Fresh fish fans are in luck at Aqua Reef, where only the best of the best sushi is served (check out its A+ ratings and reviews) and ambiance is always kept up to the latest minute.
Aqua Reef is also a good option for those with special dietary needs, offering both low-fat and vegan items on the menu.
The BYOB policy at Aqua Reef is a steal.
Drinks all around! Pair your dinner with a beverage from this sushi spot's full bar.
You can tote your laptop here to take advantage of the free wifi.
You'll find most people wearing their favorite T-shirt and pair of jeans, as casual dining is Aqua Reef's style.
For those in a rush, the sushi spot lets you take your food to go.
Love the food so much you want to serve it at your next soiree? No problem — Aqua Reef offers catering.
Store your car on the street or in a nearby lot at Aqua Reef.
If your preferred mode of transit is of the two wheel variety, you're in luck — there's tons of bike parking outside the sushi spot.
Aqua Reef s mid-range cuisine will please your pockets as well as your palate.
If you're looking to rack up your frequent flyer miles, feel free to pay by major credit card.
Dinner is the real yum factor here, though breakfast bites and lunch are also featured.
Be it sashimi, maki, or nigiri, all-star Aqua Reef is where you want to be.
Move beyond what you know with an evening of trendy sushi at Aqua Reef.
Aqua Reef is serving up some of the most highly-rated sushi in all of Las Cruces.
It's time to try some amazing creations from Aqua Reef, home of the best sushi in town.
If warm tortillas and chips 'n salsa is your idea of a good time, El Sombrero Patio Cafe should be right up your Mexican-food-eating alley. Rave reviews are the norm here, so come ready to eat.
Whether you're gluten-free or just health-conscious, El Sombrero Patio Cafe serves a number of dishes that are good for the diet.
This restaurant also operates a bar, so a round of drinks with dinner is not out of the question.
Having trouble finding that family-friendly restaurant everyone will love? This restaurant serves all ages, so little ones are welcome to come along, too.
Don't stay inside on a beautiful day! Come sit on the patio at El Sombrero Patio Cafe and order great food.
Carry-out is also available for those who prefer to enjoy this restaurant's cooking from the comfort of their own home.
Impress the patrons at your next gathering by calling in El Sombrero Patio Cafe for catering.
Tired of driving in circles? Head to El Sombrero Patio Cafe for a bite to eat and find quick parking in the lot next door.
El Sombrero Patio Cafe offers safe bike parking outside.
Whether you're hungry first thing in the morning or prefer to eat a little later, El Sombrero Patio Cafe is conveniently open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
So come to El Sombrero Patio Cafe, where you can taste the highest rated Mexican cuisine around.
For great Mexican food in a casual setting, look no further than El Sombrero Patio Cafe.
The Mexican eats at El Sombrero Patio Cafe are filled with endless flavors, so come on by today and enjoy a taste of Mexico.
Order all of your favorite pub classics and munch away at Farley's Food and Fun Pub.
Life is all about choices, and they are not limited here with plenty of gluten-free and low-fat dishes.
Toast your evening out at this restaurant with a glass of beer or wine from their lengthy drink list.
Bring the whole family to this restaurant, where kiddos are welcomed with open arms.
Celebrate the start of a great weekend at Farley's Food and Fun Pub's great happy hour.
Large groups will appreciate Farley's Food and Fun Pub for its ability to seat them quickly.
Warm weather brings out Farley's Food and Fun Pub's highly coveted patio seating.
Wifi is on the house at Farley's Food and Fun Pub, so bring along your tablet or laptop.
Those with sensitive ears may want to stay away from this restaurant, though, as it can get quite loud.
Reserve your table ahead of time if you're heading over to the restaurant on a Friday and Saturday — it can get quite crowded during the weekend.
Wear what you like when you dine at Farley's Food and Fun Pub — the restaurant has a chill vibe just right for casual dining.
If you're strapped for time, take out food from this restaurant.
Don't spend time searching for parking — guests are welcome to use the adjoining lot.
At Farley's Food and Fun Pub, you have the option of paying by major credit card.
For an indulgent bite, Farley's Food and Fun Pub serves up some of the finest pub-food creations around.
If you're leaning towards Mexican, swing by Cha Chi's Restaurant for a mellow meal.
Enjoy a creative, healthy meal at Cha Chi's Restaurant.
Find the perfect vintage to complement your meal — this restaurant offers a fine selection of wines, beers, and beyond.
Go ahead and bring your rug rats with you — this restaurant has kid-friendly food and seating.
Enjoy the cool summer breezes on Cha Chi's Restaurant's seasonally available outdoor seating.
Score quick and easy seating for groups of any size at Cha Chi's Restaurant.
Cha Chi's Restaurant tosses the jacket-and-tie dress code convention in favor of a more casual dining experience.
Choose wisely. Wait at home for delivery or come into this restaurant for carryout.
Take the comfort of your own home and add great grub from Cha Chi's Restaurant to create the perfect night.
Drivers can access the parking lot next door.
Store your bike at a nearby rack and enjoy a bite to eat at Cha Chi's Restaurant.
Save Cha Chi's Restaurant for a splurge since prices for a meal can run upwards of $50.
Spend your morning, afternoon, or evening at Cha Chi's Restaurant, where guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
For great Mexican food in a casual setting, look no further than Cha Chi's Restaurant.
When you are ready to taste the latest flavor trends of Mexico, make your way over to Cha Chi's Restaurant.
For a solid steak and potato favorite, Texas Roadhouse doesn't mess around with its A+ ratings and star-studded reviews.
If gluten is something you try to avoid, check out the G-free menu at Texas Roadhouse. Low-fat fare is also available for those keeping an eye on their diet.
The drink list at this restaurant has everything you need to complete your meal (and your night out).
Tots and tykes will be right at home at this restaurant with its kid-approved food and ambience.
Between the music and the crowds, Texas Roadhouse's noise levels can be intense.
Put the suit away when heading to Texas Roadhouse — dress is casual, as are the vibes.
Bring the Texas Roadhouse's great food to your place.
Or, take your grub to go.
Looking for a deal on parking? Free parking is easily accessible in the parking lot next door.
The average check at Texas Roadhouse will stay below $30 per person, so it's a relatively affordable option.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at the restaurant, but the dinner menu is the real standout.
For the be-all and end-all of steakhouses, people can't stop talking about Texas Roadhouse. Try it today and judge the sky-high ratings for yourself.
Steak-lovers rejoice! Getting the juiciest, most flavorful steaks in town is easy when you stop in for a meal at Texas Roadhouse.
Come hungry and leave happy! De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery in Las Cruces aims to please even the pickiest eater.
Complement your meal with a beer or wine from this restaurant's delightful drink menu.
The whole family can enjoy a meal at this restaurant with its kid-friendly fare.
De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery has a large dining room, making it easy to seat large parties.
At De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery, there's no need to confine your meal to a traditional dining room — outdoor seating is available when the weather is warm.
Comfort is prioritized at De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery, and guests are encouraged to come as they are.
De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery will even bring the amazing food from their kitchen to yours.
With food this good, you'll be running into this restaurant to pick it up yourself.
Drivers can make use of the parking lots near De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery.
Your bill at De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery will typically run less than $30 per person, so bring the whole gang!
You can pay with Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express or any major credit card.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at the restaurant, but reviewers rate the dinner menu the highest.
Siu mai: small pork dumplings. Each has a thin wrapper that needs to be delicately pleated by hand. Easily, they’re one of the most labor-intensive items at Phoenix Restaurant in Chicago, where each weekend this Chinese restaurant serves 80 different varieties of classic dim sum snacks.
This little fact about the siu mai is one of many surprising stories I learn from Eddy, the chef at Phoenix, where he also handles a million other tasks to keep the restaurant running smoothly. When I first came in, he was waving at a group of regulars while on the phone haggling with a seafood vendor.
“What we are serving in this restaurant is what we are eating in Hong Kong. ... It’s very typical,” Eddy says.
In 1996, Phoenix was one of the first restaurants to introduce dim sum to Chicago. Its customer base has grown over the years, and today, even with other dim sum restaurants up and down the block, you’ll find long lines winding out the door on any given Sunday.
Sound intimidating? It doesn't have to be.
Here's our guide to dim-sum dining, with a few tips from Eddy.
On the weekend: order dim sum off a cart
On weekends and special holidays, the wait staff winds traditional dim sum carts around tables, lifting lids off stacked steamer baskets to reveal the enticing contents. Should you see something you like, they leave the basket on your table and put a checkmark on your bill (it’s tallied at the end).
Phoenix is one of the only dim-sum restaurants in Chicago that still uses these carts. When I ask Eddy why they keep them, he says “tradition.” Not only to impress the tourists who come in, but also to let Chinese-American customers share this bit of culture with their kids.
Hot tip: if you want to experience the pushcarts without the crowds, head over on a Saturday, which tends to be less busy than Sundays, Eddy says.
On a weekday: order dim sum off the menu
Cartless weekdays offer a quiet, more peaceful atmosphere for ordering off the paper menu, which you can find near the hostess stand. Don't be intimidated—the menu has pictures; it has numbers; it has names written in both Chinese and English. And best of all, you need only point to what you want to have it brought out from the kitchen.
So what should you get?
“Everyone has their favorites,” Eddy says. The most popular dishes with Westerners are ha gao (shrimp dumplings) and siu mai (pork dumplings mentioned above). Kids gravitate toward the crunchy, easy-to-grip shrimp rolls and sweeter fare, from mango pudding (pictured above) to custard rolls.
Foreign travelers, especially those from Latin America, and adventurous eaters alike seem to love the chicken feet (pictured at bottom-right of top photo), a more exotic dish consisting of skin and tendons. While all these dishes are traditional, the chefs can tweak the recipes to accommodate for special diets or food allergies.
When diners are new to dim sum, Eddy encourages them to experiment. He’ll point out a few of the more popular dishes; if there’s something they don’t end up liking, it can easily be swapped out for something else. This way, by the second or third visit, diners will have a better idea of what they like.
And don't forget the tea
At dim sum, the tea is equally important to the food. Phoenix serves three different types: green tea, white tea, and brown tea. “Each one has its own usage,” Eddy says. While we talk, we drink jasmine tea, which is good for getting rid of toxins.
You can show your dim sum know-how by obeying proper tea etiquette. When your teapot is out of water, prop the lid off to the side. This signals to the wait staff that you need more hot water.
Eddy pours more tea and tells me to tap my fingers lightly against the table when the cup is nearly full. “When your friend or host fills your tea, this means ‘thank you’,” he says. “It’s part of the custom.”
Photos by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon
I had no idea what to expect upon arriving at Elizabeth, the Michelin Star winner from Chef Iliana Regan. But an unmarked, unremarkable storefront between a tire shop and a sporting-goods store certainly wasn’t it. With few exceptions (Schwa, most notably), Chicago’s upper-echelon restaurants boast exteriors that match their illustrious River North and Restaurant Row addresses.
But as it turns out, Regan has no taste for that sort of superficial flash. She dons no chef’s whites. She displays no awards. She does not raise her voice to the Gordon Ramsay–level roar or even the Rachael Ray-ish rollick that TV cameras eat up.
Instead, this northwest Indiana native quietly built her reputation as someone who hunts for frogs and spears them herself. Someone who has suffered tick bites and poison-ivy rashes foraging for wild flora. Someone who has penned an essay on intensity for Lucky Peach and once themed an Elizabeth tasting menu after those violent and visceral A Song of Ice and Fire novels.
So yeah, I was kinda terrified to eat her food.
I’d never done a tasting menu before. And I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as a picky eater, but I’m not a particularly adventurous one either, particularly when it comes to meat. (I can barely look at plated octopus without shivering.) I’d heard that Regan once served edible ants. Which are, like, bugs.
My nerves were calmed upon walking into Elizabeth, though. Austere yet charming, the whitewashed space was accented by light fixtures made from bare tree branches; dining chairs draped with faux-fur slipcovers; a chef’s counter armed with Elder Scrolls and Vikings Funko Pop! dolls. It was all in support of the season’s menu theme: vikings.
There were two options: land or sea. Or, as the first in a delightful succession of servers explained it, “Imagine a viking ship has reached the shore. One group goes on land to look for food, the other into the sea.” My friend Erin and I opted to order one of each to share and, despite my trepidation of certain meats, placed no restrictions on what we would eat. (You can arrange for some allergies and dietary needs in advance.) We wanted to go all in.
After the amuse-bouche—a surprisingly complex roasted whey carrot dressed with goat’s-milk cheese and edible flowers—came our first courses. The land dish was … a bowl of rocks. The server assured me the top “rock” was actually a baked potato coated in edible clay. But it was very convincing as a rock, so I bit in with trepidation. As Erin ate the rest, dipping it into the cheese and butter puddings it was served with, I forked into her langoustine with lingonberries. (Pro tip: don’t try to tear off the claw without looking. You will stab your finger on a spine.) So far, so very good.
As the servers continued to weave their culinary narrative, I realized there was an unmentioned character in their tale—Elizabeth itself. The restaurant is small, seating about 16 or so, and the kitchen is wide open. It was impossible not to get caught up in what was happening back there, particularly when sous chefs were wielding brûlée torches and “plating” on gorgeous pieces of handmade pottery. And the line between front and back of house was practically nonexistent. One moment, you’d see someone in the kitchen stirring and slicing; the next they’d be presenting your next course or clearing your table. (Chef Regan included.)
This created an unexpected intimacy, one that removed any hesitation when asking about a particular dish. It’s clear the teammates take a deep yet quiet pride in their collective work. They spoke warmly about where ingredients came from, excitedly about the preparation techniques used. They always used “we” or “our,” never “me” or “Chef Regan.” (Again, Chef Regan included.)
Over the next few courses, there were so many charms. An herb-rolled, soft-boiled quail egg served in an actual nest; impossibly chewy seaweed bread darkened by squid ink; a cauliflower-mushroom soup that Erin about died over. I was particularly fond of a course called Barnyard: headcheese dusted with beet powder, paired with a collage of root vegetables and flavored puddings reminiscent of something out of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing.
And that’s the thing. Never in my life would I have thought that I’d be fond of headcheese. I would have probably never eaten it if it weren’t for this meal. But it was fun to break out of my culinary comfort zone.
The other surprising thing? How full we were, considering it was a tasting menu. By the time we were served the entree courses—rare lamb medallions wrapped in swiss chard and pickled fish in a sauce of its own bones—we were taking deep breaths between bites. I’m pretty sure they were the only two plates we didn’t completely clean.
We managed to buck up for our “one-and-a-half” dessert courses, as the server put it. (The “half” was a palate-cleansing sorbet.) Our favorite was Under the Sea, a spongy coral-seaweed cake so realistic looking it prompted me to ask the server just how much of it we could eat. “All of it,” she said. We complied.
Maybe, as a writer, I’m just a sucker for a good story. But I was enchanted by Elizabeth, both in backstory and in not knowing what was coming next throughout the culinary adventure. And while I probably won’t be buying headcheese any time soon, I’m excited to see what Chef Regan has up her non-chef’s-whites sleeves next season.
Shop Chef Iliana Regan's tasting-menu experience at Elizabeth Restaurant:
Watch her explain her approach to fine dining:
As useful as WD40 and much more edible, coconut oil is a powerhouse. In fact, just one jar of the stuff can replace several household staples, from kitchen ingredients to baby wipes. Here’s how to substitute it for 16 total items in 3 rooms of the home:
1. Coffee: Coconut oil is a reputed energy booster. Swallowing a spoonful or two in the afternoon can be a healthful alternative to a cuppa.2. Coffee creamer: Emulsified and poured into coffee, it’s much tastier than (and probably just as nutritious as) that bulletproof stuff.3. Butter or oil (when sautéing): Coconut oil’s high smoke point makes it great for cooking on the stovetop, especially at high heat. Try swapping it in when making stir-fries, scrambled eggs, or pancakes, especially if you like a very mild coconut flavor.4. Oil (when baking): The oil imparts a delicious je ne sais quoi to baked goods—even boxed ones. Use it to give from-the-box brownies an upgrade, and you’ll dream about them for days.5. Condiments: Drop it into quinoa or oatmeal for added nutrients and healthy fats. You can also put it on top of sweet potatoes instead of butter!
6. Moisturizer: It works on your body and your face. It’s naturally SPF 4, so it offers a bit of protection from UV rays, too.7. Leave-in conditioner and anti-static agent: Rub a small amount between your hands and smooth them over your hair to control flyaways.8. Lip balm: It soothes sore, chapped lips, and other skin irritations.9. Eye-makeup remover: Rub it between your fingers until it liquefies, smear it on your lids, and wipe it off with a cotton pad.10. Face wash: Add a little water and rub it in your hands until it foams.11. Hand and foot cream: Massage it into cracked knuckles, or slather it onto your soles and stick them into socks for an overnight soak.12. Shaving cream: It’ll give you a smooth shave, plus additional moisture for your skin.
13. Ouchie ointment: Dab it on cuts and scrapes, which will benefit from its antimicrobial properties.14. Anti-itch cream: Coconut oil reduces itching from bug bites, and helps to calm sunburn, eczema, and cradle cap.15. Diaper cream: A layer on baby’s bottom guards against (and soothes) diaper rash flare-ups.16. Baby wipes: Simply mix it with hot water and pour it over a stack of paper towels that you’ve cut in half. Keep the towels in an airtight container so they stay moist.
Check out more coconut-oil coverage:
Oil Pulling Whitens Your Teeth and (Maybe) Makes You Invincible
The Five Best Uses for Coconut Oil You’ve Never Heard Of