Some people eat to live and others – including everyone at ThinkFives – live to eat. Certainly, nothing beats home cooking but an occasional night out at a popular restaurant is something to look forward to.
ThinkFives would like to start compiling restaurant favorites of our teacher audience but before we do, we thought we’ll start by checking out a few online sites (Open table, 10best, Timeout), which publish lists of the most popular restaurants in most cities.
Here are their Top 5 for a few cities that might be on your conference or travel list in the near future (Las Vegas, Dallas, LA, Chicago and Orlando).
Pizza Rock (201 N 3rd St, Las Vegas, NV 89101)
Tony Gemignani isn’t a 12-time World Pizza Champion for nothing: he knows how to make pies for every taste. Offering an extensive selection of gourmet pizzas, from California to Sicilian, this downtown pizzeria has something on its menu for everyone.
Lindo Michoacan (4424 Las Positas Rd, Livermore, CA 94551)
Lindo Michoacan has been serving authentic Mexican cuisine for more than 20 years. Dig into gourmet specialties like savory Buey Al Cilantro, cubed rib eye steak in verde sauce with onion, cilantro, and tomatillos, or Camarone Borrachos, shrimp simmered in lemon juice, garlic, and tequila.
Carson Kitchen (124 S 6th St Suite 100, Las Vegas, NV 89101)
The charming Carson Kitchen in Downtown Las Vegas is one of Las Vegas’ best-known dining destinations. The restaurant’s quiet ambiance is wonderful for a meal when you’d like to have a conversation and a glass of great wine. Entrees include dishes like pork meatloaf, salmon, or cocoa-espresso New York Strip, but the menu changes frequently.
Gordon Ramsay Steak (3655 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109)
Gordon Ramsay Steak became an instant hit when it opened in 2012 and this contemporary steakhouse continues to attract. While the entrance is located on the Paris Las Vegas casino floor, diners are escorted through a London Tube into a vibrant multi-story eatery where senses are ignited. Dinner begins with a steak cart presentation to learn about the various cuts and preparation methods, like the roasted beef wellie and seared Japanese Kobe.
Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge (2985 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109)
The Peppermill is one of those long-standing Las Vegas traditions that you simply must try at least once in your lifetime. Guests gather at the lounge for fireside chats and classic cocktails, while diners settle in velvet booths to enjoy country-fried steak and eggs, omelets, and savory chicken parm. This is Vegas old-school, yet the tradition continues with 24-hour dining and daily happy hour.
Pecan Lodge (2702 Main St, Dallas, TX 75226)
Whichever way you slice it, barbecue is king in Texas. And, as pretty much any Dalla site will tell you, Pecan Lodge smokes the rest of the competition for miles around. The bad news? The line snakes for at least a block most lunchtimes. If it’s your first time, dive straight in and order The Trough — it comes with a beef rib, a pound of pork ribs, a pound of brisket, a half-pound of pulled pork, and three sausages.
Yardbird Table & Bar (2121 N Pearl St Ste 170, Dallas, TX 75201)
This award-winning restaurant is a tribute to all the craveable American classics that bring people together; brunch, lunch, dinner, or drinks. Their Chicken & Waffles are the best; made with honey hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon, Vermont sharp cheddar cheese waffle and bourbon maple syrup; while other hits include the buttermilk biscuits, the super creamy mac & cheese, and the deviled eggs.
Uchi (2817 Maple Ave, Dallas, TX 75201)
In 2015, James Beard Award-winning chef Tyson Cole graced Dallas with his beloved Uchi, Austin’s favorite sushi spot since 2003. Inside the renovated two-story bank from the 1970s, tasteful lighting warms walnut and red cedar wood, creating a chic but homey ambiance (“uchi” is the Japanese for “house”). Diners can enjoy wholly innovative recipes, including “walu walu” —oak-grilled escolar (with candied citrus, ponzu, and Japanese ginger—and a one-ounce jar of caviar prepared with, cured egg yolk, chives, and sesame rice chips.
Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar (3601 Dallas Pkwy, Plano, TX 75093)
Diners at Whiskey Cake know they’re getting the freshest ingredients possible: honey, fruit, salad greens, produce, herbs, and more are sourced from Texan producers. Helmed by Front Burner Group Dining, the rustic-hip Plano location opened in 2011 and garnered an OpenTable Diner’s Choice Award because of the food. Think roasted butternut squash turmeric hummus, pork brisket steak with pickled green tomatoes, and burgers.
Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill (5000 Belt Line Rd #775, Dallas, TX 75254)
From the burger with brie fondue to the trout in lemon butter to the filet mignon, this Dallas classic with its hickory wood-burning grill has been making magic since it opened in a strip mall on Beltline in 2005. Kenny’s Wood Fired Grill is part of chef Kenny Bowers’s small but mighty dining empire. Diners always feel the warm welcome in his laid back atmosphere and delicious, unpretentious food.
Los Angeles, California
République Café Bakery & République Restaurant (624 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036)
An all-day café and more upscale dinnertime spot where it is impossible to leave dissatisfied, where old meets new in L.A. dining history, and where the buzz of thrilled diners is electric from morning to night. Margarita Manzke’s fresh pastries in this case are some of the finest in L.A., while Walter Manzke’s worldly French bistro-meets-Californian-cuisine dishes leave us lapping up roast chicken, lobster mafaldine, and beef short rib kimchi fried rice.
Bavel (500 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90013)
A flavorful culinary jaunt through Israel, Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey from Bestia’s Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, complete with fire-roasted meats, handmade couscous, perhaps the best pita in all of L.A., and, like its Italian counterpart, fantastic desserts. They redefined modern Italian food with Bestia, but here it’s even more personal. At Bavel, Menashe and Gergis draw on their familial and cultural heritage, as well as their modern-kitchen savvy, to bring us some of the best hummus we’ve ever tasted.
Bestia (2121 E 7th Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90021)
A refined, multiregional tour through Italy via the mind of one of L.A.’s best chefs. Always in style—and always full of stylish and chic clientele—Bestia still requires reservations a decade after its splashy 2012 opening, and for good reason. Chef and co-owner Ori Menashe’s menu highlights still manage to wow, no matter how many times we’ve ordered them. The spaghetti rustichella, for instance—a small pyramid of noodles under Dungeness crab, citrus, Calabrian chili, Thai basil, and onion seed —is worth the visit.
Guelaguetza Restaurant (3014 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006)
Guelaguetza Restaurant offers only the most authentic and regional Mexican (Oaxacan) cuisine in Southern California. The award-winning moles come highly recommended. Enjoy live entertainment every night in a family-friendly atmosphere. Entertainment consists of Mariachi, Trios, and Marimbas.
Perch (448 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90013)
Perch Los Angeles is a French-inspired rooftop restaurant offering unobstructed views of downtown Los Angeles. The 15th-floor restaurant, bar, and lounge is decorated with plush couches and French antique furniture. The outdoor patio and 16th-floor rooftop terrace are just as comfortable as the indoor space, with seats positioned around fire pits so you can enjoy the stunning city views with live entertainment and unique drinks even during cold weather.
MingHin Cuisine (2168 S Archer Ave, Chicago, IL 60616)
Minghin is a Chinese dim sum restaurant that has won numerous awards for its beautiful atmosphere and delicious cuisine. For two consecutive years, this restaurant has been recognized as a Bib Gourmand restaurant by Michelin. It has also been voted one of the 38 Essential Restaurants in Chicago and even one of the 16 Best Dim Sum Restaurants in America by TimeOut. The dim sum features shrimp dumplings, spare ribs in black bean sauce, cuttlefish in curry sauce, short ribs with honey sauce, and beef tripe with ginger and onion.
Pequod’s Pizza (2207 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago, IL 60614)
Locals enjoyed the hometown pizzeria for its unique atmosphere and great deep-dish pizza. Pequod’s has become the best-known secret for pizza in Chicago’s northwest suburbs. Many of the faithful continue to make pilgrimages to Pequods even after moving from the Chicago area. But for the last 20 years, Pequods Lincoln Park has begun to build a new cult following in the Windy City, quickly becoming known for late-night pizza and delivery of their world-class deep dish pizza.
Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse (1028 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611)
Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse has been a Chicago icon since partners Hugo Ralli and Steve Lombardo opened its doors in May of 1989. The classic American steakhouse is the first in the country to be awarded its own USDA certification program. Gibsons Prime Angus Beef is featured along with fresh fish, classic cocktails, an extensive wine list, and exceptional service. Celebrities, Chicago visitors, and loyal neighborhood residents enjoy our three distinct locations: Chicago, Rosemont, and Oak Brook.
Au Cheval (800 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607)
A diner-style bar and restaurant with a passion for eggs, Au Cheval elevates traditional diner fare. Guests can indulge in dishes ranging from chopped chicken liver and roasted bone marrow to traditional sandwiches, egg-focused entrees, and the signature cheeseburger. The dimly lit restaurant, pulsating with a vintage reel-to-reel soundtrack, features dark leather booths, dark wood paneling, and a zinc bar wrapped around the open kitchen.
Girl & the Goat (809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607)
Girl & the Goat opened in 2010 with the goal of serving a family-style menu of tasty, bold-flavored foods in a fun and lively setting. To enhance the experience, they offer a selection of wines from around the world with a focus on small producers, a rotating list of craft beers, and a list of fun cocktails created by their bartenders. Reservations are encouraged for the dining room, but their bar is always available for walk-ins, nomads, adventurers, and those of you who don’t like to plan.
Se7enBites (617 Primrose Dr, Orlando, FL 32803)
Located in the Milk District, a hip downtown Orlando neighborhood, Se7en Bites is a favorite amongst locals. You can enjoy their extensive bakery options or grab some modern Southern comfort food. The breakfast menu includes several offerings with their famous buttermilk garlic biscuit and a Southern classic, pimento cheese.
The Ravenous Pig (565 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789)
It’s no question that The Ravenous Pig is a phenomenal eatery considering it was awarded Michelin’s Bib Gourmand award. The stunning dining room is the perfect ambiance to appreciate the charcuterie platter with house-cured meats, New York strip tartare, steak fries, and whole truffle chicken. Since The Ravenous Pig prioritizes local and seasonal ingredients, their menu is subject to change daily.
Café Tu Tu Tango (8625 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819)
For more than 30 years, Café Tu Tu Tango has brought food, art, and fun to Orlando’s tourism corridor on International Drive. The tapas-style, small-plates menu features a wide array of shareable dishes. Guests enjoy live entertainment and resident artists working in the restaurant. The beverage menu features art-inspired craft cocktails, signature sangrias, beer, and wine.
Reyes Mezcaleria (821 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801)
Reyes Mezcaleria is a Downtown favorite for Oaxacan food. Start with a mixed ceviche of citrus-cured snapper and shrimp, or a queso fundido with Oaxaca cheese. Continue with shared plates—say, elotes, tamales, or fish tacos—or opt for a larger platos fuerte instead. For the latter, anything with mole sauce is an excellent choice, as is the line-caught Veracruz snapper (whole or filleted).
Wine Bar George (1610 E Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830)
Wine Bar George at Disney Springs is a favorite among locals and tourists. The restaurant is known for its extensive wine list that features more than 140 wines from around the world, all of which are available by the ounce, glass, or bottle. When it’s time to nosh, get the Big Board, a variety of artisan cheeses, meats, and accompaniments. Check out the family-style platters of skirt steak or the whole-grilled sea bass, or the decadent weekend brunch with items like brioche French toast or a fried chicken biscuit with pimento cheese.
What is your favorite city restaurant?