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Recipe inspiration, tips, and kitchen hacks from the Chowhound editors.

Behind the Scenes at Alinea

Behind the Scenes at Alinea

A step-by-step journey into Alinea, one of the most talked-about kitchens in America. READ MORE

Chaat Spots

Chaat, tasty Indian snacks, of excellent quality can be had from several establishments around town. saucy_girl likes Chaat Café, which, while a chain, is one of the tastiest places for chaat in the Bay Area. Pei loves the papri chaat there and would eat it every other day if she still worked nearby. Atomica seconds the recommendation for the papri chaat, and suggests the bhel puri.

katya thinks Real Ice Cream is a great choice for traditional chaat, with a large menu of chaat to choose from. Especially try the sev puri and ragada pattis, and don’t miss the ice cream if you have room, in flavors like rose petal and cardamom. Amber Café is another choice for excellent chaat, though the menu is small.

Sebby likes Chaat Paradise–its divey atmosphere doesn’t detract in the slightest from the great chaat. Unlike many chaat places, they have table service.

Lots of hounds recommend Vik’s Chaat Corner for masala dosa and other snacks that taste “just like home”–if you’re from Mumbai. sfoperalover says the best time to go is a weekend afternoon at around 5 p.m., for minimum crowds and maximum bounty of the kitchen.

Melanie Wong’s absolute favorite place for chaat is Chaat Patta Corner, whose delicate pani puri shell are individually made to order. They’re incredibly thin and absolutely fresh, and you can choose the heat and sweetness level of your toppings. Everything is of remarkably high quality and freshness, and the proprietors are very sweet.

Chaat Cafe [Financial District]
320 3rd Street, San Francisco

Real Ice Cream [South Bay]
3077 El Camino Real, Santa Clara

Amber Cafe [Peninsula]
600 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View

Chaat Paradise [Peninsula]
165 E El Camino Real, Mountain View

Vik’s Chaat Corner [East Bay]
724 Allston Way, Berkeley

Chat Patta Corner [East Bay]
34751 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont

Chat Patta Corner [East Bay]
in Dana Bazar
5113 Mowry Ave., Fremont

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Favorite Chaat places in the bay area??

Rocker Oysterfellers? But I…

rln is very impressed with the hors d’oeuvres at Rocker Oysterfellers, like delicious pulled pork sandwiches and duck on crostini. (Even the crostini themselves are tasty, delicately flavored with olive oil.) Baked oysters in butter and garlic are perfectly cooked, and prepared so as not to overwhelm the flavor of the oysters.

The standouts at this place, though, are the fancy-shmancy takes on American classics, like macaroni and cheese topped with dungeness crab, or French fries with aioli. ChefGirl412 sums it up: “This place is awesome.”

Rocker Oysterfellers [Sonoma County]
in Valley Ford Hotel
14415 Highway 1, Valley Ford

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Rocker Oysterfellers, Valley Ford Hotel

Ouest Revisited: Eggy Ecstasy, for Starters

Hounds can’t stop talking about two delicious, comforting appetizers at Ouest. One is crispy poached egg with smoked duck breast and bitter greens. The other is a rich truffled “omelet souffle” with mousseline sauce.

This kind of hearty, well-conceived chow has won a devoted neighborhood following for Ouest, a five-year-old American bistro. Smart orders include roasted and braised meats and poultry, including roast chicken, grilled pork chop or rib eye, braised short ribs, and crispy pan-roasted squab. Also recommended: prosciutto-wrapped halibut, roast sturgeon with mushrooms and truffled rice, and a knockout appetizer of cauliflower custard with poached lobster, mushrooms, and leeks. Some find the dessert choices lackluster and dated.

Ouest [Upper West Side]
2315 Broadway, between W. 83rd and 84th Sts., Manhattan

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Big W’s Bar-B-Que Finds a Place to Park

Big W’s, which once dished up first-class barbecue from a truck, is now paying less for gas but more for rent. In a former deli around five miles up Route 22 from its old parking spot, it’s serving the same deeply smoky ribs, chicken, and pulled pork, among other things. Standout sides include slow-roasted potatoes and sweet, tangy, porky beans. “I drove 35 miles for the ribs–and I will do it again,” testifies steelydad.

Big W’s Roadside Bar-B-Que [Dutchess County]
formerly Village Deli and Market
1475 Rte. 22, Wingdale, NY

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big w’s (wingdale/dover plains) is open!
big w bbq

Sweet Stone Crabs at the Lobster Place

Stone crabs are here, and the Lobster Place has landed some champs. “Oh, man, was it good!” sighs skeetereats, who favors the tender knuckle meat over the prized claws.

The store sells mustard to serve alongside. Don’t bother. The crabs are sweet and delicious without embellishment. The season runs through March, but the supply is unpredictable, so call ahead.

The Lobster Place [Chelsea]
75 9th Ave., at W. 15th St., in Chelsea Market, Manhattan

The Lobster Place [Greenwich Village]
252 Bleecker St., at Leroy, Manhattan

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If you’re craving STONE CRAB CLAWS…

Amid Blintzes and Borscht, a Surprising Burger at Veselka

Veselka is loved–or loathed, by some–for its sturdy Ukrainian grub. But few have even mentioned its charbroiled hamburger–until now. “One of the most underappreciated burgers in the city,” declares livetotravel. “It was a true revelation the first time I ate one.”

eastvillagegirl credits high-quality beef supplied by East Village Meat Market across the street. In addition, livetotravel says, this kitchen knows the meaning of medium rare.

Veselka Restaurant [East Village]
144 2nd Ave., at E. 9th St., Manhattan

East Village Meat Market and Deli, a.k.a. J. Baczynsky’s [East Village]
139 2nd Ave., between E. 9th St. and St. Marks Pl., Manhattan

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Best Burger?

On a Big Sugar High

The latest cupcakerie to pop up is Big Sugar Bakeshop. They have a massive variety of treats, and their cupcakes are way more affordable than the competition’s cupcakes (i.e., Leda’s).

Maxmillion goes for their hummingbird, coconut and mocha cupcakes. There are also small bites like fudge squares and peanut butter buckeyes, and cake whole or by the slice.

Cupcakes are $1.50-$2 apiece. Cookies are $1. Check the Big Sugar blog for daily specials.

Big Sugar Bakeshop Fernando Valley]
12182 Ventura Blvd, Studio City

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More cupcakes in Studio City.

Pork Burger Pigout

Obsessed with pork burgers, ipsedixit has been frequenting Wood Spoon when the need for a fix comes on. It’s hard to beat this baby, with good, crusty-yet-tender country roll, a very juicy pork patty, and roasted cabbage as garnish. Check out their version of chicken pot pie, too.

Wood Spoon
107 West 9th Street, Los Angeles

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Jonesing for pork burgers

Little Fish with Big Power in the Kitchen

Anchovies can enrich the taste of dishes without announcing themselves. An anchovy fillet will “provide that elusive umami flavor in a dish making it deeper and more savory,” says hotoynoodle, and yet nobody will know it’s there. Saute a chopped anchovy with the aromatics when you make a basic tomato sauce for pasta; it will melt into the sauce while adding a bit of oomph. Candy purees anchovies in the filling for deviled eggs for the same effect. JungMann adds them to turkey meatballs, saying he uses anchovies to “salt” food, bringing out its flavors.

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anchovies- how do use them?