Mike Winston’s Best Bites of 2014

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.

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A Perfect Day of Eating & Wine Tasting Across Paso Robles

To celebrate my lovely girlfriend Amy's redacted birthday, we planned a glorious weekend getaway to the Paso Robles wine country. We had heard excellent things about the remote region's beauty and density of high-quality wineries so it seemed like a great way to spend a couple of days and the perfect way to mark the occasion.On the Friday of her birthday weekend, Amy drove down from San Francisco to pick me up from work in Sunnyvale before we headed off into the beautiful, winding, south-of-SF countryside only to stop quickly in Moss Landing for dinner before reaching Paso Robles at around 11 PM.

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Excellent, Vietnamese Chicken Fire-Roasted to Order at Cordon Bleu in Nob Hill

This is exactly the kind of hidden-in-plain-sight hole-in-the-wall I live to discover. Just a half block off the main Polk Street drag you'll find a tiny little rather unimpressive looking shop with a bright blue awning that reads "Cordon Bleu". No, it's not a French restaurant as I first assumed based on the name. It's actually a long-standing, super low-key Vietnamese joint that's been in this location for many decades but still manages to slip below most people's radars undetected.

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Hangover Busting Southern Comfort Food at Kelly’s Country Meat Block in Opelousas, LA

DSC_3314_editLike 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.

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Michael Goes West (Texas): Fredericksburg & Ft. Stockton Edition

michaelgoeswest_01Let's continue on our adventure across the vast state of Texas. So where were we? Amy and I just spent three days in Austin for Austin City Limits music festival with an epic stop in Elgin for a BBQ hot guts sausage face-off. Now, we're about to embark on a road trip across the entire massive state and are headed to Marfa for the first night. Along the way, we decided to make a few stops since a straight drive to Marfa will take around 7 hours and seems like a bit much. Plus, we'll need to eat! Along the way, we planned for a stop in <a href="Fredricksburg for breakfast, a pit stop in historic Fort Stockton, and a late lunch in Alpine before reaching Marfa for dinner and lodging.

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Seriously Good, Cheap Fried Chicken at Dirty Bird To-Go in NYC

20131007_132836_editIn TriBeCa, nearly invisible, tucked away under some construction scaffolding on Chambers Street for as long as I can remember, you'll find some of the best and most reasonably priced fried chicken in NYC. This is no dive. It's a very well designed, polished space that feels like they should be charging double what they are. This is one of the those gems that feels like such a deal and nearly the entire menu is excellent.

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Hidden Dollar Bill Covered Chinatown at 69 Bayard Restaurant

*Editor's Note 2/25/16: I'm sad to report that 69 Bayard has permanently closed.In Chinatown, you'll find a ton of restaurants serving a wide array of mostly Asian cuisine. Right in the chaos of it all, on Bayard Street, you'll find a strange, tiny place called 69 Bayard. I must have walked by this place a million times without considering to stop in to check out their food. Maybe it's because they don't offer a lunch special. Maybe it's because I'd never heard anything one way or the other about it. Probably it's because of the decor, which I suppose could be viewed as either a plus or a minus to some.

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