Chefs Tell Us Where To Get The Best Offal (Yes, Offal)

For decades, brains, intestines, and organ meat were ignored by the white-dominated food media. This is a shame for many reasons, not the least of which being that “offal” is downright delicious, when prepared well. But — like a million other food trends that make something other people have been eating forever into the hot new thing — these cuts had a real moment in 2010. As the food scene finally embraced mainstream multiculturalism, traditional dishes made with “throwaway” cuts spiked in popularity.

The phenomenon has lingered, and with good reason. As part of the farm-to-table movement, nose-to-tail eating became the new cool thing among high end chefs and restaurateurs. All of a sudden, offal wasn’t only popular, it was better for the planet. There’s no doubling back now — any diner who skips the sweetbreads is sure to be scorned by fellow foodies.

When we asked chefs to tell us where they like to dig into organs, some gave the hat tip to the high end restaurants, while others pointed to Asian and Mexican eateries that have been serving some damn good entrails for centuries. Their advice is superb and if you’re still on the fence let it sway you. Given the low price of offal and the many health benefits it provides, if you aren’t noshing on brains, hearts, or livers on occasion, you’re missing out.

Harbor City Restaurant (Seattle, WA)

Chef Porfirio Gomez — Executive Chef, Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails (Irvine, CA)

The pig’s organs porridge is just like what my mom used to make and brings me back to my roots in Guadalajara. This restaurant is a great family-owned local spot and I always make sure to visit when I’m in the Pacific Northwest.

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Dim sum

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Edge Steak & Bar (Miami, FL)

Chef Mike Pirolo — Chef and Owner, Macchialina

Besides having a great sense of humor, Chef Aaron Brooks, of Edge Steak & Bar, is the guy to see if you’re in the mood to eat offal. I love that he is constantly changing his menus, so every time I visit there’s a new dish to try. Among some of my favorites I have had in the past — the chicken liver and foie gras terrine and the porchetta di testa served with watermelon, mint, pickled chilies and fried almonds. On my most recent visits, and one that I can’t stop thinking about, is his corned-beef tongue, which he slices thin then quickly grills and serves with beets, kale and horseradish. It’s also a great place to get one of the best steaks in the city.

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill (Miami, FL)

Chef Sean Brasel — Executive Chef and Co-owner, Meat Market Miami Beach (Miami Beach, FL)

There’s nothing like good offal. My favorite is bone marrow, which I serve at my restaurant with short rib cherry marmalade. Next to mine, I’d say the best bone marrow in town is from Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. Bone marrow is such a standout ingredient, but I wouldn’t recommend serving it on its own. Bone marrow is best served with something that will either contrast or accent the flavor. Sugarcane pairs its bone marrow with veal cheek marmalade, adding the perfect contrast to the rich flavor and fattiness of the marrow. I can eat bone marrow with just about anything – I’ve even used it as a spread on toast!

Jackrabbit (Portland, OR)

Chef Gio Osso — Chef and Owner, Virtú (Scottsdale, AZ)

There’s no better chef than Chris Cosentino when it comes to offal. Wherever he’s cooking [at Portland hotel restaurant Jackrabbit], I’m going because what he does with ingredients that most chefs don’t want is simply amazing! His beef heart tartare is to die for!

Duh Kuh Bee (Beaverton, OR)

Chef José Chesa — Chef and Co-owner, 180 and Ataula (Portland, OR)

I haven’t seen a lot of places in Portland doing offal, and one of my favorites is my father’s tripe with chorizo dish. But when I moved to Portland, I found this place in Beaverton, OR named Duh Kuh Bee, a Korean BBQ joint, that does it right; when I’m craving it, this is where I go. They are open until 1am so it’s perfect for cooks.

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Galbi #duhkuhbee #portland #food #america

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Mélisse (Santa Monica, CA)

Chef Julio Hawkins — Executive Chef, Fly-n-Fish Oyster Bar & Grill (Newport Beach, CA)

The Duck and Foie Gras Torchon is worth the price. It’s smooth, the plum purée is tart and sweet, and it’s finished with candied pistachios. Very well-balanced and delicious!

Santa Rita Jalisco Taco Truck (Los Angeles, CA)

Chef Melissa Rosen — Chef and Co-owner, Locali Healthy Convenience (Hollywood, CA)

I don’t eat offal, but my guy does enjoy taco trucks that serve it. One of the best is Santa Rita Jalisco. You can find it parked near 1st and Gage in East LA.

Animal (Los Angeles, CA)

Chef Nick Kayser — Executive Chef, Vesta (Denver, CO)

Hands down, Animal as my favorite offal spot in America. I have dined there several times on my frequent visits to LA, and every time the experience is different. The menu changes quite frequently, but I always go for the offal offerings when dining at his nose to tail establishment. I love to indulge in sweetbreads, foie gras, and any kind of liver spread or pate that may be offered during my visits. True grit, in a refined manner, is my definition of the food here, and it fails to fall short whenever called upon for a true offal experience.

Brother’s Fried Chicken (New Orleans, LA)

Chef Isaac Toups — Chef and Owner, Toups Meatery and Toups South (New Orleans, LA)

I don’t typically order offal out because I serve it quite frequently at both my restaurants. I love all types of offal. I don’t consider it to be a lesser part of the animal at all. Just because it’s an off-cut doesn’t make it weird or any less delicious. A guilty pleasure for me is the fried gizzards at Brother’s Fried Chicken in NOLA, which also happens to be a convenience store and a gas station. It’s beauty in simplicity. It’s a chicken fry on gizzards, and they give you a lot of them. I’m pumping my gas and having a tasty snack. You can’t beat that. If I don’t have to go back to work, I have a beer with them as well. If I do have to go back to work and work real hard, I still have a beer.

Lüke (New Orleans, LA)

Chef Cody Carroll — Chef and Co-Owner, Sac-a-Lait (New Orleans, LA)

This is a very easy one for me. It’s a dish that tells a story of Louisiana and New Orleans. This one dish is single-handedly the reason why I decided to move from the country, right outside of New Orleans, and into the city. It has the power to transport you to a place where everything that makes New Orleans what it is make perfect sense. You are able to taste Louisiana’s history, development, growth, diversity, care, preservation and conservation. This dish is the pate of Louisiana rabbit & chicken livers at Lüke restaurant in New Orleans. Served on an old cutting board that has its own story to tell is a silky smooth and light pate’ sealed with moscato gelee and perfumed with specks of truffles, the way a creme brûlée is with vanilla seeds. It’s served with condiments that always work perfectly – Pickled watermelon rind, two mustards: stone ground creole mustard and seasonal compound mustard, most recently, a Louisiana plum, fennel marmalade and sweet red pepper marmalade. Finishing the perfect bite are house made French baguettes that are sliced almost paper thin and toasted to crispy awesomeness. This dish is capable of converting the most stubborn “picky eaters.” It has also been known to cure food allergies.

La Mar (Miami, FL)

Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli — Executive Chef, Glass & Vine (Miami, FL) and Owner/Chef, Eating House (Miami, FL)

My favorite types of offal are sweetbreads. My go-to is the sweetbread anticucho Diego Oka makes at La Mar.

BLT Steak at The Ritz-Carlton (Charlotte, NC)

Chef Raul A. Del Pozo — Executive Chef, Lightkeepers (Miami, FL)

Laurent Toroundele’s BLT Steak at The Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, NC is a jamming lounge with live music that transitions into a dimly lit & romantic dining hall. My favorite dish is the chicken pate. The experience starts with being seated and the server guiding you through its amazing wine selection of 500+ bottles. A warm piece of popover comes out to cleanse your palate, swiftly followed by a mason jar of the most delicious, aromatic warm Chicken Pate spreads paired with a light toast. Order a nice Bordeaux and you can’t go wrong!

Craigie Street Bistrot (Cambridge, MA)

Chef Brian Doyle — Executive Chef, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Many moons ago, I went to a restaurant called Craigie Street Bistrot in Cambridge, MA just outside of Harvard Square and had the most amazing dinner made with the freshest ingredients and lots of offal. From sweetbreads to beef tongue and fried pigs tail. The confited and roasted pig’s head for two was the most amazing thing I have ever seen – brains, tongue, ears, all cooked to perfection, each in its own unique way. The restaurant has since moved to a larger location on Main St. but still is the leader in all things offal, and the pig’s head has made a return.

Torisada (Tsukuba City, Japan)

Chef Alex Q. Becker — Executive Chef, Kuro at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Every time I go to Japan, my first stop is Torisada in Ibaraki Prefecture in Tsukuba City. It’s a yakitori spot with the best chicken hearts, skins – everything. They have all the good parts. Everything is served simply on skewers, and I leave there satisfied and inspired every single time. My tip is to get there early for the best selection.

Mi La Cay (Westminster, CA)

Chef Nathaniel Nguyen — Executive Chef and Co-owner, Jinny’s Pizzeria, Paloma’s Paletas, Rooster Republic and Milk Man Ice Cream (Southern CA)

I love going to Mi La Cay in Westminster, CA for their Mi Cat Heo or Pork Kidney Egg Noodle Soup. I picked up my love for offal from my dad and although I could name a million places where I love to enjoy offal, I’d have to say Mi La Cay is one of my favorite places to go. Kidneys if not prepared well is a terrible experience, but in the hands of someone truly experienced, it had such an incredible texture that I can’t get enough.

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What can I say, these noodles were just eggselent. 😍

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La Mulita Express (Hermitage, TN)

Chef Garrett Pittler — Executive Chef, City Winery Nashville (Nashville, TN)

Offal is a silly thing to single out, but I guess I’d have to reference back to La Mulita Express again—that nasty-ass taco truck in Hermitage, Tennessee, I mentioned a few articles back that also has great burritos. They make a Tripa Taco that’s just braised tripe on a tortilla and it’s delicious. But again, I wouldn’t say that I frequently base my restaurant choice around their organs.