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Ribs and Greens at Emma’s BBQ

There are geek temples where barbecue nerds talk smoke rings, and there are hospitable joints like Hillman City’s new barbecue restaurant, where news clippings paper the walls and disposable clamshells overflow with tender ribs, mac and cheese that isn’t soupy, and a kale-collards combo so flavorful you can’t believe you’re having such strong emotions about cooked greens. The sweet potato pie tastes like Thanksgiving in summertime. —Allecia Vermillion

Pretzel Cube at Cubes Baking Company

This new Wallingford shop bakes everything, even salty-savory pretzels and traditionally swine-shaped marranitos cookies, into squares or cubes. Customers use tongs to pluck their own boxy baked goods, a la Mexican bakeries in Texas. Turns out being square means being on point, in more ways than one. —Rosin Saez

Club Sandwich at Vestal 2.0

Josh Henderson’s handsome South Lake Union dining room didn’t change when he switched to an order-at-the-counter format and lunch-friendly sandwich and salad menu. Chicken liver mousse upgrades an otherwise classic club sandwich (legit fries too). Praise be—the dynamite livieto e pepe pasta remains. —AV

Crispy Mussels Pancake at Bai Tong

A Southcenter favorite for homey Thai now has a Pike/Pine sibling with its own street food menu, where seared pork belly options abound. There’s plenty besides belly, like tender gems of mussel shrouded in crunchy layers of fried egg. Add sweet chili sauce and be transported, ever so briefly, to a sidewalk stand in Bangkok. —RS

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