Protein takes center stage when guests request big, shareable plates.
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The Hot Stone Stew—Caldo de Piedra—on Denver’s Super Mega Bien’s family-style menu is inspired by Oaxaca, Mexico. For the $28 dish, fresh fish is cooked tableside with vegetables and an aji pepper broth that’s then served with tortilla chips. Owners Tabatha Knop, Dana Rodriguez, and Tony Maciag say this dish works well because it is fun, unique, and interactive—and there’s plenty for the whole table to taste.
Pictured is whole fried MacFarland Springs Trout, pickled ginger, Japanese mushrooms, and bearrs lime butter from The Progress.
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Buying six lambs per week and working his way through them, Stuart Brioza at The Progress in San Francisco switches up his lamb platter often. One example, priced at $85, is lamb grilled over coals with eggplant, topped with labneh-chili cucumber and black butter figs. Pictured is Lamb Merguez with yellow eye beans, octopus, and crispy squid.
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Majordōmo’s Whole Plate Short Rib is the highest-ticket item on the menu for $190. The smoked, bone-in ribs are served in-tact with a knife along with beef rice, shiso, rice paper, and ssämjang at the Los Angeles restaurant.
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Poultry takes the Middle Eastern route at Cindy’s in Chicago. One of the most popular large-format dishes at the restaurant is the whole Smoked Green Circle Chicken served with pickled elements made in house, Tunisian couscous, squash, and Persian lime jus for $85.
Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City, however, serves up its birds fried. The $150 Fried Chicken dish feeds four to eight people and includes two whole fried chickens—one Southern-style, one Korean—plus mu shu pancakes, carrots, radishes, bibb lettuce, sauces, and an herb basket.
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The duck platter at The Progress is the restaurant’s most popular, by far, Brioza says. Served with spicy peanuts, Thai basil, and smoked chili vinegar, the barbecued half duck sells for $65 and the restaurant usually goes through about 140 portions—70 ducks total—per week. “People love duck because it's something that they don't cook at home,” Brioza says. “It's slightly exotic and fatty. Duck is essentially the pig of the bird world.”
Likewise, one of Super Mega Bien’s most popular dishes is a Peking, China-Latin America roasted duck mashup, which is chipotle-honey glazed and served with housemade flour gorditas and pickled cabbage for $38.
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Miss Mary Bobo’s in Tennessee has its ham and Super Mega Bien serves a killer Puerto-Rican-inspired pork shoulder—Pernil de Cerdo—but the large-format pork dish that has garnered arguably the most press over the years is Momofuku’s Bo Ssam, which is available at multiple restaurants with slight variations in size and garnishes. At the Ssam Bar in New York City, the meal meant for six to 10 people will run a party $250. A pork shoulder is slow roasted for six to eight hours and glazed in brown sugar. It’s served with a dozen oysters, white rice, bibb lettuce, Korean-style barbecue sauce, kimchi, and ginger scallion sauce.