Best Toast in the U.S.
Hinoki & the Bird; Los Angeles
The pumpkin toast draws inspiration from chef Kuniko Yagi’s childhood snack of yaki manju, traditional Japanese soft buns coated with sweet and salty miso sauce, then grilled. She chars slices of house-made baguette, which get a smear of umami-packed miso honey jam, then layers on thin slices of steamed Japanese pumpkin (kabocha squash). Laura Chenel’s Sonoma County chèvre is crumbled on top before the dish is finished with a sprinkle of toasted pepitas, sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.
Pastaria; St. Louis
The philosophy at Pastaria is la verità or “the truth,” and that is the inspiration for the simplicity of this dish. Chef Gerard Craft starts with the bounty of radishes found in Missouri, tossing slices of them with olive oil and lemon juice. He toasts Pugliese Italian bread from local Companion Bakery, rubs the toasts with garlic, and spoons salt and pepper–roasted radishes on top.
Superba Food & Bread; Los Angeles
Chef Jason Travi’s maternal grandmother is from Lebanon, so the food he grew up eating sparked a love of Middle Eastern cuisine. The muhammara used on toast at Superba Food & Bread is a nod to that upbringing. The zesty spread is made with walnuts, pomegranate molasses and Aleppo pepper, balanced with creamy burrata from Gioia Cheese Company in El Monte, California, and topped with pickled radishes and sprigs of parsley. It’s served on a pain au levain base head baker Jonathan Eng bakes in-house.
The Ordinary; Charleston, SC
Chef Mike Lata sources his jumbo lump blue crab thanks to long-standing relationships with the local fisherman in and around Charleston. The sweet crab meat is tossed in a fragrant, spicy rouille made from olive oil, bread crumbs, garlic, saffron, chile peppers, then spread on toast, in a more shareable take on crab cakes.
Odd Duck; Austin
Chef Mark Buley of Odd Duck created this dish as an ode to the gas station egg salad he ate as a kid in Wisconsin. He elevated it with an appropriate pairing: DIY jerky. Toasted house-made caraway-rye bread acts as a base for the classic mayonnaise–based egg salad and thin-sliced lamb, which is marinated and dried for three hours to a sweet, chewy jerky consistency. Pickled jalapeños add briney balance to each bite.
Tuome; New York City
Though chef Thomas Chen grew up with an intense dislike of chicken liver, he changed his ways after trying it in mousse form at Eleven Madison Park. At Tuome, Chen whips liver to a cloud-like consistency, then tops it with crispy chicken skin, maple syrup and salt flakes. It is served with toasted squares of hokkaido, a Japanese milk bread known for its supple crumb and buttery flavor.
Michael Mina 74; Miami Beach
The sushi-grade tuna for Michael Mina’s tuna tartare toast is sourced using the live catch, ocean-to-table seafood program exclusive to Fontainebleau. The buttery fish is sweetened with Asian pear and mint, spiced up with Scotch bonnet chiles and given depth with rich sesame notes, then mixed tableside for the freshest possible presentation and served over the house brioche, which maintains a buttery flavor but a light consistency.
Trick Dog; San Francisco
The fig tartine at Trick Dog is inspired by the perfect cheese plate. Chef Michael Logan starts with local Kadota figs at their peak and adds ricotta for creaminess and pine nut brittle for sweetness and crunch. Dried currants soaked in a red verjus are pureed and blended with lime juice, brown butter solids and olive oil for a vinaigrette meant to add just the right amount of acidity to the dish. This is all served atop toasted pain au levain from Acme Bread Company.
Central Kitchen; San Francisco
Chef Thomas McNaughton uses Central Kitchen’s whole-animal philosophy in his take on classic California avocado toast. Sourdough from Josey Baker is grilled over a wood-burning hearth before fresh avocado is lightly crushed into it. Guanciale is warmed just enough to melt slightly, and the whole dish is brightened with Argentinean chimichurri and preserved lemon.
Juniper & Ivy; San Diego
Chef Richard Blais riffs on a classic beef tartare at Juniper & Ivy by adding the Mexican spices traditionally used in carne asada. The buttery blend is spread on toasted sourdough (they often make their own in-house but occasionally source from local bakers as well), then crowned with a quail egg, sprinkled with Cotija and given an added kick with slices of fresh jalapeño.
Lower48 Kitchen; Denver
Chef Alexander Figura wanted to create a toast to honor the bounty of the Lower 48 states. The base is sourdough house-made with flour from an organic mill in Utah. Figura tops it with ham sliced as thinly as possible, which he sources from The Hamery in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where it is aged from 18 to 24 months. Colorado ingredients are piled on next, including ricotta made with milk from a dairy in Longmont; and pickled peaches made from highly sought after fruit from Palisade; this impressive base is topped with three varieties of basil from an organic farm in Brighton.
CBD Provisions; Dallas
Chef Michael Sindoni offers several seasonal toast dishes on his menu, including one taking inspiration from Italy. Like prosciutto, this ham is cured for nine months and sliced paper-thin. In lieu of mozzarella, Sindoni makes fresh cheese in-house with milk from a local dairy. The curds are spread thinly on sourdough toast (also made in-house by pastry chef Ruben Torano, using local red wheat), then draped with the ham. A sprinkling of buckwheat groats adds texture; a drizzle of Texas olive oil and a dusting of fresh black pepper are the finishing touches.
King Bee, New York
A variation on Sweden’s Toast Skagen, chef Jeremie Tomczak substitutes crawfish for shrimp and gives the dish a Louisiana twist. He marinates the tail meat in seasonings typically found in a crawfish boil—lemon, horseradish, red onion—before tossing it in mayonnaise with tasso and radish. The salad is served over toasted brioche from Orwasher’s Bakery, topped with fried celery.
The Purple Pig; Chicago
Chef Jimmy Bannos celebrates all things pork, especially lesser used parts, at his Chicago restaurant, the Purple Pig. The menu has a section called Smears, dedicated to toast and toppings. One favorite is the savory, slow-roasted pork neck bone gravy served with a dollop of whipped ricotta and an accompaniment of pan-grilled slices of bread.
Terrazza; Santa Monica, CA
The new Terrazza at the Hotel Casa del Mar serves locally sourced snacks against a beautiful view of the Pacific. In an effort to capture that beauty in a bite, chef Robert Kirchhoff tosses Dungeness crab with garlic aioli and serves it on charred rye bread from Röckenwagner Bakery. A topping of thinly sliced, seeded jalapeño adds a dash of heat at the end.