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Best Thing We Ate

The 11 Best Things We Ate This Month Around the U.S.

By Zagat Staff
August 1, 2014

As always, Zagat's city experts have been busy eating and drinking their way around town this month. Check out some of the outstanding dishes we had in July, from a stellar ham and cheese sandwich in Philadelphia to gravy-smothered biscuits in Austin.

  • Kouglof at Emporio Rulli in San Francisco

    Gary and Jeannie Rulli's Emporio Rulli has been a Bay Area staple since 1988, baking Italian pastries in six locations from Larkspur to SFO. Gary Rulli apprenticed in Milan and Turin, Italy, and is known for his classic Milanese Christmas bread, panettone. But there's a new addition to Emporio Rulli's menu — and it's not exactly Italian. Kouglof (or gugelhupf in German) hails from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France. As a dominantly Germanic region, the individually sized bundtlike cake ($3) exhibits the airy, pastry perfection of France, fortified with the heartwarming heartiness of German baked goods. Fluffy circles of butter vanilla brioche are soaked in rum and coated in sugar. The rum is so aromatically present, you can smell it emanating from the dough before it dissolves blissfully in your mouth.—Virginia Miller 

    464 Magnolia Ave.; 415-924-7478

  • Photo by: Lesley Balla

    Omelet at Petit Trois in Los Angeles

    Everyone's buzzing about the omelet and with good reason. Even if Julia Child makes a perfect omelet look easy, it's really anything but. This thin crêpelike beauty is tender and perfect, practically melting at every bite. It's simply filled with Boursin cheese, which adds a rich and creamy layer. Don't watch the chefs prepare them if you're afraid of butter.—Lesley Balla​

    718 North Highland Ave.

  • Philippines Sausage at Tête Charcuterie in Chicago

    While the assortment of cured meats — from sopressa to lardo and a trio of pâté — served during our first meal at Tête Charcuterie was impressive, it was the sausage program that really wowed us. Each of the six sausages represents a different county, not only in style but also in plating. For the U.S., an all-beef sausage gets the hot dog treatment, while Morocco’s merguez is served with fava bean hummus.

    The overwhelming house favorite, however, is a the Philippines sausage. It's an elegant take on a humble dish: garlicky longanisa sausage served over dried shrimp fried rice with Fresno chili marmalade, confit Swan Creek Farm egg and a pile of cilantro. Break into the soft egg and mix it into the rice along with the chilies; reserve the cilantro for garnish and cut into the snappy casing of the sausage. The dish hits satisfying soul-food notes, offering a bit of heat and creaminess from the egg — it's just like our Filipino grandmother used to make, if we had one. —Sarah Freeman

    1114 West Randolph St.; 312-733-1178

  • Horchata Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich by Made With Extra Love in San Diego

    It’s close to the end of July and our obsession with ice cream sandwiches has not waned one bit since the beginning of summer. Since compiling our list of coolest ice cream sandwiches around town, we recently found a version that zips right to the top of the our list: a macaron ice cream sandwich.

    This creation, by Made With Extra Love, is only found at Supernatural Sandwiches, another superstar in our books. And it only makes sense that the purveyor of one of San Diego’s nine awesome sandwiches should also sell an equally amazing ice cream sandwich using a French macaron as a vessel for ice cream. The version that won our hearts and tongue has an undeniable Mexican flavor. The crisp, cinnamon cookie shells bracketing the horchata ice cream works on multiple levels of taste and texture: It’s crispy, cool and so very satisfying. Many ice cream sandwiches force out ice cream after a bite, but the macaron keeps everything together and tidy. We hope to see this treat available around town but until then, we’re happy to oblige and maybe taste our way through their other flavors including Thai tea and mango.—Darlene Horn

    Supernatural Sandwiches, 7094 Miramar Rd.; 619-356-1992

  • Cold-Smoked Filet Mignon at The Blue Ox in Boston

    If you head to the smaller nearby city of Lynn, you'll find one of our favorite off-the-menu dishes: the cold-smoked filet mignon ($32) at The Blue Ox. The fabulous, juicy filet by chef-owner Matt O'Neil has quite the complex flavor from being cold-smoked over the staves of old whiskey barrels from Ryan & Wood Distilleries in Gloucester. The aged, oak-y quality is pretty sublime, especially sitting in a port wine sauce with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. Lynn isn't known for its dining scene, but this plate is a perfect example of why The Blue Ox (which also boasts a locally famous "Sin Burger") has emerged as one of the North Shore's major dining draws.—Scott Kearnan

    191 Oxford St., Lynn; 781-780-5722

  • PainGelato at A.B. Biagi in New York City

    Sandwiching ice cream between two buns is nothing new — just ask the Italians, who call the summertime staple brioche con gelato. Most Americans, however, are more familiar with the cookie kind, and thanks to spots like Coolhaus and Melt Bakery, gussied-up versions of those have been making the rounds in New York City for a few years now. But a new French-Italian hybrid is melting our hearts as of late: the hefty, customizable PainGelato ($8) by Nolita ice cream shop A.B. Biagi and Brooklyn bakery Bien Cuit.

    On our recent visit, owner Antonio Barras Biagi suggested we pair our gelato of choice (a wonderfully nutty amaretto) with the orange-blossom brioche. After plucking the bun from a glass cloche, he filled it up with ice cream, then dropped it into a press that resembles a waffle iron, minus the lines. A few seconds later, our PainGelato emerged toasted with the scoop of amaretto firmly sealed inside. Each ensuing bite was the perfect mix of warm, buttery brioche and cool, creamy gelato. Get 'em while they're hot (and cold).—Patty Lee

    235 Elizabeth St.; 212-219-8094

  • Smoky Ham and Cheese “Sando” at Rival Bros Coffee Bar in Philadelphia

    This is a sandwich that was worth the wait. Despite having built up a loyal and enthusiastic fan base during his five years at Pub & Kitchen, chef Jonathan Adams has taken his time getting back to cooking. He and Rival Bros partner Damien Pileggi slowly built up their coffee business over the past three years, starting with a coffee truck, then wholesaling beans to restaurants, then finally opening a brick and mortar cafe this spring — without a kitchen.

    The Fitler Square shop has been getting by with a small assortment of pastries from High Street on Market, but Adams is ready to kick it up a notch, starting with this “sando” ($9). A hefty panini press turns thick slices of potato bread crisp and golden-edged, while on the inside Valley Shepherd Tewksbury cheese melts into slivers of ham smoked for 10 days by Carolyn Nguyen of Street Food Philly. It stretches nearly six inches before snapping when you take a bite, and the apricot mustard adds a sweet tang. In the next few weeks, look for a couple of new sandwiches, plus salads to go on the side. The downstairs cellar, it turns out, has some kitchen potential. As does Adams’ future menu at this cafe.—Danya Henninger

    2400 Lombard St.

  • Biscuits at Blackbird and Henry in Austin

    Chef Erica Waskmunski isn’t the only one to serve over-the-top delicious biscuits in this town. Take a look at the new breakfast entree at Blackbird and Henry, buttermilk biscuits topped with pulled rotisserie chicken and plenty of black pepper cream gravy. Yes, please.—Megan Giller

    3016 Guadalupe St.; 512-394-5264

  • Fried Burrata at Red, The Steakhouse in Miami

    While previewing the South Beach steakhouse's elaborate Miami Spice menu, our mouths dropped when this little stunner ($10) came to the table, a crispy concoction with burrata on top and Parmesan on bottom. The fried goodness keeps things salty with prosciutto while drizzled balsamic sweetens the deal, making it love at first bite.—Carissa Chesanek

    119 Washington Ave.; 305-534-3688

  • Goat Cheese Fritters at Ecco in Atlanta

    What do you want to start a meal? Something just while you're waiting, y'know, not yet ready to dive right into big flavor combinations and creative presentations and things that require a lot of thought. That something is available at Fifth Group's Midtown Italian eatery Ecco in the form of these fried balls of goat cheese ($7). Tangy and delectable, they're simple, and presented as such, drizzled with just a little honey and dusted with some fresh-cracked black pepper. They're on the "Taste & Share" portion of the menu — do the former, you won't want to do the latter.—Christopher Hassiotis

    40 Seventh St.; 404-347-9555

  • Tomato Salad at Revel in Seattle

    Revel's newest salad is a beautiful pile of heirloom tomatoes, bursting with everything we love in a truly vine-ripened tomato. They're sweet, juicy and have a tender, almost buttery, texture. But here's why this salad is anything but run-of-the-mill. These pretty sliced tomatoes are dressed in a Garam masala vinaigrette, while white anchovies and watercress add to the umami of each bite. A toasty tapenade bread crumb topping adds crunch and — at the base of the tomato tower — mint yogurt is a cool surprise. Chef Rachel Yang says the salad is all about contrasts: "It's really the play of juicy tomato and strong vinaigrette, creamy yogurt and salty anchovies. We add the bread crumb to give another dimension to the texture as well as adding the salty and caramel-y flavor." It's a great accompaniment to the ever-changing selection of perfectly seasoned meat coming off the fire at Revel's Grill Shack, open just for the summer months near the entry to this always-rocking restaurant in Fremont.—Leslie Kelly

    403 N. 36th St.; 206-547-2040

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Places Mentioned

Red The Steakhouse

Steakhouse • South Beach

Food27 Decor25 Service24 Cost$83
 
 
 
Ecco

European • Midtown

Food24 Decor24 Service24 Cost$46
 
 
 
Emporio Rulli

Cafe • Larkspur

Food22 Decor20 Service18 Cost$20
 
 
 
Revel

Korean • Fremont

Food26 Decor22 Service22 Cost$33
 
 
 
The Blue Ox

American • Lynn

Food25 Decor22 Service22 Cost$40
 
 
 
TÊTE Charcuterie

American • West Loop

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
The Blackbird and Henry

New American • West Campus

Food- Decor- Service- CostE
 
 
 
Supernatural Sandwiches

Sandwich Shop • Miramar

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Rival Bros Coffee Bar

Cafe • Fitler Square

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
Petit Trois

French • Hollywood

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
 
 
 
 
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