Maximizing Junk Food.
Those taking comfort food to an entirely new level include Milktooth in Indianapolis, where F&W Best New Chef Jonathan Brooks has a penchant for pickling turnips in Kool-Aid; Rebel in Denver, where it’s watermelon that gets pickled in Kool-Aid; and The Rookery in Juneau, where the mac and cheese is topped with crushed Cheez-Its (genius).
A handful of breweries are making food that’s as good as their beer. Small Brewpub in Dallas serves dishes like beef heart ravioli with whipped goat's milk; Ponysaurus in Durham, North Carolina, has $1-per-scoop snacks like dried okra; and Surly Brewing Co. in Minneapolis makes tamales with squash mole.
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For Manhattan’s brand-new Momofuku Nishi, bartender extraordinaire John deBary created low-proof drinks that will still leave you wanting wine with dinner (and won’t make you too wasted to eat). These include a Blood Orange Daiquiri made with sochu; the Shironegro, mixed with vermouth; and a superb, not-too-sweet limoncello slushie that also makes a great after-dinner drink.