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Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Nine Best Bar Foods in the U.S.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2009 at 8:33 AM

Photo by Rick via Flickr Creative Commons
Buffalo Wings
Bar food is designed to keep you thirsty as you toss 'em back. Fatty, often crunchy, and above all salty, bar food is so popular there's even a new L.A. gastropub simply called Bar Food. We've culled the nine best from across the country, from classics (nachos and buffalo wings, so common they're now in lowercase) to trendy takes on Brit pub grub (devils on horseback, Scotch eggs).

9. Buffalo Wings
Anchor Bay
Buffalo, New York

There are a number of creation myths for buffalo wings, the ur-bar-food combo of fried wings coated in hot sauce, served with carrot and celery sticks and blue cheese dressing. We go with the one that places their origins in Teressa Bellissimo's Anchor Bay bar kitchen late on Friday night in 1964. Since then, millions upon millions of wings have been fried to feed hungry drinkers busy getting fried themselves.

Photo via
Irish Nachos
8. Irish Nachos
B.D. Riley's Irish Pub
Austin, Texas

It's no surprise that great nachos can be had in Austin, but somewhat more surprising that the location is an Irish pub. Riley's recently added an Irish option to its very popular traditional nachos: thick-cut Irish chips (aka French fries) stand in for the tortilla chips, heaped with black beans, Jack and cheddar cheeses, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. (Grilled chicken or beef are optional.)
The Office Burger. - PHOTO BY MATT M. VIA YELP
  • Photo by Matt M. via Yelp
  • The Office Burger.
7. Office Burger
Father's Office
Santa Monica, California

You famously cannot have it your way at Father's Office. The renowned Office burger, a dry-aged sirloin patty on a soft French roll, comes with caramelized onions, applewood bacon compote, arugula, and Gruyere and Maytag blue cheeses. There's no holding the cheese, no raw onion, and don't even think of asking for ketchup for those cute fries that come in a miniature shopping cart.

click to enlarge Gold Coast Sliders - PHOTO VIA CHEEKYCHICAGO.COM
  • Photo via
  • Gold Coast Sliders
6. Gold Coast Sliders

Upscale Luxbar's signature sliders come in many varieties. In addition to the regular mini-burger and filet mignon versions, you can get turkey sliders, Kobe sliders with caramelized onions or truffle butter and bacon, blackened tilapia sliders with tartar sauce, crab cake sliders with hot pink mayo, even buttermilk fried chicken sliders with bacon mayo and tomato.

  • Photo via
  • Toasted ravioli
5. Toasted Ravioli
Charlie Gitto's "On the Hill"
St. Louis, Missouri

You won't find toasted ravioli -- the meat-filled pasta pockets breaded and deep-fried, served with a side of marinara sauce for dipping -- almost anywhere but on the menus of St. Louis. Charlie Gitto's is one of several places that lay claim to inventing the dish in the 1940s, and the only one still in business.

4. Chicken Tenders
Good Dog Bar

At the Good Dog, people say "bone appetit!" to the chicken tenders cordon bleu, which come wrapped in Black Forest ham and Swiss cheese, and are lightly breaded and fried and served with a side of honey-grain mustard sauce. The Dog does a twist on fried mozzarella sticks, too, using house-aged mozzarella and serving them with tomato-vodka dipping sauce.

click to enlarge Oysters on the half shell - JANINE KAHN/SF WEEKLY
  • Janine Kahn/SF Weekly
  • Oysters on the half shell
3. Oysters on the Half Shell
River Oyster Bar

Oysters are a specialty here, hauled in daily from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico. The raw bar (which also offers mussels, clams, and lobster) features eight to 12 varieties daily, placed on the bar in an ice-filled trough. And during happy hour (4:30-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat.) they're all half price.

2. Devils on Horseback
The Spotted Pig
New York City

We're besotted by the Spotted Pig's classic devilled eggs and rollmops (herring stuffed with pickles). But the gastropub's nontraditional spin on devils on horseback (prunes wrapped in bacon) wins out. The prunes are soaked in strong tea and stuffed with pickled pear, with a cloak of smoked bacon dusted with chili powder.

click to enlarge Wexler's Scotch Eggs - PHOTO BY MICHELLE A. VIA YELP
  • Photo by Michelle A. via Yelp
  • Wexler's Scotch Eggs
1. Scotch Eggs
San Francisco

Wexler's, a modern BBQ restaurant, updates the classic pub grub of a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep-fried by soft-cooking the egg and enclosing it in a thin layer of ground brisket trimmings (called "burnt ends") before flash-frying. When cut, the still-liquid
yolk miraculously flows out to join housemade barbecue sauce and sweet tea gastrique on the plate.

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Meredith Brody


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