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5 Rare Restaurant Orders You Should Never Miss Out On, According to Chefs

Must-try, legendary, top-tier dishes you need brought to your table.

When a chef walks into a restaurant, it is understandable if it takes a bit of creativity on the menu to impress them. Whether it's a well-made dish or a unique combination, some items are just destined to be favorites to anyone that is a foodie, much less a professional. What dishes are so rare or incredible that they can't be missed? A few chefs shared with us what they find irresistible on a menu when they see it.

Iliana De la Vega is the James Beard award-winning Best Chef 2021 and owner of El Naranjo in Austin, Texas. The awards don't stop there. She was also a James Beard Semifinalist for Best Chef, Texas in 2020 and Best Chef, Southwest in 2019. The Mexican government awarded Chef De la Vega the prestigious Ohtli Award in 2014 and she functioned as the Culinary Institute of America's first Mexican/Latin Cuisine Specialist. The city of Austin also gave her the title of Hispanic Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014.

With so many accolades, it could take a lot to make a chef like De la Vega excited for dinner. For her, it's all about the flavor.

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"If I ever see tongue or snails on a menu, I immediately order those. Tongue is the most delicious, tender meat with a delicate mild beef flavor," she said.

For those not familiar with tongue as a protein choice, it's eaten around the world. Harvested from many different animals like pig, cow, or lamb, it is often slow-cooked to be tender. Tongue is seen in many Latin American recipes. Chef De la Vega likes any way that it's served in a sauce, "Any preparation in any sauce would work for me—anything from a rich mole, to tacos or even French tomato wine sauce."

dish of snails

De la Vega doesn't find snails on a regular basis, but when she sees them, she always orders them immediately.

"I absolutely love them. French style with lots of garlic, parsley, and butter is my absolute favorite way to eat them, but I have tried Vietnamese, Spanish and Italian styles. I'm always open to exploring new flavors and preparations when it comes to snails."

The Jones Oyster Company is scheduled to open this January in foodie haven Greenville, South Carolina. Rodney Freidank works as the Corporate Chef of Table 301 Restaurant Group and is heading the new project. This isn't his first effort in the area.

After a full career in the early days of Greenville's food scene, he stepped into the position of corporate chef, working with the teams who developed Papi's Tacos, the Fall For Greenville food festival winner in 2021 and Passerelle Bistro, among others. All this work helped him win local culinary awards and the title of South Carolina Hospitality Association's South Carolina Restaurant Manager of the Year.

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Freidank has three must-order dishes.

"I will always order frog legs because you never see them on a menu anymore, soft shell crab, because the next day they're gone and braised lamb shank because it's so labor intensive and takes serious love to make."

Agree or disagree with their choices, these two talented chefs know what is a pleasure to order for themselves. In these cases, both are happy to have someone else cook these favorites whenever they are available.

Jessica Farthing
Jessica Farthing is a freelance writer lucky enough to live on the coast of Georgia. Read more about Jessica
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