Mike Winston’s Best Bites of 2013

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!
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Real Deal Texas Barbecue Burrito Bowls in NYC at Tres Carnes
Real Deal Texas Barbecue Burrito Bowls in NYC at Tres Carnes

Real Deal Texas Barbecue Burrito Bowls in NYC at Tres Carnes

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Over the past few years NYC has been going through a sort of Texas style barbecue renaissance. With many new massive traditional smokehouses popping up, the competition is fierce and some will obviously succeed where others fail. While most of the places serving ‘cue are in the traditional format of counter, line, butcher paper, and meat by weight, Tres Carnes takes a completely different approach. Their menu consists mostly of tacos, burritos, and burrito bowls which get loaded with authentic Texas smoked meats like brisket and pulled pork in a Chipotle-esque construction line. At Tres Carnes, the smoker is helmed by pitmaster Mike Rodriguez who has a pedigree that includes the very famous Salt Lick in Austin. This guy knows what he’s doing.

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Vist Elgin, Texas for an Epic ‘Hot Guts’ BBQ Sausage Face-off

From the moment I first heard the term “hot guts” I knew I had to have it. There’s a small barbecue town called Elgin (pronounced with a hard-G like “guy”) located only 45 minutes outside of Austin, Texas and not far from my beloved brisket mecca Lockhart. We were already in town for Austin City Limits, so it seemed like a completely necessary quick day-trip. Elgin is world famous for their hot guts. What are hot guts you ask? Sausage! Ahh, that makes sense now, doesn’t it?

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Thrillist’s Barbecue & The Blues with Robert Irvine at NYCWFF 2013

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This year I had the pleasure of experiencing two of the many events being held for New York City Wine & Food Festival. This is a massive three-day festival with with well over 50 different events taking place in a variety of locations around the city. Over the weekend, my girlfriend Amy and I attended two of the events, first on Friday night up near Columbus Circle for Thrillist’s Barbecue & The Blues hosted by Robert Irvine followed by Sunday in Astoria, Queens for Oktoberfest presented by Pat LaFrieda Meats and hosted by Andrew Zimmern. To say I was excited about attending each of these events would be an understatement.

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Amazing Cocktails & Asian Inspired Barbecue at Fatty ‘Cue in NYC
Amazing Cocktails & Asian Inspired Barbecue at Fatty ‘Cue

Amazing Cocktails & Asian Inspired Barbecue at Fatty ‘Cue in NYC

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*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that this restaurant is not longer open.

The scenario: a random Tuesday, impromptu date night, day-of, no reservations. Sure, you could wrack your brain and come up with a place, but I chose to use ScoutMob to do the work for me. For those, unfamiliar, ScoutMob is a mobile app and newsletter that provides deals at carefully hand-picked venues without having to pay anything upfront. It alleviates the risk of coupon purchasing that is often associated with Groupon and its competitors. After scrolling through the Android app, my girlfriend and I spotted Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty ‘Cue, a place we had already talked about wanting to check out. It’s settled, we walk the four blocks from our apartment over to the restaurant and are seated promptly.

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Outstanding Barbecue in Queens at John Brown Smokehouse & a Final Visit to the Street Art Mecca 5PTZ

*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that the incredible 5Ptz has been demolished and no longer exists.

This day didn’t go exactly as planned. I had met up with my buddy Tom and had intended to bring him to MOMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens to eat at one of my favorite places in the world, M. Wells Dinette (see: here, here, here, & here). Whenever we get together, it always ends up being an exercise in gluttony. Meat for days. However, as soon as we walked up to the entrance of MOMA PS1, I knew something was wrong. There was a number of t-shirt-wearing staff outside guiding visitors into a line. Not a good sign. I asked one of the staff members if M. Wells was open and was informed that there was a special event going on called EXPO 1 and that we would not be able to eat at M. Wells on this visit. Bummer, but not to worry, I’m more than able to salvage the venture.

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