Bar food often fails to get the attention it deserves, because it is primarily prepared for people who are drunk and would, therefore, screech at the top of their lungs that stale corn chips were the “BEST THING I HAVE EVER EATEN!” It’s absolutely true that even mediocre nachos snarfed down after hammering back shots for hours taste as heavenly as the approval you so long sought from your father. But that doesn’t mean that bar food can’t be awesome. When bar snacks are elevated beyond a bowl of peanuts or Loaded Crazy Bread Bites, they tap into undeniable sensory appeal and hit that fatty, salty sweet spot.
Despite the wealth of upscale drinking establishments serving bespoke cocktails that involve something being muddled and probably some house made bitters, bar food remains pretty lowbrow, appealing to the lizard brain that takes over when the drinks flow. One might expect that the drunk fare of the masses would be beneath the palates of culinary professionals, but they like to get their drink on just as much as anyone else.
We asked some of the best chefs in the country where they go when they want to indulge in some bar food and they had a lot to say. Apparently, wings are very contentious.
Lola Gaspar (Santa Ana, CA)
My latest favorite bar snack is the crispy chile relleno at Lola Gaspar. It’s crust is perfectly crunchy, and the filling is creamy and delicious. Their nacho fries are pretty tasty, as well!