The Best Food in the Best Places

I'm obsessed with these places. In no particular order.
  1. Pok Pok
    PORTLAND--There might be no better food in the city. Everything is amazing, especially the Laap Meuang: an intense, spicy, earthy, aromatic salad of minced pork, organs, and fresh herbs. Family style, expect to spend around $25-30 per person. It's worth double that if you've only ever had mediocre Americanized Thai food. This is a whole different ballgame. Paleo: very friendly with modifications (skip soy sauce and rice powder).
  2. Sen Yai
    PORTLAND--Kuaytiaw Khua Kai + Naam Phrik = a heavenly hell hole of spicy, noodley, salty, hiccup-inducing, scalp-tingling obsession. National tragedy: Sen Yai closed its doors, but you can find these dishes a block away at Andy Ricker's life changing Pok Pok, or for lunch across the street at his Whiskey Soda Lounge. Expect $12-ish per meal and get the Thai basil drinking vinegar.
  3. Pambiche
    PORTLAND--Great Cuban food on the east side. Get the lengua en salsa and yuca frita (pork tongue and a side of fried yuca). Lengua is around $12. Don't forget about the insanely addictive hot sauce in unassuming bottles in the tables! Paleo: friendly.
  4. Andina
    PORTLAND--Everything here is amazing. Get a table full of tapas. Go on expecting to pay $25-40 per person--2.5 tapas per person should do it. Favorites: cebiche, filet mignon tartar, yucca fritas, grilled octopus, crab-stuffed avocado, beef heart skewers, chorizo. Paleo: very friendly.
  5. Moonstruck
    PORTLAND--chocolate cafe, makers of some of the best chocolate in the world. Great drinks, try the Brown Cow for something sweet, or a dark mayan hot chocolate (can do dairy-free). Chocolate: dark chocolate raspberry truffle, anything with Fortunado chocolate (bars or coated beans, purple wrapper), chile variado bar (spicy). Love the locations on 23rd and Beaverton Town Square.
  6. Salt & Straw
    PORTLAND--Everyone has a hometown ice cream spot they love. Salt & Straw is objectively the best in the world. Google it. Lactose intolerant, no ice cream in 5 years, broke it to try this, far above already inflated expectations. This will change your life. Worth a long wait in the cold. Line is always long, but the wait is still always short. Seasonal flavors, but you can't go wrong, even with sorbet (which I generally can't stand). Always a few dairy free, mixed soy/coconut milk or sorbet.
  7. Beast and Bottle
    DENVER--Meat and meat. Perfectly seasoned and cooked, root vegetables, amazing sauces. Seasonal menu, usually 5 entrees on menu. Some of the best food in Denver, but expensive. Expect $25-30 per plate, I'd recommend 1.5 starters and one entree per person, then sharing as a table. Paleo: very friendly.
  8. Euclid Hall
    DENVER--A meat-lover's paradise. Pig ear pad thai, bone marrow brule, duck 3 ways + goat cheese, house made sausage. Expect $15-20 per meal. House mixologist designs excellent seasonal drinks. Great atmosphere, a little loud. Paleo: very friendly (will make pig ears gluten free when they're not busy).
  9. Pizzeria Locale
    DENVER--Broadway location. Surprisingly incredible. Cooked in a minute or so in a 1000 degree brick oven. Gluten free pizza that makes my head want to explode with happiness. Personal size, big enough to mostly fill up an athletic 28-year-old after a hard workout. Get a Bianca pizza plus pepperoni. Will run you about $13 gluten free, between $7-9 regular. Boulder location is meh. Gluten: gluten free but cross-contamination.
  10. Pho Duy
    DENVER--Good Asian food in Denver is hard to find and overpriced. This is one of the few exceptions. The broth is ridiculous. I'd recommend the brisket and tripe. Large bowl (seriously) is about $8. Difficult to communicate with staff, which is what you want for this kind of thing. Paleo: semi-friendly, I always ask for noodles on the side and my communication accuracy rate is about 50%.
  11. Caroço & Cia
    PORTO VELHO, BRAZIL--The best tapiocas around, extremely far off the beaten path, but worth it if you can get there. Tapiocas defy description, but they're as ubiquitous as pizza shops in the US. Carne secca is delicious. Made with tapioca starch, filled with whatever you want, often meaty goodness and cheese. Considered the best around by local friends and my own frequent evening visits. Paleo: extremely friendly (minus cheese).
  12. Franklin's Barbecue
    AUSTIN--as an insufferable food lover who forcibly evangelize Portland as America's food mecca, it gives me some pain to say this, but the fatty end of the brisket at Franklin's is quite possibly the best meat I've ever had. Order ahead (days, or weeks if possible) and get twice as much as you intend to eat on the day. The brisket runs a whopping $20/lb, but it will change your life. Paleo: the friendliest.
  13. Mercantile