NEVER ENDING STORY
America's Favorite Restaurants
We've asked you a few times to tell us about your favorite restaurants, and nearly 600 of you of have responded. It's always tough to narrow down the list, but here's our updated, always-changing take on where to eat like a local, from sea to shining sea. (Keep telling us about your favorites, and we'll keep improving our list.)
HIGHWAY 95 CAFE ASIAN CUISINE in Yuma, Ariz.
Nothing about the industrial area on the edge of Yuma says gourmet Asian cuisine, least of all the drab exterior of Highway 95 Cafe. But diners who pull into the dirt parking lot are in for a treat. The menu is mostly Mandarin and Thai: BBQ pork drizzled with a tangy sauce, Beijing ravioli, an array of noodle dishes, and outstanding seafood. Highway 95 is packed year-round, and service is crazy fast. Information: 2585 E. 16th St., 928/329-8882, entrées from $5, cash only. Eliana Osborn, Yuma, Ariz.
TRIO'S in Little Rock, Ark.
The lack of a men's restroom (there's a women's and a unisex) at Trio's suits its ladies-who-lunch crowd just fine. The menu seems aimed to please them, too. It's easy to pass the afternoon over hot crab dip served with crostini, or Mediterranean tapenade served with lavosh crackers. But the dessert tray steals the show. The choices include Banana Delight, a concoction of bananas, cream cheese, vanilla pudding, and whipped cream in a pecan-shortbread crust; apple-cranberry pie; several kinds of cheesecake; and seasonal offerings such as sweet-potato pie and pumpkin mousse. Information: 8201 Cantrell Rd., 501/221-3330, triosrestaurant.com, lunch entrées from $6.50, closed Sun. Holly E. Callaway, North Little Rock, Ark.
OCEAN BEACH PIER CAFÉ in San Diego, Calif.
The Pier Café has a knack for choosing the tastiest ingredients and letting them shine. Chunks of lobster make the omelets irresistible, the delicious mahimahi stands out in the tacos, and fresh mango brings the pancakes to a whole new level. The interior is pure San Diego: small, casual, and friendly, with wood-plank tables and a view of the beach and of surfers passing by. Information: 5091 Niagara Ave., 619/226-3474, tacos from $3, closed during heavy surf. John Jost, San Diego, Calif.
SHABU in Mission Viejo, Calif.
Each seat has a hot plate in front of it with a pot of boiling water. You order seafood, chicken, pork, or beef—all raw—and boil it, along with the accompanying mushrooms, tofu, noodles, and spinach, until everything is cooked. The best part is the special sauces that Kumi (a.k.a. Hot Mama), the hilarious owner, makes fresh daily: ponzu, sesame, ginger, and Hot Mama chili soy sauce. Adjust them to your taste by mixing in scallions, garlic, chilies, and daikon radishes. The restaurant is always packed, so reserving is a good idea. Information: 28715 Los Alisos Blvd., 949/588-3225,entrées from $11, closed Mon. Charlice Arnold, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
THE WILD PLUM CAFE & BAKERY in Monterey, Calif.
The food is as simple as the decor—rustic wooden furniture, a hand-painted mural, a handwritten menu—but it always has an interesting twist. The roast-beef sandwich, for example, is served on focaccia with Gorgonzola cream, carmelized onions, and garlic aioli. If you don't have time to eat there, pick up a box lunch to go (call ahead to order one). Be sure to try the pastries—the muffins and scones are a treat. Information: 731 Munras Ave., 831/646-3109, sandwiches from $8, closed Sun. Stefanie Kaku, Carmel, Calif.
SOUTH BEACH BAR & GRILL in San Diego, Calif.
San Diegans know fish tacos, and this joint is considered by many to have the best in town. A lightly grilled flour tortilla is filled with mahimahi, cabbage, pico de gallo, and cheese, and then drizzled with ranch dressing. They're so cheap, you might as well get two orders, plus a cold beer. It takes some time to score a seat, but the tacos are absolutely worth the wait. Information: 5059 Newport Ave., 619/226-4577, southbeachob.com, tacos from $3. Laura Shanley, San Diego, Calif.
NEW! HEART OF JERUSALEM CAFÉ in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Heart of Jersusalem Café, in downtown Colorado Springs, is one of those restaurants where pretty much everything is good. If you can't make the final call between Mediterranean staples like falafel, baba ghanoush, hummus, and tabbouleh—and no one seems to be able to—then order one of the sampler plates, which go for about $6. Dishes are large and filling, but stick around for the baklava and the Turkish coffee—the latter emerges from the kitchen in a traditional pot called an ibik, and is as black as ink and as potent as rocket fuel. Heart of Jerusalem feels like a lunch place; if you're looking for dinner, head to a restaurant where the pace and the preparation is a little more thoughtful. Information: 15 E. Bijou St., 719/477-1777, heartofjerusalemcafe.com. Price check: A falafel sandwich goes for $5, and a single serving of baklava is $1.50. Families can order the special kids' chicken nugget plate with fries and a drink for $6. Thanks for sharing: Reader Andrea was the first to tip us off.