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LGBT contributions to the dining table have long been a fixture of American cuisine. After all, the most distinctive awards in the culinary industry are named for gay cookbook author and teacher James Beard, foodies have long flocked to the small screen to watch Cat Cora on “Iron Chef America” and legendary New York Times food critic Craig Clairborne was also out during his lifetime. These days, the queering of the kitchen is happening all over the place as more and more culinary stars come out of the closet—or should we say cupboard?—to dish out top-notch eats. Here are 7 top LGBT chefs that are queering thedining scene and where to taste their creations.

RELATED: 26 LGBT vacations to take before you die

 

Elizabeth: Chicago, IL

Named for a sibling who passed away, out chef Iliana Regan’s foodie hangout is anything but somber. For a fine dining restaurant it’s actually surprisingly whimsical—albeit pricey. Guests choose from one of several tasting menus ($125-$165 per person) and pay in advance using the restaurant’s ticketed system (a common phenomenon in Chicago‘s finest restaurants), but the high price point is where the formalities end. Elizabeth is a refreshingly informal experience where diners nosh on locally foragedgoods and this includes artful edibles such as a potato puff constructed with chocolate and green snail roe that has been locally gathered. Elizabeth guarantees an adventure—if at a somewhat high cost.

Mockingbird Restaurant

Mockingbird Restaurant | Photo courtesy of Mikey Corona

Mockingbird: Nashville, TN

This upscale diner is slated to open in November in Nashville‘s Gulch neighborhood which means local chow hounds need wait just a little longer before sinking their teeth into the city’snext great eatery. Mockingbird is the brainchild of “Chopped” judge Maneet Chauhan (Chauhan Ale & Masala House) and husband team Brian Riggenbach (chef) and Mikey Corona (front of the house) who cut their teeth in Chicago for more than a decade with their stellar Yo Soy supper club. The boys hit it big when Riggenbach took home the top prize on “Chopped” which led to a deal with Chauhan to open a casual and relaxed modern diner featuring comfort foods galore coupled with punches, frozen cocktails and adult milkshakes. Now if it would just open already!

Prune: New York, NY

There was a time when it seemed like every restaurant of distinction in Manhattan had a male chef at the helm, but thankfully Gabrielle Hamilton came along and busted up the boys club with her teensy East Village hot spot Prune, which opened in 1999 and has been a neighborhood darling ever since. Winner of the James Beard Award for Writing and Literature, her memoir Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, in part chronicles her attraction toward women. But her sexual orientation is the last thing anyone is thinking about while waiting for what seems like hours on a Sunday to score a table and enjoy Prune’s much-hyped brunch, which includes incredible Bloody Marys and a menu in which there are no losers.

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Preeti Mistry

Photo courtesy of Preeti Mistry

Juhu Beach Club: Oakland, CA

It was only a matter of time before San Francisco’s justly ballyhooed food scene drifted across the Bay into nearby Oakland, which these days is chock full of top “nosh” eateries, including Commis, Wood Tavern and now Juhu Beach Club in which openly lesbian chef Preeti Mistry injects her punk rock sensibilities into authentic Indian cooking. Look for beefy baller, Chowpatty chicken and pork vindicated sliders paired with large plate offerings like a lamb biryani that serves up to three people. As for Mistry—who came to the Bay Area via Toledo via Orlando via London—if you’re hoping to catch aglimpse of her in the kitchen just look for a slender, skinny jeans clad lady with a faux-hawk.

Jason Grimm

Jason Grimm | Photo courtesy of Stefan Pinto

Norah: West Hollywood, CA

When Norah swung opens its doors on Santa Monica Boulevard earlier this year, the foodie blog Eater commented that it was “charming the pants off of the West Hollywood dining scene,” but it seems the only pants that are coming off belong to the cook whose Instagram feed and recent feature in the Advocate are heating up much more than the kitchen. While it’s his stints as a go-go boy that may have WeHo boys salivating, it’s his cooking (under the direction of Norah chef Mike Williams) that has everybody else drooling including a menu of New American fare with items like hand-torn maltagliati with smoked ham, black pepper and sage or a duck liver mousse with smoked onion jam. Regardless of what’s on the menu, we know what we want for dessert.

Monica Pope

Monica Pope | Photo courtesy of Beaver’s Houston

Beaver’s Houston: Houston, TX

Say it isn’t so! We were downright crestfallen when we learned of the sudden closing ofSparrow Bar & Cookshop which closed suddenly for legal reasons back in April. Nevertheless, we’ll be biting our nails down to the nub as we await the next venture from out chef Monica Pope. In the meantime we’ll content ourselves with the cheekily named Beaver’s Houston, a place for “dam fine food,” according to the restaurant’s website. A much more low key eatery than Sparrow, Beaver’s nevertheless adds to the Houston culinary landscape with causal fare such as the beaver wedge (a bibb lettuce salad dressed up with blue cheese, bacon and a deviled egg), or one of a half dozen dangerously enticing mac ‘n’ cheeses like the étouffée with spicy crawfish.

Chef Susan Feniger

Chef Susan Feniger | Photo courtesy of Border Grill

Border Grill: Los Angeles, CA and Las Vegas, NV

You’d have to be insane not to love the Border Grill, the intimate family of modern Mexican eateries that have locations in Los Angeles, LAX Airport, two food trucks and two restaurants in Las Vegas—at both Mandalay Bay and the Shops at Caesars Forum. The brainchild of chef and restaurateurs Susan Feniger (who is openly lesbian) and Mary Sue Milliken, Border Grill is beloved, at least by us, for its ridiculously addictive unlimited small plates brunch ($34.99) featuring inventive fare such as churro tots with chocolate ganache and passion fruit puree or a pigs in a blanket stuffed withchorizo and manchego cheese sauce. Our favorite location is at Mandalay Bay—overlooking the pool and right next to the famed Shark Reef!

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Tagged: California, Las Vegas, Midwest, New York

Jason Heidemann

Jason Heidemann

Jason is an associate editor at Orbitz, a social media marketing consultant and a freelance cultural reporter for numerous publications. His works has been featured in the Huffington Post, Time Out, Passport, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and many others.

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