Pok Pok, Portland, OR
While in Portland, OR, I was determined to make it to Pok Pok, Andy Ricker's legendary Northern Thai restaurant, at any cost. Good thing, because the wait turned out to be two hours; we whittled the time away eating fried pig's ears and drinking tamarind whiskey sours at Ricker's Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street. But when the food finally did arrive, it was entirely worth the wait: hot wings that were suffused with garlicky chili flavor; steaming khao soi; catfish larb (pictured here) that was salty, spicy, and minty fresh all at once; and a platter of fresh vegetables, including ones I'd never seen before, like Thai olives. Pok Pok isn't just Thai food; it's Thai food on steroids.