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.
For Stanford students, there's only a few bars that everyone goes to. One of the biggest nightlife hotspots is NOLA, an aggressively Mardi Gras themed bar and restaurant that's gaudily decorated with scattered dangling beaded necklaces. It's the kind of place that I'd normally write off at first glance, assuming they'd only be able to make stupidly sweet and strong alcoholic punches and serve shitty bar food, but that assumption would be wrong.
When's the last time you put on a suit to go to dinner? I can't really remember the last time, but I think it may have been my sister's Bat Mitzvah 10 years ago? And yeah, I was probably wearing the same suit. In my experience, I've found that New Orleans is an amazing place to visit whether you're looking for great music, great dining, or great drinking. But, if you're looking for a really special meal, there's one very famous restaurant that seems to keep on living in a completely different, older era. This restaurant, Commander's Palace, is housed in a Victorian mansion right in the middle of the primarily residential Garden District neighborhood and has been a staple of the New Orleans fine dining scene since 1880. As you could imagine, many famed chefs have passed through these kitchen doors including the esteemed New Orleans celebrity chef, Emeril Lagasse.
Last December, on a two-day trip to New Orleans, I had one of the most incredible meals of my life at Cochon Restaurant. We indulged in a variety of amazing specialties like Fried Alligator, Fried Boudin, Rabbit & Dumplings, Sweet Potato & Hog Jowl Casserole, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. After spending two days in rural Opelousas, Amy and I drove to New Orleans for a 24-hour stopover and made sure to have a reservation to return to Cochon for another insane meal. Located in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, only about a 15 minute walk south of the chaos of the French Quarter, Cochon, helmed by executive chef Donald Link, serves up mighty fine, upscale takes on hearty, Southern and Cajun cuisine. Whether you're in town for Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, or for no particular reason at all, I urge you to make Cochon one of your dining destinations.
Like I said in my previous post at Palace Cafe, a friend’s wedding brought me to the literal middle of nowhere Opelousas, Louisiana. As it often occurs at weddings, many drinks were drunk which led an absurdly hungover morning. Before hitting the road to embark on a two hour drive to New Orleans, we knew needed some comfort in the form of a hearty, greasy fried food-filled meal. A quick search of the Opelousas area led me to discover a little shop called Kelly’s Country Meat Block & Diner, more commonly referred to as Kelly’s Diner.
I had always heard great thing about Sugar Freak, but had never before had a reason to trek out to Astoria to check it out for myself. Sugar Freak is located on 30th Avenue, a bustling, gentrified strip of Queens that is lined tons of energized bars and restaurants highlighting a variety of nationalities, cultures, and cuisines.
This year I had the pleasure of experiencing two of the many events being held for New York City Wine & Food Festival. This is a massive three-day festival with with well over 50 different events taking place in a variety of locations around the city. Over the weekend, my girlfriend Amy and I attended two of the events, first on Friday night up near Columbus Circle for Thrillist's Barbecue & The Blues hosted by Robert Irvine followed by Sunday in Astoria, Queens for Oktoberfest presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats and hosted by Andrew Zimmern. To say I was excited about attending each of these events would be an understatement.