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.)
NEW! PAPPASITO'S CANTINA in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas/Fort Worth, and other metropolitan areas in Texas
Several readers wrote in last year to complain about the inclusion of Tex-Mex chain Chuy's, of Texas—so we know we'll get flak for tipping our hat to another local chain, Pappasito's Cantina, this year. We're messing with Texas, and we're sorry. A Tex-Mex chain that's part of the Pappas family's restaurant empire, Pappasito's doles out huge plates of food to big, hungry crowds—and still manages to satisfy demanding palates. The fajitas, by most accounts, are the star here, with self-described Texan "fajita snobs" vouching for their tastiness. Entrées can run to the expensive side for Tex-Mex, but most portions are good for two, so you should think about splitting your plate with your favorite hombre. Information: pappasitos.com. Price check: Chicken fajitas for $15—but the menu says it serves two. A two-taco dinner served with rice and beans is $10. Thanks for sharing: Members djb123 and ask4texas were the first to tip us off.
CHUY'S in Austin, Tex.
In a town where there's Tex-Mex on almost every corner, Chuy's is the best. If you can tear yourself away from the enchiladas—blue-corn tortillas filled with chicken, cheese, and tomatillo sauce and topped with sour cream—take a moment to admire the decor: velvet Elvises, hand-carved wooden fish, vinyl chairs, tables from the 1950s, and pictures of patrons all over the world in Chuy's T-shirts. Information: 1728 Barton Springs Rd., 512/474-4452 (plus four other Austin locations), chuys.com, entrées from $6. Sara Ballon, Austin, Tex.
NEW! BIT & SPUR RESTAURANT & SALOON in Springdale, Utah
The Bit & Spur is one of the best restaurants near Utah's Zion National Park: The locally brewed beer is top-notch, and Mexican-inspired basics like the house burrito and fresh fruit margaritas satisfy after a long hike, especially if you've snagged a patio seat. Ingredients are high-quality, and the vibe is festive and always friendly. Still, food quality can be erratic, and the prices are higher than they need to be—the seasonal menu, especially, trends towards expensive options (this spring's bistek asado dish goes for $30, and the special tamales are priced at $21). Keep it simple and you'll walk away happy, and full: Grab a good beer or a margarita, try well-regarded favorites like the tacos or burritos, and down it all on the back patio while contemplating the West Temple Mountains. That's hard to beat after an attempt at nearby Angel's Landing, a legendary hike to one of the best summit views in the National Park system. Information: 1212 Zion Park Blvd., 435/772-3498, bitandspur.com. Price check: The chicken, beef, or pork burrito goes for $12.50. Fajitas go for a pricey $18.25. A children's menu is available: The child's portion for a taco or enchilada plate is $6.25. Thanks for sharing: Reader Lois was the first to tip us off.
CROWN BURGERS in Salt Lake City, Utah
Crown Burgers has grown to include seven locations throughout the area, but there's nothing chain-like about it. For one thing, the company is run by a family, not a big corporation. For another, the owners pay special attention to the food, whether it's the popular Crown Burger—a man-size patty topped with pastrami, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and a special sauce—or the gyros, taquitos, broiled chicken, burritos, salads, fries, or shakes. Every outpost is always packed at lunch, but you never have to wait long for your order. Information: 3190 S. Highland Dr., 801/467-6633, Crown Burger from $5, closed Sun. Richard Miles, Tooele, Utah
CORNER BAR & GRILL in Richmond, Va.
Not too sweet and not too heavy, the absolutely perfect mashed sweet potatoes at the Corner Bar & Grill fall somewhere between pudding and homestyle creamy mashed potatoes. Order them as a side to any of the classic Southern dishes on the menu—delicately fried catfish, pork chops, sandwiches, fried oysters, or barbecue Jack grilled chicken. Add the restaurant's spectacular collard greens and sweet, moist cornbread, and you're all set. Information: 1301 W. Leigh St., 804/213-3046, thecornerbargrill.com, sandwiches from $7, mashed sweet potatoes $2, closed Sun. Ellen Young, Mechanicsville, Va.