1. El Juanete
This dingy hole-in-the-wall is considered the most authentic El Salvadorian spot in the city. Chef Rodrigo Carrera, who moonlights as a certified nursing assistant, is so committed to an authentic dining experience that he only serves citizens of El Salvador. Be sure to bring a birth certificate or two forms of government-issued identification when you arrive for your reservation.
2. The Chuck E Cheese on Snyder Avenue
Trust us. Under the direction of new part-time manager Paulette Robinson, this upscale children’s bistro has become one of the hottest in the city. The intimate but refined environment features a lively arcade section and waiters dressed smartly in children’s snot. The upgraded menu includes quinoa-breaded Krazy Nuggets!™ and a Super Sausage Pizzazz Pizza™ baked without love by a Taiwanese man in a massive wood-fired brick hearth.
3. Le Chien Mort
With prices like these, a restaurant better deliver. Thankfully, Le Chien goes above and beyond expectations every time. This rustic French establishment borders on stuffy with its classic decor and persnickety service, but the menu proves inventive time and time again by focusing on just one ingredient: dog meat. St. Bernard Kebabs with Farro Streusel and Doberman pot-au-feu are paired against Jamaican Jerk Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in this landmark tasting menu. Reservations are hard to get and dependent on supply, so follow the ASPCA Facebook page for culling schedules.
Fish. opened to a slow start two years ago, but has gained critical buzz since changing ownership last fall. Chef Waldo Fritz caused controversy with his concept, which spins the traditional seafood restaurant model on its head. Instead of the customer selecting his meal from the tank, a certified animal psychic will ask the fish which one would like to be eaten to you. This special attention to the ingredients leads to immaculately prepared dishes, assuming a fish deems you worthy of eating it. This reviewer was sadly not selected by any fish or crustaceans and went home hungry.
5. 4631 Chestnut Street
Every once in a while, a restaurant can enter the realm of legend. 4631 Chestnut has done just that in the past two years through their total commitment to atmosphere. Their small street presence in a residential neighborhood makes the restaurant seem like just another family home. Don’t be turned away but the inviting exterior – you must knock to gain entry. A kindly old man will greet you at the door, but any mention of a reservation or fine dining experience will be returned with confusion. Only by saying that you were just in a car accident, are a lost child, or make a compelling pitch as a door-to-door salesman will you be invited inside for a tuna sandwich (prepared tableside). Peerless.