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!
The Best Pork
1/2 Pound ‘Cue Bacon from Fatty ‘Cue
This was insane. The platter came with four hot and fluffy bao buns along with the most meaty, rich, smoky, melty, crispy thick-cut pork belly I’d ever seen.
Read more about my visit to Fatty ‘Cue.
The Best Lamb
Muslim Lamb Chop from Fu Run
This gamey lamb meat was absurdly tender and shredded and slid off the bones with ease. The whole cumin seed exterior crackled and crunched with each moist, fatty, meaty, herbal, spicy bite.
Read more about my visit to Fu Run.
The Best Beef
Beef Brisket from Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue
At the Mighty Quinn’s, I found absolute perfection and authenticity in regards to Texas style brisket. The texture was perfectly tender, shredded easily, and had the distinctive melty fattiness I look for in good brisket. It also had enough seasoning and smokey flavor in the crispy bark to cut through the nearly dripping fatty beef.
Read about Mighty Quinns and more at the Thrillist BBQ & the Blues Event.
The Best Chicken
Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Dirty Bird To-Go
This chicken was, in my opinion, perfectly fried. It was just a bit greasy, but honestly that’s part of the fun. Each bite contained plenty of tender, crispy chicken meat and had a satisfying crunch from the well-spiced fried exterior.
Read more about my visit to Dirty Bird To-Go.
The Best Duck
Duck Tacos from Chifa
Jose Garces’ now defunct Chifa served these incredible tacos when I visited Philly. Between the juicy, shredded confit duck meat and the flavors from the kimchi, radish, and lime this dish came together perfectly.
The Best Fish
Hamachi Kama from HaChi
Thought HaChi is gone, the memory this this perfect yellowtail collar remains. The meat was flaky and tender with an awesomely crispy exterior made even better with some ponzu.
The Best Shellfish
Seared Scallops with Serrano Ham from NAO
This might be the very best preparation and execution of scallops I’ve ever had. They were seared absolutely perfectly, with a very nice caramelization on the top side and the exact right level of tenderness inside. The Serrano ham and spicy mango chutney also paired very well.
Read more about my visit to NAO.
The Best Offal
Roasted Bone Marrow from Swine
This appetizer came with three humongous, halved beef bones, loaded with tender oozing marrow and salsa verde. It was bursting with rich, buttery, garlicky amazingness and was great smeared onto toast points or scooped directly into my mouth. This was one of the most stupidly decadent things I’d ever had the pleasure of eating.
Read more about my visit to Swine.
The Best Raw Dish
Beef Tartare from M. Wells Dinette
This was another really decadent dish. The beef was extremely fresh with a smooth almost creamy texture perfect for smearing onto toast with some runny egg yolk and parmesan mayo.
The Best Vegan Dish
The Mighty Mushroom Roll from Beyond Sushi
Though vegan sushi sounds like an oxymoron, this place won me over with their bold flavors and textures. This roll was my favorite and had a strong, mushroomy funk, especially with the creamy sauce on top.
The Best Cocktail
The Oaxaqueño from Greenwich Project
This was a smoky mescal-based drink with herbal, spicy, and chocolaty notes and an almost milky quality to it. It was unlike anything I’ve ever had before and was a truly extraordinary creation.
Read more about my visit to Greenwich Project.
The Best Burger
Bone Marrow & Brisket Burger from Swine
The texture of this burger patty was excellent with loosely packed brisket meat, plenty of char, and juiciness. The cheese added a nice funk but it was the bone marrow topping that really added a deep, full, richness to the whole thing.
Read more about my visit to Swine.
The Best Curry
Homestyle Lamb Curry from Bombay Duck Co.
This curry was incredibly flavorful and was loaded with large hunks of tender, falling-apart lamb meat. It was fairly spicy, but still had quite a complex flavor profile.
The Best Soup
French Onion Miso Soup from No. 7 Sub
Sheer brilliance. The No. 7 guys combined two already strong, savory, umami-rich soups (French Onion and Miso) into a unique creation that was extremely delicious and very satisfying.
The Best Pizza
Cacio E Pepe Pizza from Otto Enoteca
The Cacio e Pepe pizza came topped with mozzarella, cacio, pecorino, parmigiano, and a heavy sprinkle of black pepper. You can really taste every one of those ingredients, and together, they transform into crispy, melty, oozy, cheesy, peppery bites that I couldn’t get enough of.
Read more about my visit to Otto Enoteca.
The Best Sandwich
Crab & Bacon Sandwich from All Good Things
This sandwich was so decadent. The ingredients were very fresh, really high quality, and were all sourced from the All Good Things market. There was a ton of shredded crab meat that paired really well with the excellently smokey bacon hunks making a pretty over the top sandwich.
The Best Pasta
Gnocchi with Duck Ragout from The Dutch
The gnocchi were extremely fluffy and basically melted when they hit my tongue. The duck ragout was deep, meaty, and rich especially with the additional richness of sliced foie gras.
The Best Spicy Dish
Chengdu Double Sautéed Pork from Famous Sichuan
I’m obsessed with the tingling sensation of Sichuan peppercorns and this dish had plenty of that. I also thought the way all of the ingredients including fermented black bean, chili oil, peppers, leeks, and crispy pork belly combined really well.
The Best Fried Food
Jumari from Muncan Food Corp.
This version of chicharrón was made with pig meat and fat instead of just skin. I’d never had meat and fat fried like this before. It turned into a crispy, meaty, oozy, crumbly, shredded bite that was explosively porky. The best way I can describe it is as “meat candy”.
Read more about my visit to Muncan Food Corp.
The Best Sausage
Original Hot Guts from Southside Market
This was some of the juiciest, loosest-packed, most tender, most flavorful, snappiest sausage I’d ever tasted. It was pretty unbelievable. I’d never had anything remotely like it. The sausage needed no sauce at all. It was really just bursting with meaty, porky, smokey flavor and had such a unique texture inside.
Read more about my visit to Elgin, Texas.
The Best Burrito
The Trash Can Burrito from Johnny B’s
This thing was massive! It was loaded with everything imaginable including eggs, cheese, bacon, breakfast sausage, peppers, onion, and some truly incredible crumbled chorizo. A touch of Mexican hot sauce and this bargain-priced masterpiece was complete.
Read more about my visit to Marathon, Texas.
The Best Dessert
Toshi’s Date Pudding from Cochineal
I think I loved this dish so much because of the restraint they used with regards to sweetness. The base of the dish was a tall, dense, moist, cylindrical serving of bread pudding loaded with rich, tender, roasted dates. This was served with a large tuft of the freshest whipped cream I’d ever tasted and a substantial drizzle of ooey-gooey, sticky rum caramel sauce.
Read more about my visit to Cochineal.
Here’s to another year of epic eating!