MY FAVORITE RESTAURANTS (AND A FEW BARS) IN MY FAVORITE CITIES

One of the best aspects of the nine years I spent (past tense?!) working on the road with touring bands, is that I've eaten my way through America and Europe. Any of these could change, but at this moment these are my faves. If I left out a notable city, I either don't like it or don't have a fave there. List inspired by @Nicholas, some weeks back.
  1. Singel 404 - Amsterdam
    Lovely little "eetcafe," as they call them in this great and bizarre city. Open faced sandwiches are on offer here, and they're fully loaded as you can see. You want to make sure your sandwich has what they call "old cheese," which is aged Gouda. Even better if stoned.
  2. Second Bar + Kitchen - Austin
    It was raining on a day off on tour, and I needed to eat something between movies. Because on days off I eat and see movies. After a bit of searching, I stumbled across this spot, grabbed a seat at the bar, ate a Thai green curry pizza, and drank a Gin & Jam. All the while, Oliver Stone's The Doors was playing on a TV overhead. I was happy. Honorable mention: Torchy's Tacos.
  3. Monsieur Vuong - Berlin
    Touristy as fuck, and there's better (and cheaper) Vietnamese in town, but this place is a classic for good reason. Nothing like a huge steaming bowl of soup -- drizzled with spoonfuls of their magical chiles -- to warm the soul on a cold winter's night. I love this place so much, I even have a Monsieur Vuong t-shirt. Honorable mentions: Schwartzwaldstüben, Cafe C.K.
  4. Boutiq Bar - Budapest
    Best craft cocktails I've had in Europe. Warm place and staff. I accidentally ate a duck crackling here (I asked for the most Hungarian cocktail they could make, it was garnished with the most Hungarian garnish they could find -- pictured at left: palinka with plum and cinnamon), yet I still take great pleasure in putting this spot on my list.
  5. Lula Cafe - Chicago
    Dang comfortable, damned satisfying. Site of future memories being made. First shared a meal here with @yrfriendrachel what feels like a lifetime ago. Photo is of the excellent Chicago band Disappears playing inside Lula. Why? Because my buddy Brian Case, the frontman, met his wife when she worked there. The guitar player to the right still works there, and he first met the bass player at the bar. When you're here, you're family. Or something.
  6. Manfred & Vin - Copenhagen
    Best lunch of my life, most money I've ever dropped in one meal for myself, at the chef's counter, with wine pairings, and a lovely Danish model/documentarian as my companion. If only this could be my life... Pictured, the most memorable dish: savoy cabbage with toasted buckwheat and beurre blanc.
  7. The Bourgeois Pig - Lawrence KS
    Lawrence is my favorite college town in the country (and home of my favorite record store, Love Garden Sounds). My friends Rob and Ryan Pope own this coffee shop by day, bar by night (no relation to other Bourgeois Pigs). Rob is in Spoon and they're both in The Get Up Kids, so this is always the post-show hang spot when playing Lawrence. Excellent cocktails, and great coffee roasted by Ryan. AND experimental fiction master David Ohle, author of Motorman, is a regular. Photo from my last visit.
  8. Koya - London
    Unpretentious udon shop with a cult following. Fall of 2012: showed up with bff Dan a little before they opened for dinner, in order to snag a seat (there aren't many) for the first service. Had the most perfect tempura of my life. Haven't had too many great meals in London (having spent very little time there), but I will definitely go back here every trip. UPDATE: that location has unfortunately closed, but Koya Bar remains. I'm guessing with even fewer seats.
  9. Madcapra - Los Angeles
    Latest obsession in my home city. Have gone downtown so much more frequently than ever before JUST to eat here. The other stalls in Grand Central Market might as well not exist. Have made a concerted effort to befriend the chef/owners Sara and Sarah. And I think I'm getting somewhere! If you don't think Thai basil belongs in a falafel sandwich, that's cool. More for me. Honorable mentions: Attari, Rustic Canyon, Night+Market Song, SQIRL, Sotto...
  10. City House - Nashville
    Where creative Italian food meets New Southern cuisine. Had a booze soaked Sunday supper situation here with a table full of locals. There was a not so traditional Neopolitan style pizza with mashed peas in place of tomato sauce. And a white pizza that I swear to God had Duke's mayo on it AND it all defied common sense by being fucking delicious. They make gnocchi with cornmeal, but buttermilk where you wouldn't expect... A great place to get weird.
  11. Nye's Polonaise - Minneapolis
    This has nothing to do with the food. It's all about the timewarp vibes and the thick Midwest atmosphere at Nye's, relic of a bygone era, and scene of one of my all-time great nights on the road. @zoe was there, as were half of Dirty Projectors... and some stiff Old Fashioned's fueled an evening of way above average piano karaoke. I went back this year and had nowhere near as much fun. But it's still an amazing place and it's supposed to close soon, which blows. Honorable mention: Fika.
  12. Mai Xiang Yuan - Montreal
    Because I'm not big on smoked meat (or any meat for that matter), and even great poutine is still relatively gross (even with mushroom gravy), and a piping hot Montreal bagel can only go so far... My vote goes to this hole in the wall dumpling house in Chinatown, to which I've been more than any other restaurant in town (twice!). They have this refreshing peanut and celery starter, and these egg and tomato dumps that blow my mind. Pictured: @DanB displays un dump.
  13. El Rey - New York
    In the same school as Madcapra and SQIRL out here. Super creative, unusual combinations, heavy use of sumac and other exotic spices. Wonderful experience to sit at the tiny counter in back corner and chat with Chef Gerardo as he cooks. Honorable mentions: Rucola, Ivan Ramen, Bar Pitti.
  14. Bennechin - New Orleans
    New Orleans cuisine is not the most veggie-friendly. Like not at all. I've spent many months in New Orleans, and had to do some deep digging to find my spots. Bennechin is a West African restaurant on a more quiet block of the Quarter, serving up dishes from Gambia and Cameroon. The service is straight up S L O W. But the food is beyond delicious, super comforting. My usual is their Jama Jama, a heaping pile of spinach sautéed in garlic, onion, and ginger. Shit will fuck up your world.
  15. El Nopal - Paris
    Going against the grain again. Mexican food in Europe is usually Tex Mex, usually crappy. But this guy Alejandro cooks traditional Mexican food that actually stacks up against the best I've had. The killer hand-pressed corn tortillas alone elevate El Nopal above the rest of the pack. The place is a real hole in the wall (there are only two stools), so the move is to eat along the Canal. Call me a contrarian (or vegetarian), but I prefer the El Nopal experience to a fancy French meal, no contest.
  16. Pizza Brain - Philadelphia
    It's a pizzeria and a pizza museum rolled into one. Nostalgia and zany factor dialed up to eleven, but thankfully the pizza is genuinely awesome, saving this place from being a style over substance situation. Super fun place. And extra bonus, adjacent ice cream. Honorable mention: Vedge, the best vegan fine dining you could imagine.
  17. Pai Men Miyake - Portland ME
    I've written about this spot a few times. Because it is the tits. Much like in New Orleans, I can't really go deep on the classic seafood-centric Portland offerings. So I seek out delicious alternatives. Pai Men Miyake is it for me. I've had lunch and dinner there on the same day. The Tokyo Abura Ramen is this broth-less middle dish in which egg yolk combines with a garlicky mash to create a mindblowing sauce. Outrageous. Great gyoza, a sake Mule kinda drink... Love this place wholeheartedly.
  18. Baguette Box - Seattle
    Fancy-ass banh mi situation on Capitol Hill. Old standby. I once watched someone who worked there freak out on some patrons who ordered their sandwiches to-go, but started eating them in the shop as their friend's order still wasn't ready. He was going off about the butcher paper he wrapped the sandwiches in;"You're wasting my product!" It was really intense. But I still eat there because their shit is off the wall delicious. And nothing like that has ever happened there in my presence again.
  19. El Charro - Tucson
    Perfect Sonoran jams at, as they put it, "The Nation's Oldest Mexican Restaurant in continuous operation by the same family." Since 1922, in fact. It feels like dining in a house. They're known for their Carne Seca, which is beef dried in a basket in the sun. I flipped out over their "G" Burro, which is essentially a veggie burrito filled with mashed up green corn tamale, green chile, and avocado. They also have a ridiculous starter called a cheesecrisp, which is exactly what it sounds like.
  20. The Mexican - Vancouver
    Almost all of the Mexican food I've had in Canada is truly awful. But there's a spot on Vancouver's otherwise spirit-crushing Granville Street that proved me wrong. Some actual Mexicans from Mexico run this spot. Spot-on Micheladas, telenovelas on flatscreens, and real deal shit like Huaraches, Enfrijoladas, Chicharrón, Al Pastor... Nobody else in town comes close in my opinion. Perfect for homesick Angelenos on location. Honorable mentions: Vij's
  21. Rose's Luxury - Washington D.C.
    Outstanding food, equally memorable hospitality. My friend and i had trouble deciding between a pasta and carrots dish. Our served steered us towards the pasta, then surprised us by bringing the carrots anyway as a gift. Who does that?! Apparently they do this sort of thing all the time. I can still taste nearly every dish I had there in my memory, and that was a year ago. No reservations; worth the wait out front. Honorable mention: Doi Moi, Ben's Chili Bowl.