Mike Winston’s Best Meals of 2015

Yes, I know this year-end list is beyond belated. Actually, I’m probably over a month late. Normally, I’m not one to make these kinds of excuses, but my life has been pretty hectic lately.

As you may or may not know, I’m getting married in a couple of months, so my time has recently come at an extreme premium and I haven’t been able to commit as much attention as I’d like to this little publication obsession. With that being said, over the next couple of months, I’ll be playing around with post style and formatting a bit in an attempt to find new ways to rapidly pump out awesome food articles with fewer publishing limitations on my end. Please feel free to give me feedback on the new content — I’m planning to review this little experiment in a few months and we can take it from there.

In any case, despite my less frequent posting over the past couple of months, I’ve still been eating up a storm. I’ve spent most of my time in San Francisco, but I’ve also been on a number of excellent trips around the country. So, without further ado, here’s the best of the best from the past year.

#10

Green Chile Kitchen

DSC_9368_edit
The Reason:
New Mexican cuisine has a lot of similarities to Mexican food, but the food at Green Chile Kitchen just feels special. Everything is so freaking good and I can always manage to convince myself that their fresh New Mexican dishes are actually healthy. Their Green Chile Stew has also become an indispensable staple of my diet — I get one almost weekly.

Read the full post about Green Chile Kitchen.

#9

Wing Wings

DSC_6309_edit
The Reason:
You may know these guys for their ridiculously good fried chicken at their Off The Grid stall. But, the real reason they make the list is for their very reasonably priced and utterly outstanding Angry Korean Wings that totally live up to all the hype. Get a basket (or two) of the spicy, funky wings along with plenty ranch and blue cheese dipping sauces — I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Read the full post about Wing Wings.

#8

Gracias Madre

DSC_6723_edit
The Reason:
This is the very first place to truly make me believe that vegan food doesn’t have to suck. Honestly, this vegan Mexican food is really good and proves that vegan food can actually be incredibly delicious when prepared by skilled chefs with great ingredients.

Read the full post about Gracias Madre.

#7

Huck’s

DSC_7514_edit
The Reason:
Huck’s may be waaaaaay off the beaten path on the Oklahoma border of North Texas, but this down-home eatery it never fails to fulfill my deep-fried desires. The fried hush puppies are great, as are the fried okra, but the stars of the show are always the monstrous slabs of fried catfish.

Read the full post about Huck’s.

#6

Cane Rosso

DSC_7528_edit
The Reason:
Very simply, you have not lived until you’ve licked a metal personal-pan pizza platter so as not to waste any little bits of spicy bacon marmalade. This Dallas pizza shop knows how to make damn good Neapolitan pies, but you’re gonna want to order off-menu to experience the best they have to offer.

Read the full post about Il Cane Rosso.

#5

Dat Dog

DSC_7138_edit
The Reason:
At this brightly color hot dog shop, hearty drunk-food gets amped up to 11. There are a ridiculous number of globally-inspired topping to choose from and a wide array of local sausage styles, but if you can’t narrow it down the chefs will be more than happy to create a decadent monster-piece for you. Chef’s Choice is my favorite way to go.

Read the full post about Dat Dog.

#4

Barley Swine

DSC_6066_edit
The Reason:
I think that the rapid-fire 12-course tasting menu at this Austin hotspot is probably the best way to understand what’s hot in the culinary streets through the eyes of bunch of super-genius Southern hipster chefs. Artistry doesn’t even begin to describe this food and there’s almost always some sort of vinegary Southern flair in every dish.

Read the full post about Barley Swine.

#3

Stones Throw

DSC_7355_edit
The Reason:
That epic burger. Dear lord, that burger. There’s lots of other delicious things to order at this Russian Hill date night spot too, but for sure don’t miss that absurdly good burger.

Read the full post about Stones Throw.

#2

Red’s Chinese

DSC_6996_edit
The Reason:
The chef at this New Orleans Bywater Asian Creole crossover used to work at SF and NYC’s Mission Chinese, so the stylistic similarities are no coicindense. For me, it’s all about their super-satisfying, sticky, spicy, Asian-fusion fried chicken . I literally lay awake at night thinking about this dish.

Read the full post about Red’s Chinese.

#1

Cockscomb

DSC_9333_edit
The Reason:
Celebrity Chef Chris Cosentino’s new SoMa restaurant is a shrine to all things meat. My dinner was a meat-fest of epic propositions that included some of the most interesting offal dishes I’ve ever had along with a nightly special whole chicken that had been breaded and deep-fried with its head and feet still intact. Just ridiculousness all around.

Read the full post about Cockscomb.



Superlatives

The Most Fun Interactive Dining Experience:

Grabbing plates off of the literal sushi boats at Isobune.

The So Hot It Practically Melted My Face Off:

Who knew that the combination of bird’s eye chiles and raw shrimp at House of Thai would be so mf-ing hot?

The Best Wayyyy Off-the-Beaten-Path Hidden Gem Find:

The street tacos at the La Gitana truck were both too-legit-to-quit and wayyyy out in the middle of nowhere in the Callistoga woods.

The You’ll Either Love It or Hate It:

Let’s just say that the offal-loaded pork blood broth soup at Zen Yai Thai isn’t for everyone.

Best Late-Night Eats To Intensely Regret The Next Day:

Pro-tip: The deep-friers at Bob’s Donuts are running hot between the hours of 11 PM and 2 AM.

Most Blind-Rage and Fury-Inducing Meal of the Year:

Never have I paid so much for such abysmal food in my life than at The Stinking Rose.