Does the thought of eating bugs make your skin crawl? That might change soon.
Earlier this month, Justin Timberlake served ants and grasshoppers at an album listening party. And it’s quite common globally. Insect-eating, or entomophagy, is big in most parts of the world, including Central and South America as well as Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
Now chew on this—many types are healthy, as they are high in protein, healthy fats and fiber. It’s also a fantastic eco-friendly option. Compared to the meat industry, entomophagy leads to more efficient feed conversion, less greenhouse gases, better water conservation, improved animal welfare and reduced risk of disease.
Still unconvinced? Let’s dig deeper with six U.S. restaurants cooking up the delicacy. Who knows, you might end up enlisting one for catering, using them as a venue or even stopping by for a bug bite.
Don Bugito—San Francisco
Don Bugito, also known as the Prehispanic Snackeria, focuses on planet-friendly protein snacks made from food native to the American continent. The San Francisco-based company transforms insects using a wide variety of flavor notes. From spicy chili to sweet chocolate, their products are an eccentric, eco-conscious and delectable addition to any swag bag.
Housed in a restored Latin building, Hugo’s uses an authentic Mexican style technique. All food components are made from scratch. When it comes to bugs, grasshoppers go gourmet as they’re sauteed in a pan and served with guacamole, tortillas and chipotle tomatillo salsa. Hugo’s offers off-site catering and can host special events.
3. Sushi Mazi—Portland
Sushi Mazi is a local family restaurant, dishing out some of the best sushi in the city. The culinary team values experimentation with new methods and ingredients. Their unique grasshopper sushi is widely praised, and pairs perfectly with sake. Although they don’t take reservations, groups can comfortably sit in the space. Just be sure to get there early!
4. Toloache—New York City
Owned by chef Julian Medina, Toloache is a colorful, contemporary Mexican bistro in Manhattan. Get a crunchy dose of bugs with their Oaxacan-style dried grasshoppers, onions, cilantro, jalapeno and salsa verde tacos. If drinks are what you seek, Toloache provides an impressive selection of tequilas, imaginative margaritas and mezcales (worm not included).
Nue describes its mission: “As avid travelers and insatiable eaters, we set out to build the same kind of casual gathering, food and drink place we consistently frequent while abroad, but for whatever reason, can never quite find back home.”
Nue’s Thai Mang Da Na is the best example of this approach. Forewarned on the menus as “for the ‘adventurous’”, the dish is made of Thai water beetles with hints of fruit, flower, candy and salt.
6. Bug-Appetit—New Orleans
Located in the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, Bug-Appetit allows guests to observe chefs incorporating bugs. Now through Lundi Gras, the cafe is serving Cricket King Cakes, which is a signature delicacy of the carnival season. Team building can begin with an Audubon Nature Institute visit and end with a shared, novel experience.