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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Simply Spectacular Fresh Seafood at Swan Oyster Depot in Lower Nob Hill

Ah yes, the world famous Swan Oyster Depot. This 100-year-old Lower Nob Hill institution is certainly one of the more famous San Francisco eateries and I'm lucky enough to live on the same block as this revered bastion of seafood. With a place so good, so close by you'd probably expect to find me there on a weekly basis, but there's two things that constantly hold me back – open for lunch and there's constantly tourists lined up out the door.Literally every single time I've walked by this lunch-only hot spot – between their opening at 10:30 AM and their closing at 5:30 PM – there has been a substantial line to contend with. This is a very discouraging sight for someone like myself who absolutely refuses to wait in lines for anything, no matter how amazing the results may be.

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I Love the Low Key Vibe and High Quality Sushi at Domo in Hayes Valley

DSC_3981_editNow that Amy and I have moved from NYC to San Francisco, it's time for me to dig into the SF food scene. There are a number of cuisines that SF is reputed to do better than New York, Mexican being the most obvious, and I want to put these reputations to the test. Perhaps a little less obvious than SF's Mexican superiority would be it's Japanese, specifically regarding sushi. It makes sense if you think about it though considering this part of the country is so much closer to Japan than New York is. Don't get me wrong though, I know we had really great sushi in New York, but it's certainly possible that the proximity to Japan could help.

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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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For the Best Sushi in Silicon Valley, get Omakase at Sushi Tomi

There are tons of sushi joints in Silicon Valley, especially in Mountain View. A lot of these places are pretty mediocre, but one stands above the rest with its vastly superior fish quality. This place is Sushi Tomi.As you'd probably suspect with a place of this caliber, the word is out. So any night you try to stop by, you will inevitably need to contend with a line out the door. It's worth it. You may have noticed that I normally don't ever wait in lines for food, but this evening we waited a very reasonable twenty minutes for a table for three and were treated to some amazing high quality fish for our patience.

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Bohemian: Secret Door, Secret Phone Number, Japanese Speakeasy

I'm gonna let you in on one of New York's best-hidden secrets. Located in the NoHo area, there's an unmarked, members-only restaurant that doesn't even list its phone number publicly. Even if you can manage to get your hands on Bohemian's phone number you'll still need a referral to land a reservation. Seriously, when I called, the first question I was confronted with was "How did you get this number?" However, once you've breached their defenses and joined the ranks of their inner circle, you'll be treated to one of the most interesting, sexy, refined meals you can find in NYC.

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