Txikito. Photographs by Michael Simmons
Nothing against pho and empanadas, but your palate's probably ready for something new. Here are the long-overlooked cuisines that are finally getting attention from chefs across America. JJ Goode
Along the Spain-France border lies Basque Country, a region with a distinctive surf-and-turf cuisine that's finally finding ambassadors in the United States. At his Philadelphia wine bar and restaurant Tinto (114 S. 20th St., 215-665-9150), Jose Garces does a twist on a classic pintxo (the Basque version of a tapa), pairing anchovies and pickled peppers with melon. New York City wunderkind Alex Raij whips up land-and-sea combinations at Txikito (240 Ninth Ave., 212-242-4730), like when he fries pork meatballs and serves them over a shellfish sauce. And Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez marinates anchovies and tops them with a ham-laced crab sauce at Txori in Seattle (2207 2nd Ave., 206-204- 9771), where you're encouraged to do as diners in the Basque creative hub San Sebastián do and throw used napkins on the floor.
You've been eating Indian food for years, but odds are it's been the naan-fueled dishes of the country's north. Now the once underappreciated chow of the south is getting its due, with restaurants building menus around the dosa, a rice-and-lentil crêpe. At Tiffin Wallah in New York (127 E. 28th St., 212-685-7301), the crispy paper varietymeant to be dipped in coconut chutney and sambar (soupy spiced lentils)is the specialty, while Banana Leaf in Columbus, Ohio (816 Bethel Rd., 614-459-4101), serves up winning rava dosas, which are spongier but no less delicious. Dosa (1700 Fillmore St., 415-441-3672) has taken San Francisco by storm, introducing the city to its namesake dish and coconut curries made with free-range meat, which keeps farmers'-market-goers happy.
The countries sandwiched between Italy and Russia may not be known for culinary achievement, but don't tell that to John Korzekwinski, who, at J. Betski's in Raleigh, North Carolina (10 W. Franklin St., 919-833-7999), seduces hip locals with plates of pretzel-crusted pork tenderloin with beer jus and sauerkraut. The tangy cabbage concoction tops 20-plus kinds of sausageincluding a far-from-classic duck, bacon, and jalapeño oneat Wurstküche in Los Angeles (800 E. 3rd St., 213-687-4444). Café Katja in Manhattan (79 Orchard St., 212-219-9545) hews closer to tradition with goulash (paprika-spiked beef stew) and spaetzle, miniature dumplings that will win over any pasta fan.