Chris "CJ" Jacobson

As a two-time 'Top Chef' alum, Chris "CJ" Jacobson has made a career out of beating the odds. First, he became a 6'8" professional volleyball player. Then, a testicular cancer survivor. Next, he served as an apprentice at Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, widely considered one of the best restaurants in the world.

The longest odds he's beat thus far? Perhaps it's opening up his own restaurant -- Girasol in Studio City, Calif. -- which he's just done to some glowing reviews. Here are CJ's five favorite restaurants:
The Oxford - Missoula, Montana - "Though I have only eaten there one time, it left an impression. There are few restaurants that serve calf brains and eggs with a shot of Wild Turkey. This illustrious dish, coupled with ambiance of cigarette smoke and video poker make this Missoula landmark one of my faves."
Momofuko Ssam Bar - New York, NY - "Everything I've eaten at this place is incredible and inspiring. Chang's menu, from pork buns to the country hams, always make me wonder how it has not been done before. His cuisine is so free and uninhibited."
The Slanted Door - San Francisco, CA - "I've always loved to cook, but after eating at The Slanted Door, I became enthralled. The vibrancy, texture, and strength of the flavors drove me wild. How did they create these flavors? I was hooked."
Sotto - Los Angeles, CA - "Everything I eat at this Italian eatery is chronic. Their bread with lardo is one of my single favorite dishes in Los Angeles. It's always a great place to go for pasta and market-inspired fare."
Ink - Los Angeles, CA - "The modern American food Michael Voltaggio and his chef de cuisine, Cole, cook up is the freshest and most original food in L.A. They have a forager, they experiment, and they inspire. It's the place I go when I want to be blown away."