Best Specialty Restaurants

TripSavvy Editors' Choice Awards 2018

Little Fish

 Little Fish

Do you prefer your pizza with thin crust and fresh basil, or thick and square, with handfuls of perfectly round pepperoni? Is your favorite taco served at breakfast time with eggs inside, or is it a flour tortilla wrapped around crispy, fried fish? From posh afternoon teas to salty seafood joints, here are TripSavvy's favorite specialty restaurants for 2018.

Burgers

Hopdoddy Burger Bar
Hopdoddy Burger Bar

Hopdoddy Burger Bar: Austin, Texas — featured in The Best Restaurants on South Congress

Long before upscale burger joints popped up from coast to coast, Hopdoddy was serving stellar burgers to the good people of Austin. Now with twenty-six locations spread over five states, their mission hasn’t changed. Every day, Hopdoddy’s butchers grind fresh meat; their bakers fire up soft, pillowy buns. As a result, even their Classic burger, with just lettuce, tomato, onion, and “Sassy Sauce,” is a beautifully made creation. But their more offbeat burgers are just as fun: the “Llano Poblano” with smoked bacon, pepperjack, seared poblanos, and chipotle aioli; or “La Bandita,” a veg-friendly patty of black bean and corn with avocado, goat cheese, and cilantro pesto.

 –Carey Jones

Paradise Valley Burger Co.: Phoenix, Ariz. — featured in Phoenix Restaurants Featured on the Food Network

Burger aficionados have been flocking to Paradise Valley Burger Co. since it opened in 2011, becoming a neighborhood hit at first and later a citywide hot spot. Some might say that the burger restaurant prides itself on the art of the uncommon burger. Each week the kitchen comes up with a limited-time burger special and writes the description on the white board that hangs next to the counter in the small dining room. Past specials have included The Carnie, a carnival-inspired burger made with two funnel cake-battered beef patties.

The permanent menu also hosts some house favorites like the Burger Brulee, a burger patty topped with Havarti, bacon, a fried egg and a bright purple garnish of pickled onions. –David Duran

Healthy Restaurants

Casa de Luz: Austin, Texas — featured in Best Restaurants Near Palmer Events Center

One of the oldest vegan eateries in Austin, Casa de Luz serves only fixed-price meals based on strict macrobiotic principles. That means the dishes don’t even include olive oil since it’s a processed product. Most of the sauces are made from nuts and seeds. The cooks do an amazing job of making delicious food from all-natural ingredients. A typical lunch menu includes soup, salad and an entrée. Eating here can be a leap of faith since you don’t have many choices. You simply show up and eat whatever they’re serving today, but you can rest assured that it will taste good and be good for you.

An added bonus is the peaceful Zen vibe of the grounds and the airy dining room. –Robert Macias

    Raw Love: Tulum, Mexico — featured in The Best Restaurants in Tulum

    Grab a healthy bite at this colorful, charming, rustic eatery located on the grounds of cabaña beach hotel Ahau Tulum. Raw Love offers healthy, clean, tasty meals and sources local organic ingredients whenever possible. No animal products are used, and everything is made from scratch, with love. They also care for the environment by composting, recycling and striving to be chemical free. Favorites include the zucchini noodle pad thai and the coconut milk lattes (the fresh coconut milk is made daily).

    Raw Love is open every day from 9am to 6pm. Don’t miss the new “baby” Raw Love beach bar, also at Ahau. –Kristin Busse

    Pizza Restaurants

    Lucali: Brooklyn, N.Y. — featured in The Best Pizza Places in NYC

    While it's been in the news for being a favorite of Jay-Z and Beyonce, as well as for possible mob ties on the part of owner Mark Iacono, Lucali reamins one of New York's best pizza restaurants. And while the wait time is epic, the staff a bit gruff, and payment cash only, all is forgiven once you're seated in the cozy, candlelit dining room near the wood-fired oven, the smell of pizza wafting through the air. And when that pizza arrives to your table, you'll be rewarded with a superior pie or calzone—we recommend one of each.

    Bonus: it's BYOB so come prepared. –Devorah Lev-Tov

    Prince Street Pizza
    Prince Street Pizza 

    Prince Street Pizza: New York, N.Y. — featured in The Best Pizza Places in NYC

    Most classic New York pizzerias specialize in coal-fired whole pies; or substantial slices with gloriously melty cheese and thin, crisp crusts. Not Prince Street. While you can get a standard slice here, too, their true masterpiece is the thick, crunchy Sicilian-style pizza: huge, square slices with an irresistible crunchy, oily crust. While there’s no bad slice here, the best order is the Spicy Spring, with thick discs of spicy pepperoni that curl up into crisp curls of meaty goodness. In the heart of Nolita, it’s one of the best cheap meals in town.

     –Carey Jones

      Seafood Restaurants

      Mama's Fish House
      Mama's Fish House 

      Mama's Fish House: Paia, Hawaii — featured in Romantic Maui Restaurants

      Located on the oceanfront in Ku’au, set right on the North Shore of Maui, Mama’s Fish House has consistently been recognized as one of the best restaurants in Hawaii and in the country. Their rotating Polynesian/Pacific Rim infused menu always includes fresh catch caught by local fishermen in addition to island grown, sustainable ingredients. The fine dining restaurant is also extremely popular during lunchtime and menu items not to miss include the Tahitian Ceviche with fresh lime and coconut. A reservation at Mama’s Fish House is a must for anyone visiting the island; just make them far in advance.

      –David Duran

      Thames Street Oyster House: Baltimore, Md. — featured in The Best Raw Bars in Baltimore

      It's hard to believe this oyster house has only been in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood since 2011—it already feels like an institution that's been there for decades, thanks to its classic feel and flawless execution of a Maryland/mid-Atlantic raw bar. Right on the waterfront, it's packed with seafood lovers day and night sampling its oysters from the East and West coasts, Maryland crab claws, and Executive Chef Eric Houseknecht's seafood dishes like Thames Street Seafood Salad with Maryland blue crab, Gulf shrimp, calamari and scallops and his Chesapeake Blue Catfish Sandwich.

      –Devorah Lev-Tov

      Tacos

      Los Cinco Puntos: Los Angeles, Calif. — featured in The Most Authentic Tacos in LA

      Family owned and operated for over 50 years, Los Cinco Puntos in East LA attracts locals and tourists alike with its overstuffed tacos, handmade tamales, and juicy carnitas. While there’s no wrong order at Los Cinco Puntos, you shouldn’t leave without sampling the hand pressed corn tortillas that made them famous. Order a variety of tacos to share, then park it at an umbrella’d table outside the taqueria to enjoy the tortillas at their absolute freshest. Each taco is made to order with your selected meat (the carnitas and lengua are most requested), salsa, guacamole and grilled, chopped nopales (prickly pear cactus).

      –Megan Graney

      Taqueria el Sabor: Shoreline, Wash. — featured in Seattle's Best Mexican Food

      Taqueria el Sabor is unpretentious in every way possible and yet serves up some of the area’s tastiest tacos. With locations in Shoreline, Kent and Tacoma, Taqueria el Sabor is hardly a household name, but it should be! Tacos are simple and delicious, served on warm corn tortillas, topped with meat, onions, salsa, cilantro and then whatever floats your boat from the self-serve salsa bar (be warned, get any of the red salsas and you’ll be dealing with some spice). Their pico de gallo makes a stellar topping.

      Meat options include steak, spicy pork, chicken, fried pork, shredded beef, cabeza, tongue and tripe – try one, try them all! –Kristin Kendle

      Ricky's Fish Tacos: Los Angeles, Calif. — featured in The Most Authentic Tacos in LA

      Ricky Piña’s Baja-style tacos are legendary in Los Angeles. What started as a makeshift parking-lot taco party eventually morphed into a taco truck. The tacos are made with delicate white fish, cooked to an ideal golden brown, topped with chopped cabbage and pico de gallo, then folded into a warm flour tortilla. There’s creamy white sauce and spicy red salsa to dress up your tacos in addition to the often-overlooked shrimp tacos, which are just as incredible. The truck is usually parked on Riverside Drive near the entrance to Griffith Park, serving up the best lunch $3 can buy.

      –David Duran

      Tea Shops & Afternoon Tea

      The Dorchester: London, England — featured in The Best Afternoon Tea in London

      With its iconic art deco facade and glittering guest list, the Dorchester is one of London's grandest dames and afternoon tea here is a glamorous affair. It's served daily in the Promenade, a sumptuous room lined with marble columns and scattered with potted palms and 30s-style furniture. Traditional finger sandwiches with classic fillings like Coronation chicken and prawn cocktail are followed by warm scones and delicate pastries and there are 30+ teas to choose from including rare brews and a selection blended exclusively for the Dorchester.

      A resident pianist completes the scene.Rachel Erdos

        Grosvenor House: London, England — featured in The Best Afternoon Tea in London

        With its prime Mayfair location opposite Hyde Park, Grosvenor House provides a swanky spot for afternoon tea. Served on traditional tiered stands, tea is taken in the Park Room, a luxurious lounge with a mirrored ceiling, contemporary chandeliers and a long marble-top bar. On the menu you’ll find finger sandwiches with fillings like roast beef and horseradish and salmon and cream cheese and in addition to buttermilk scones with clotted cream and jam, you’ll be presented with seasonal pastries and home baked cakes.

        Where better to enjoy this most English of traditions than in a hotel that has played host to the royal family.Rachel Erdos