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.)
YUMIKO'S TERIYAKI in Redmond, Wash.
It seems like there's a teriyaki restaurant in every Eastside strip mall, but Yumiko's teriyaki sauce, with just the right balance of savory and sweet, makes this place stand out. (The recipe has been passed down for generations and remains a family secret.) You can order steak, shrimp, or chicken, all of which are served with rice, sauce, and a little cabbage salad. Servings are generous, so you may want to go for a half portion. The dining area only seats 19. Information: 15003 NE 24th St., 425/562-8916, entrées from $6.50, closed Sun. Megan Rossman, Edmond, Okla.
On 7th Street, close to Chinatown and only a short walk from the National Mall and the Smithsonian Institution, the festive Spanish tapas restaurant Jaleo should be a tourist mainstay. Somehow, it's not. The abbreviated lunch menu is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; try sandwiches such as the JLT (jamón, lettuce, and tomato) and the roasted lamb for about $9 each. At night, the restaurant fills to capacity by 6:30 p.m.; if you don't arrive early or book a reservation well in advance, expect to wait 30 or 40 minutes at the bar. The paella is justly famous, but small plates like lamb chops, dates wrapped with bacon, and sautéed spinach with pine nuts are more fun to sample. If you over-order, you'll blow the bank; instead, order plates in groups of two or three, and be sure to get your fill of some of the cheaper staples, like patatas bravas ($6) and pan con tomate ($3). Information: 480 7th St., NW, 202/628-7949, jaleo.com. Price check: The tapas plate of Spanish omelet with potatoes and onions goes for $6.50. The paella with chicken and mushrooms, which serves two to four, costs $34. Thanks for sharing: Reader Valerie first tipped us off.
Order your falafel and then head to the toppings bar to add marinated eggplant, garlic hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, baba ghanoush, or jalapeño-cilantro sauce. (A sign gives instructions for the best way to add toppings.) Don't forget the garlic cream sauce and tahini, the two items that the staff invites you to reapply as you work your way through the meal. The fries are prepared Dutch-style, meaning they're fried twice. There's ketchup to dip them in, but it's fun to try the more interesting options such as creamy Dutch mayo and sweet-and-spicy peanut sauce. Information: 2425 18th St. NW, 202/234-1969, falafelshop.com, from $4.50, cash only (including euros!). Laura Nixon, Alexandria, Va.
MON CHERI CAFE
Whether you're a somebody or a nobody, the guys at the counter and behind the grill only care about one thing: your order. Sure, they love to chat, and if the line isn't too long, they will. But chances are, there will be someone behind you itching to order exactly what you should be ordering—a big, fat cheeseburger with mayo, onions, mustard, and tomatoes, a side of fries, and a Coke. The bun is toasted, the lettuce is crisp, the tomatoes are red (not pink), and the burger is always perfectly cooked. Information: 3015 M St. NW, 202/338-2745, burgers from $4. Jason Carey, Charlotte, N.C.
NEW! THE OLD FASHIONED in Madison, Wis.
Much of the menu at the Old Fashioned is locally sourced or inspired. The beer-battered perch, for example, is fish pulled from local waters and then fried in a coating of breadcrumbs doused with Wisconsin brews. It's a principle that threads its way through the menu's smallest details: Even the sweet-cream butter that graces the baked potatoes is from the state. Try the fried cheese curds (Wisconsin cheese, of course) or the huge wurst platter with homemade sauerkraut and mustard—the latter is a nod to the area's German ancestry. For a nightcap, order one of the carefully crafted early-20th-century cocktails such as the sidecar or the bourbon old-fashioned. The restaurant is a calorie-counter's nightmare; try not to think about that and resolve to eat healthy tomorrow. Information: 23 N. Pinckney St., 608/310-4545, theoldfashioned.com. Price check: The slow-roasted pork shoulder sandwich goes for $8. The wurst platter is $16. Cocktails start at $4.50. Thanks for sharing: Reader alandrus was the first to tip us off.