What are Brian Canlis’ favorite restaurants?

Obviously, I’m partial, especially to Eleven Madison Park. And full disclosure: Will Guidara was my roommate in college and one of my best friends to this day. We constantly spar back and forth to each other, send photos of food, and steal each other’s secrets. There are many things in his dining room that are directly stolen from mine, and I steal things from him all the time. I stole my chef from him; I took Daniel Humm’s sous chef as my executive chef. They just challenge us in an amazing way.

The most surprising and exciting restaurant experience I’ve had was probably in Shanghai at Din Tai Fung. But it does soup dumplings that elevate you to a different level of consciousness. I’ve never been happier eating food than I was having soup dumplings at Din Tai Fung. You have to wait in line forever and it’s worth every second.

There’s a restaurant on Lummi Island, which is in Washington State, called The Willow’s Inn. You have to drive a couple hours from Seattle and then take a ferry that holds about 10 cars to get to this restaurant. It’s a young chef named Blaine Wetzel, who trained at Noma for many years. He’s kind of doing Noma, but in his own very Northwest cool way on this little island, where they’re foraging everything from this island. The seafood is mind-blowing. It’s one of the greatest tasting menus, I think, on the West Coast right now. It’s really worth a journey.

I’m kind of blown away by Meadowood right now down in Napa. Chris Kostow is killing it. I think we’re doing great things, then I go have dinner there and I want to cry and hit my head on the table. They continually are pushing to the next level. I love Meadowood right now.

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