She’s a James Beard Award winner and the first woman to win Bravo’s “Top Chef,” but what matters most to Stephanie Izard is that diners at her Chicago and LA restaurants have a blast. “I want people to laugh, eat lots of flavors, have lots of great drinks, and enjoy,” she says.
Izard, known for her nose-to-tail whole-animal cuisine, opened her first Chicago restaurant, the immensely popular Girl & the Goat, 13 years ago. With its open kitchen and family-style menu, it’s a hang-out spot with high-level food. “For me, it’s all about the experience,” she says. You want to feel this warm welcome, and I want everyone to have fun as soon as they walk in the door.”
Girl & the Goat was followed by the Little Goat Diner (temporarily closed as it transitions to a new location), Duck Duck Goat, where Izard branched out to Chinese American food, and the lively Peruvian-inflected Cabra, on the roof of the Hoxton Hotel.
After resounding success in Chicago, Izard went west, expanding her culinary footprint to Los Angeles, where she opened a second outpost of Girl & the Goat in 2021, and the following year replicated the rooftop experience of Cabra at LA’s Hoxton.
To Izard’s surprise, the West Coast culture shock she was bracing herself for — as she moved her family to California and dug into creating Girl & the Goat 2.0, located in LA’s Arts District — never materialized. “I thought the vibe would be so drastically different,” she says. “But the space we found has such a similar vibe to the West Loop in Chicago, and it felt so right,” she says.
The sister restaurants’ menus do have some differences. In Chicago, the roasted pig face — the cheeks, snout, and tongue of a pig rolled up like a porchetta and finished in a wood oven — remains the signature dish. In LA, goat curry is the go-to. Izard’s affinity for offering not-so-mainstream meats got a warm welcome on the West Coast. “We thought LA people were going to want to eat chicken breasts and salad, but the people who come in — they go after it,” she says. “We actually sell more of our goat liver mousse in LA than we do in Chicago.”
A Chef Dines Out …
Not surprisingly, when Izard goes out to eat, she likes dining in restaurants with a friendly ambience similar to that of her own restaurants. And once seated, she likes to try as many items on the menu as possible. “Even if a restaurant doesn’t serve shared plates, that’s how I order,” she says. “I try to go out with a few people so we can fill the table with as many different flavors as we can.”
Izard also loves dining in restaurants where you can tell the people working there love their jobs. “It’s amazing when the people guiding you through a night at a restaurant are as excited as you are,” she says.
… and Orders In
Now that she lives in car-dominated LA, ordering in is a time-saving bonus for this busy mom and entrepreneur, who is also the author of two cookbooks and the creator of a line of meal kits and the globally inspired This Little Goat cooking sauces and spice mixes. Her most frequent dining companion is her 6-year-old son, Ernie. As you would expect with a kid who has a chef for a mom, Ernie is adventurous about trying Izard’s dishes, but there are limits, she says with a laugh. “He’ll try something and then say ‘I think I’ll like this when I’m 8,’” she says. So: takeout time!
A favorite option for the two is Chinese food. “Ernie loves the scallion pancakes from Dan Modern Chinese in South Pasadena,” Izard says. “The soup dumplings are great, so we press repeat on that.”
Also on her LA takeout list is South Pasadena’s Tokoro Japanese, with its classic sushi rolls, tempura, and noodle dishes. And everybody needs a pizza delivered now and again. In LA, Izard gets hers from Tomato Pie Pizza Joint.
When she’s in Chicago, Izard touts the takeout of her own Duck Duck Goat, where, of course, you’ll find goat on the menu in the form of duck and goat spring rolls and goat slap noodles — hand-pulled noodles with sliced goat shoulder, cumin, sichuan peppercorn, and hot chiles. (Ernie can get his scallion pancake fix here, too.) Her pizza of choice when she’s in the Midwest is Piece Pizzeria and Bakery. She’s also a fan of Honey Butter Fried Chicken. DoorDash and Caviar diners can order from collections of her favorite spots in both cities, as well as a number of others across the U.S., including Seattle, San Francisco, and Orange County, California.
“I love the convenience factor of ordering in and the fact that I can continue to play with my son and hang out at home,” she says.
That said, Izard also often opts for ordering in when she’s entertaining friends. “If you’re having a dinner party, it’s a fun way to go,” she says. “We put everything on the counter, we make a buffet, we fill our plates, and go back for more. We keep everything out all night and keep snacking.”
“Do I feel lazy? No. It’s amazing. It’s awesome when food is brought to your home. It makes me happy!”
A Few Other Fun Things to Know
When you get the chance to speak with Izard, the list of questions to ask is miles long. Go figure, but she can talk about food all day! We threw out a few quickie questions — and got a few quirky answers.
Are you team sweet or team savory?
“That’s nearly impossible [to answer], as I always mix the two together. I make a Chocolate French Fry Pie that tastes like a french fry dipped into a Frosty!”
Any places you dream of visiting?
“I’ve gotten to travel to cool places, but there are so many more places I want to go. I would say Korea is high on my list. I’m also thinking of bringing my chefs to Singapore to do some eating.”
If you had to choose, what would be your last meal?
“Probably french fries and yummy fresh fish. I’d definitely want to dip [that into] soy sauce.”
What’s one item you always keep in your pantry?
“Cheez-Its. I make a Cheez-It Crunch Cake, which contains an entire box in each cake. I could eat a box easily. This is why I go to the gym!”