When a golfer seeks inspiration, she looks toward the skies over Scotland, just as a baker gets a second wind from his brochure of the Choco Mountain Range. Today's Groupon inspires with a saucy salute to Memphis: $20 worth of sweet meats and succulent, finger-licking barbecue for $10 at Lil' Piggy's Bar-B-Q in Coronado. Follow the sweet-smelling dreams that haunt long nights in your rib-shack.
While trekking across New Zealand, Matt Baker and PJ Lamont stumbled upon a burger shack in Queenstown and immediately became addicted to the eatery’s organic, grass-fed beef patties. According to a profile in Beach & Bay Press, the duo often dined there more than once a day and eventually convinced the chef to both part with his recipes and train them how to make them. Upon returning home, the pair recruited PJ’s brother Martin for their budding endeavor: a gourmet burger place that would rely entirely on organic, grass-fed beef from New Zealand. After finding the right spot for their gastropub, the three put their own sweat into renovating it; PJ carved the wooden menu himself without using a woodpecker even once.
That menu quickly garnered its fair share of media buzz and awards by combining beef patties, ground fresh daily, with unique ingredients such as pesto aioli, grilled pineapple, and beetroot. Organic, local vegetables make up the condiments and the house tomato chutney, New Zealand’s hardier version of ketchup. But Bare Back Grill does more than burgers, satisfying appetites with natural chicken and lamb, tempura tofu, and seared ahi tuna coupled with a wide selection of beers and wines. Guests can gulp down Kiwi Steinlagers or sip Australian and New Zealand wines while lounging at either Bare Back location.
Every morning, the chefs at D'O Thai Cottage leave plates of Thai food by the front door as an offering to the spirits and an enticement to corporeal beings. Lured in for a meal, one food critic at the San Diego Uptown News found delight in the Crying Tiger's tender slivers of new york strip steak fanned over lettuce and served with a fiery garlic fish sauce—he recommends doling out the sauce in quantities "fierce enough to bring tears to a tiger’s eye."
Elsewhere on the menu, D'O Thai Cottage's chefs express their love of duck with sonnets scrawled in the margins and three different duck recipes: fried and topped in peanut sauce, ladled in a spicy pineapple curry, or sealed in a honey glaze that crisps the skin. Wok chefs fry up Thailand's version of comfort fare, sautéing vegetable stir-fries and rice noodles in thai basil and sweet peanut sauce. Bartenders cool off tongues with cocktails, Asian beer, and wine from Robert Mondavi and Beringer.
Inside the restaurant, fuchsia and tangerine banners hang from white rafters, and hovering cherubim keep their youth by bathing in the steam rising from bowls of curry. The ceiling angles up to a mezzanine, contributing to the airy feel created by the first floor's large mirrors and a row of french doors looking onto the street.
Located between the barrel room and the vineyards at the historic Bernardo Winery, Café Merlot combines Europe cuisines with Southern California flare. Café Merlot co-owner Toni Kraft grew up in a home with the smells of baking bread, and counts planting, harvesting, and consuming fava beans with her grandmother among her fondest childhood memories. After a career in catering in the Midwest, where she worked alongside the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Wolfgang Puck, Toni brings an experienced but experimental philosophy to her current restaurant’s seasonally-changing menus. And with the help of executive chef Ferdinand, Toni also helps with the cooking classes, which range from cooking with wine to Super Bowl snacks, spreads, and marinades.
The bistro uses the 123-year-old winery’s rustic surroundings to great effect. On the patio, olive trees and grapevines gossip above diners. Indoors, a warm-toned Tuscan ambiance welcomes guests. Sundays see Chef Daniel roll out some of his specialties on the brunch menu, such as lobster eggs benedict and Kahlua French toast, making the cafe an enticing destination for a romantic breakfast date or a confusing business meeting.
Chef Isabel Cruz's unique edible offerings are served straight from the Venn-diagram center of Latin and Asian cuisine. Vegetarians and omnivores alike can nosh healthy breakfast options such as the homemade Cantina croissant with scrambled eggs, cheese, tomatoes, and scallions ($8.25), or have a lunchtime-leaning crispy lettuce wrap cradling marinated chicken and tangy peanut sauce ($9.75). Toast with a fresh mimosa ($5 per glass, $20 per pitcher) or sweet thai coffee ($3.75). In the evening, revive flagging taste buds with palate-tickling plantains with sour cream and caviar ($9). Entrees include globetrotting, edible explorations such as the flat-iron steak with cilantro garlic mojo pico, which is accompanied by loyal cartographers portobello mushrooms ($20).
According to Zagat, the portions of breakfast plates at Broken Yolk Cafe can be "obscene"—although one could also consider them generous. Sometimes, these sizes are even considered a challenge. In 2010, Man Vs. Food's Adam Richman paid the restaurant a visit to tackle its infamous Iron Man Special: a 12-egg omelet, topped with chili and piled onto a 15-inch pizza pan.
Opened in 1979, Broken Yolk has spent decades fine-tuning its southwestern recipes—many enigmatically named for people such as "Betty" and "Tony G". Alongside steaming breakfast burritos and griddled buttermilk pancakes, the menu features nearly 20 omelets stuffed with fresh ingredients such as beef chorizo, avocado, and mushroom sauce. Shredded hash-browns are crafted from fresh potatoes, and the salsa is handmade each day. Until its official closing time at 3 p.m., Broken Yolk also serves sandwiches and half-pound Angus burgers. The local chain's six locations each feature their own private banquet room and secret underground passage to one of the other restaurants.