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The tharkari plate at Big Elephant's Kitchen

Image: Kelly Clarke

Big Elephant Kitchen's Tharkari Plates & Samosas 

This cheery little Fijian kitchen scores with long-simmered family recipes that make good use of India’s spice cabinet, with mountainous tharkari plates of mix-and-match stews and dals big enough to share and still tote leftovers home. Don't forget to add on tasty, oversize, super-chewy samosas packed with hunky curried peas and carrots. They are literally what a Hot Pocket ought to be. 

Mini “Babka” at Coquine

Yes, Coquine’s smoked almond chocolate chip cookies are the shit. But we’ve got a new pastry obsession: it’s a sort of miniaturized babka (that marvelous Eastern European chocolate bread), made with yeasty dough, baked with roasted apples, and folded into a tight, sugar-glazed bun.

Slappy Cakes Buttermilk + Chocolate DIY Pancakes

Embrace December’s chaos of holidays and houseguests as an opportunity to combine two things most humans enjoy: bad art and pancakes. Slappy Cakes servers arm families with squeeze bottles of house batters (vegan and gluten-free available) and myriad toppings, crank up the tabletop grills, and keep the spicy Bloody Marys coming for the elders. Pro tip: ante up for both buttermilk and chocolate batter for high-contrast pancake art. (You haven’t lived until you’ve nibbled the ears off a fresh griddled Totoro.) Are they the best tasting flapjacks in town? Nah. But damn it if they aren’t the most fun. 

Seafood Cavatelli at Bar Casa Vale

One of our 2017 Restaurants of the Year is still finding its feet after a chef changeover, but already we’ve got a new favorite: seafood fideos, made with chewy, sauce-grabbing cavatelli, steeped in a rich, deep tomato sauce with heaps of fresh Monterey Bay squid and savory clams, and a healthy dollop of garlicky aioli at the center.

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