When it comes to delicious food, chefs know best. They're capable of whipping up just about anything in the kitchen themselves, and they're notoriously extremely busy. So when chefs are willing to wait in line—especially a long one—for a favorite dish, you better believe that it's worth the wait.
Some chefs have a strategy, while others chalk up the wait as part of the experience. But you know what they say: the hungrier you are, the better the food tastes. From sandwiches to sushi and everything in between, here are ultimate foods that 6 chefs would wait in line for.
1. Super Beef Sandwich at Mino's Roast Beef, Marblehead, MA
“The Super Beef Sandwich from Mino’s Roast Beef in my hometown of Marblehead, Mass. is made up of wafer thin slices of roast beef, their special sauce—like tangy steak sauce—with melted white American cheese on a regular burger bun. I’ve been going to Mino’s and getting this sandwich since I was about 12 years old, and every time I go back to Marblehead, I’ll visit Mino's. I would wait for hours because it reminds me of my childhood and growing up in that town, and because it’s just that good. It’s a local favorite.” – Jamie Lynch, Executive Chef at 5Church in Charlotte, NC, Charleston, SC, and Atlanta, GA and former Top Chef cheftestant
2. Roasted Pig at Huancayo Farmers' Market, Peru
“When we go to Peru to visit family we always take a trip into the mountains. In the town of Huancayo there is a farmers’ market where every week these ladies bring whole roasted pigs, which are raised on their family farms. The meat is chopped and served with a Huacatuay chimichurri and is absolutely delicious. There are long lines of locals all day. The lines are longest early in the day as people line up to get the choicest portions and that is when I prefer to go. The wait can be long but the people are friendly and we grab some hard-boiled quail eggs and hot cocoa from a neighboring cart to snack on while we wait.” – Chris Shea, Executive Chef at The Wayfarer in New York City
3. Tacos at Los Pinches Tacos on Ave 26, L.A.
"Street Tacos from 'Los Pinches Tacos on Ave 26' in Lincoln Heights. I recently discovered this hidden gem after a Dodgers game and have been going back after every game since, for some of the best tacos I have ever had. The taco stand is usually surrounded by dozens of people – seven more after a ball game – scattered around a long row of flat top grills, waiting for their plates of tacos. They have it all, suadero, carne asada and their specialty, al pastor with grilled onions and roasted potatoes. In my opinion, there is no better way to end a night in Los Angeles than with these amazing street tacos surrounded by dozens of Angelenos and the sweet aroma of grilled meats." –Jason Yu, Chef de Cuisine at The Terrace at The Langham Huntington in Pasadena, CA
4. Fried Fish at Saltbox Seafood Joint, Durham, NC
“The place that I'll wait in line for is Saltbox Seafood Joint in Durham, NC. I don’t have to travel too far to get to it, but it’s always a place where I want to spend more time. The seafood is so fresh and the atmosphere is so cool. It's a small shack on the side of a busy road, but with the oyster shells scattered about and the great tunes playing, I always feel like I'm at a party. There’s always a line of at least 10 people all day, as long as the place is open, but I don't mind it a bit because my reward is beautiful fresh, fried fish and some hush honeys. I'll wait in that line for however long it takes to get that delicious fish, and typically I'll bring friends to wait with me,” – John May, Executive Chef at Piedmont in Durham, NC
5. Sushi at Taiko, Irvine, CA
“Sushi from Taiko in Irvine, CA. This wait takes some extra planning. The line usually begins forming at 9:30 am — 1.5 hours before the restaurant opens for the day — and you can almost always count on witnessing customers fight over spots in line and how many people they are holding for. I usually avoid the madness by arriving solo, as I figure there are many assumed rules about this line that can only be learned through experience. The sushi is unlike any other in the area. The fast-paced environment with employees moving quickly though the space is enjoyable and provides that unique experience worth waiting for.” – Marc Johnson, Corporate Chef at Red O La Jolla in La Jolla, CA
6. Pizza at Fricano's, Grand Haven, MI
“Thin crust pizza from Fricano’s in Grand Haven, MI, which has been around since 1949. [Going there] started as a family tradition, since my grandparents lived in a neighboring town, and this would be a mandatory stop. My family is now scattered all over country, but we still retreat to Michigan for family vacations and always make it a point to go. [The wait] is at least an hour. There was a time that I waited almost two hours in the rain. We sit down for the full experience. It’s an old school Italian-American pizza place with red and white checkered table cloths, paper napkins, parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes on the table. They have other food, but I’ve never actually tried anything else. There’s no reason to!” – Mitchell Brumels, Executive Chef at Ocean Prime in Boston, MA
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