Winner: Santa Monica Hot Fish
Restaurant: STRFSH, Santa Monica, Calif.
Food cost: $2.40
Creators: Michael and Bryan Voltaggio
Ingredients: In the style of a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich, this is Alaskan cod, dredged in flour and dipped in a batter spiked with Santa Monica Brew Works IPA and fried. The fish is then rubbed in a Nashville hot spice mix that includes cayenne, sweet paprika, onion and garlic powder, sugar and oil, which are simmered to allow the spices to “bloom.” The fillet is served on a bun with lettuce, pickles and housemade tartar sauce.
What makes it special: The chef-brothers Michael and Bryan Voltaggio opened the fast-casual STRFSH in 2018 and this year partnered with Los Angeles-based K2 Restaurants to grow the brand. The Voltaggio brothers developed the Santa Monica Hot Sandwich initially as a limited-time offer, but it quickly became a best seller and now serves as a core of the permanent menu. Because of its popularity, the seafood concept now also serves a Nashville-style Hot Chicken Sandwich as well.