One problem with the recent glut of food television is that there are only so many restaurants to cover travel-related shows hit the same spots again, and again, and again. It's hard to blame the restaurant owners, since continued national TV exposure is guaranteed to make business boom. But TV producers could stand to look a bit harder for their next spot to feature. Here, then, are ten restaurants that should take a break from the tube.
Shows:The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Meat and Potatoes, Unique EatsTop Chef winner Ilan Hall's downtown L.A. restaurant the Gorbals is a recent fixture in the food-tube sphere. It's barely been open two years and already it's been on at least three shows, all of which talk up his cheeky bacon-wrapped matzo balls. (So treif!) One thing a lot of Top Chef alums and winners probably don't need is more exposure.
The Doughnut Plant: New York City
Shows:Throwdown, Food Paradise, Best Thing I Ever Ate, United Tastes of America
Possibly the most overexposed doughnut shop in the nation, the Doughnut Plant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan has gotten airplay from Bobby Flay, Jeffrey Saad, and all the rest, and it also popped up on Ugly Betty. Granted, they make really awesome doughnuts — especially those crème brûlée things. But there are unheralded doughnut shops in Southern California that can run circles (or should that be rings?) around this place.
Philippe the Original: Los Angeles
Shows:Food Paradise, No Reservations, Man v. Food, The Best Thing I Ever Ate
Another overplayed stop on the national sandwich tour: Philippe's in L.A. It's actually one of two spots in L.A. that claim to be the originator of the French dip sandwich — the other being Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet — but this Chinatown spot has claimed the title as far as TV Food Land is concerned. Which is a shame, since Cole's, which closed for renovations and reopened in 2008, has quite possibly never been better.
Hot Doug's: Chicago
Shows:The Hungry Detective, America's Best, No Reservations, Food Paradise
No food show seems to be able to visit Chicago without a stop off for a Chicago red hot and duck-fat fries at Hot Doug's. Yes, it's good dog. But there really are a lot of other good Chicago dogs out there, and none require you to wait in the two-hour line you're practically guaranteed to encounter at Hot Doug's, thanks to its myriad television appearances.
Pink's Hot Dogs: Los Angeles
Shows:Throwdown, Food Paradise, Your OWN Show
Sure. Bobby Flay featured them on Throwdown and the models on one cycle of America's Next Top Model did a shoot there, posing suggestively with hot dogs. But Grub Street L.A. insists that the dogs here are just fine, and there are plenty of others in town — Let's Be Frank, Oki Dog — that deserve more attention. Alas, most food-TV producers have only ever heard of this place.
Katz's Deli: New York City
Shows:No Reservations, Man v. Food, Food Paradise, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Food Wars, that famous scene from When Harry Met Sally
By now, the whole world must think that if you want a good, old-fashioned, Jewish-deli-style pastrami sandwich in New York City, there is only place that serves them: Katz's. Why do shows spend so much time fixating on this one delicatessen? What, no Stage Deli? No Second Avenue Deli? For that matter, what about Mile End? Let's spread the love. There's a lot of pastrami left in this town.
The Ferry Building: San Francisco
Shows:No Reservations, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Easy Chinese: San Francisco, Giada's Weekend Getaways, Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels
Perhaps you haven't heard of this place — but that's only if you haven't picked up a food magazine or turned on the Food Network in the last decade. It's not technically a restaurant, but pretty much no show that makes a stop in San Francisco can skip it. Yes, the farmers' market is to die for (even Anthony Bourdain said "I wanted dearly to hate it," but he was won over). Now can we please move on to some other places with gorgeous heirloom squashes and purslane? The crowds would be crazy enough without the tourists.
Pizzeria Uno: Chicago (and Everywhere Else)
Shows:Giada's Weekend Getaway, The Secret Life of… Pizza, Pizza Paradise, Food Wars
We get it. Deep-dish pizza. It's really hearty and delicious, and it was born at Chicago's Pizzeria Uno. We're pretty sure we've heard the story before. Like on every single food-travel show. Even the sister restaurant, Pizzeria Due, was on Oprah. Surely everyone in the country, already familiar with the Uno chain since there are five locations in every city, gets the point, too.
Le Bernardin: New York City
Shows:Top Chef, Treme, Best Thing I Ever Ate, No Reservations, Celebrity Chef's, etc.
Even without getting its own story line on HBO's Treme, Eric Ripert's Michelin three-star temple of seafood has had plenty of airtime on Bravo, Food Network, and Travel Channel, too. Maybe it's for those baby-blue eyes of his, but the oh-so-French Ripert has become one of the most recognizable faces on television and a veritable ambassador for the New York food scene. How many more ways can TV tell the country that this place has impeccable service and top-notch food? Please move on to finding the next great restaurant.
Pat's and Geno's: Philadelphia
Shows:Food Feuds, Food Wars, The Best of..., Food Paradise
By now, everyone knows about these two cross-street Philly cheesesteak "rivals." Locals choose sides! They can't stand each other! We get it. Even putting aside the fact that most Philly locals don't go to these places for their cheesesteaks, the biggest problem is that the whole "feud," played up on show after show after show, isn't even real.