One of the Food Network’s most interesting shows is “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” in which celebrity chefs and other well-known food personalities are asked where they like to eat during their time off.
If I’m clicking through the channels and this show is on, I always have to stop so I can learn about Bobby Flay’s favorite BBQ ribs or the restaurant Sunny Anderson always hits up for homemade macaroni and cheese that’s almost as good as her mama’s.
The genius of this show is pretty simple: If these food experts say something is worth a try, it must be worth a try.
We have plenty of knowledgeable food professionals in Southwest Virginia who love to treat themselves to special dishes when they’re off the clock, so I’ve always wanted to do a local version of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
I asked a passel of sources to answer that question and these folks responded with great enthusiasm. They were all happy to give props to a peer for a dish that frequently appears in their dreams, whether it be as humble as a hot dog or as sophisticated as foie gras pancakes.
My list of must-try restaurants and dishes grew exponentially as I worked on this column. Maybe yours will, too.
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What is your favorite thing to order at a local restaurant? I love the turnovers at Lil’ Cucci’s and Cucci’s, the mussels at Sal’s in Bonsack, the pad Thai at City Corner II, the queso dip at Queso Southwestern Grill, the chocolate-dipped pretzels at ChocolatePaper … oh, it’s a long list!