Filet mignon and roast chicken have their place, but for more adventurous diners, it’s all about the offal.
Offal, a word with Germanic origins, literally means off-fall, referring to the cuts of meat that would fall off of a carcass as a butcher worked. These bits, including edible internal organs and entrails like liver, kidney, heart, and intestines, are prized by chefs and people around the world for their unique textures, flavors, and nutrient-rich makeup.
Luckily, it’s becoming more and more common to see offal popping up on menus across the country. From new American to traditional Thai, you can try some expertly prepared offal at one of the ten restaurants below.
At Animal in Los Angeles, you can enjoy offal in traditional and more modern preparations. Classic chicken liver toast shares the menu with veal brains cooked with vadouvan, apricot purée, and carrot. Foodie-favorite poutine is topped with oxtail gravy, while veal tongue is paired with pickle, salmon roe and black mustard. From nose to tail, there’s lots to love on Animal’s menu.
The Publican‘s menu features an entire section devoted to vegetables, but when your vegetable section includes little gem lettuce with a crispy pig’s ear, you know you’re in a place that takes its offal seriously. Skip the three choices of aged ham and instead try the duck hearts with pepper jelly, boursin, persimmon, and toast or the spicy pork rinds. If you want a taste of everything, go for the charcuterie plate, which includes porchetta di testa (seasoned, cooked and lightly cured pig’s face), blood paté, and foie gras.
Stephanie Izard’s The Girl & The Goat is a great bet if you’re looking for an upscale offal experience. From duck tongue with tuna and black bean poke, crispy wontons and piri piri to a wood oven-roasted pig face, you’ll leave feeling satisfied. And you can’t forget the goat liver mousse, served with apple giardiniera and pickled melon rind.
This Agentine-inspired Portland restaurant features multiple animals from nose to tail. Start your meal with grilled lamb heart flatbread and spiced, braised beef tripe with octopus, or try some charcuterie – choose from fried oxtail terrine, smoked beef tongue with sweetbread croutons, or foie gras terrine. For dinner, try the meal for two which includes sweetbreads and chorizo, or enjoy some of the house-made blood sausage from the grill.
From outspoken offal lover Chris Cosentino and his partner Oliver Wharton comes Cockscomb, a bar and restaurant that truly appreciates all that an animal has to offer. Try the “Hot Mess,” featuring foie gras, trotters, charred dates, and garam masala, and Grandma Rosalie’s tripe with tomato, chili, and mint. You can also opt for the butcher’s choice offal, which changes daily.
Forget the pad Thai – at Sapp Coffee Shop, it’s all about the soup. From a funky boat noodle soup thickened with blood and topped with liver, tendon, and fried pork skin to the noodle soup with pork, pork liver, and fish balls, lovers of funky organ meat will leave Sapp Coffee Shop with a smile on their face.
Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen and Bar revels in nose-to-tail dining. Start your meal with a charcuterie plate featuring paté de campagnard and rabbit rillettes, then move on to blood sausages made in-house. For the truly adventurous, go for a “Whole Beast Feast.” Groups of up to 12 diners can enjoy a meal that showcases every part of the hog, beef, or lamb – your choice.
At Craigie on Main, pork is king. The menu changes seasonally, but you can always count on an order of crispy-fried pig’s tails, served with pickled peanuts and nuoc cham to start your meal on the right foot. But the real heavy hitter on the menu is the confit and roasted milk-fed pig’s head for two, served with Peking pancakes, spicy pumpkin sambal, and blood sausage hoisin sauce.
You’ll get your fill of organ meats and offal at Holeman & Finch in Atlanta. From bone marrow, veal brains, and Ossabaw headcheese to foie gras torchon and duck boudin blanc, the menu has something for everyone – everyone who loves meat, that is.
A favorite of Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern, Fu Run offers up no shortage of tasty offal. Lamb stomach with red oil, pork skin jelly, and marinated pork intestines only scratch the surface of this extensive, organ heavy menu. Warm up with a bowl of lamb tripe or pork stomach and sour cabbage soup, then make your way through a plate of crispy lamb kidney with chili pepper. And if it’s pork you crave, you’re in luck – at Fu Run you can enjoy every part of the pig, from intestines to liver, kidney to blood, stomach to elbow. Yes, elbow.
Justina Huddleston is a food writer living in Los Angeles. When she's not writing for Menuism or SheKnows, she spends her time in the kitchen creating both virtuous and decidedly junky vegan food. Buffalo chickpea pizza, anyone? She's also been known to eat a plain block of tofu or beans straight out of the can for lunch, but somehow those culinary adventures don't make it to her Instagram. You can follow Justina on Twitter or see what's cooking in her kitchen on her blog A Life of Little Pleasures.