Yearning for a serious food adventure, or just want to impress a date? How about digging into an order of eyeball tacos or roasted guinea pig...or maybe scorchingly hot Buffalo wings are your thing? Check out these 8 extreme, and extremely delicious, dishes on menus across the U.S.
Cuy Chactado at Andes Cafe, Houston
Having a meal at the low-key South American joint Andes Café in Houston is an experience you won’t soon forget. Highlights on the menu—which specializes in classics from Ecuador to Peru—include outstanding ceviches and top-notch skirt steak with Argentinian chimichurri sauce. But the pièce de resistance is the Latin American delicacy known as cuy chactado, or deep-fried guinea pig, served with roasted potatoes, crema de rocoto (Peruvian aji cream sauce), and a tangy salsa made with red onion, lime juice and cilantro. At $60 per couple, the dish is designed for sharing. But wait: roasted rodent on a dinner date?! Yes, but have no fear: Just like frog legs, guinea pig tastes a lot like chicken—and happens to be super-delicious.
Veal Brains at Animal, L.A.
This tough-to-get-into Los Angeles restaurant is known for its nose-to-tail cooking (hence the name) and its lusciously carnivorous menu. The food-obsessed set, fascinated with the roster of animal bits and parts ranging from internal organs and tongue to entrails, has helped propel chef-owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to culinary stardom. Go big with the entrée of veal brains: The crispy fried lobes are cooked up with vadouvan, an Indian-inspired spice blend, and served atop apricot puree with whole roasted carrots.
Kangaroo Carpaccio Nachos at Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, Fort Worth, TX
There's the standard plate of cheesy nachos, and then there's the kangaroo carpaccio version at Fort Worth’s upscale yet rustic Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, decorated with posters of the namesake book and mini-series. Your plate arrives loaded with three homemade blue corn tortilla chips dressed with thin slices of seared kangaroo—which tastes a little like beef but with a hint of gaminess—along with Boursin cheese and a habanero-fig demi-glace. It's all served on a bed of housemade avocado corn salsa for an irresistible, ultra-flavorful dish. Bonus: You never know which famous singer will mosey in from the neighboring country music honky-tonk, the iconic Billy Bob’s Texas.
Testarella at Maialino, New York City
This chic Italian trattoria in Manhattan’s legendary Gramercy Park Hotel makes fabulous use of fresh ingredients from local farmers and purveyors—but if you’re feeling extra-courageous, order the testarella salad. Yes, that would be a salad graced with the face of a whole suckling pig. If you can handle the presentation, you'll want to come back for this again and again. The meat is outrageously flavorful thanks to the elaborate cooking process: The pig face gets brined, simmered and then deep-fried before hitting its elegant little bed of seasonal greens.
Crispy Rabbit Livers at The Frontier, Chicago
This rustic, multi-level Chicago smokehouse and pub specializes in exotic game, from boar to alligator, smoked over cherrywood, applewood or oak. Whatever you order, don’t skip the juicy fried rabbit livers, served with a side of creamy, tangy cheddar grits and fried collards. Want to round out your dinner? Grab an ice-cold beer from the more than 30 selections on offer.
Hell Jerk Wings at East Coast Grille, Cambridge, MA
The super-spicy “hell jerk wings” at Cambridge's East Coast Grille, just outside Boston, have become something of a legend, thanks to the signature housemade hot sauce loaded with Scotch Bonnet peppers. No run-of-the-mill peppers, these rank between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville units on the heat index scale, as compared to poblanos, which barely register at 1,000 to 4,000 Scoville units. Cool things down with the side of curry yogurt.
Tacos de Ojo at Los Taquitos de Puebla, Philadelphia
The no-frills Los Taquitos de Puebla in Philadelphia specializes in one thing: tacos. But the thing to try here, at least once in your life, is the tacos de ojo. Your three tortillas arrived filled with onions, cilantro, radish—plus boiled and sliced beef eyeballs. That's right: eyeballs. Here’s looking at you, kid.
Offal Kabobs at Bei Jing Kabobs, Atlanta
This Chinese spot in Atlanta serves up everything from beef tripe to chicken hearts in unassuming digs. The lineup of grilled and skewered kabobs includes all kinds of vegetables and meats, but you'll want to go for the pig elbow (because you've tried every other part of the pig by now, right?). Another dish not to miss: the "rot bamboo mixed decay," which sounds scarier than it is. It's actually bean curd, but ssshhh: You'll still score major points for ordering it.
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