Poutine is a fairly standard French-Canadian dish of fries and oddly springy cheese curds topped with brown gravy. It's a pile of salt, crunch and more salt with a hit of umami — perfect for soaking up that one-beer-too-many. Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo's hipper-than-thou restaurant Animal took the Quebeçois standard and upped the oomph factor by not a small amount, changing it to a heady extravagance. The medium thick–cut fries and sharp cheddar cheese become a thatched golden resting place for a braised oxtail that is so rich and robust that it compels many diners to make that obnoxious “mmmmm” sound. It's been on the menu since the place opened in 2008 — and remains a consistent source of cravings. 435 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax District. (323) 782-9225, animalrestaurant.com.

—Rachael Narins

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