If I were to tell you about a trendy, hipstery pizza place in Texas serving authentic and innovative Neapolitan-style pies, what city do you think it would be in? I bet your first guess would be Austin, but I'm here to show you that this kind of awesomeness can also be found in the extremely underrated Dallas dining scene if you know where to look. The place I'm specifically talking about is located in the Deep Ellum neighborhood, which is basically the Williamsburg of Dallas. It has a thriving live music scene, loads of dive bars, and plenty of interesting casual dining options to explore.
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.
Amy and I have always been hot dog lovers. All it really takes is a simple, well-cooked, snappy mustard covered link and we'll be perfectly happy, but give us something crazier and we're bound to fall head over heels. On this particular weekend, we found ourselves in the Westport, Connecticut area for a wedding and *gasp* got hungry for some lunch. A quick search of the surrounding area and we came across Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield where they serve a vast menu spanning the many regional hot dog topping styles and preparations across the US. How could we possibly pass on the chance to check a place like this out?
What could be more perfect than the combination of beer and sausage? It’s an old-as-time classic pairing, but I think I've found the solution to this basically unanswerable question. How about gourmet game meat sausages eaten with a ridiculously good craft draft beer? In the Lower Haight neighborhood of San Francisco there is a spot where you can have the best of both worlds, together. Butted literally right up against each other are Rosamunde Sausage Grill and a bar called Toronado. It's a fairly well known fact that you can order sausages at Rosamunde and bring them right next door to eat in Toronado and this was precisely the plan. Ultimately though, it was pretty packed in Toronado, so we just ate our links in the sausage shop before heading right next door for some brews after.
I've spent a good chunk of time in Philly during my four years of college. Over this time, I ate my fair share of cheesesteak. No surprise there. So, when it comes to cheesesteaks, I have really high standards. I've eaten most of the big names in Philly and I know what makes a good cheesesteak great. Now, I get it. Cheesesteaks are not going to be as cheap in New York as they are in Philly. And that's a shame since it is street food and is supposed to be cheap. It's a blue collar sandwich for the common man, but I've come to terms with it. However, there are still a few aspects of a cheesesteak that are musts and only a few of the cheesesteak shops in NYC have met my requirements. On the many visits I've taken to the mobile Phil's Steaks trucks, they have passed my tests with flying colors.
In NYC, the Blue Ribbon brand has turned into a veritable mini-chain with restaurants spanning a variety of cuisines and levels of formality including high-end sushi, casual southern-influenced cuisine, and a modern American brasserie. Possibly the most hype has been about their very popular Brooklyn Bowl location, where they serve an array of fast casual pub food to the bowling masses. At Brooklyn Bowl, people go absolutely crazy for the fried chicken. This exact chicken recipe from that menu has since become the primary focus of the Blue Ribbon empire's latest spin-off, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. This East Village spot opened to a ton of press and buzz, so my expectations were understandably set high.
Given the number of insanely delicious things I've eaten over the past year, selecting the best of the bunch is a very difficult task. Over on Foodspotting I've released a long version that's over 200 items long which includes every single dish jaw-dropping dish from the last year. Here, instead, I've chosen the very best in select categories. In no particular order, let's begin!