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.

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10 Tips On How To Actually Enjoy The Gilroy Garlic Festival

From the first moment many years ago when I heard about the Gilroy Garlic Festival – a festival designed to celebrate garlic in all of its many uses – I knew I had to go at least once in my life. I am a garlic-lover after all, even though you may recall that my recent visit to a world famous garlic-centric restaurant in San Francisco ended with disastrous results. But, I figured if any place could redeem the concept of garlic worship, the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival would be it. My move this year to San Francisco put me in close enough proximity to this Winston Wanders bucket list destination and provided the perfect opportunity to make my much-awaited garlicky pilgrimage to the Garlic Capital of the World.

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This Just Might Be The Worst Restaurant in San Francisco

Let me say this up front – I truly do LOVE garlic. But, I still wasn't really sure what to expect from a place that prides itself on being a "garlic restaurant". The Stinking Rose and their garlic-focused menu are very famous – famous enough that I had heard about them long before moving to San Francisco. I knew that pretty much every item on the menu was going to involve garlic, I was just hoping they'd be able to transform and highlight the featured ingredient in interesting and delicious ways. I really wasn't sure if this place was actually going to be good or if the garlic thing was all gimmick and schtick. All I knew for sure was that I had to check it out for myself.

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Epic Organic Hot Dogs & Sausages Reign Supreme at Underdog in the Inner Sunset

DSC_4830_editWhat would the Fourth of July be without hot dogs? I'd say NOTHING. Yeah sure, you could eat a hamburger or a steak or something, but for me there's nothing more essential than a grilled hot dog or sausage on a bun to celebrate America. If you live in San Francisco and you want the very best, you better take a trek out to the remote Inner Sunset neighborhood to get your fill at Underdog.

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Eat Your Heart Out with Offal Thoughts & Other Brilliant Gastropub Fare at Liquid Bread in Campbell

I've already gushed on this blog about how much I love Liquid Bread in Campbell on my first visit. Staying in the area once again, I figured it was worth a second trip to try some more of their incredible creations. I knew, in their skilled hands, I'd be fine ordering just about anything so I chose a few dishes that wouldn't ordinarily entrust to a less skilled and proven restaurant to pull off.

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Old-World Formality & High-End Cajun Cooking at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans

DSC_3356_editWhen'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.

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Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View

By this point I think I've proven that I'm passionate about ramen. My time in NYC has given me plenty of opportunities to learn what I love and what makes a great bowl. So now that I'm spending most of my time in Silicon Valley, there's no reason not to hunt for that perfect bowl out here as well.Since I'm working in Sunnyvale and Mountain View is a short eight minute drive from the office, that always seems like an obvious and easy choice for a post-work meal. Feeling a bit ill and in need of a great bowl of curative soup, I decided to find a good ramen joint in town. After a bit of research, I decided on a shop called Maru Ichi which sounded like it would serve exactly what I needed.

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Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal

DSC_3107_editLocated only one block from Stanford's the restaurant-lined Palo Alto main drag, University Avenue, you will find an unassuming Italian restaurant called Vero. With its tall, vaulted, wood beamed ceiling, candlelit dining room, and open kitchen, it’s quite an inviting restaurant to spot passing by. Though most guests were dining inside, we opted for one of their outdoor seats to take advantage of the miraculously warm early-March Californian weather.

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Seriously Great Greek near Stanford at Evvia Estiatorio in Palo Alto

DSC_2832_editOK, I’ll admit it, I’ve been having a tough time finding great restaurants over these weeks I’ve been spending in Silicon Valley. I’ve found a few gems that I’ll be sharing with you all soon, but it ain’t easy. However, there are a couple densely populated ‘downtowns' that help when hunting and downtown Palo Alto is one such example.Stanford University is located in Palo Alto, so there’s an actual restaurant row like you often find in college towns. After asking a local Palo Alto-based friend for dinner advise and receiving a glowing recommendation, we ended up at an upscale Greek restaurant called Evvia Estiatorio. It’s hard to pass on a claim that Evvia is the best restaurant in Palo Alto so our group of six headed there on a Monday evening to check it out for ourselves.

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