Big Star, in Chicago, is a “bourbon and beer-focused, taco-slinging, late-night honky-tonk,” according to creator Paul Kahan.
Alongside its centerpiece single barrel bourbon menu, Big Star serves a variety of beers on tap.
Chef Van Lente's menu is short and sweet, and includes a dozen tacos.
Leon's Oyster Shop, in Charleston, S.C., is a counterpoint to the city's more illustrious and upscale French-influenced seafood restaurants.
Leon’s carefully designed dining room is flea-market chic without veering into kitsch.
Besides oysters, Leon's menu includes fried chicken and this burger.
The idea for Max's Wine Dive, with locations in Texas, Atlanta and Denver, came from a neighborhood dive bar around the corner from the Manhattan apartment shared by founders Jerry and Laura Lasco a couple of decades back.
An extensive wine list belies Max’s dressed-down vibe.
“Fried chicken and champagne? Why the hell not?” is the hook at Max’s Wine Dive.
Olio, in St. Louis, is another chic dive located in a former service station.
Zucchini Carpaccio: roasted, then marinated zucchini with fresh herbs
The front office of the former Standard Oil filling station was the natural choice for Olio’s small bar.