It took me about 10 minutes to find the entrance to Wee’s Cozy Kitchen, a Malaysian restaurant in Austin that I’d heard great things about. I already knew that Wee’s was located in the back of a Shell gas station, but there were no signs—at least none I could see—on the window, and the building just looked like…well, a gas station. Sure enough, though, past the rows of chips, the well-stocked fridges of beer, opposite a display of wine and Michelob Ultra, was a counter service restaurant serving up all my favorite Malaysian dishes. The beef for the rendang was generously seasoned and cooked overnight, served next to a huge mound of fragrant coconut-pandan rice. The char kway teow (a stir-fried rice noodle dish) was lightly charred and doused with tongue-tingling white pepper. I was very happy, and I barely noticed the dinging bell and clacking cash register as people entered and left the station.
Not everyone can be so lucky as to eat a transcendent Malaysian feast surrounded by $5 bottles of wine, but our staff did pretty well. In March, the BA staff’s standout restaurant meals included fried shrimp sandwiches, luxe Italian dishes served beneath the streets of New York, and a lot more. Read on to see where we’ve been eating and loving this month. —Elazar Sontag, restaurant editor
Multiple locations, Atlanta
Before I ate at Fishmonger, there were two reasons I had high hopes for the seafood market-meets-café. First, that their Caesar salad with blackened grouper was endorsed by Barack Obama, and second, that BA executive editor and Atlanta-native Sonia Chopra loved the restaurant so much that she’d brought me back a neon T-shirt after her visit. But even with high expectations heading in, Fishmonger managed to thrill me from the moment I arrived at the Pullman Yards location. I don’t know if it was the salty tobiko topping, just the right kick of heat from Calabrian chili in the dressing, or the very fresh, very well-seasoned grouper, but I’d like to eat that Caesar salad every day. Other delights spanned chili oil-dripping peel-and-eat shrimp, bright and citrusy bay scallop crudo, and a miniature key lime pie that was mostly graham cracker crust and whipped cream (my two favorite parts of the dish). Everything was simple, thoughtful, and downright delicious. It didn’t hurt that in early March, when we’re still making our way through slush in New York, I was able to enjoy this next to a firepit outdoors on a warm Atlanta evening. —Kate Kassin, editorial operations associate