Self-taught chef and entrepreneur, Joey Hilty is opening the much-anticipated new Lawrenceville restaurant, The Vandal in June. Along with Mid-Atlantic Mercantile owner, Emily Slagel, the pair’s restaurant will feature a European-style lunch counter.

While working on The Vandal’s opening, Hilty is holding pop-ups like this Saturday’s run at Bread & Salt Bakery in Bloomfield.

Best meal Hilty had last week?

Best meal I had last week was at Chengdu Gourmet in Squirrel Hill. It was actually the second time I’ve gone in two weeks. Emily and I went a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s recommendation and we just had to go back.

When you eat at a Chinese restaurant, you really have to go with a lot of friends so you can try a lot of different things. You need to have all these contrasting flavors–it’s what makes for a good hangout session.

We ordered from the Sichuan menu—fried intestines, cumin lamb, Dan Dan noodles, and a whole bunch of dumplings. Then to keep it real, we ordered General Tso’s chicken too.

Everything was awesome. We bought a bunch a beer from next door and hung out.

Everyone we were with works in the restaurant industry and whenever we have a day off—we don’t want to eat anywhere else that’s remotely close to what you typically eat or cook. Too much anxiety involved with that. We want a totally different canvas of flavors. Sichuan food is definitely that.

Want more insider tracks on the best places to eat? Check out other Best Meals.

Leah Lizarondo

Leah Lizarondo is a food advocate, writer and speaker. She is also the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, an organization that seeks to eliminate food waste to make an impact on hunger and the environment. She is the Chief Veghacker, recipe creator and curator at The Brazen Kitchen, where she writes about food and food policy. She writes about the intersection of food, health, innovation and policy.