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La Brea Bakery Teams Up With No Kid Hungry to Donate 1 Million Meals This Holiday Season

La Brea Bakery Teams Up With No Kid Hungry to Donate 1 Million Meals This Holiday Season


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La Brea Bakery, the artisan bread-maker, will donate a portion of the sales of every loaf of bread to No Kid Hungry

Buy a loaf of bread; help feed a kid in need. It’s that simple.

At La Brea Bakery, there’s #AlwaysEnough food to help children in need. La Brea Bakery, the California-based artisan bread-maker, is on a mission this holiday season to donate one million meals to the nonprofit organization No Kid Hungry.For every loaf of bread sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the charity, providing one meal for a hungry child. So far this holiday season, nearly 400,000 meals have already been donated.

If you want to participate in the cause, you don’t even have to trek to one of La Brea Bakery’s brick and mortar locations in California. The bakery’s famous breads are sold in more than 7,000 retail outlets nationwide.

“We are keenly aware that a lot of kids don’t even know if there’s going to be food on the table let alone pumpkin pie and turkey,” said John Yamin, CEO of La Brea Bakery. “We believe that there’s always enough to go around and be shared, that’s why we’ve partnered with No Kid Hungry so every child has a full meal every holiday season.”

Check out more information here.


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


100 Restaurants America Can’t Afford to Lose

You know that bistro around the corner, the one where you and your partner first locked eyes
across the table? The Southern barbecue joint where, back in the days before the pandemic, you and your comrades
used to come together for sweet racks of ribs on Friday nights as another sorry workweek sputtered to a close?
The bodega where you’re such a regular that no one has to ask how you like your breakfast sandwich. The taqueria
where they nail the salsa verde. The place where you can watch a Korean grandmother making dumplings in the
kitchen. The New England landmark with the picnic tables and lobster rolls. Or, wait, how about the trattoria
with the long, honey-hued bar and the wine list that makes you want to throw away common sense and max out your
credit card?

What if those places were to vanish? What if you were to wake tomorrow morning and learn that
that remnant of your life—and that portion of your community’s lingua franca—had been erased? Such a prospect
has been a real threat all year, with the relentless tragedy of COVID-19 leaving many American restaurants, even
established classics, on the brink of bankruptcy. The threat will only intensify as winter progresses and
restaurateurs have to abandon the outdoor dining that has kept them treading water for months. We
love restaurants here at Esquire, and we hope that during this holiday season you’ll consider
making donations to Southern Smoke and the Lee Initiative and other organizations that are
helping restaurant workers endure the crisis. We also hope you’ll raise a toast to these spots around the
country—old and new, scruffy and spiffy—that we consider restaurants that America can’t afford to lose. Because
if we lose them, we lose who we are. —Jeff Gordinier

Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough (Noank,
CT):
Picnic tables on the grass by the water. Steamed lobsters, caught that day, with drawn butter
in paper cups. A beer. —Ryan D’Agostino

Abyssinia (Philadelphia,
PA)
: “Oh, I love that place.” That’s what I often hear from Philadelphians
whenever I happen to mention Abyssinia. The connection runs deep. And that’s no surprise, because the warmth of
the hospitality at this beloved Ethiopian spot makes you feel as though you’ve joined a family for dinner in
their home—even if you happen to be dining alone. A little while back, when I was teaching a writing course at
Drexel University, I used to catch an early train from Manhattan just so that I could get a quick, quiet lunch
of injera and stews at Abyssinia before dashing to the classroom. But it’s even better with a big group. Let’s
all gather here when the pandemic is over. We’ll have a feast. —JG

Alpino
Vino (Telluride, CO):
Some restaurants are worth the hike, literally. Alpino Vino is a
30-ish seat Italian restaurant burrowed into a cliff way above Telluride (a magical place in and of itself).
There’s nothing easy about getting to the place—you can ski a narrow trail and, well, that’s your option—nor
even anything easy about getting a seat. (See: my note about seating 30 people at a time.) But Telluride is the
most important it’s where I fell in love with my now husband it’s where we took my family to celebrate our
engagement and it’s a place I return to twice a year like clockwork to remember all that. That Alpino Vino
serves truly perfect food, both cozy and refined, and has one of the most amazing wine lists I’ll ever
experience is just the proverbial cherry on top. No trip west is complete without a visit. —Madison
Vain


Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis,
MN)
: Flapjacks on the griddle. Hazy morning sunlight through stained-glass awnings. Foreign
currency tacked to a shelf, above the Magic Markered coffee mugs belonging to various regulars. A sign that says
“Beware of Attack Waitress.” If a breakfast counter could be the IRL manifestation of a Replacements song, this
would be it. —JG

American Coney Island and Lafayette
Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
: They’re right next to each other on the same block in downtown
Detroit, and the story is that theirs is a bitter and endless grudge match. Whatever. The point is that both of
them raise a torch for a true regional delight: coneys, which are hot dogs flooded with funky chili, yellow
mustard, and raw onions. —JG

Angler (San Francisco, CA):
Decadence in the form of wild game and giant crustaceans and magnificent heads of radicchio, sometimes served
raw or cooked over open fire, drizzled with truffles or XO sauce, and, on the side, copious amounts of caviar
and oysters, atop a magnificent table made from the trunk of a centuries old redwood. Your memories of Angler
will be like a hunting lodge fever dream you can’t wait to have over and over. —Kevin Sintumuang

Anteprima (Chicago, IL): The
chef is not a celebrity. No Michelin Star. It’s not on the James Beard Foundation’s radar. These are the very
reasons Anteprima is perfect to me. The dining room is always full. The owner greets you at the door. The
waitstaff in their long white aprons remember your names and if you prefer sparkling or tap. Anteprima’s menu
changes daily. With each micro season we see dishes pristinely representing fresh ingredients. Hakurei turnips,
breakfast radish, ramps, and morels in the spring. Corn and tomatoes in the summer. Roots in the fall. Squashes,
truffles, and alliums through the winter. I love this place. —Iliana Regan

Arnold’s (Nashville, TN):
Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without the red-tray, meat-and-three comfort of Arnold’s Country
Kitchen. Locals and tourists, writers and musicians, and everyone in between line up cafeteria-style for juicy
roast beef carved to order and creamy chocolate chess pies for dessert. No reservations, no pretense. Arnold’s
simple, straightforward fare is the first thing on my mind when I think about Music City. —Omar Mamoon

Bamboo Garden (Brooklyn, NY): This massive dim sum restaurant is out
in Brooklyn’s Chinatown in Sunset Park. With elaborate chandeliers and big banquet tables, it’s always filled
with families celebrating special occasions. It’s so joyful. Every time we go we get the Peking duck, which is
just perfect. —Kate Storey

Bar Tabac (Brooklyn, NY): Definition
of a neighborhood eatery. Go for the Burgundy snails, and footie matches on the TV. —Nick Sullivan

Black-Eyed Susan’s (Nantucket, MA):
They do breakfast and they do dinner and they do them well, for not many people (it’s tiny) and for
cash only, and you’ll remember it. Especially the Pennsylvania Dutch pancakes made with a slice of Jarlsberg.
RD


Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO): I
have been coming down here—to the loop in St. Louis, one of the greatest streets of food and music in America,
that is—for (the very best!) burgers and live music quite literally since I got keys to a car. It made me feel
like a rebel when I was young, out late hearing new bands, buying my own dinners, and it makes me remarkably
nostalgic now that I’m not. Also, Chuck Berry played a monthly show here for 200 months in a row, so if you
won’t take my word for it, perhaps his will do. —MV

Blue Moon Cafe (Shepherdstown,
WV):
Locals, tourists from D.C., professors from the small university, all sitting together
enjoying buffalo chicken salads and black bean burgers and maybe somebody playing the guitar. —RD

Bouquet (Covington, KY):
Maybe you’ve grown weary of the phrase “farm to table.” Maybe it’s lost its punch, in certain quarters of the
country. But Bouquet is a restaurant that makes “farm to table” matter again—and in Mitch McConnell’s home
state, no less. Chef Stephen Williams opened the restaurant in 2007 “as one of the first restaurants in the area
to embrace local and sustainable farming as a cornerstone of its mission,” as the place’s website puts it, and
that mission hasn’t lost an ounce of passion in the intervening years. The stuff on the menu sounds
straightforward enough—deviled eggs, a green salad, meatballs, a pork chop—but everything soars because of the
chef’s obvious reverence for the ingredients that he uses. Yes, that matters. —JG


Brigtsen’s (New Orleans,
LA):
“If you’ve only got one dinner, I’m gonna ask you to leave the Quarter.” Can’t tell you how
many times I’ve put first-time visitors to New Orleans in this conceptual bind. “Go to this little shotgun house
on Dante Street and you’ll never forget it.” At 20 years old, this family-run bistro doesn’t pop up on “new and
hot” or “TV chef” lists, but instead chugs along providing deep hospitality and interpreting Louisiana classics
from the Creole, Cajun, and Southern canons that excite the palate and soothe the soul. A local boy and veteran
of Paul Prudhomme’s opening brigade at K-Paul’s, chef Frank Brigtsen works magic in an impossibly tiny kitchen
with abundant Gulf seafood and our year-round farm bounty. He’ll fry up bayou catfish to delicate, cracking
perfection and lay you low with an impossibly savory roast duck on dirty rice. Broiled redfish with a lump
crabmeat crust can make the most open-hearted dining companion fiercely territorial. Frank’s wife, Marna, and
his sisters, Sandy and Rhonda, run the front of house with an effortless, enveloping friendliness that can turn
a harried first-time guest into an instant regular. Also, pecan pie that will haunt your dreams. —Pableaux
Johnson

Busy Bee (Atlanta, GA): When
self-taught cook Mama Lucy Jackson opened Busy Bee Cafe in 1947, she did so on West Hunter Street, one of only
two streets available to African American entrepreneurs at the time. Hunter would go on to be named Martin
Luther King Jr. Drive after the restaurant’s (and Atlanta’s) most important patron. Back then it was the place
for civil rights activists and organizers to safely meet and strategize. Today it’s known as the place with the
best fried chicken in the city. The sides are exquisite renderings of Southern staples with the rice and gravy,
collards, and mac n’ cheese shining particularly brightly. Don’t miss the cornmeal-dusted and encrusted catfish,
made memorable with its steamy and silken flesh. —Stephen Satterfield

Canlis (Seattle, WA): If
we tell you that Canlis is the “epitome of elegance,” which it is, you might get the wrong impression. For three
generations, in a black masterpiece of modernist architecture that reaches up and out toward Lake Union like a
swimmer about to leap off the starting block, the Canlis family has fine-tuned a form of hospitality so
effortless that a “fancy” meal feels like a reunion with old friends. —JG


Casamento’s (New Orleans,
LA)
: Even when there’s not a pandemic going on, sometimes Casamento’s stays closed
for the day. Maybe it’s not the right season for oysters, or maybe somebody’s just not in the mood. Hey, it’s
101 years old, so go easy on the place. When it is open (nowhere near the frat-boy lures of the French
Quarter, thank you very much), Casamento’s remains a tiled shrine to briny simplicity. You want a “loaf,” which
amounts to a heap of fried oysters in between fat slices of white bread. We don’t have to tell you to use a lot
of hot sauce, right? —JG

Celeste
(Somerville, MA):
He spins vintage Chicha, makes Peruvian arthouse films, and mans the fire. She
transforms space with a graduate degree in experimental architecture and embraces guests with Guatemalan warmth.
Together, husband and wife JuanMa Calderón and Maria Rondeau recast their at-home pop-up into a postmodernist
brick-and-mortar paean of Peruvian and Andean spice. Art and aperitivos, pisco and purple corn, neon and
neighbors, all pressed together in a tiny, bright vessel designed to amplify joy. The food is sublime, but
Celeste (rhymes with “say yes: play”) is the greater alchemy of menu, mixtapes, and merrymaking that satiates a
deeper kind of hungry. —Jason Tesauro

Cochon (New Orleans,
LA)
: The last time I visited New Orleans, I went straight to Cochon from the
airport. I began eating lunch alone at the bar, and I began texting my friends, and a couple of them asked
whether I was drunk or high—that’s how effusive I got. A jambalaya studded with pork cheeks and andouille sent
me over the edge. I actually started hollering with joy. A bartender asked me whether I was okay. I was humming
like a lunatic. —JG

Cowan’s Public (Nutley, NJ):
The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years
ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it
was missing. To lose it would be a step backward. —John Kenney

Cozy Corner (Memphis, TN): I told
my friend Jay, in Memphis, I want the real thing. He suggested a couple of spots that didn’t sound
right to me—too tidy, too bougie, too TV-friendly. I said, no, the real fucking thing, and that’s when
we went to Cozy Corner, owned by barbecue matriarch Desiree Robinson. We got ribs and fries and a bologna
sandwich and a whole Cornish hen practically lacquered in a shiny glaze of sauce. It was as real as real gets.
JG


Cunetto House of Pasta (St. Louis, MO):
I know everyone thinks the best Italian food in America is in New York, but I’d argue they haven’t been
to the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. Driving down to these streets and bouncing between the cafes and bakeries
and grocers felt like going on an exotic sojourn when I was very young, and the thought of losing any of these
mom-and-pop establishments and the culture that goes with them fills me with dread. The crown jewel of the area
is Cunetto’s. Aside from being the first place I tried veal (which ended in tears as my parents explained just
what veal is), it’s a menu with absolutely no fuss but tons of flavor. Also, they serve amazing toasted
raviolis, a St. Louis classic. —MV

Cúrate (Asheville,
NC)
: Great restaurants are like rocket boosters for neighborhoods: Attach a hot
spot to a sad stretch of sidewalk and watch everything begin to move. Katie Button’s Cúrate has been
that kind of engine for the city of Asheville, giving the local food scene a shot of adrenaline along with all
that paella and garlic shrimp and jamón ibérico. She also happens to serve the single best bean dish in America:
an Asturian stew called fabada that’s luscious with the fat of housemade chorizo and morcilla. —JG


Diamond Head Grill (Honolulu,
HI)
: This takeout counter on the mauka (mountain) side of Diamond Head isn’t a
scenic spot — just a sun-beaten parking lot with a few picnic tables along a concrete wall — but the plate
lunches spill over with the likes of miso ginger salmon, kalbi beef and char siu pork, plus a heap of rice:
white, brown or, the best, hapa, brown and white together. —Ligaya Mishan

Dino’s Pizza (Chicago, IL):
It was my family’s go-to place for pizza on Friday nights when my brother and I were kids. And it still is for
my parents. Nothing fancy. Not trendy, not even in a post-ironic hipster kind of way. (Thank God.) It’s on the
edge of Chicago, right next to the suburb where I grew up. The bar attracts mostly cops and firefighters. We’d
do carryout, which means when I visit my folks my dad and I leave a few minutes early to pick up the pizza so we
can sneak in a beer and a shot before heading home. Important to note that they don’t specialize in deep-dish
pizza, but the other kind of Chicago pizza—the much better kind of Chicago pizza—which is pub style: cut into
squares, soft but not thick. —Michael Sebastian

Ditch Witch (Montauk, NY):
Not a restaurant, traditionally speaking, but this food truck just off Ditch Plains beach in Montauk is
half the reason you’ll want to go to the beach at all. Their Tomahawk bowl packed with fresh tuna is worth
waiting in line for—and you’ll have to. —Ben Boskovich


Dooky Chase’s Restaurant
(New Orleans, LA): Fried chicken, green gumbo, and the strength of
legacy. For the better part of her 97 years, different communities in New Orleans turned to chef Leah Chase for
sustenance, strength, and good counsel. In the 1960s, civil rights leaders asked for her advice and a meeting
place to hash out the end of the segregationist era (over bowls of her gumbo, of course). When levee failures
following Hurricane Katrina deluged the city, shocked and displaced citizens took solace and strength from Ms.
Leah’s words and determination—even as she mucked out her own dining room and oversaw renovations from a FEMA
trailer parked next to the landmark restaurant in Treme. Her passing in June 2019 broke the hearts of many and
put the onus on her family to continue her work, her Holy Thursday traditions, and a successful generational
transition—tricky for restaurants even in pre-pandemic times. Thanks to her grandson Edgar “Dooky” Chase IV in
the kitchen and daughter Stella at the helm, locals can still gussy up for lunch buffet (including Ms. Chase’s
legendary fried chicken) or indulge on the “regular menu” come Friday. Whatever your choice, make sure somebody
orders the Creole classic Shrimp Clemenceau—shrimp, crispy potatoes, ham, and mushrooms in garlic—and mask up to
meander through the late doyenne’s outstanding African-American art collection. —PJ

Dove’s Luncheonette (Chicago,
IL)
: Okay, here’s the deep secret knowledge possessed by all professional food
writers. Are you ready? If you keep wanting to go back to a place, that place is very good. That’s it.
And I go back to Dove’s Luncheonette every single time I’m in Chicago. Like clockwork. Usually for breakfast,
because breakfast is very important to me, and because the Mexican/Southern mashup served at Dove’s speaks to my
Los Angeles soul. Do I want the pozole rojo with carnitas, or should I get the burnt-ends hash with two fried
eggs and Texas toast? Doesn’t matter, either way, because I know I’ll be back to try the rest. —JG


Watch the video: A Perfect Score - Every Detail Deliciously Done. La Brea Bakery (May 2022).