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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Unique Spanish Basque Brunch at Huertas in the East Village

I completely ignored the opening of Huertas in the East Village when I first heard about it. All too frequently I find myself disappointed by tapas joints, so I often don’t bother to give them a chance. But, then I read a glowing write-up from my most trusted food writer – Robert Sietsema that made me completely reconsider. My tastes pretty much always fall directly in line with his, so I knew that if he loved the place, I was probably gonna love it too.

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A Perfect Balance of Quality, Price, and Value at Live Sushi Bar in Potrero Hill

It’s not always easy finding a great sushi place in San Francisco. Often times the quality at inexpensive spots is unacceptable and the high-quality places are just way too expensive. And if you can manage to find an excellent and reasonably priced spot like Domo Sushi, it’ll constantly be plagued by long lines and waits due to its extremely popular Hayes Valley location. That’s why I was so happy to find Live Sushi Bar in the less trafficked Potrero Hill neighborhood. It has consistently proven its ability to hit that sweet spot of freshness, price, value, and ease of access. And I know you’ll love it too.

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A Perfect Day of Eating & Wine Tasting Across Paso Robles

To celebrate my lovely girlfriend Amy’s redacted birthday, we planned a glorious weekend getaway to the Paso Robles wine country. We had heard excellent things about the remote region’s beauty and density of high-quality wineries so it seemed like a great way to spend a couple of days and the perfect way to mark the occasion.

On the Friday of her birthday weekend, Amy drove down from San Francisco to pick me up from work in Sunnyvale before we headed off into the beautiful, winding, south-of-SF countryside only to stop quickly in Moss Landing for dinner before reaching Paso Robles at around 11 PM.

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Outstanding Sustainable Seafood on the Sausalito Waterfront at Fish.

It may be October, but Summer is still in full swing in the Bay Area. When I get a particularly warm and sunny day, nearly every time I just want to be outside to enjoy some fresh seafood with a cold beer. Since we have a car, taking a short drive north over the Golden Gate bridge to Sausalito is not a big deal and Fish. is the perfect solution for this sunny weather scenario.

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All-American Specialty Hot Dogs at Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield, CT

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?

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Winner Winner Pasta & Cocktail Dinner at Zero Zero in SoMa

If you’ve read at all about the SF dining scene, it would be difficult to avoid hearing about Zero Zero. They’ve been written up in just about every major and minor publication for their upscale Neapolitan pizzas and cocktails, but prior to this visit I just never had any reason to head over to that Northeastern part of SoMa for a meal. But one day I found myself in that part of town at around 10 PM hungry and in need of a good cocktail or two, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to see what the hype was all about.

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Solid Dim Sum without the Push Carts at Tai Pan in Palo Alto

Transport yourself to Hong Kong. And you don’t even need to leave the cushy confines of Palo Alto, California. Just a block off the main drag on University Avenue, there’s a massive dim sum parlor that would be all too easy to miss while walking by. Despite its enormous front signage, there’s nothing about its appearance that would actually draw a pedestrian inside to experience an authentic Hongkongese dim sum meal.

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Everyone Seems to Love Starbelly Except Me

Starbelly is generally regarded as the best restaurant in The Castro so I definitely went into this meal with high expectations. People rave about this place and their renditions of Californian farm-to-table local organic comfort food. I certainly haven’t dined in the Castro enough to be able to confirm or deny if it really is the best restaurant in the neighborhood, but I knew I definitely had to check it out for myself.

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