Fall Restaurant Preview 2011
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Dozens of restaurants open around the country every season. What makes one more exciting than another? Track record, for one. When a restaurateur like Stephen Starr announces that he's launching a new venture (like he will this fall with Il Pittore in Philadelphia and Caffè Storico in New York City) the news carries certain expecations. But there are plenty of other things that go into raising new openings across the country to the top of your must-go list.
More fodder for the hype machine? A great underdog story. Nothing highlights the American dream better than a young chef stepping out from his mentor to open his own place — entering the fickle realm of the restaurant industry for the first time. Even better, there's the story of the veteran chef making a triumphant return after some bad breaks, as Govind Armstrong surely hopes to do with Post and Beam next month.
There are also restaurants that garner anticipation because of far less calculated factors. Take for instance, the eatery helmed by a chef who found her way into America's heart due to an appearance on TV. You'd think Tiffani Faison's appearances on Top Chef will draw customers to her new Boston barbecue joint.
Sometimes restaurants have concepts so revolutionary that diners can't help but be drawn to them, like that of Next in Chicago, which allows Grant Achatz to reimagine his restaurant every season. Not every restaurant can expect to burn so brightly, but in looking at the most notable restaurants opening this fall several trends emerged.
Burgers and Butchery
Burger bars have been hot for a while, and it looks like the trend is not slowing — from Nancy Silverton opening a Shack-style joint in LA to Cathal Armstrong slinging patties in his new place. In a similar vein, restaurants serving up meats butchered and cured in-house are everywhere, such as at Paul Kahan's new Publican Quality Meats.
• District Commons, Washington, D.C.: With Acadiana, TenPenh, Ceiba, and DC Coast under his belt, chef Jeff Tunks has been around D.C. a long time. But this foray into D.C.’s burgeoning burger scene will be his first attempt at counter service. Expect burgers made with wet-aged, whole chuck roasts and brisket, ground in-house (a 3:1 ratio). (Photo courtesy of Facebook/District Commons)
• Society Fair, Washington, D.C.: The food hall trend continues to spread. This one, by star D.C. chef Cathal Armstrong and his wife Meshelle will be a "European-style" food market near Howard University that combines a "butchery, bakery, wine bar, and restaurant with 30 outdoor seats and 50 indoor seats."
• Publican Quality Meats, Chicago: An artisan, full-service butcher shop by Paul Kahan that will source meats from local family farms. There will be housemade charcuterie and bread, made-to-order sandwiches for lunch, and down the road, continental-style breakfast at this spot across the street from The Publican.
• Nellcôte, Chicago: Pastas, pizzas, small plates, bachelor’s jam (an intense rum and fruit drink), and dishes made in a wood-burning oven. It’s been said that Jared Van Camp (Old Town Social) sees this project as his coming out party, a way to show he can do more than just great bar food.
• Bavette’s Bar and Boeuf, Chicago: Brendan Sodikoff's (Gilt Bar, Maude's Liquor Bar, The Doughnut Vault) “European steakhouse” concept in River North includes a burger joint at the back of it.
• HD1, Atlanta: Three Flip Burgers, now a hot dog joint. You have to wonder if Richard Blais ever plans to open a real restaurant ever again. Muse over that while sampling the menu, which includes house-ground meats and sausages. Eater Atlanta noted that the chef’s own favorites are: “chicken wings with lemon curd and Szechuan pepper, waffle fries with maple-soy, crispy hominy with chile and lime, fennel sausage with San Marzano ketchup, lamb sausage with cranberry and cucumber, fried chicken livers, and the crawfish roll with shrimp head aioli.”
• Sputnik, Austin: Burgers, hot dogs, beers, and cocktails in the former Good Knight space. Chef Brandon Stratton sources locally when he can, grinds his own meat, and doesn’t take kindly to complaints about his having closed the old restaurant.
• Mercato Stellina, Seattle: A casual Italian grocery and deli by Trevor Greenwood of Cantinetta, the Italian restaurant that landed in Wallingford in 2009 and became a Seattle sensation. The Mercato’s agenda? Fresh pastas, imported and local cured meats, and other imported foodstuffs. On the menu: panini, pasta, salads, charctuerie, and cheese.
• Short Order, Los Angeles: Grassfed burgers, deviled eggs, fries, onions rings, custard shakes, "adult shakes," and farm-to-table cocktails at an upscale burger stand with a Shake Shack design by Mozza chef Nancy Silverton at the Original Farmers Market on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax. It’s an exciting premise overshadowed by the recent death of the project’s partner, longtime Southern California chef Amy Pressman. Silverton says Short Order will still open.
• Umamai Burger, Los Angeles: Expect to hear a lot more about Adam Fleischman. After getting backing from SBE hospitality group and his brother’s investment firm Nimes Capital, Fleishman is taking Umami nationwide. His flagship will open in the 3,000-square-foot former spa at the Grove with indoor and outdoor seating for 175, to be followed by 35 new Umami Burgers in the next three years starting in San Francisco, Anaheim, New York, Miami, Texas, and Vegas. Keep a lookout for a downtown deli (Umamicatessan) and U-Ko, a green fast-food joint. (Photo by Arthur Bovino)
• Central Kitchen/Salumeria, San Francisco: With Flour + Water, David White, David Steele, and Thomas McNaughton have established themselves as one of the best pizzerias in San Francisco, if not the country. Their follow-up will open two blocks away, adjoining courtyard and mezzanine butchery helmed by Michael Gaines, most recently of Manresa. And no, reports are that there won’t be pizza.
This season marks the debuts of many chefs to the New York City restaurant market. Adam Aamann, an up and-coming-chef hailing from Copenhagen, will launch a self-titled restaurant specializing in Dutch open-faced sandwiches, while Al Mayass a renowned Armenian restaurant in Beiruit will open in the Big Apple as well.
• Aamanns/Copenhagen, New York City: The Noma effect ripples through Manhattan. Adam Aamann, who pioneered a successful restaurant and takeaway in Copenhagen, is bringing the open-faced sandwich concept to TriBeCa. There will be pastries, chocolates, coffee, and 100 core smørrebrød recipes, with 12 on the menu any given day. They’re seeking a liquor license to serve aquavit.
• Jung Sik, New York City: The 33-year-old Korean, CIA-trained chef, Jung Sik Yim, who is said to be the first to apply the techniques of molecular gastronomy to Korean cuisine in Korea, returns to the U.S. to serve some of the same successful dishes here, in an iconic space — the space once occupied by the storied Chanterelle. (Photo courtesy of Facebook/Jung Sik)
• Romera, New York City: Reviews of Romera are not overwhelmingly good so far. And many decry its high pretension factor (flavored waters?). Regardless, the restaurant deserves attention. The chef, Dr. Miguel Sanchez, was a neurologist for most of his career before opening his now-closed, Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain. To dig in, you’ll have to pony up, though. It’s an 11-course, $245 tasting menu.
• Café Pushkin, New York City: Seventy-two-hundred square feet of Russian cuisine spread out over three floors a block away from the Russian Tea Room. Over-the-top? Ridiculous excess? Perhaps. Unnecessary and likely obnoxious? Probably. Someplace to ask your banker friends to spend their bonuses because you don’t get one? Why not?
• Al Mayass, New York City: These days, the Flatiron is hardly lacking for good food or diversity of cuisine. But the New York branch of Al Mayass, an established Armenian restaurant in Beirut, which is opening in a long-vacant, $2 million space will certainly add to the neighborhood’s restaurant menagerie.
Just like burgers, pizza is another iconic dish that will never go out of style. From a duo of brothers in Boston who are looking to the signature dishes of neighboring restaurants for pie inspiration at All Star Pizza, to legendary Brooklyn pizzeria Di Fara expanding to Las Vegas.
• Di Fara, Las Vegas: Dom DeMarco Jr., son of the legendary Brooklyn pizza maker will be opening the first Las Vegas location of the Di Fara brand in the late fall. It remains to be seen whether the quality of DeMarco’s famous pies will be upheld in Vegas.
• Balena, Chicago: The team behind Chicago’s Boka Restaurant Group has partnered up with the team behind The Bristol to open an upscale Italian restaurant later this fall, with a pizza oven that doubles as a rotisserie.
• Birra, Philadelphia: Formerly of Stephen Starr’s Barclay Prime, Gordon Dinerman is stepping out on his own with a pizza joint. Most of the items on the menu at Birra will be prepared in the restaurant’s brick oven.
• All-Star Pizza, Boston: Kosta and Johnny Diamantopoulos, the duo of brothers behind All-Star Sandwich Bar in Boston are opening a pizza place across the street that will serve a variety of pies ranging from traditional to funky (such as the mojito, which will include smoked peaches and prosciutto). For the special chef-inspired selections, the brothers will team up with local restaurants to create pies based on their signature dishes.
• Harry's Pizzeria, Miami: Michael Schwartz took over the former Pizza Volante space in the Design District, renamed it for his son, and rebooted it as an expansion of the thin-crust pies he serves at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink. When a renowned chef does a pizza joint you have to pay attention, but early photos don’t seem promising. Then again, does it take much to start a new pizzeria and automatically be Miami’s best?
• Baco Mercat, Los Angeles: Josef Centeno, chef of The Lazy Ox Canteen and former chef de cuisine at Manresa, will open a new restaurant in downtown Los Angeles later this month. Baco Mercat will serve a rotating menu of baco, which is Centeno’s signature hybrid pizza/gyro/taco dish.
As was mentioned above, there are a handful of chefs and restaurateurs that open up a new place every season it seems. This trend also extends to the well-known industry powerhouses that are launching ventures this fall.
• North End Grill, New York City: The latest addition to Danny Meyer’s burgeoning restaurant empire is yet another venture with reigning Top Chef Master, Floyd Cardoz. So what makes this restaurant different from all the others? Well for one, the vast majority of the produce will come from North End Grill’s rooftop garden, and Cardoz plans to have seafood dishes comprise 60 percent of the menu. Oh, and there are plans for a scotch bar. Stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming opening.
• Kutsher’s, New York City: Restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow has convinced Zach Kutsher and his family to take the spirit of their Catskills resort, Kutsher’s Country Club, to the Big Apple. The restaurant, which opens this month, will feature modern takes on classic Jewish dishes, such as schmaltz-coated french fries.
• Crown, New York City: John DeLucie’s newest restaurant opened in Manhattan’s Upper East Side on September 9th. The chef-owner describes the menu as Continental, full of comforting, yet classic dishes.
• Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black Jack, Washington, D.C.: The latest venture from the Black Restaurant Group is a duo of adjacent restaurants, each with distinctly separate concepts. The main floor houses Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, a Southern-style seafood spot with an undeniable nautical decor. Upstairs is Black Jack, a swanky lounge serving a full array of house cocktails and snacks like nachos topped with pork belly and duck confit.
• The Pump Room, Chicago: This past February, the Public Chicago Hotel closed The Pump Room and announced that it would reopen in the fall with the help of Jean Georges Vongerichten. The Pump Room is known for being the ultimate celebrity hangout in Chicago, with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Mick Jagger on the list of illustrious guests. The revamped restaurant will open officially on October 11th.
• Bar Toma, Chicago: Tony Mantuano’s hotly anticipated Italian wine bar, Bar Toma, is slated to open later this month in the space where Bistro 110 stood for the past 25 years in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. The casual restaurant will have mozzarella, gelato, and pizza bars to go along with the vast selection of wine.
• The Dutch, Miami: Andrew Carmellini will open the second branch of his critically acclaimed restaurant, The Dutch,in Miami’s W Hotel next month. The location will serve most of the elevated Italian dishes available at the original, but Carmellini also plans to add his takes on a few Miami specialties to the menu. Expect a grouper sandwich and a raw bar serving local seafood.
• Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles: The doors to Wolfgang Puck’s latest addition to his empire will open to guests on October 14th, and will then welcome the public on November 1st. The restaurant will serve the cuisine that Puck has become known for — modern Californian with a European influence.
• Maison Giraud, Los Angeles: Acclaimed French chef and restaurateur Alain Giraud will open this bistro and bakery in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles later this season. All of the breads and pastries served at the restaurant will be baked on the premises.
• Wo Hing General Store, San Francisco: The widely anticipated opening of Wo Hing General Store, the new restaurant from Charles Phan that’s located in the original Slanted Door space is slated to happen within the next month. The food concept for the eatery is elevated Chinese street food, while the décor is said to be made from recycled and reclaimed materials (such as wood from an abandoned bowling alley). (Photo courtesy of Keith Seaman)
• Haven, Oakland: Acclaimed San Francisco chef Daniel Patterson is opening a new restaurant in the Jack London Square area of Oakland. Patterson has recruited up-and-coming chef Kim Alter, formerly of Ubuntu and Plate Shop, to helm the kitchen, which will specialize in nose-to-tail dishes.
This trend includes new sibling outposts of restaurants that already exist elsewhere, such as Hakkasan, the famed London Chinese eatery, that is opening a location in New York City. This category also extends to chefs and restaurateurs that are expanding their empires in general, such as the Torrisi boys opening Parm.
• Empellon Cocina, New York City: Anyone who knows anything about Mexican food and has visited Empellon once probably wouldn't return to Alex Stupak's "Mexican" joint in the West Village if they had to pay for it, but that doesn't seem to be stopping the "cognoscenti" filling his dining room. And the former WD-50 dessert alum is doing well enough to open a new spot where he envisions having to explain less about what he’s doing, and do more expensive tasting menus and wine pairings. And you wonder how Dos Caminos and Rosa Mexicana are so successful.
• Parm, New York City: The Torrisi boys are working on opening their sandwich space next door to serve their amazing turkey, eggplant parm, and meatball sandwiches. For savvy New York sandwich seekers, that hopefully means less than the typical 20-minute wait and attitude you usually face when looking to grab one of the city’s best things between bread.
• La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, New York City: When a chef who has 30 restaurants around the world hasn’t yet opened a spot in New York you have to wonder why. Are New Yorkers not ready for Peruvian cuisine, or was Gaston Acurio just scared? That answer to that question lies in a space that’s hardly bashful. Formerly Tabla, La Mar jumps into the suddenly food-relevant Flatiron District.
• Hakkasan, New York City: The famous overrated and overpriced outpost for high-end London Chinese cuisine comes to Hell’s Kitchen. Hell’s Kitchen? Yes. And it’s sure to draw the same self-absorbed, self-satisfied crowds as it does in Miami.
• Hillside, New York City: Vinegar Hill House is one of Brooklyn’s best restaurants. People clamor to get in. Now there will be a place for them to have a drink while they’re waiting. Seems like a no-brainer.
• Red Gravy, New York City: A Michelin-starred restaurateur opens an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn Heights and names it after Italian-Americans’ colloquialism for tomato sauce. An interesting lead in the city’s high-end, Italian cuisine resurgence.
• Moksa, Boston: The peripatetic Patricia Yeo is supposed to be opening her awaited izakaya in Boston's Central Square. The food will likely be good. But how long will she stay?
• Ela, Philadelphia: Rising star, chef Jason Chichonski opens a modern American restaurant serving medium-sized plates and signature bar snacks. The restaurant’s name is in honor of his late mother, who was born and raised in Poland (the first name he floated was Guns and Butter).
• Tashan, Philadelphia: Tashan means style or attitude in Hindi and Punjabi slang, and Munish Narula, owner of Tiffin, the Indian delivery service turned dine-in joints, aims to bring both, with an Indian small plates concept, to 777 Broad Street with the help of chefs Sylva Senat (an alum of Buddakan, Aquavit, and Jean Georges) and Sanjay Sendhave (a schoolmate of Narula’s).
• Founding Farmers, Washington, D.C.: The Potomac location of Founding Farmers may be slightly smaller than the original on Pennsylvania Avenue, but the menu is expected to be bigger. New dishes include roast chicken, pork, and even fish dishes baked in salt blocks. (Photo courtesy of Yelp/Founding Farmers)
• Boqueria, Washington, D.C.: The insecure D.C. culinary experts who decry New York criticism should have their claws sharpened for this New York export, and rightly so. It should be interesting to see how the Beltway’s culinary elite respond to tapas that in New York plays second fiddle to nearby Casa Mono.
• Homestead Steak House, Las Vegas: The Meatpacking District’s Homestead Steak House has been around since 1868, when that appellation actually meant something. Now, Vegas gets a taste at the Caesar’s location, co-owned by Marc Sherry, grandson of Harry Sherry, who bought Homestead in 1951.
• Belle Clementine, Seattle: Corson Building alum, David Sanford does his own farm-to-table, community-dining thing in a 100-year old building in Ballard. The restaurant, which will serve family-style meals, is named for his grandmother.
• Manhattan Drugs, Seattle: The curiously named Manhattan Drugs will be Laura Olson’s fourth new place in two years and third on Capitol Hill. She’s opening this one with her fiancé Chris Pardo (the name is for a now-closed Normandy Park pharmacy), and they’ve come out swinging, telling Seattle Magazine, that the restaurant and bar will serve, "the best hamburger [ground fresh to order] in Seattle, plus steaks, and multiple macaroni and cheeses."
• Park Tavern, San Francisco: The team behind Marlowe (Anna Weinberg and Jennifer Puccio) offers a menu of self-proclaimed, "boldly-flavored seafood and meat dishes." The Marlowe burger makes the cut, otherwise, there are three categories of shareable plates: raw, fried, and house-smoked.
Bravo's resident food show has spawned a slew of star chefs, including quite a few who are opening restaurants this fall. This list also includes a new eatery from Jody Adams, an alum of Top Chef Masters.
• Catch, New York City: Cycle three winner, Hung Huynh opened Catch this past Saturday in conjunction with the EMM restaurant group. The menu will have a majority of seafood dishes with a light Asian influence, plus a selection of large-format items meant to feed an entire party.
• Talde, New York City: Top Chef alum Dale Talde is teaming up with John Bush and David Massoni of Thistle Hill to open an Asian-American restaurant in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. The cozy eatery will open sometime this month.
• Sweet Cheeks Barbecue, Boston: Tiffani Faison, the runner-up in cycle one, will open a casual barbeque joint near Fenway Park in Boston this month. The food will be Faison’s take on classic Southern favorites, including house-made Nutter-Butter cookies.
• Trade, Boston: Acclaimed Boston chef and Top Chef Masters alum, Jody Adams will open her second restaurant in the city’s Waterfront District later this month. Trade will be a casual eatery, serving up mostly small plates with a few larger main dish options.
• Sbraga, Philadelphia: Cycle seven winner, Kevin Sbraga will open his debut restaurant in Philadelphia this month. Diners can expect a warm and homey ambiance with dishes prepared using ingredients from local farms and purveyors.
• Ink, Los Angeles: Winner of Top Chef season six, Michael Voltaggio, opened his new Los Angeles restaurant, Ink, on September 21st. The restaurant will serve Voltaggio’s signature style of cuisine, which means highly technical and experimental dishes using seasonal ingredients. Earlier last month the chef opened ink.sack, a sandwich joint next door to Ink.
This season there are quite a number of bright, young chefs branching out on their own. Mathieu Palombino, formerly of Motorino, will open his debut spot, The Bowery Diner, in New York City next month. In Austin, culinary power couple Todd Duplechan and Jessica Maher will open their much awaited restaurant.
• Corkbuzz, New York City: Master sommelier Laura Maniec will open her first restaurant and wine bar later this month. The spot also includes classrooms, where Maniec and her staff will offer recreational wine education courses.
• Family Recipe, New York City: Akiko Thurnauer, a former Nobu employee who was born and raised in Tokyo, opened her first restaurant in the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York on September 8th. Family Recipe serves Japanese cuisine executed with local ingredients.
• The Bowery Diner, New York City: Former Motorino chef Mathieu Palombino will open his first place in New York later this season. Belgium-born Palombino will serve classic American fare at The Bowery Diner, but with an elevated touch.
• Catalyst, Boston: William Kovel, the former chef at Aujourd’Hui in Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel (now closed), opened his first restaurant last month in Cambridge. The daily menu is comprised of modern American fare. (Photo courtesy of Facebook/Catalyst)
• Mintwood Place, Washington, D.C.: Chef Cedric Maupillier, who left his post at Michel Richard’s Central in late 2010, will helm the kitchen at Mintwood Place. The restaurant is slated to open in the next few weeks. The menu will serve mostly American dishes, with French touches.
• 2 Sparrows, Chicago: Childhood friends Gregory Ellis and Stephen Fladung cut their teeth while working in the back and front of the house (respectively) at Charlie Trotter’s. The duo’s first eatery will serve breakfast and lunch in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Expect dishes like foie gras mousse pop tarts. The spot will open next week.
• Tavernita, Chicago: Chef Ryan Poli left Chicago’s Perennial to helm the kitchen at the newest restaurant from Mercadito Hospitality, Tavernita. The restaurant will serve Spanish-inspired small plates and has an extensive raw bar.
• Magasin Vietnamese Café, New Orleans: Kim Nguyen is a third generation restaurateur, born and raised in New Orleans. Following Hurricane Katrina, Nguyen moved to Houston, where she opened two Vietnamese restaurants. This fall she will open her first venture in her home town, a cafe specializing in family-style Vietnamese cuisine with a French influence.
• Lenoir, Austin: Former Savoy pastry chef Jessica Maher and her husband, a former chef at Tabla, moved to Austin five years ago with the dream to open a restaurant of their own. The couple will open the doors to Lenoir, a seasonally focused restaurant serving French food.
• AQ, San Francisco: Matt Semmelhack, formerly of La Folie and stints with Daniel Boulud and Joel Robuchon, will run the kitchen at AQ, the first restaurant from budding restaurateur Matt Semmelhack. The restaurant will serve a daily rotating menu of seasonal fare at a reasonable price point.
• State Bird Provisions, San Francisco: Married couple and former Rubicon chefs, Nicole Krasinski and Stuart Brioza, will open their first restaurant in San Francisco next month. Guests at State Bird Provisions will get to choose from a selection of small plates presented on carts, similar in style to dim sum.
These are the restaurants from chefs that have had to close their restaurants for one reason or another and are now making their foray back into the industry with a new opening.
• La Promenade des Anglais, New York City: La Promenade des Anglais is Alain Allegretti’s attempt return to his prior glory, following the closure of two-star restaurant, Allegretti, in 2010. This casual bistro will serve dishes inspired by the French Riviera.
• Atera, New York City: Restaurateur Jodi Richard closed Compose in July after losing chef Nick Curtain. Later this month she will reopen the location as Atera, with the help of acclaimed Portland chef Matthew Lightner, who will helm the kitchen.
• Alison 18, New York City: Alison Price Becker closed her popular date-night restaurant in the Financial District of New York City following the events of 9/11. Next month, the restaurateur will open Alison 18 in Chelsea, which will carry on Becker’s signature romantic ambiance.
• Vedge, Philadelphia: Married couple Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby closed their popular vegetarian restaurant, Horizons, in South Philadelphia earlier this year. But the duo quickly got back to work on their newest venture, a more casual vegetarian restaurant in Philadelphia's City Center. The place is scheduled to open within the next few weeks. (Photo courtesy of Facebook/Vedge)
• Post and Beam, Los Angeles: First it was Table 8, and then the Melrose Place restaurant turned into 8oz Burger Bar, then earlier this year the location closed permanently. Now Govind Armstrong is trying his hand with a new project in a new Los Angeles location. Post and Beam will serve modern Californian cuisine with a local influence.
The ultimate fried confection, doughnuts, especially in artisinal bakeries, are sprouting up everywhere these days. The openings of two such spots are hotly anticipated for those looking for a sweet way to end the year.
• Federal Donuts, Philadelphia: First there was chicken and waffles. Then there was Korean fried chicken and doughnuts. Cross-trainers for the Fat Olympics have chef Michael Solomonov and partner Stephen Cook to thank for the convergence of two of the past few years’ hottest comfort food trends. It’s a partnership that may finally be powerful enough to kill cupcakes.
• Fonuts, Los Angeles: It’s always funny, considering the cliché about Californians health-consciousness, that Angelenos love doughnuts so much. Now there need be no hypocrisy — Nancy Truman and Waylynn Lucas bake, not fry the “fonuts” (get it, get it?) in their Third Street shop. Look for gluten-free and even vegan options. Doesn’t this kind of defeat the point? (Photo courtesy of Yelp/CakesA)
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