I absolutely love how full of super old school places the New Orleans high-end dining scene is. There are tons of these places that remain as popular, famous, and incredible as they were when they opened well over 100 years ago. But, of course, that's not all that New Orleans has to offer. There are plenty of young upstart chefs doing extremely innovative things, evolving the long-standing culinary traditions.
Can someone please explain to me why Austin is utterly overflowing with ridiculously good breakfast tacos and I can barely find expensive, passable versions anywhere else in the country. I mean, it's not like San Francisco isn't loaded with cheap and amazing Mexican joints and they certainly know how to put a great taco together. It's a mystery that I don't know if I'll ever solve.
Another day, another awesome, upscale dinner out in Austin. This place called Odd Duck is the sibling restaurant to chef Bryce Gilmore's also amazing, tasting menu-only hot spot Barley Swine which I had visited only a few night earlier. Similar to Barley Swine, the theme of this meal seemed to be small plates with either a pickled element, runny egg yolks, or both. The menu leans heavily toward Southern gastropub fare with plenty of clean, modern, cheffy flair and even a bit of molecular gastronomy trickery thrown in. The vibe of the decor matches the tone of the food with its use of mismatched country miscellany carefully arranged by an smart, upscale, interior designer's touch. This restaurant is pretty well known in the Austin food scene as one of the more exciting places to have a meal and it makes sense why. It has such an interesting menu that continues to experiment and evolve over time – the fervor is only going to grow as this place continues to get the industry recognition it rightly deserves like the James Beard Award Rising Star nod it just recieved.
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.
After knocking out two date nights from our NYC Bucket List and before relocating to San Francisco, we had time for one final meal with my family the evening before our departure. Public Restaurant was chosen by my mom firstly for it's super-convenient location in Nolita but mostly because, and I quote, "it sounds like it's got your kind of food". That could be taken any number of ways, but I'll just assume it's because the menu is loaded up with unusual sounding game meat and other interesting sounding ingredients together in strange combinations and preparations. Yes Mom, that does sound like my kind of place indeed.
I must be a sick person, but sometimes I enjoy watching my friends squirm and turn bright red while experiencing authentically spicy food. This wasn't the first time this week that I had nearly brought a buddy to tears of spicy pain. On this evening, four of us headed to a restaurant called Aachi Aappa Kadai in a very Indian-heavy area of Sunnyvale, CA to sample food from the Chettinad region. With a name like that with so many A's at the start, I've got to wonder if they did it to get their name at the beginning of the Yellow Pages (when they were still relevant).
My buddy Evan moved to NYC about a year ago for Med School. Whenever he can get away from his studies long enough for us to get together, he's always up for an adventure and will indulge my need to experience new cuisines. I've known Evan just about for forever, so when I contacted him about going on an adventure, his first reaction was 'How about Elmhurst?' Well yes, I had been meaning to head out to Queens and check out a whole variety of ethnic places, so I responded to his request with a list of some ideas I had in the neighborhood. One of the options I sent over, a Tibetan restaurant called Himalayan Yak, piqued his interest so that's where we decided to meet.