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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Tanto in Sunnyvale is Another Excellent Silicon Valley Izakaya

DSC_4507_editWhen I'm living the road for extended periods of time, I like the treat myself well. Actually, I spoil myself. And by that I mean, I like to eat really really well. This of course can often lead to some overindulgence. But, hey, I think I deserve it.On this particular night, I was dining solo and went on an adventure to a Japanese izakaya that had been on my to-do list for a while. I had had a great experience at En in Santa Clara nearby not too long prior, but I wanted to try someplace new. I knew I was in the mood for some uni amongst other Asian delicacies and figured that Tanto would be an excellent spot to scratch this particular itch.

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Solid Bowls of Ramen & Other Japanese Pub Food near Port Authority at Tabata Ramen

20140202_204437_editHell's Kitchen, well not really. That chunk of New York City on 9th Ave. between 34th and 42nd tucked away behind Penn Station and Port Authority. It remains one of the seediest corners of the city even after the much publicized Giuliani and Bloomberg crackdowns on the lesser loved aspects of NYC. It's not often that I find myself in that god-forsaken corner of town, but since I was there, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out the ramen and other Japanese pub food at the nearby Tabata Ramen outpost.

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Great Silicon Valley Izakaya Open Late at En Japanese Tapas in Santa Clara

DSC_3162_editOne of the biggest takeaways I've gotten from all of this time I've been spending in Silicon Valley is that everything in California closes early. Offices become ghost towns at 6:00. Most Happy Hours end at 6:00, maybe 7:00 if you're lucky. Bars stop serving at 1:30 AM and worst of all, most restaurant kitchens close at 9:00. If you end up working late 'til say 9:00 or later you're pretty much screwed when it comes to getting a decent dinner.In all of my digging, I have thankfully found a few places that keep their kitchen open 'til around 10:00. But there is one place I've found in Santa Clara for quality late night dining called En Japanese Tapas Restaurant where the kitchen stays open until a glorious 11:30 PM.

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