Category Archives: $$ Modest ($20-$40)

You can’t beat the pho at NamNam Café

It’s easy to overlook NamNam Café. It’s tiny, you don’t hear a lot about it, and it’s off on a St. Matthews side street.

But you really shouldn’t miss it. It’s one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, even among a dozen strong competitors.

[During the Covid-19 closure of dine-in restaurants, NamNam is offering carryout and curbside pickup for phone orders. Diners may also arrange delivery via Postmates or DoorDash.] Continue reading You can’t beat the pho at NamNam Café

Agave & Rye brings a new generation of flavor

OK, Boomer, buh-bye. Yo, Millennial, come on in! That’s the sound of generational change on the north end of the Baxter Avenue strip, as the classy Bittner’s furniture and upscale fare of the defunct Ward 426 makes way for the bright street murals and fancy tacos of Agave & Rye.

Ward 426, a venture of former Jack Fry’s Chef Shawn Ward and the late Dean Corbett, held on for a good five-year run after supplanting the Brewery, a popular bar. But perhaps upscale fare and quiet class weren’t an ideal match for Baxter Avenue, while street art and what they call “chef-inspired” tacos fit right in. Continue reading Agave & Rye brings a new generation of flavor

Pizza, beer, and more at Union 15 in Colonial Gardens

Some say that pizza goes with wine. Some say beer. I’m firmly on both sides of this argument. Want to run a taste test? Let’s head for the South End and check out Union 15, the appealing pizzeria that opened last summer in Colonial Gardens.

Colonial Gardens, the historic beer garden on the fringe of Iroquois Park, nearly fell to the wrecker’s ball after it closed in 2003. But it’s bouncing back, clean and bright and maybe better than ever. Union 15 joins El Taco Luchador, the first eatery in the renovated facility. Continue reading Pizza, beer, and more at Union 15 in Colonial Gardens

Fork & Barrel’s brunch soothes and satisfies

There is something indulgent about brunch that we don’t often experience at even a lavish dinner. It’s not necessarily a matter of gluttony: I’d rather choose from a selection of chef-created morning and midday dishes rather than dive into a gigantic buffet spread under plastic hoods known as sneeze guards. Ick.

No, the joy of brunch has something to do with comfort food – breakfast for lunch – elevated by culinary touches that we aren’t likely to replicate at home. Continue reading Fork & Barrel’s brunch soothes and satisfies

Around the world on a plate at Diamond Street Grub

I’m generally a bit skittish about restaurants that offer a mix of different world cuisines that extend well beyond the chef’s personal DNA. How can one chef master so many culinary arts?

So I wasn’t sure what to expect when Diamond Street Grub & Hops came to town last summer: Its international menu draws randomly from the street-food traditions of an edible United Nations. Continue reading Around the world on a plate at Diamond Street Grub

What’s a bhaji pav? Honest Indian’s new delights

Way back in 1975, when hardly anyone around here knew what street food was, Vijay Agrawal took his first steps toward culinary success when he added bhaji pav – a popular Mumbai veggie curry dish served with white rolls – to the selection of his outdoor chaat (snack) cart in downtown Ahmedabad, India’s fifth-largest city.

People loved it, and before long Agrawal opened his first sit-down restaurant. He called it “Honest,” and the food was honest, and before long he had shops all over Ahmedabad, then all across India, prompting jokes about “The Indian McDonald’s.” Continue reading What’s a bhaji pav? Honest Indian’s new delights