Restaurant Review Extravaganza (Week of April 19th)


New York

Pies-N-Thighs

Have you ever loved a restaurant that was--how shall we say it?--not quite up to your standards of hygiene? Such was the case with the old Pies-N-Thighs. It crouched behind a down-and-dirty bar across Kent Avenue from the Domino Sugar Factory. The café looked iffy as you entered by a rear door, where you'd see pots and pans, teetering stacks of pies, and dirty plates littering every surface, including the floor. Washing dishes was not their strong suit. Only two entrées were routinely available: fried chicken and pulled pork, the latter done on a barbecue grill in a side yard. You'd place your order with a shudder, then carry the food--which was often quite delicious--into the bar in front. More >>

Orange County

Mizuki Japanese Cuisine & Noodles

"Are you on Yelp?" the waitress at Mizuki asked when she noticed my camera on the table.

"No," I replied.

"We're getting pounded on there," she said and sighed, a pained expression clouding her once-bright smile. More >>

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Kimberly Valenzuela
Don't believe the anti-hype.

Phoenix

Il Vinaio / De La Cruz Bistro / Mangos Mexican Café / Nunthaporn's Thai Cuisine / Queens Pizzeria & Café / Cucina di Vita Italian Deli / Inside the Bungalow

When I heard that Kathleen Vanesian was reviewing "Stare," an exhibition of artist Chris Rush's work currently up at Mesa Contemporary Arts, I was eager to see what the fuss is about. I'll leave the art criticism to her, but I will say that Rush's luminous portraits were astonishing, thought-provoking, and touching all at once. More >>

San Francisco

Patio Filipino

A few weeks ago, SFoodie editor John Birdsall raised the question: Is Filipino cuisine about to blossom in San Francisco? Most of the Bay Area's Filipino restaurants are found on the Peninsula and around the Carquinez Strait; within city limits, we have only a few places, most of them steam-table takeout joints. More >>

Seattle

Roti

Inside Roti, the walls are like an Indian advent calendar--little shuttered windows cut into the overbuilt walls that open onto visions of everyday Indian life. Paintings of men walking oxen and women doing household chores and views of small-town events speak to a kind of charming, slice-of-life sweetness. Walking in the door off lower Queen Anne Avenue--from the much more realistic world outside, with its scattershot mix of bars and Thai restaurants, after-dark action in Dick's parking lot and equally (though differently) charming visions of gap-toothed punks pacing the boundaries of their mini-ecosystem in front of the Mecca Cafe, the urban yuppies and change-grubbing street people all rubbing shoulders on the crowded sidewalks--is like stepping through the halides and straight into someone's slide show of their vacation to rural India. More >>

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Peter Mumford
"Looks are deceiving at Kohli's gorgeous restaurant."

St. Louis

Mai Lee

On Friday evening, the new location of the Vietnamese restaurant Mai Lee is packed, and we wait fifteen minutes for a table for two. When we return for a late lunch on Sunday, we're seated immediately, but occupied tables outnumber unoccupied tables at least three to one. Back once again, alone this time, for a weekday lunch, I take one look at the crowd lingering around the entrance -- business types and college students listening for the host to call their names -- and decide to sit at the bar. Several other solo diners have made the same choice. Next day? Same thing. More >>