Where to eat in the USA?
Honoring what has now become a tradition, The New York Times traveled across the United States to compile the newspaper’s annual list of its 50 favorite restaurants in the country. Panorama de las Américas chose several restaurants from the list that are located in Copa Airlines destinations to present here. Make a note for the next time you visit these cities.
By The New York Times Company, 2022
Photos: Getty Images and The New York Times Company, 2022
How Miami is Mamey? It would not be unusual to find yourself navigating a crowd wearing little more than swimwear on your way to the host stand. When you get to your seat, you’ll get a taste of why chef Niven Patel loves living here. Patel was raised in Jacksonville, Florida, and established himself locally with Ghee Indian Kitchen. At Mamey he has turned his attention to Latin and Caribbean flavors. His intelligent takes on unpretentious dishes — conch fritters with cilantro aioli, ceviche redolent of coconut, sticky plantains with tamarind chutney, mojo roasted chicken — are the kinds of things you dream of eating while you watch the South Florida breeze blow through the banyan trees. And don’t skip the mango custard.
Mitchell Abou Jamra struck upon novel ways to make a splash with tacos in a city already rich with taquerias. The most ingenious may be the tortillas he fills with jalapeño tabouli, whipped feta, and bacon-y crisp halloumi in a gloss of Aleppo pepper oil. If you choose to order the three tacos for $14 (as you should), you’re going to want to try the gyro and chicken shawarma versions as well. Take them to a window side stool in the sunny little cafe Abou Jamra named after his Lebanese grandmother, and daydream about what could happen if the chef ever turned his talents to Middle Eastern enchiladas.
When it was tucked inside a strip mall, Jon Yao’s restaurant was scrappy and ambitious — fine dining without the trappings or liquor license. In its new luxurious space, Kato has grown into a more polished, formidable splurge, with dish after stunning dish inspired by the foods of Yao’s Taiwanese American upbringing, and plenty of options for brainy cocktails and pairings. Dinner here is proof that the formality of the tasting-menu format, with all of its conventions, can still be electrifying.
A hulking charcoal grill is at the heart of Jeong-In Hwang and Corey Lee’s Korean barbecue restaurant, which turns out dark, glossy pieces of thickly cut galbi, beef tongue and fatty rib-eye cap that are gently smoky and impossibly juicy. Unlike many Korean barbecue restaurants, it’s not a communal cooking experience, but that means you can relax and leave the grilling to the restaurant’s virtuosic cooks.
The Musket Room may strike you at first as a neighborhood hangout, especially if you start out at the bar, where people drop by to trade notes on dog walkers or the pop-up denim store around the corner. In fact, many of the drinkers do live in the neighborhood; they just happen to be hanging out at a place with some of the most elegant food in the city. Chef Mary Attea takes a globalist approach to flavor, borrowing ideas from Spain, Lebanon, Japan or anywhere else she feels like roaming. Few kitchens at this level are so accommodating: You can stay for a whole $109 tasting menu, or just order a couple of courses, or sit at the bar with a cocktail while you smear anchovy butter on a just-baked sourdough boule the size of a grapefruit.
Back in 2017, Dante Datta and Suresh Sundas envisioned Daru primarily as a cocktail bar with some stellar bites. What finally materialized in August 2021 at the easternmost end of the city’s H Street corridor was a truly imaginative Indian restaurant, with dishes like a supple hunk of burrata submerged in a pool of fragrant black dal, and a sprightly moilee appetizer studded with scallops. Vestiges of the cocktail bar that never was remain in boozy concoctions featuring green cardamom, coriander and masala chai, as well as in the name: Daru is the Hindi word for country liquor, or hooch.
Technically speaking, Anajak Thai is 41 years old, but when Justin Pichetrungsi took over the Sherman Oaks, California bistro from his parents a couple of years ago, he built on the Thai menu and natural wine list in thoughtful and utterly delicious ways. Go for the more experimental omakase-style menu on the weekend, the freewheeling spirit of Thai Taco Tuesdays, or anytime you manage to get a table and spend time with the whole grilled sea bream in a bright green pool of tangy nam jim or Southern Thai-style fried chicken.
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