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Where to Go Next: Casual Luxe

Boston

La Verdad Over the past decade, Ken Oringer has earned his reputation at acclaimed restaurants Clio, Uni and Toro. But at his new place just outside Fenway Park, he's serving $3 tacos, not $20 appetizers. On game nights, the bar is packed with baseball fans who may not notice that the tortilla chips are house-made. The rest of the time, food lovers fill the place, sampling the dozen or so tacos, including turkey topped with Oaxacan chocolate mole, as well as specials off the "secret" menu, which includes pickled pig-trotter tostadas. details 1 Lansdowne St.; 617-351-2580. —Jane Black

New York City

Kefi At his former restaurant Onera, Michael Psilakis helped pave the way for Manhattan's recent haute-Greek dining boom. But in January, he renamed the place Kefi, removed the linen tablecloths and chandeliers, instituted a no-reservations policy and began serving casual Greek staples like souvlaki (he makes his with pork) at very reasonable prices. Psilakis cooks the kind of homey dishes he ate growing up: juicy meatballs in a garlicky tomato sauce; beyond-tender grilled octopus. details 222 W. 79th St.; 212-873-0200. —Ratha Tep

Washington, DC

M'Dawg As a kid, chef Greggory Hill sold hot dogs at Washington's RFK Stadium. Now, as he prepares to relaunch his restaurant David Greggory as Hudson, Hill is busy with a new endeavor: M'Dawg Haute Dogs. Located in Adams Morgan, M'Dawg has late-night hours (until 4 a.m. on weekends) that draw crowds from the area bars. A chalkboard menu walks customers through the steps: pick your bun (potato, poppy or wheat) and pick your dog (there are 13 or so choices, from a $4 Chicago red hot to a $20 Kobe-beef dog). The toppings bar, which costs just a dollar, is loaded with homemade condiments like apricot chutney and corn relish. details 2418 18th St. NW; 202-328-8284. —Amanda McClements

Edwards, Colorado

Larkburger There isn't much good, affordable food in and around the posh ski town of Vail, Colorado. That makes this small, eight-month-old spot from Thomas Salamunovich—whose Larkspur is one of Vail's best pricey places to eat—pretty remarkable. About 15 miles outside Vail, Larkburger sells juicy, 100 percent natural beef burgers and salads made with as much organic produce as possible. Still, Salamunovich hasn't let go of his classic French training: "I've been around a lot of truffles," he says—hence the truffle aioli burger topping. details 105 Edwards Village Blvd.; 970-926-9336. —Kate Krader

San Francisco

Out the Door When Charles Phan opened the Slanted Door in 1995, he intended to feature street food from his native Vietnam. But these days, entrées at the restaurant (which left the edgy Mission District for the fancy Ferry Building) go for almost $30. Last year, Phan opened this 138-seat spot, where half the dishes—like steamed chicken buns and banh mi pork sandwiches—cost less than $10. details Westfield San Francisco Centre, 845 Market St., #80; 415-541-9913. —Jan Newberry

Published August 2007
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