Lisa Lillien is the author of the popular Hungry Girl website and email newsletter, featuring smart, funny advice on guilt-free eating. She is also the author of eleven books, six of which debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Read her PEOPLE.com blog every Monday for slimmed-down celebrity recipes and more.
I do a lot of traveling, and when I do, there are certain places I need to visit. These are my four favorite places to eat across the country:
Kazu Sushi in Studio City, CA
This is the best kept sushi secret in LA! (I’m almost reluctant to tell too many people about it.) Kazu has the best toro (a.k.a. buttery tuna) on the planet, and he makes a shrimp and eggplant soup with a soy broth that is sheer perfection. (I even made an HG version of it, and put it in my first book!) This place is in my regular rotation since I’m based in LA. Fair warning: It’s for serious lovers of traditional sushi. If you like fancy rolls with cream cheese or other “Americanized” sushi, Kazu Sushi isn’t for you!
Keens Steakhouse in New York, NY
This is one of the oldest steakhouses in NYC — it opened in 1885! I adore this place, and my favorite secret find here is the grilled filet mignon skewers, found on the pub menu. They are the best! Keens also happens to have an incredible appetizer of thick-cut smoked bacon. Fun fact: Keens’ Red Berry Bibble dessert inspired the name of the snack food that Ariana Grande’s character was obsessed with on the Nickelodeon show Victorious. (My husband, Dan, created that show!)
Pete & Sam’s in Memphis, TN
Don’t freak out when I say this, but I think this Memphis restaurant has the best, best, BEST pizza in the world. And coming from a New Yorker, that is saying something! Seriously, the BBQ pulled pork pizza is the stuff dreams are made of. It’s my ultimate splurge meal. My lightened-up pulled pork recipe is delicious, but having Pete & Sam’s super-indulgent pork BBQ pizza is next-level decadence.
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Jinsei Sushi in Birmingham, AL
Even more surprising than awesome pizza in Memphis? The phenomenal sushi I discovered in Birmingham! Believe it. This restaurant is famous locally, but it deserves national attention. Don’t miss the Hamajiku roll or the Kobe Wrapped Asparagus. And remember: It’s possible to find insanely amazing food in unexpected places!
‘Til next time… Chew the right thing!