A little bit Greek, a little bit Middle Eastern and perhaps even slightly northern Indian, the names, ingredients and flavor notes of Anatolia's authentic Turkish cuisine will strike familiar chords for veteran tabletop travelers. "Don't-miss" dishes include sleek and smoky baba ghannouj, lamb-and-beef doner kebab and its yogurt-topped sibling, iskender. To drink, splurge on a bottle of Kalecik Karasi, a full-bodied red from Turkey's most prestigious vineyard.
This colorful Mexican restaurant produces what may be the city's best mole, that thick, mahogany-colored sauce of tomatoes, peppers, chocolate, ground nuts, raisins, and spices. The rest of the kitchen's output isn't bad either, with virtually everything made from scratch.
Still our pick for one of the best dinner values in town, Brennan's manages to combine the vibe of a well-worn bar with the quality of a contemporary bistro. While the kitchen does right by burgers, steaks, and sandwiches, the real thrills are the daily specials full-meal deals ranging from porkchops, fresh fish, chicken and pasta, pegged at $22 or less.
Neighbors have thanked owners Marc and Ruth Levine for "not being another wing-and-beer joint," while others appreciate them for not being too upscale. Bistro 185 takes the glorious middle road, offering hearty made-from-scratch comfort dishes at blue-collar prices.
After 25 years in Little Italy, Paul Minnillo has moved to the suburbs with this contemporary restaurant serving modern regional Italian cuisine. The far-ranging menu includes small-plate-style antipasti and creative greens, as well as silken pastas and hearty entrées. A wood-fired pizza oven turns out killer Neapolitan-style pies. A deep Italian wine list and a patio round out this East Side gem.
While real pubs are woven into the fabric of a neighborhood, youll find Claddagh (part of a national chain) adrift in the middle of a parking lot, surrounded by a shopping mecca. Once you're inside, though, evocative decor, friendly service and a multipage menu of well-prepared dishes, including a standout version of fish n chips, help soften the blow. Nor does it hurt that the full bar carries a solid selection of draft beers as well as every Irish whiskey available in the U.S.
Aladdin's serves reliable, health-conscious foods like freshly squeezed juices, vegetarian chili, and an assortment of pita and roll-up sandwiches. For dessert, some diners can't get enough of the crunchy, honey-soaked walnut baklava, which is some of the best around.
A reliable choice for flavorful Thai and Chinese food, this good-looking East Sider offers options ranging from the traditional (think General Tso's Chicken) to the upscale (including specials like buttery rib-eye steak in spicy red-bean sauce), all served by efficient staffers in a charming if sometimes noisy room.
Little Hunan Solon is operated by some of the same people responsible for the excellent Hunan by the Falls, and it offers much the same menu of meticulously prepared Asian foods served in a serenely contemporary space. "Can't-miss" choices include Sichuan sesame noodles in a thick sesame-peanut sauce, Hunan-style dry-roasted green beans with garlic and remarkably luscious walnut prawns.
Aladdin's serves a variety of simply prepared, Middle Eastern-inspired foods, including homemade soups, salads, pita wraps, steamed veggie plates, and pita "pizzas." Choices for vegetarians abound, and freshly squeezed juices, fruit smoothies, and a small selection of beer and wine are available.
Wild, woodsy aromas suffuse this friendly little restaurant, where hickory smoking, slow cooking, and mesquite grilling are the order of the day. Nearly everything, from the thick, sweet, and peppery BBQ sauce to the delicate biscuits in the strawberry shortcake, is made fresh and in-house. And for a real taste of the ol' West, be sure to try the zesty Smokin' Beans.
Although the kitchen at this Caribbean-themed restaurant (part of the Darden Restaurants chain) tends to keep the heat turned down, much of the food such as pressed Cuban sandwiches, butterflied coconut prawns, pan-seared pork tenderloin in a rummy demiglace is flavorful and attentively prepared. Still, the real draw is the bustling bar scene, fueled by shooters, beer, and boozy, fruity, and frozen concoctions designed to make every night feel like a week at the beach.
Owner, chef, host, server, bartender, and busser: Junior Battiste really does it all. As a result, dining in this teensy Cajun restaurant can be an adventure, marked by warmth, whimsy, and occasionally slow service. Still, those who value style and substance over speed won't be disappointed: Junior's made-from-scratch cookin' is some of the best in town.
BD's takes the salad-bar concept one step beyond: Rather than just assembling a plate of greens, you choose from an assortment of raw meats and vegetables, douse them with flavored oils and sauces, sprinkle on an assortment of spices, nuts, and seasonings, and hand the whole shebang over to cooks manning an enormous 600-degree steel grill. Recipe cards are provided for the unimaginative.
Casually upscale and unselfconsciously cool, this neighborhood bistro is home to delicious gourmet pizzas, an intriguing collection of fish and seafood dishes, and a dashing wine list containing one of the regions largest assortment of half-bottles.
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