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....