Best Chef Off-Strip

Angelo Sosa of Poppy Den

Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

Most restaurants serve old wine in a new bottle; that goes double for places off-Strip. But Angelo Sosa breaks the mold at his Tivoli Village restaurant, with personal spins on a number of dishes we’re familiar with, and a number of delicious ones we’ve never seen before. Sosa, a Top Chef runner-up with a natural affinity for media, might be a star even if he weren’t a cooking talent. But his training with mentor Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Prime, and many top restaurants around the world) taught him to use spices and technique like a sculptor uses his chisel. Take something as basic as tomato soup, which he tops with a thick curry cream to reduce the acidity, resulting in an irresistible flavor combination. The usually workmanlike Caesar salad is original, relying on smoked whitefish instead of the anchovies. Sosa also does Chinese pot stickers, Korean-style short ribs and many Asian dishes, but he also does American. His shrimp and grits would put most Charleston cooks to shame, but the Poppy Burger is an oddball treat, spiked with sweet and sour pickles, a fried egg and a Korean kimchi cheese sauce. He’s got good desserts, too. Sosa’s strawberry shortcake swaps tres leches cake for the normal biscuit, and it all works like a charm. This is a chef with flair and imagination. In Tivoli Village, 440 S. Rampart Blvd, 802-2480.

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