Here at Heeb, we certainly make no claims to be refined epicureans. We love Halloween candy and movie popcorn, and to be honest, if truly desperate we’d eat that linty Mento stuck in the couch. But we also know that a bad meal is more than a waste of money—it’s a waste of one of the precious few face-stuffing opportunities we’re allowed each day. If you aren’t eating the best foods out there, you might as well be surviving on vitamins, water and, you know, that Mento. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile a gustatory to-do list. Fuck the Seven Wonders; here are the fifty best foods in the whole wide world. Go on this culinary whirlwind tour and you can die knowing every single calorie went to a good cause.
*50. Steak at Velvet (Buenos Aires, Argentina)*
It’s as thick as a telephone book and the size of a Shaq loafer. Smothered in grilled red peppers and two sunny-side up eggs, we now understand why Argentineans look down on the rest of South America.
*49. Snyder’s of Hanover Honey Mustard & Onion Pieces*
It’s like someone took a hammer to the already delectable Snyder’s of Hanover Honey Mustard & Onion Nibblers and inside was a giant heap of powdery onion goodness. The pleasure of licking this stuff off your fingers is second only to the classic Cool Ranch Dorrito finger-cleansing.
*48. Grilled Smoked Foie Gras Salad at Sascha (New York, NY)*
Some duck had to endure its liver being fattened to the size of a softball and we can’t even muster up the correct French pronunciation of the dish? The least we could do is put it in our top fifty.
*47. Alligator Pie at Jacques-Imo’s (New Orleans, LA)*
You know how grasshopper pie isn’t really made of grasshoppers? And how mud pie isn’t really made of mud? Well, it turns out that alligator pie is really made of alligators. And it’s delicious.
*46. Anything from an Ice Cream Truck*
Normally, you find the food. The food doesn’t find you. That’s why the serendipitous summertime sound of an ice cream truck rounding the corner fills us with such delight. One second you’re mowing the lawn, the next, you’re biting into a Chipwich.
*45. Beef Jerky*
Like a Harlequin romance novel or a Garth Brooks CD, beef jerky is something you want to keep hidden, tucked away from judging eyes. Jerky has no known nutritional value, a higher salt content than well, salt, and it makes your breath stink worse than a locker room filled with ferrets. And yet, this truck stop fare is amazingly satisfying.
*44. The Combo Special at Cham Sut Gol Korean BBQ (Los Angeles, CA)*
After the grill’s wood coal has infused the meat with unique flavor, surround each piece with rice and lettuce wrap and chow down. The combo special comes with a Korean omelette and tofu stew—enough food to make Kim Jong ill.
*43. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups*
They can try and fancy it up as much as they want: inside-out, white chocolate, caramel-infused. Whatever. The only real way to improve on the original is to make it bigger. Much bigger.
*42. Army Breakfast (Ft. Campbell, KY)*
A two-egg omelette, French toast, white toast, grits, biscuits and gravy and fresh donuts—perhaps the one thing that Donald Rumsfeld has yet to screw up.
*41. Sacher Torte (Vienna, Austria)*
The deadliest thing to come out of Austria since, well, we won’t go there. Though they originate at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, we admit to only having sampled them at Cafe Sabarsky at the Neue Gallery in Manhattan.
*40. The Garvey at Soul Vegetarian East (Chicago, IL)*
Ask the chef at this South Side restaurant owned and operated by Hebrew Israelites and he’ll tell you that the food has its roots in the Old Testament, but for some reason we have a hard time imagining Moses chowing down on this wheat gluten veggie burger and ordering some collards on the side.
Technically, it’s a beverage, but it’s thicker than lots of soups and two or three will fill you up as much as a meal, so we’re making just one exception for this frothy, comforting libation. And be sure to drink it while listening to The Pogues’ “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” and arguing about Protestantism.
*38. Spaghetti Marinara at Epcot Center (Orlando, FL)*
The real Italy offers spaghetti this good too, but not in a room with such powerful air conditioning.
*37. The Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium (Los Angeles, CA)**
Jack Nicholson would certainly give up his courtside seat at Lakers games for a front-row seat behind Nomar Garciaparra if he knew about this perfectly grilled, foot-long frank on a toasted bun.
*36. JalapeÃ±o bread at Goode Company Barbeque (Houston, TX)*
It’s Tex-Mex magic and spicier than some yankees can handle. But if you ask for white or wheat bread instead, they’ll just stare at you, calling you a pussy with their eyes. You see, at Goode Company Barbeque there is no other bread. Eat the jalapeÃ±o bread or get the hell out of Texas.
*35. Hard Salami from the Romanian Sausage Company (Chicago, IL)*
In the deli hierarchy, most people rank salami well below corned beef and pastrami, just a notch above simple bologna. Most people, however, have never tasted these products of the wurstmacher’s art, which elevate the salami to such heights that mustard isn’t just unnecessary, it’s disrespectful.
*34. The Infamous Spicy Sicilian Pizza at Adriatico’s (Columbus and Cincinnati, OH)*
How can we possibly be ranking a New York-style pie ahead of the real deal? Take a pilgrimage to the Mecca and Medina of pizza and find out for yourself.
*33. Homemade Persian Food*
Tell one of your Persian friends you want to have dinner at their parents’ place. And while you’re at it, insist that they serve gondis (spiced meatballs), sabzi kuku (“all things green” pancakes) and pilau khoresh (rice-based stew). And then, ask them how they make those Persian miniatures so damn miniature.
*32. Bond Street Sushi (New York, NY)*
If you like traditional sushi, book a reservation on Japan Airlines. But if you prefer decadent, post-modern concoctions involving toasted almonds, arugula and yellow curry sauce, then there is no better place. Using soy sauce at Bond Street is like asking Gisele to wear an overcoat to the beach.
*31. Bhel Poori (London, England)*
If you’re like us and you believe that the phrase “British cuisine” is an oxymoron, do as we do and head to Brick Lane for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For some reason, you can’t find bhel poori in the States. Basically, it’s Indian Chex Mix with tomatoes, onions and coriander thrown in for good measure.
*30. Grilled Goat at Tap Tap (Miami, FL)*
Take refuge from the parade of sun-crisped horribles that routinely infest South Beach and head to this relaxed, down-to-earth Haitian restaurant for the most famed Floridian goat since a certain reading given by our esteemed president.
Ask any haute chef: Presentation matters, and no food in the world can compete with Pez and its simply indispensable dispenser. Pez even has its own museum in Burlingame, Connecticut, where the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Garfield and Princess Leia bask side-by-side in the limelight.
*28. Huevos Rancheros*
Could there be a more pleasurable combination of dripping, scooping and salivating than that encouraged by a plate of eggs, tomatoes and Manchego cheese atop an obliging corn tortilla? And is there any other food that seems to get tastier the messier it gets?
*27. The Ethiopian Feast at The Blue Nile (Ann Arbor, MI)*
Spicy lamb, savory lentils, spongey pancakes and you get to eat it all with your hands? It’s enough to induce spontaneous choruses of “We Are the World.”
*26. Cannolis from Mike’s Pastries (Boston, MA)*
The consistency of the cream is a perfect mix of too rich and too sweet, and the shell is never too soggy for a satisfying crunch.
*25. The Double Double at In-N-Out Burger (Los Angeles, CA)*
What makes this burger better than the rest? Not the biblical references on the wrappers and cups, not the crisp and clean uniforms of the employees and their speedy service, but the freshness of all their ingredients. We dare you to down the “6×6”: six patties, lettuce, tomato, onion and cheese stacked eight inches high.
*24. Grilled Corn on the Cob at the Fifth Avenue Street Fair (Brooklyn, NY)*
If butter isn’t pouring down your arms, you’re not eating it right. Bring along some wet naps or the mosquitoes will gobble you up like grilled corn on the cob.
*23. Pecans (Savannah, GA)*
Pecan pie, apple-pecan slaw, sweet potatoes with pecans, pecan cornbread, pecan rice pilaf, pecan almond tarts, candied pecans, pecan pancakes… Savannah pecans will turn even the most articulate foodie into a pecan-version of that retarded shrimp guy in Forrest Gump.
*22. McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish*
Yes, we’ve seen Super Size Me. And yes, we did hear the rumor that Filet-O-Fish is actually worse for you than a Big Mac. But for some reason we still feel like we’re sticking it to the man when we’re gobbling up one of these crispy, high-sodium snacks. Baby steps…
*21. Your Backyard BBQ (Oakland, CA)*
Undo all the good you did buying organic chard and peaches at the Grand Lake Farmer’s Market and head over to the BBQ. It sets up every Saturday and rocks our world with meat and sauce so breathtaking that every vegan in nearby Berkeley would sell their soul for a taste. And oh yeah, they call their multiple meat plate a “three-way.”
*20. Hash Brownies at Baba (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)*
There may be no more Jewish a culinary experience than (literally) eating to get high. Side effects include paranoia, agitation and anxiety—basically, the same side effects you’d expect from having dinner at your parents’ house.
*19. Pastrami Sandwiches at Second Avenue Deli (New York, NY)*
Within three short weeks, downtown New York City lost Harold Hunter and these savory sandwiches. May they both rest in peace.
The only fruit you ever really need—preferably after a shot of tequila or vodka. From fish to tarts, lemons make everything taste better and best of all, just one of these lovely ladies will last you, like, a month and a half.
*17. Any Burrito in the Mission District (San Francisco, CA)*
Those who know what they’re doing fold the foil down in one full piece, using expert fingers likely trained in rolling the perfect joint. Then, they just as easily rewrap what’s left to save for later. Amateurs rip off little pieces of foil as they go and end up choking on the silvery shreds that stick to the burrito.
*16. Elk Medallions at Buckhorn Exchange (Denver, CO)*
When you first enter this, Denver’s oldest restaurant, you might feel like you’ve walked into a Damien Hirst installation, what with all of those stuffed animal heads. Get over it and sit down. Bambi’s daddy is waiting to be devoured.
*15. “Floating” Noodle Kugel*
Carve yourself a miniature battleship, stick a little Israeli flag into the gunwale and see how long it stays afloat in a sea of chicken soup. We’re not sure why this is so much fun. Maybe it has something to do with the magical buoyancy of this wonderful holiday casserole.
*14. Sweet Potato Fries*
Nietzsche proclaimed that “God is Dead,” but we would like to state with the same authoritative confidence that the French fry is dead. The sweet potato fry has deemed it irrelevant to the cosmic order.
*13. Free Food*
Whether it’s cocktail wieners at a boring wedding, leftovers in your best friend’s fridge, or those year-old mints on your way out of a diner, nothing brings out the hunter/gatherer in us like tasties for the taking.
*12. Peanut Butter Sandwiches*
Peanut butter sandwiches can be consumed with any of the following: jelly, honey, banana, apple slices, granola, nutella, chocolate chips, fluff, fig spread, raisins, celery and, of course, matzoh from Streit’s. But never trust anyone who tells you they prefer creamy over chunky. They’re the same fuckers who think Roger Moore was better than Sean Connery.
*11. Raw Oysters (anywhere on the Maryland coast)*
The feeling of this slimy and salty organism sliding down your throat is enough to make a porn star blush.
*10. Original New York Cheesecake at Junior’s (Brooklyn, NY)*
Junior’s truly exemplifies why New York cheesecake is the best. This is the most flawless and pure, lemon-crusted slice of pie you will ever have. And there’s nothing more badass than ordering it from a menu with a drink called the “Gold Cadillac.”
*9. Muqeqa from the Bahia region of Brazil*
Okay, so it’s not every day that you find yourself in the Bahia region of Brazil. But if you feel like taking a 10-hour flight to Salvador and your stomach can handle the infamous dende oil, then loosen that belt and don’t expect to be putting on a string bikini anytime soon.
*8. Fried Ravioli at Blueberry Hill (St. Louis, MO)*
Sit at the bar in this rock ‘n’ roll cathedral and find your thrill by ordering an appetizer-sized portion along with a cool mug of Schlafly. If this ravioli were around when Chuck Berry was a kid, he never would’ve learned the blues.
*7. Spinach Knishes from Yonah Schimmel’s Knishery (New York, NY)*
In America in the year 2006, Åª1.50 simply cannot fill your stomach more effectively than with one of Yonah Schimmel’s delectable baked treats. Kelis had her milkshake. We have our knishes.
Italian, Japanese, Lebanese, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Turkish, African, Cajun, fried, baked, sauteed, stuffed, pureed—it really doesn’t matter. Not to mention, it’s a winning pizza topping. Try it. You’ll never eat pepperoni again.
*5. Danish Open-Faced Sandwiches*
How did the nation that produced maudlin moper Soren Kierkegaard also produce these celebrations of life? A chunk of Muesli bread with some Jarlsberg cheese, pink caviar, half a soft-boiled egg and a slice of cucumber and your day will brighten faster than you can say “Hans Christian Anderson.”
*4. Mac and Cheese*
We like it best with fontina and truffle oil, but even Kraft’s version is fabulous. Granted, it’s high in fat, bursting with carbs and not lactose intolerant-friendly, but it is worth every self-destructive bite.
*3. Michel Cluizel Noir Infini 99%*
Godiva is for your mother-in-law. Michel Cluizel is for your dominatrix. Drink a shot of tequila with each bite and release the deepest and densest strains of dark chocolate ever experienced. Crack is less addictive.
*2. “The Heeb,” Smoked Whitefish Salad with Horseradish Cream Cheese on a Bagel at Russ & Daughters (New York, NY)*
This sandwich could bring peace to the Middle East.
Sure, salt was once used as currency, but nowadays Tabasco is the gold standard of seasoning. You could put it on virtually anything on this list and it would taste better.
Additional research by Aviva Briefel, Byron Kerman, Jay Kim, Allen Salkin, Gaby Sirner and Amy Tobin.