Culinary ingenuity has expanded far beyond the dinner table, with restaurants serving up their finest fare (and tastiest drinks) around the clock. Here, the savory, sweet, and boozy offerings that'll be tempting your taste buds in the coming months.
Turns out, the best thing since sliced bread is, well, sliced bread. The bakers at San Francisco's The Mill have helped transform an old morning afterthought into the main event. Dishing up thick cuts slathered in artisanal jams and cream cheese, they've anointed toast the new bagel, and the carb-loaded craze is expanding. Seattle's Tallulah's tops its grilled morsels with banana and a house-made Nutella-style spread, making them well worth their $5 price tag.
You need a hearty ingredient to absorb those Bloody Marys, and eateries are obliging with polenta. Originally thought of as peasant food, cornmeal is getting its time to shine. Santa Monica's Milo & Olive throws poached eggs and braised bacon into its version, and Philly's Alla Spina likes things cheesy, loading up its polenta with pork ribs and Parmesan.
The words bologna sandwich generally evoke flashbacks of brown-bagging it to your school cafeteria, but a handful of restaurants around the country are finally making this mystery meat cool. Au Cheval in Chicago cures its mortadella on site before frying it and tossing it onto a brioche roll, and Two Boroughs Larder--the new hot spot in Charleston, S.C.--spices up its take on the Southern sammy with kimchi, a fried egg, and bread-and-butter pickles. Trust us: These midday bites are as glorious as they are naughty.
Dinner: table service
Tableside service carts were popular flourishes in hoity-toity restaurants during the '50s and '60s, but now they're making a more accessible comeback. At the Cosmopolitan's swanky Rose. Rabbit. Lie. in Las Vegas, a hot-pink cart contains all the ingredients for making Bananas Foster, a theatrical process that results in a rum-soaked inferno. Meanwhile, the cart at Oak in Dallas's Design District will surely get you buzzed. The four-wheeler dishes out martinis packed with ingredients like rhubarb and black walnut.
Cocktail Hour: kitsch
A lot of bars are dusting off old-school cocktails and proving the impossible: that a Long Island iced tea can actually taste good. The bartenders at Seattle's Canon make a big improvement on the college-bar memory eraser with their Long Island Iced Tea Redux, which comes spiked with Amaro Montenegro in the form of a carbonated, single-serving bottle. Or you can time-travel back to the '70s at L.A.'s new Good Times at Davey Wayne's, a bar named after the owners' father, a former pool shark. Here guests enter through a former refrigerator door to sip drinks like the Fuzzy Britches, a spin on the fuzzy navel that nixes peach schnapps for peach preserves and creme de peche.
Photo credits: courtesy of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (ROSE. RABBIT. LIE.). Courtesy of the Mill. Lucas Gibson (Good Times). Courtesy of Au Cheval. Courtesy of Canon.