A few years back, I was living in the East Village and Alphabet City area and was truly disappointed and amazed to find that that section of the city was utterly and hopelessly bagel-less. What a travesty! I was forced to trek the ten blocks north all the way up to Gramercy to get a decent bagel. Obviously that doesn't sound like a hell of a lot of distance these days compared to my current bagel trekking situation on the West Coast, but back then that seemed like an extraordinary hike for a simple bagel in New York.
What a year!! I did something like this last year too, but oh boy was 2014 a doozy. I started off living in NYC, then a started a new job that whisked me off the San Francisco and Silicon Valley for a few months before ultimately relocating to San Francisco permanently. And along the way, I squeezed in a couple of vacations too. Sooooo, I did a LOT of epic eating this year. And truth be told, I found it particularly difficult to narrow down my list as concisely as last year's, but I somehow managed. So, without further ado, I present the winners (and runner-ups) broken down by category. I tried to cluster similar dish types together, but really they are in no particular order. Let's begin! And if you wanna hear about the 2014's Best Cocktails, read more here.
*Editor's Note 10/15/15: I'm sad to report that Purple Ginger has permanently closed. In NYC, people love to wait in lines. Brunch lines often last over an hour and I'm not down with that. I like to have places that I can get into on a moment's notice. I've been going to Purple Ginger since it opened but it's perpetually empty. This has nothing to do with the food, it's top notch. It has everything to do with their location on 6th and B which clearly doesn't get enough foot traffic for a restaurant like this to survive. Even on a Saturday at 12:30 in the East Village during peak brunching hours, it was pretty much empty. What I'm saying is, go. Because with food so consistently delicious and generously portioned, I don't want them to fold.
*Editor's Note: I'm sad to report that this restaurant is no longer open. Special occasions – not just regular date nights, but occasions like a girlfriend's birthday or an anniversary. Where would you go on these kinds of nights? For me, I think and talk about food and restaurants all the time, so my criteria might be a little different than most. I don't want to pick a trendy, super-popular place. I was to pick something unexpected, something a little off the beaten path, but it still obviously must have excellent food, with great ambiance, and ideally be reasonably priced.