Forget peanuts! The new gourmet bar bites will up your game.
These days the best seat in the house is often at the bar. We’re talking about insanely elevated tavern standards reimagined by serious chefs with topnotch ingredients, modern techniques, and damn-near pornographic visual presentation. So put down that rubbery mozzarella stick or pathetic chicken finger, and pair your next round of brews with one of these must-eat morsels…
1 THE NOMAD BAR New York City
Instead of jalapeño poppers… SCOTCH OLIVES
A play on the Scotch egg, these addictive little sodium bombs from chef Daniel Humm are practically begging to be downed with a few cold beers. Sicilian olives are stuffed with feta, wrapped in lamb sausage, pankobreaded, then deepfried to golden greatness. Get ready to pop them like pain pills after an ACL tear.
2 PUBLIC HOUSE Las Vegas
Instead of Buffalo wings… BUFFALO PIG TAILS
Chef Anthony Meidenbauer’s twisted tribute to the classic wing uses pig tails—braised, fried, and glazed with a spicy Calabrian chili sauce— as a stand-in for the bird. Buttermilk dressing and crisp radishes far outshine the usual blue cheese and celery chasers.
3 CHAMBERS EAT + DRINK San Francisco
Instead of potato skins… TATER TOTS
The middle-school lunch staple gets a very adult porcine makeover. Chef Trevor Ogden serves his imposing pyramid of crispy spuds with spicy pork rémoulade and magical “bacon dust,” which swine-ophiles will want to sprinkle on every subsequent meal.
4 TAVERN LAW Seattle
Instead of pork rinds… HAM & CHEESE CRACKLINS
A $1.99 bag of chicharrónes can’t hold a pork-fat candle to chef Brian Mccracken’s featherlight cracklins. Crunchy and salty, they’re the ideal vehicle for a side of gooey, truffle-infused cheese sauce.
5 WIT & WISDOM Baltimore
Instead of shepherd’s pie… MICHAEL’S MAINE LOBSTER POTPIE
Chef Michael Mina turns a stick-to-your-ribs pub classic on its head— literally. (It’s served inverted, with its filling on top.) Chicken is replaced with generous chunks of lobster meat, while a decadent pastry crust hides underneath. A bath of brandied cream sauce studded with truffles and wild mushrooms provides the ridiculously rich finish.
6 SWIFT’S ATTIC Austin
Instead of fried calamari… SQUID FRIES
Tired of dunking your calamari in marinara sauce? Chef Mat Clouser churns out remarkably tender squid in steak-fry form, with roasted-garlic aioli, herb salad, and a charred lemon. Pair it with a pint from Swift’s solid craft beer list, and continue raising your bar-food game with their chicken-fried quail and pig-tail tacos.
Skip that sketchy bowl of peanuts, and seek out these upgraded barstool bites instead.