any one dish.

The Barrymore – You have to WANT to go here because you can’t stumble upon it, but I assure you, it’s worth it. Fun decor with surprises everywhere you look and the best grilled octopus I have ever had.

Carson Kitchen – By Kerry Simon, this place became a downtown classic the minute it opened. Have the Bacon Jam and if the Rabbit is on the menu get that too. You’re welcome.

Culinary Dropout – just because it is fun and excellent people watching

District One Kitchen & Bar – In what is quickly becoming my favorite strip mall for dining in the Chinatown area. Everything we have tried has been great, bring friends to share the plates, because some of them are HUGE! If the lobster fried rice is on the menu, get it; it’s pricey, but well worth it!

Downtown Cocktail  Room – from the secret door to the lush clubby decor, this is a must do when downtown. My suggestion? Get there early; it gets really crowded.

Du-Par’s – The former location at the Golden Gate Casino was my fave, but now you can get their famous pancakes at the Suncoast in the Summerlin area.

Esther’s Kitchen – a Seasonally changing menu with in house made pasta and some of the best bread ever. DO get the anchovy butter and thank me later.

Fleur – It’s by Hubert Keller, do I have to say anything else?

Food Trucks – there are dozens in Vegas, but there are a couple of really outstanding ones. Follow them all on Facebook to be kept up to date on their events, varying locations and menu specials

Boqueria Street – Spanish style food truck. Get the Patatas Bravas! Their website has their schedule of fixed and travelling events.

Cousins Maine Lobster – They are now franchised because of their appearance on a competition business show and available in many cities                      across the country. They are a little pricey for food truck food, but they are damn tasty. (they also have a space inside the new Smith’s in                            Centennial off Skye Park Canyon and the 95)

Oming’s Kitchen – Filipino street food. Bold flavors all served up with a smile. This woman owned business is killing it on the streets. Facebook has details on locations.

        Strip Chezze – Grilled cheese in all its forms.

The Golden Tiki – Happy Hour starts at 2 pm and there is a little snack buffet (don’t bother), but the drinks are fun. From Classic tikis like the Navy Grog to house specialties you won’t be disappointed. Take your pic in the clamshell in the rear of the bar, but they won’t let you disrobe and do it Birth of Venus style

The Henry – I have no idea what took me so long to get into the “coffee shop” at the Cosmopolitan. I have eaten THE most perfectly cooked omelets I have EVER had here. Fluffy and light, not rubbery and not a speck of browned egg anywhere on that omelet! Open 24 hours a day, but go for breakfast for sure!

Marche Bacchus – Great wine selection for drinking at your place or theirs – off strip.

Monta Ramen – I don’t get in here as often as I would like because there is ALWAYS a line and I hate to wait in lines. Get there early or be prepared to wait. They have the best gyoza I have ever had and fuggetaboutit on the ramen. You’re welcome.

MTO – Two locations with two slightly different menus. The downtown location serves breakfast and lunch and the Summerlin location serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Naked City Pizza – REALLY great food in a bar. Multiple locations – check their website.

Other Mama – Seriously good food off the strip. If the Kimchi rice is available, be sure to order it.

The Peppermill – A Vegas institution. You must go. I have never eaten anything there other than breakfast, so I can’t speak for the rest of the menu, but it’s typical diner food done right. Check out the lounge as well. Kitschy uniforms and decent service round out the experience.

Pho Saigon – there are a LOT of Pho places in Vegas, but this one is my fave. Fast service and dozens of choices.

Pizza Rock – fantastic beers on tap and in the downtown area – an exception to the “No Chains” rule. I only go to the downtown location.

Ramen Sora – In Chinatown, next to Sparrow & Wolf (below). Cheap, tasty and from what I hear from folks who’ve lived in Japan, authentic Sapporo style Ramen. I am not an expert, but I do love it here!

RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room – go to RM for sustainable choices in fab fish and for dynamite cocktails and some twists on classics go to Boiler Room

Secret Pizza – It’s not really a secret any more, but if you want a slice of NY style pizza, this is about as close as you can get in Vegas. At the Cosmopolitan. On the third floor across from STK, next to Blue Ribbon, look for the narrow hallway lined with record albums. There is no sign, no website, and these directions are about as clear as you are going to get.

Sparrow & Wolf – Quickly becoming our “go to” spot for date night. Chef/Owner Brian Howard (formerly of Comme Ça) changes the menu with the seasons and specials are always interesting. If the Hamachi Collar is offered GET IT. Also try their dumplings and the wood fired lasagna. You’re welcome. Chinatown

STK – Chef Stephen Hopcraft is brilliant and there is ALWAYS something fun going on there! Go for dinner and stay for the nightlife if they don’t need your table.

Urban Turban – well priced and executed Indian food in a really fun casual setting. Try the lunch buffet for a great value!

Vintner Grill – housemade goat cheese and reliably great food off the strip

Yardbird – In the Venetian you will find the best fried chicken in the city! Based out of Miami, they are doing it right. Order the Fried Green Tomato BLT and thank me later.

Yummy Sushi (on Lake Mead Blvd and Tenaya) – neighborhood joint and always busy

Los Angeles

animal – just go and have the chicken liver toast. Yes, really.

Bazaar – it’s pricey (like car payment pricey), so be prepared, but really amazing

Black Market Liquor – fun, trendy and really good food

Laurel Tavern – locally owned and operated, the owners know the regulars.  GREAT beers on tap and upscale bar food that’s worth the trip

Son of a Gun – sister resto to animal – again, just go.

Village Idiot – great cocktail program, with knowledgeable staff

Sacramento

Foundation – We ate lunch here and were happily sated! The beer cheese soup with pretzel croutons and the grilled artichokes are a must.

Low Brau and Block – conjoined twins that serve up fabulous sausages, cheeses, beer and charcuterie.  Always packed on the weekends, but worth it. Knowledgeable staff on both liquors and beer.

Sandra Dee’s – Soul Food! Family owned and operated and the recipes are family secrets too. Eat the Fried Chicken and thank me later!

Shady Lady – If Esquire Magazine says it is one of the best bars in the country, who am I to argue? And it is fantastic. Cool vibe, fun music and talented bar staff makes this a MUST DO while in the city.

San Francisco

City View Dim Sum (there is no view, FYI)

Mama Ji’s – They don’t even have a website (really) but check out this Eater piece.  We ate everything on the appetizer menu!

Seattle

5 Point Cafe – ridiculously good little dive – go for breakfast

Collections Cafe at the Chihuly Museum – first of all it’s gorgeous, secondly the food is fresh  and fun and damn good.

ANYTHING by Tom Douglas – in particular Dahlia and Brave Horse Tavern

Elysian Brewing  – I like the Capitol Hill and Stadium District pubs. Recently bought by corporate beer so stay tuned to see if they remain as good.

Miller’s Guild – great atmosphere and fantastic food

The Pine Box – it used to be a mortuary and now houses a fab bar – and the snacks are pretty damn good too!

Salumi – out of this world cured meats.  Get there early – they run out QUICKLY!  Only open 4 days a week, so check the website!

Smith – great food and cocktail program

Tavern Law – Superb cocktail program

Top Pot Doughnuts – have the Bavarian Creme Bismark and you’re welcome