At their still-unmarked Fairfax enclave, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo have maintained—even honed—their knack for rejiggering comfort food into balanced, thoughtful dishes that leap with spurts of acid and fat. Charred onion pho dip with tendon puffs could rule any Super Bowl spread, while the truffled toad-in-a-hole resembles an amplified riff on the croque madame. Whether armed with pig’s ears, poutine, or bone marrow, this creative duo has done for dude food what The Simpsons did for cartoon comedies. Take note, lofty gastropubs: Chances are Animal has already covered it, and better.
X-Factor: “He’s more of an artist than a handyman,” says Animal’s Jon Shook about Louis Gabriel. The woodworker, a friend, tends to everything from the tables (he made them) to the din (he designed the acoustic panels).