Image: Ming Tsai
Elsa  /  Getty Images file
Chef and restaurateur, Ming Tsai
updated 5/25/2009 12:32:36 PM ET 2009-05-25T16:32:36

We asked the world's best chefs, cookbook authors, food writers, cooking-show hosts, and specialty-food purveyors to tell us where they love to eat. The answers are all over the map (literally!), but there's one thing all the places have in common: Every one of them is worth traveling to.


Marnee Thai — San Francisco
The Miang Kum appetizer is a marveling concoction of ginger, dried shrimp, dried coconut, peanuts, and chopped lime that you wrap in spinach leaves with a dab of special sauce (1243 9th Ave., 415/731-9999, Miang Kum $7.50). Marion Nestle

Rosso Pizzeria + Wine Bar — Santa Rosa, Calif.
This is a sweet little place that's deeply local. Get the white pizza! (Creekside Center, 53 Montgomery Dr., 707/544-3221, from $12). Cindy Pawlcyn

Giusti's — Walnut Grove, Calif.
When it's nice out, customers arrive at this riverside bar and restaurant by boat. The fried chicken has an almost flaky coating (14743 Walnut Grove–Thornton Rd., 916/776-1808, dinner from $13.50). Darrell Corti

In-N-Out Burger — various locations
There's so much pressure to follow the what's-new trend in burgers; this place holds its ground (229 locations in the West, from $1.50). Thomas Keller

Side Street Inn — Honolulu
Side Street Inn has comfort food like pork chops and ribs with a passion-fruit glaze. Drink a Kona Longboard beer and be happy (1225 Hopaka St., 808/591-0253, entrées from $13). Ming Tsai


Pizzeria Bianco — Phoenix
The way they raise their dough, the fire. ... A good pizza is minimalist, and they do it right (623 E. Adams St., 602/258-8300, pizza from $11). Lidia Bastianich

Bon Ton Cafe — New Orleans
Locals gravitate to the soulful cooking. They have dishes you don't find in most of the haute Creole restaurants, such as étouffées, proper Cajun-style bisques, and slow-cooked one-pot meals (401 Magazine St., 504/524-3386, entrées from $16). John Besh

Tree House Pastry Shop and Café — Santa Fe, N.M.
Everything they serve here is just sparkling fresh. The deep-dish quiches are something to dig into, and not at all stodgy (1600 Lena St., 505/474-5543, quiches from $13). Deborah Madison

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The Pit — Raleigh, N.C.
Time—and only time—gets good 'cue done right, so they start the lunch barbecue the night before. My mouth waters for the triple-meat combo (328 W. Davie St., 919/890-4500, combos from $10). Patrick Ford

Scott's BBQ — Hemingway, S.C.
They cook whole hogs over open pits, slather on sauce with long-handled mops, and ferry the hogs to the cutting block on what looks like an old hospital gurney (27-34 Hemingway Hwy., 843/558-0134, sandwiches from $4). John T. Edge


Zingerman's Delicatessen — Ann Arbor, Mich.
Nate's Nosh sandwich (chicken liver, corned beef, coleslaw, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing on a roll) isn't on the menu anymore, but they'll make any of the old sandwiches upon request, and this one is a must (422 Detroit St., 734/663-3354, sandwiches from $6.50). Gabrielle Hamilton

You ate what?

Portland Malt Shoppe — Duluth, Minn.
I appreciate places that know they're the best but are still nice. You find that kind of friendly cockiness at this art deco shack set on Lake Superior. I've never had a better malt in my life (716 E. Superior St.,, open summers, malts from $6). Danny Meyer

O'Connell's Pub — St. Louis
When your cheeseburger arrives, it just blows your mind. The toasted bun almost melts into the meat: They're really one. I have mine with a draft beer, fries, and onion rings (4652 Shaw Blvd., 314/773-6600, burgers from $5.25). Danny Meyer


The Clam Castle — Madison, Conn.
When I'm home in the summertime, we go for the lobster rolls. My wife always gets the classic cold roll with celery, mayonnaise, and herbs; I order mine warm (1324 Boston Post Rd., 203/245-4911, open summers, lobster roll $13). Jacques Pépin

L.A. Burdick Chocolate — Cambridge, Mass.
Anytime I'm in Boston, I come here to buy chocolate-covered ginger. The tanginess of the ginger is perfectly balanced by the chocolate (52-D Brattle St., 617/491-4340, ginger chocolate $10 per quarter pound). Marion Nestle

Oleana — Cambridge, Mass.
I always insist that my out-of-town friends try chef Ana Sortun's Turkish-themed Eastern Mediterranean food, much of it scented with peppers and spices that she imports herself (134 Hampshire St., 617/661-0505, entrées from $15). Corby Kummer

Sapporo Ramen — Cambridge, Mass.
They make a beautiful broth with chicken, pork, and beef bones, and mirepoix, miso, and apple (1815 Mass. Ave., 617/876-4805, ramen from $7.75). Ming Tsai

The Bite — Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
The fried clams aren't cheap, but they're more than worth it if you combine eating them with a sunset on Menemsha Beach (29 Basin Rd., 508/645-9239, open summers, fried clams from $13). Michael Pollan

Satay Malaysian Cuisine — Hoboken, N.J.
My pick is the whole striped bass coated in spices and wrapped in lotus leaves, with a side of delicate coconut rice (99 Washington St., 201/386-8688, entrées from $13). Danilo Zecchin

Fleisher's — Kingston, N.Y.
All the meat at this Hudson Valley butcher shop is local, natural, and delicious. The dry-aged steaks are miraculous—as are the sausages—but what brings me here is the Berkshire pork chops (307 Wall St., 845/338-6666, meat from $3.50 per pound). Julie Powell

The Country Inn — Krumville, N.Y.
They serve Fleisher's meat, plus more than 500 varieties of beer. It's comfortable, occasionally raucous, and always friendly (1380 County Rd. 2, 845/657-8956, entrées from $9). Julie Powell

Candle 79 — New York City
My favorite vegan restaurant in the U.S.—I recommend the grilled seitan (wheat gluten) chimichurri appetizer with a citrus-herb marinade (154 E. 79th St., 212/537-7179, appetizers from $8). John Mackey

Chiyono — New York City
The pork belly is amazingly good because it's properly braised and has lots of good fat. It's served in a clean broth with a thumb-smear of Japanese mustard on the side of the bowl (328 E. 6th St., 212/673-3984, entrées from $9.25). Gabrielle Hamilton

Congee Village — New York City
You won't find better five-buck noodles anywhere in the city; try the soy-sauce chow mein (100 Allen St., 212/941-1818, noodles from $4.25). David Chang

El Quinto Pino — New York City
There's a lady bartender with serious attitude who brings out small dishes and Spanish wines. I always have the pringá sandwich: slow-cooked pork with a hint of morcilla, a type of blood sausage (401 W. 24th St., 212/206-6900, tapas from $3). David Tanis

Otafuku — New York City
This tiny stall in the East Village serves traditional Japanese street food like okonomiyaki, a savory flour pancake with cabbage and seafood, topped with a sweet sauce, and yakisoba, pan-fried noodles with vegetables and meat (236 E. 9th St., 212/353-8503, from $5). Masaharu Morimoto

Russ & Daughters — New York City
The bialy with smoked salmon and cream cheese is so delicious, I'd even triple-park to get one (179 E. Houston St., 212/475-4880, sandwiches from $5.50). Eli Zabar

Tuck Shop — New York City
Tuck Shop is the best place for Australian pies. I take my lamb shepherd's pie with an ice-cold Coopers ale (68 E. 1st St., 212/979-5200, pies from $5). April Bloomfield

Vietnam Restaurant — Philadelphia
I bring my kitchen staff over for the beef-stuffed grape leaves on the B.B.Q. Platter (221 N. 11th St., 215/592-1163, entrées from $9). Masaharu Morimoto

Big Mama's House of Soul — Pittsburgh
Big Mama (Brenda Franklin) is known for her collard greens, ribs, and peach cobbler. She can also sing—sometimes she belts it out while she's working! (1603 Penn Ave., 412/471-2910, entrées from $8.50). Lidia Bastianich


La Cueva del Chango — Playa del Carmen
This place is stunning: an open hut bordered by beautiful gardens. For breakfast, they serve fresh fruit juices, like guava and kiwi, and home-baked breads (38th St. near 5th Ave., 011-52/984-147-0271, breakfast from $3). Jacques Pépin


Gasthof Stanglwirt — Going, Austria
You've probably never had dinner with a cow before, at least not as you do at this restaurant. The dining room is separated from the stable by a glass wall, so while you dine, you and the 25 dairy cows eye each other (Kaiserweg 1, A-6353, 011-43/5358-2000, entrées from $15.75). Maximilian Riedel

Le Florida — Castéra Verduzan, France
The chef uses local game and mushrooms. He roasts plump duck in the fireplace and makes a wonderful wood-pigeon stew (ave. C. Bordenave, 011-33/5-62-68-13-22, entrées from $25). Ariane Daguin

La Voûte Chez Léa — Lyon, France
You can find classic Lyonnais dishes, such as pike dumplings and crayfish. I always go for a Beaujolais wine pairing (11 pl. Antonin Gourju, 011-33/4-78-42-01-33, entrées from $19.50). Jacques Pépin

Alain Assaud — St.-Rémy-de-Provence, France
Alain comes from an incredible pedigree, and he's there cooking every night. The saffron-steeped fish soup is served with garlicky croutons and a proper rouille—a sauce with garlic, cayenne, bread crumbs, and olive oil (13 blvd. Marceau, 011-33/4-90-92-37-11, soup $17). John Besh

La Subida — Cormons, Italy
The menu perfectly reflects the foods that the owners forage for: nettles, wild leeks, asparagus, chamomile, fennel, and berries (Località Monte 22, 011-39/0481-60531, entrées from $15.75). Lidia Bastianich

Trattoria Sostanza — Florence, Italy
I adore the artichoke tortino (pie), the rigatoni with beef ragù, and the chicken that's pan-fried in butter—it sounds so simple but has amazing flavor (via Porcellana 25r, 011-39/055-212-691, entrées from $11.75). Alessia Antinori

La Frasca — Lauzacco, Italy
I stop at La Frasca, like the truckers do, and get a glass of tocai, a dry white from the neighboring vineyards (viale Grado 10, 011-39/043-267-5150, entrées from $9.25). Lidia Bastianich

Ristorante La Pineta — Marina di Bibbona, Italy
Luciano Zazzeri, the chef and owner, has his own boat, and his uncle and cousin take it out to catch fish for the restaurant. The spaghetti alle vongole (clams) is out of this world (via dei Cavalleggeri Nord 27, 011-39/058-660-0016, pasta from $24). Alessia Antinori

Trattoria Masuelli San Marco — Milan, Italy
The mother, the father, and the son all help out, and the dishes are so homey. Don't miss the especially delicious pork-and-cabbage stew (viale Umbria 80, 011-39/02-5518-4138, entrées from $19.50). Darrell Corti

Il Vigneto — Sicily, Italy
This place is owned by two brothers, Francesco and Alessandro Bursi. It doesn't get more local than the tagliatelle con fave verdi, pasta with broad beans, ricotta, and wild fennel (Contrada Gurra di Mare, 011-39/0925-71732, tagliatelle $11.75). Danilo Zecchin

Trattoria da Giovanni — Trieste, Italy
Stand at the counter next to a mortadella as big as a torpedo and watch Bruno Vesnaver grate horseradish onto slices of prosciutto di Praga that have been baked in a dough crust (via S. Lazzaro 14, 011-39/040-639-396, entrées from $7.75). Lidia Bastianich

Cantina do Mori — Venice, Italy
Go in late morning for a prosciutto sandwich with Prosecco, in the afternoon for spicy sausage with a glass of Brunello, or in the evening for salt cod and a glass of valpolicella (San Polo 429, 011-39/041-522-5401, sandwiches from $4.50). David Tanis

The Pancake Bakery — Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The top spot for pannenkoek, Holland's signature pancake, best with bacon, cheese, and mushroom (Prinsengracht 191, 011-31/20-625-1333, pannenkoek from $7.25). Danilo Zecchin

Çiya Kebap 2Istanbul, Turkey
The Turkish chef here makes a really flavorful lamb, eggplant, and tomato stew; it's the kind of authentic, simple food that goes right to your soul (Caferaga Mah., Güneslibahçe Sk., No. 44, 011-90/216-418-5115, entrées from $6). Cindy Pawlcyn

Monmouth Coffee CompanyLondon, U.K.
They have an extensive selection of drip coffees from all around the world, and they make them to order. I get a cup with an espresso macchiato chaser (27 Monmouth St., 011-44/207-379-3516, macchiato $1.75). Danny Meyer

Saf Restaurant & BarLondon, U.K.
Their organic bar serves such unique botanical cocktails, like a spiced-apricot martini (152-154 Curtain Rd., 011-44/207-613-0007, from $7.75). John Mackey

Paris Bakery — Mumbai, India
One of Mumbai's best-kept secrets. I go for kaju makrooms (cashew and cardamom wafers) and ginger biscuits (278 Our Lady of Dolours Church Ln., 011-91/22-2208-6619, biscuits from $4). Niloufer Ichaporia King

Ton Ton — Tokyo, Japan
Customers at this yaki_tori pub sit on rickety stools as they drink and munch. Push yourself and try some of the chicken parts, such as heart, liver, or skin (2-1-10 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, 011-81/3-3508-9454, dinner from $16.50). Masaharu Morimoto

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.


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