Gourmet Burgers & Pizza, Exotic Sausages, Fancy Sodas
Even with apps for everything, twenty-first-century life isn't slowing down for most people. Fortunately, when we don't have time for a nine-course tasting menu, there are lots of options for "gourmet" grub on the go with star chefs getting in on some of the action.
Bobby Flay sizzles up signature burgers (paired with bourbon milk shakes) at Bobby's Burger Palace. The Counter chain offers build-your-own burgers with dozens of choices for toppings, including Danish blue cheese, garlic aïoli, corn and black bean salsa, and peanut sauce. Also presenting a take on this American staple is chef Paul Shoemaker, formerly of Savory and Bastide. At his new eatery Juicy Lucy in downtown Los Angeles, the namesake burger features melted cheese inside of the beef, rather than on top.
Salad has also become more of a mainstream entrée with places like Tender Greens and Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop expanding in California, Michigan's franchise The Big Salad (which plans to roll out 200 locations in the next decade), and bigger national chains including Chop't Creative Salad Company, Tossed and Saladworks. Even Wolfgang Puck Express brings the top toque's famous Chinois chicken salad to the masses.
Pizza may have been "reinvented" 30 years ago at the original Spago, but prosciutto, figs, goat cheese and arugula have become standard toppings in dozens of upscale pizzerias across the country. Oven and Shaker in Portland even anoints its trendy pies with Oregon white anchovies, octopus and bacon.
Formerly mundane foods like sausage and soda feel the love, too. In Los Angeles, Wurstküche dishes up exotic sausages made from buffalo, duck, crocodile, rattlesnake and pheasant, washed down by new fizzy faves like Mr. Q. Cumber soda or Fentimans Dandelion & Burdock. Austin's Frank restaurant customizes its "Jackalope" sausage of antelope, rabbit and pork with cranberry compote and sriracha; you can chase it with Doppelgänger, a pure cane sugar Dr. Pepper, or Big Red, a Texas red cream soda made with cane sugar. The most creative take on the sausage genre? Perhaps the foie gras corndog from Chicago's Bangers & Lace, made with French garlic sausage covered in brioche cornbread and served up with orange marmalade, foie gras mousse and maple butter. Let's hope this combination of high-quality and low-brow goes together better than Sandra Bullock and Jesse James!