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restaurant ramen soup
Jamie Ditaranto

9 Single-Dish Restaurants Worth Traveling For


You won’t be deliberating over the menu or wishing you chose a dish the table next to you got at these nine restaurants. That’s because they all only serve one thing—so you know it’s going to be good.

Oat Shop: Somerville, Massachusetts

Some people think of oatmeal as gruel; others consider it a delicacy worthy of opening a restaurant around. The owners of Oat Shop in Somerville are the latter, serving up solely bowls of oats. You can, however, top your oatmeal with a wide variety of toppings, including an espresso shot, kale chips, or bacon.

Rice to Riches: New York City

Think rice is a boring side dish? Then you’ve never been to Rice to Riches, a New York City restaurant that offers rice pudding and nothing else. This single-dish restaurant spices up the dessert by offering wacky flavors like Coffee Almond Afterthought, Hazelnut Chocolate Bear Hug, and Fluent in French Toast that can all be topped with even more flavor (including toasted buttery pound cake, seasoned mixed nuts, or espresso crumble). One bite got you addicted? You can join their rice pudding of the month club, and opt to receive an “epic” amount (14 oz.) or a “sumo” size (40 oz.).

Melt Room: London

You could make a sad grilled cheese at home in your frying pan, or you could stop by Melt Room in London and get a mac and cheese melt or any other of the innovative sandwiches on offer. As a tourist, it’s probably your duty to order the extremely British Fish & Chips Melt, followed by a Banoffee Melt for dessert.

Ichiran Ramen: Shibuya, Japan

One humble type of ramen launched an empire for Manabu Yoshitomi, who started serving his tonkotsu ramen from a stall in 1960. His pork-based soup was so popular that he eventually opened up a store, in which customers had one choice of ramen that could only be customized by adding on extra noodles/egg/pork, and would be enjoyed in solo booths so no one could see them slurp. Ichiran now has over 65 locations across the world, all spooning up just one style of ramen.

Top Dog: Berkeley, California

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Get a dog or get out at Top Dog, where the menu is all meat in a tube (or wheat protein in a tube if you’re vegetarian). Choose from frankfurters, kielbasa, hot link, or other types of dogs, and you’ll get it on a basic bun that you can top with condiments for free.

mac Bar: New York City

Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, so when you need to dive into some carbs head to macbar to get it served up any way your heart desires. Purists can order “the classic” (elbow macaroni, American and cheddar cheese), or get a little wild with the “mac’shroom” (roasted mushrooms, fontina, mascarpone, truffled essence) and the “mac quack” (duck confit, fontina, caramelized onion, herbs).

Le Relais de Venise: Various Locations

At Le Relais de Venise, you have just two decisions to make: how you want your steak cooked and which wine you’d like to pair with it. There’s no menu: Each diner is served a green salad appetizer followed by steak frites, and that’s all that’s on offer. The single-dish restaurant started off in Paris in 1959, but the concept was so popular that it’s expanded to locations in London, New York, and Mexico City.

PBJ.La: Los Angeles, California

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches may conjure up memories of school lunches, but those were probably never made with espresso peanut butter and dark chocolate raspberry jam (and if they were, I want to meet your lunch-maker). PBJ.La takes the humble PB&J sandwich to the next level, offering creations like the Chocolate Haze (chocolate hazelnut butter and dark cherry chianti jam) that justify charging between $5 and $9 for a high-class spin on a classic.

Yang’s Braised Chicken and Rice: Various Locations

You know exactly what you’re walking in to at Yang’s Braised Chicken and Rice, as the entire menu is found in the name. Here, you’ll order braised chicken with rice and you’ll like it or leave, as that’s all they serve. You do get to choose your heat level, as the clay pot dish can be made either mild or spicy. With more than 6,000 locations across China, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and the U.S., Yang’s knows how to do chicken right.

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Caroline Morse Teel would open up a macaron shop as her single-dish restaurant. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for photos from around the world. 

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