By Suzanne Ledbetter, The Fine Foodie Philanthropist
What makes Lincoln Center such a foodie destination? The answer is everything. From the swanky vibe, to top notch restaurants and the thirst-quenching cocktails, there are so many reasons Lincoln Center is an epicenter for foodies. As a food and wine writer, I dine out quite a bit. But when I’m looking to have some serious eats, I head to Lincoln Center, where I can find so many of my favorite spots to eat, drink and relax. I hope you will follow along as I share some of the best foodie finds our region has to offer!
Papapavlos Bistro and Bar
What isn’t to love about Papapavlos? I love the open floorplan, ample bar seating and exposed kitchen. I love that it’s a family run business and that the service is always on point. But what always brings me back is their food! As San Joaquin County’s premier Greek restaurant, there is literally something for everyone’s taste buds on the menu. The salads are always made with fresh ingredients, and have you had their signature salad dressing? It’s the perfect blend of lemon juice, olive oil and secret spices. My all-time favorite dish is their Flaming Cheese. I mean, who doesn’t love a block of kasseri cheese doused in ouzo and lit on fire tableside. It’s a throw back to the days where restaurants presented dishes as theater, and it’s one I want tickets to. I’m also a huge fan of their calamari. It’s lightly crusted, and pan seared with butter, garlic, mushrooms and herbs—this plate is packed with flavor. And if you have room when its all said and done, go for the baklava cheesecake. The sweet layers of buttery baklava are the ultimate match to the rich and creamy cheesecake in a sugar cookie crust.
This place has it all. An eclectic menu, killer cocktails and a chill vibe. I like to hit up Market Tavern on Friday afternoon with a girlfriend to wind down the week. The first thing I do is ask for the cocktail menu, because their bar game is on point. With a master mixologist like Arezou behind the bar, you can count on drinks crafted from seasonal ingredients with an inventive flair. One of my favorite summertime sippers is the Havana, an ode to Cuba’s rich rum history! Its effervescent, herbaceous and boozy—just the way I like my drinks. As for the grub, we always, and I do mean always, order the bacon and kale pizza! It’s garlicky goodness and the drizzle of honey take this pizza to next level status. And while there are so many tasty dishes to choose from, I recently stumbled upon a new menu item that knocked my socks off. The pork belly fried rice is unbelievably tasty, with crispy, tender chunks of pork belly, edamame and savory bok choy. Be sure to order it with a fried egg and Chef’s spicy sauce. It might make you sweat, but I promise it’s worth it to experience the perfect marriage of flavors.
Prime Table Steakhouse
This swanky steakhouse delivers the best in fine dining. The luxurious green leather booths combined with old world charm, make this the ultimate place to celebrate something special. Start with one of their newest cocktails, A Star is Born. An exclusive libation made with absolute elixir and cotton candy—trust me! Its sexy, strong and just the drink to get your celebration started. And since I know I’m going to indulge when dining at Prime, I usually start with the blistered shishito peppers. Chef Nick DiArenzo knows simple ingredients make a winning combo, which is why he seasons the peppers with Hawaiian lava salt and fresh lemon juice. But let’s be honest, we come here for the steaks. Where else can you find certified 60 day dry-aged steaks? These gorgeous cuts of meat are everything beef should be. I tend to go for the 16 oz. bone-in ribeye because I love the added flavor from the marbling of fat that melts as it cooks. You also must order a few of their delectable sides to accompany your aged steak. Some of our favorites are the loaded baked potato and the brussel sprouts with cauliflower, onion and bacon. It’s a marriage made in heaven. If you aren’t a red meat lover, that’s ok. You can choose from Mary’s chicken marsala, buttery salmon or cauliflower steaks. Honestly, they are all delicious!
Bud’s Seafood Grille
If you haven’t been to Bud’s Seafood since they renovated the restaurant, make plans to get there this weekend. It’s bright, welcoming and still as delicious as ever. With new summertime sippers on the menu, try the Titanic. It’s a spiked berry lemonade made from a tasty blend of strawberry vodka, raspberry liqueur, lemon juice and Cointreau. You can thank me later. I also love to start with the Shrimp stuffed avocado. The fleshy green goodness is stuffed with Bay shrimp, celery, green onions, dill and parsley. For lighter fare, you simply can’t go wrong. And while so many of my dining buddies go for the legendary Bud’s Beef (it is delicious), I can’t help but choose something from the seafood side. With so many fresh-fish options, it’s tough to choose. But since I’m a sucker for Sand Dabs, I order up a heaping plate. It’s my go-to fish dish and it’s not something you see very often on local menus. Lucky for us, Bud’s delivers in a big way with a lightly breaded version, sautéed to perfection and delicate as a flower.
Midgley’s Public House
Feeling like you want to indulge? Look no further than Midgley’s Public House for the ultimate comfort food with a twist. Depending on my mood, it’s a serious toss-up between the avocado fries and the poutine. I mean first of all, when do you ever see avocado fries on a menu? Exactly! They melt in your mouth and are served with a spicy siracha ranch that I wish Midgley’s would just sell in a bottle. When it comes to lunch, there are simply too many delicious dishes to choose from. I adore their wedge salad because it’s practically a meal in itself. The hearty combination of bacon, blue cheese, hard-boiled egg and tomatoes is almost too good to be true. On the other hand, if I had to pick a staple, it has to be the steak sandwich. Chef Midgley layers a tender 10 oz. New York steak with caramelized onions, blue cheese and zingy A-1 on a crusty ciabatta roll. Garnished with lettuce and tomatoes, this dish is a behemoth of flavor! I’d also be remiss if I didn’t tell you about their bar scene. It’s lively, welcoming and down right delicious. I’m a huge fan of M.P.H Vodka Soda. I know it sounds simple, but it’s perfectly balanced. Crafted from Beluga Noble Russian Vodka, apple, pear, honey, rosemary and soda water, this libation is packed with flavor without all the calories. It’s a win-win if you ask me!