Embraced by cooks all over the world, lamb has no boundaries when it comes to regional preparations. Here in the United States, chefs from coast to coast are serving this luscious meat, from lamb “pizza” and hot dogs to lamb curry and ravioli; here are nine standout dishes.
1. Crisp Lamb Filets with Chili Cumin at Szechuan Gourmet
New York, New York
The Manhattan outpost of this Queens standby brings Chinese mainland heat to the heart of the city. In the restaurant’s signature lamb dish, tender filets are coated and fried until crisp, then tossed with ground cumin, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, dried chiles, and scallions.
(212/921-0233; 21 West 39th Street, 10018)
2. Spicy Lamb Sausage with Sheep’s Milk Dumplings, Tomato, and Pine Nuts at Kefi
New York, New York
When Michael Psilakis was growing up on New York’s Long Island, one of his duties was to roast a whole lamb on a spit for his party-loving Greek family. Today, the chef and owner of three popular Greek restaurants still shows his affection for lamb. At Kefi, Psilakis sprinkles a flavorful merguez over house-made ricotta and manouri cheese dumplings (pictured above). The spicy lamb balances the creamy dumplings and tangy, barrel-aged feta that is grated to finish.
(212/873-0200; 505 Columbus Avenue, 10024)
3. Cognac-Infused Lamb and Pork Sausage at Hot Doug’s
Doug Sohn works with a local sausage maker and takes inspiration from his travels to Italy and France to redefine sausages at his famous “encased-meat emporium” on the north side of Chicago. The lamb and pork sausage, rendered slightly smoky by cognac and topped with a garlicky yogurt and spinach raita, is a globetrotter’s dream.
(773/279-9550; 3324 North California, 60618)
4. Lahmacun and Rotisserie Lamb at Cafe Divan
We’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite lamb dish at this Turkish restaurant in D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood. Both the lahmacun, a Turkish “pizza” topped with finely chopped lamb and a scattering of vegetables and herbs, and the whole roasted lamb, which is marinated with onions, milk, and oregano and slow-roasted over charcoal, are excellent.
(202/338-1747; 1834 Wisconsin Avenue NW, 20007)
5. Lamb’s Tongue at Palladio Restaurant
Inspired by regular trips to Italy, where she takes her staff every January to learn and sample the local fare, chef Melissa Close highlights the versatility of lamb at Palladio, whose owners also manage the winery attached to the restaurant. For an antipasto, there’s an open-face “sandwich” of red wine-braised lamb’s tongue: thin, warm slices are draped over a toasted baguette and layered with crisp pancetta, local watercress, heirloom tomatoes, and herbed aioli.
(540/832-3824; 17655 Winery Road, 22923)
6. Grilled Lamb Ribs with Green Tomato Relish at Patois
New Orleans, Louisiana
Tender lamb ribs are rubbed with coriander and fennel seeds and smoked in an electric smoker at this cozy New Orleans bistro. Grilled to order, they develop a crisp coating as the fat melts and caramelizes around the meat; the addition of a summery green tomato relish makes them even more irresistible.
(504/895-9441; 6078 Laurel Street, 70118)
7. Lamb Sausage Ravioli at The Kitchen
The organic grass-fed lamb served at this eco-friendly spot comes from **Fox Fire Farms******, located several hours south of Boulder, and forms the base for many delectable dishes, including lamb ravioli with spicy tomato sauce. The rose water- and harissa-flavored lamb and wood-fired tomato sauce add up to a meal that’s both comforting and exotic.
(303/544-5973; 1039 Pearl Street, 80302)
8. Lamb’s Fries Piccata at Incanto
San Francisco, California
Lamb testicles, anyone? With chef Chris Cosentino’s rustic Italian touch, this classic cut of meat, once prized by shepherds, is coated with bread crumbs and pan-fried until crisp in rendered bacon fat. To finish, a bacon-caper emulsion is drizzled around the plate; it’s a dish that promises to convert even the strongest skeptic to an offal aficionado.
(415/641-4500; 1550 Church Street, 94131)
9. Lamb Methiwala at India Quality
At this popular restaurant in Boston’s Kenmore neighborhood, don’t miss the methiwala—a thick curry of generous pieces of lamb leg stewed with onion, ginger, and fenugreek and served in a traditional Indian pot with basmati rice. Spicy, hearty, and complex, it’s the ideal dish for a cold winter evening.
(617/267-4499; 484 Commonwealth Avenue, 02215)