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ABC's 'The Taste' Casting Call for Season 3 in Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Austin and L.A.

"THE TASTE" ON ABC IS PICKED UP FOR SEASON 3 AND KICKS OFF NATIONWIDE CASTING CALL FOR PROFESSIONAL CHEFS & HOME COOKS! Los Angeles - May 17, 2014 - If you think you can stand the heat, sign-up to get in the kitchen! Open casting calls for chefs interested in competing in this culinary competition series will be held in cities across the country starting on Saturday, June 21, 2014.

Holiday Gifts for the Food-Obsessed

Welcome to the LocalEats holiday gift guide. We'd of course, be remiss not to start things off by suggesting that the new LocalEats gift cards make fantastic gifts for foodies. It's a great way to support local businesses, and best of all, the recipient, not the person who gives the card, gets to decide where to redeem the card. Here's our ever-growing list of participating restaurants. Shameless plug aside, here are some foodcentric gift ideas for your edification.

Web Edibles

Happy Repeal Day, LocalEaters! While you count down the remaining hours of the work day until you can celebrate your freedom to imbibe as you please, enjoy a few tasty links concerning food and drink. Also, shameless plug: Don't forget to take a look at our shiny new LocalEats gift cards. For every $50 you spend, we'll throw in an additional $10. With Ask a Critic: Serious Eats recommends restaurants for a precocious 10-year-old foodie on his first NYC visit — Katz's, Motorino and Economy Candy are among those on the list.

10 Deliciously Weird Dishes across the Country

For the following iconic bizarre dishes, beauty is in the eye (or tastebuds) of the beholder. They may not win any Instagram competitions, but they're a testament to American ingenuity and display a devotion to creativity with comfort food. These dishes exist because some visionary chefs and restaurateurs across the country were unafraid to say "YES" to more gravy, French fries, chili and anything else for the sake of inventing some messy and indulgent, but brilliantly weird foods.

Weekly Web Edibles

A few tasty links to what we've been reading of late. Grub Street provides a roadmap for out-of-town chefs trying to make it in New York. Han Chiang of Han Dynasty, Pok Pok's Andy Ricker and Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese are among the success stories cited. If you can make it there... LA Weekly spotlights The Glorious Greasy Foods of Los Angeles, including the Colosso burger from Mom's Burgers and tater tots at Fab Hot Dogs. The point is, ladies and gentleman, that grease, for lack of a better word, is good.

12 Fantastic Hot Dog Spots across America

As baseball’s ALCS and NLCS matchups have been set (alas, poor Bucs) and the end of the season nears, we can’t help incessantly thinking of ballpark food. And though everything from sushi  to donut burgers and pulled pork parfaits are served at the stadium these days, there’s still nothing that compares with the simple pleasures of a ballpark dog. With the great American tubesteak on our minds, we’ve compiled a short list of some of our country’s best hot dog restaurants. From places steeped with tradition that have menus about three items long to new–school sausage sellers pushing the boundaries and breaking points of buns, these weineries are doing great things with one of our most iconic American foods.

Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs (Denver, CO)
Jim Pittenger (who indeed, does ride a Harley) quit his longtime gig repossessing cars to peddle exotic sausages on the streets of Denver. His wildly successful street carts eventually led to a brick-and-mortar store, featuring beyond-the-ordinary dog varieties such as elk with jalapeno cheddar, wild boar, rattlesnake and pheasant, and reindeer.  

Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace (Columbus, OH)
Innovative dogs and slushy drinks (which they’ll happily spike at the bar) have proved a winning combo for this kitschy Columbus tribute to all things tubesteak. Creative dog treatments include The Ohioana (topped with spicy corn relish and celery salt), Sarva’s Totcho Dog (tater tots, cheese sauce, onion and jalapeno) and the Seoul Dog (kimchee, mayo and a drizzling of sriracha).

Fab Hot Dogs (Los Angeles, CA)
Chef/owner Joe Fabrocini, a Garden State native, brings a little taste of Jersey to the West Coast with his signature Ripper: a specialty deep fried dog that’s best when topped with their Bald Eagle Sauce — a tangy mustard relish. Fab's also pays homage to LA’s most prevalent hot dog style with the LA Street Dog, a bacon-wrapped dog with grilled peppers and onion, mayo, mustard, ketchup and jalapeno.

Gene & Jude’s (River Grove, IL)
“Relished since 1946,” this neon-lit throwback in the near west Chicago ‘burbs is almost as famous for their superb fresh-cut, fried-to-order spuds as they are for their no-frills Vienna Beef (what else?) dogs.  The iconic Depression Dog comes topped with mustard, onions, relish, sport peppers and a handful of French fries.

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Gus’s Hot Dogs (Birmingham, AL)
Opened in the late 1940s by Greek native Gus Alexander, the original downtown Gus's Hot Dog remains the archetype of the classic wonderful Birmingham dog: grilled with mustard, onions, and special sauce, the latter from Alexander's original recipe.

Gray’s Papaya (New York, NY)
Sometimes, amid all the hybrid pastry hysteria, $30 lobster rolls and aggressively sourced (and aggressively priced) farm-to-table fare that Manhattan's restaurants have to offer, a New Yorker just needs a hot dog. For those times, there's Gray's Papaya.  A couple of perfectly grilled all-beef dogs with slightly crunchy casing on toasted buns accompanied by a non-alcoholic papaya drink won’t set you back much more than five bucks.  

Hot Doug’s (Chicago, IL)
Get there early and prepare to wait in line at Doug Sohn's perennially popular lunchtime hot dog joint, Hot Doug's. And don't even dream about sending a member of your party to save seats. Their Chicago-style hot dog is textbook perfection with fresh tomato, sport peppers, a pickle spear and alarmingly bright green relish. Don't shy away from the sausages or the daily specials, though, such as a stellar wild boar sausage topped with crispy onions.

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I Dream of Weenie (Nashville, TN)
Housed in an adorable yellow vintage VW van in the heart of East Nashville’s Five Points, I Dream of Weenie is damn near irresistible to passersby and peckish patrons of the bars across the street. The fiery Rebel Yelp displays local color, with Tennessee hot chow-chow, jalapeno and red onion, while Sunday brings their truly unique “Weenie Brunch,” featuring the Hashbrown Casserole Weenie and French Toast Weenie (a French-toasted bun with breakfast sausage, maple syrup and powdered sugar).

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Lafayette Coney Island (Detroit, MI)
The story goes that the Coney Island - a hot dog covered in chili and onions - owes its existence to Greek immigrants Gust and William Keros, who opened American Coney Island and Lafayette Coney Island next door to one another in Detroit. At Lafayette, menu choices are simple: chili, fries, chili fries, loose hamburgers (burgers with the beef not packed into a patty, sometimes called a "loose") or the classic coney.

Po Dog (Seattle, WA)
Advertising “Hot wieners in sweet buns” — endless opportunities for bad puns are one of the many perks of the hot dog biz — Seattle’s Po Dogs serves up gourmet grilled dogs (Hebrew National beef, veggie or sausage) in brioche buns.  A wide variety of toppings and an impressive lineup of specialty dogs include standouts such as the BLTA (the A for avocado) and the gut-busting, bacon-wrapped Deep Fried Danger Dog topped with sauteed onions and chili sauce.

Pulliams Barbeque (Winston-Salem, NC)
Though barbecue is in the name, Pulliams, open since 1910, is known foremost for its legendary hot dogs. The bright red hot dogs are topped with chili, creamy coleslaw, mustard and onions and placed in a bun toasted on the grill.

Zack’s Hot Dogs (Burlington, NC)
Zack's Hot Dogs has served up Carolina-style chili dogs to downtown Burlington since Zack Touloupas took over Alamance Hot Wienie Lunch in 1928. Could there be a more perfect lunch than a chili dog with slaw, wrapped in a slice of American cheese and washed down with a glass bottle of Cheerwine — sweet nectar of the Carolinas?

 

National Taco Day Links

Happy National Taco Day! Tacos continue trending towards global domination, and who are we to stand in their tortilla-wrapped way. Though the celebration of this quite possibly perfect food need not be relegated to one day, there's certainly been an outpouring of great taco-related content on the web today. Below are some tasty links paying tribute to the taco. 

Jonathan Gold of the LA Times came up with a fairly challenging taco quiz. Glad to know there's a minor league baseball team with a puffy taco for a mascot. 

There's no shortage of bacon love across the interwebs. But one gas station delicacy rarely given its proper due is the Choco Taco. The folks at Dude Foods have married their love of the former with the latter in a sinful, sweet-salty hybrid food with The Bacon Weave Choco Taco. Wow.

Pete Wells weighs in on the pitfalls of the sit-down restaurant taco. Expectations for pricier restaurant tacos often cause problems, not to mention the time it takes tacos to get from the kitchen to your table. More reasons why the taco truck remains one of mankind's greatest achievements. 

Food & Wine provides 24 taco recipes (warning: slideshow). Quite a photogenic foodstuff. 

Serious Eats guides you through the best tacos on Chicago's South Side. 

Following an introduction about the recent spat between LA and New York food writers about taco superiority (sorry, New York — you're not coming out on top of this one), The Village Voice names Five Spots for Great Tacos in NYC.

Go forth and consume tacos, be they crunchy, soft, corn or flour tortilla, filled with goat, marlin, cactus, Korean BBQ or spaghetti.

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Local Restaurant Picks from the Cast and Crew of ABC's Nashville

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ABC’s Nashville returned for its much-anticipated second season Wednesday night. And though (spoiler alert), there were no character casualties to season one’s cliff-hanger car crash, all signs point to a continuation of dramatic plot developments along the lines of love triangles, paternity issues, backroom political machinations, closeted cowboys and impromptu duets all over town.  All the theatrics, singing and on-location staging must be exhausting to all involved, so we couldn’t help but wonder where the cast and crew eat, drink and re-fuel in Music City (aside from the craft service table) when they’re not on set. We surveyed a few parties on the inside to find out which restaurants the cast and crew frequent. Below are some of their favorites.

Breakfast/Coffee

Crema

Downtown Rutledge Hill's Crema coffeehouse takes its expertly crafted coffee and espresso drinks seriously. Coffee beans come roasted from local purveyors, with pastries, sandwiches, bagels and quiche also locally produced.

Fido

Named in honor of its previous occupant (a pet store), this oft-packed, longtime Hillsboro Village staple boasts an excellent breakfast/brunch menu featuring the likes of fantastic breakfast burritos, the Huevos Cubano, and the always reliable Eggs McFido — scrambled eggs, choice of cheese (cheddar, Swiss or cream) on a bagel.

Noshville

Inspired by its New York City brethren down to a miniature Statue of Liberty on the roof of its Midtown location, native Nashville owner Tom Loventhal's Noshville aptly recreates the sights, sounds and most importantly the taste of a classic deli.

Lunch/Casual Dining

12 South Taproom

The Taproom is an ideal neighborhood spot for craft beers on tap, reliably good live music and expertly prepared pub food. Families, beer nerds and bearded cycling enthusiasts alike pack the funky indoor dining space and the sizable patio.

Arnold's

Kingpin caretaker of the meat-and-three genre, owner Jack Arnold has handed the reins to his son Kahlil, who oversees the daily activity at this unassuming iconic eatery just south of downtown. Shake a hand; make a friend at this place: You and your banana pudding-laden tray may be sharing a table in the cozy confines.

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Brown’s Diner

Proudly serving “the coldest beer in town,” this classic Nashville trailer-turned-restaurant still turns out one fantastic burger — simple, unfussy and cooked medium-well on a griddle with plenty of character. A pitcher and a burger won’t set you back much here.

Five Points Pizza

East Nashville’s Five Points Pizza did a bang up job creating a cozy little bi-level space you'd want to sit down in and linger over a pie and a couple of beers. As for the excellent pizza itself, the thinnish, chewy yet slightly crispy crust really steals the show.

Hattie B's Hot Chicken

Hattie B's provides a convenient Midtown option for those wanting to take on Nashville's most beloved indigenous foodstuff: hot chicken. Though the quarter breast plate is the traditional way to go at most hot chicken joints, Hattie B's particularly excels with their sizable hot tenders (pro tip: ask for a bottle of honey). 

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Mitchell Delicatessen  

This tiny Inglewood sandwich stalwart has cultivated a devoted following from East Nashville and beyond. The curried chicken salad, turkey bacon avocado and Asian flank steak sandwiches come highly recommended, though it’s difficult to go wrong.

Dinner/ Upscale Dining

Rolf and Daughters 

Rolf and Daughters has drawn early praise from the likes of Bon Appetit magazine for what chef-owner Philip Krajeck has described as 'modern peasant food.' What, pray tell, is modern peasant food? Think hearty, European-inspired, locally sourced fare. The sublime garganelli verde is not to be missed.

City House 

City House sports multilevel seating and an expansive chef's table/main bar: all the better to watch James Beard Award-nominated chef/owner Tandy Wilson and crew work their magic with contemporary rustic Southern-influenced Italian cuisine in front of a wood-burning oven. Required eating: the octopus appetizer and belly ham pizza.

The Southern Steak & Oyster

Named one of Esquire magazine's Best New Restaurants of 2012, The Southern manages to be country and citified at the same time, not unlike a lot of the hit tunes cut in Music City recording studios.

 

11 Great American Donut Shops

There may not be a more perfect food than donuts. But you need not sell your soul a la Homer Simpson just to get your hands on the ideal fried, glazed pastry. We've spotlighted some of the country's best donut shops, from classic mid-century spots that never change to places that are reinventing the donut as we know it, testing size limitations and piling on unorthodox toppings. 

The Buttermilk Drop (New Orleans, LA)

You might recognize owner Dwight Henry from his role in the critically acclaimed film Beasts of the Southern Wild, but he's been a baker far longer than he's been in the acting game. Locals eagerly line up at his Seventh Ward restaurant, The Buttermilk Drop, for beignets, glazed donuts, king cakes, and most of all the signature buttermilk drops.

Dominique Ansel Bakery (New York, NY)
Whether you'd wait two hours for one or you're growing weary of the hype and media saturation, there's no denying that Cronuts, the much ballyhooed hybrid creation of former Daniel pastry chef Dominique Ansel, have made an indelible impression on the country's donut and pastry landscape. 

The Donut Hole Cafe & Bakery (Destin, FL)
When it comes to breakfast at the beach, there's nothing better than a box of donuts. This longtime Destin favorite is happy to satiate your early morning sugar cravings with red velvet, apple crumb, and vanilla and chocolate angels among popular choices. Locals swear by the key lime pie as well. 

Dough in the Box (Marietta, GA)
Marietta hidden gem Dough in the Box is an old-school mom-and-pop donut shop owned by Jesus Balestena and his wife Diana — former customers of the same shop who liked it so much they bought the place. They open at 5 am daily to serve up their signature apple and blueberry fritters and sour cream old-fashioned donuts (these sell out quickly).

Dynamo Donut & Coffee (San Francisco, CA)
Specializing in raised yeast cake doughnuts, ever-popular Dynamo Donut & Coffee may be best known for its maple-glazed apple doughnut topped with crispy bacon bits. Other inventive varieties include Chocolate Star Anise, Lemon Sichuan, and Molasses Guiness Pear.

Gourdough’s (Austin, TX)
Gourdough's doles out some of the world's wackiest donuts from a vintage Airstream Trailer to the delight of Austin's late-night noshers. These fried-to-order monster donuts come in flavors such as The Carney (apple pie filling, cream cheese icing, caramel and peanuts), Heavenly Hash, and the Mother Clucker (topped with fried chicken strips and honey butter).

Home Cut Donuts (Joliet, IL)
In the far southwest suburbs of Chicago, Joliet's Homecut Donuts, founded in 1966, delivers everything you'd want in a classic, old-school donut shop. Kids, old men reading the paper at the counter and hipsters looking for a late-night bite all adore Home Cut, particularly their glazed cherry cake donuts, apricot-filled donuts and angel cream eclairs (pictured below). 

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Mighty-O Donuts (Seattle, WA)
Cholesterol-free vegan donuts?? Don't declare "blasphemy!" until you've taken on one of the dense heavyweights at Seattle's Mighty-O Donuts. These decidedly non-wimpy donuts come in varieties such as French toast, coconut-topped chocolate (the Don King), and pumpkin-spice (available seasonally).

Nickel Diner (Los Angeles, CA)
Fashioned into a 1940s-style diner, Nickel Diner draws crowds of hungry hungry hipsters and downtown brunchers with its quick service, bottomless cups of coffee and solid diner fare. Their delicious, hefty Maple Bacon Donut has garnered attention and accolades from many food publications, but don’t sleep on their Irish Car Bomb Donut (pictured below) filled with whiskey-cream.

Irish Car Bomb Donut

Tato-Nut (Ocean Springs, MS)
Family owned and operated by the Mohlers since 1960, Tato Nut in downtown Ocean Springs survived Katrina (much to the relief of its many devotees), although you can still buy oblong "Katrina Pieces" from the pastry case. Locals happily line up out the door for their unique potato-based donuts, from their classic glazed to Persians, a cinnamony honey bun-like treat. 

Voodoo Doughnut (Portland, OR)
Piling up accolades from countless magazines, TV shows and frosting fanboys, Portland's Voodoo Doughnut just may be the world's most famous donut shop at the moment. In large part responsible for the trend of new-school donuts with outrageous toppings and flavor combinations, Voodoo features the likes of Bacon Maple Bars, cereal-topped donuts, and the raspberry-filled, chocolate-frosting topped voodoo doll-shaped donut.

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Since 1995, "Where The Locals Eat" and LocalEats dining guides have featured locally owned restaurants across America. From the finest steakhouses and sushi bars, to classic burger joints and roadside barbecues, LocalEats recommends unique restaurants to suit every taste and price range. More
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