On the Hunt for XLB & Hand-Pulled Noodles at King of Noodles in the Inner Sunset

So, I’m back on my quest to find all of the comfort foods I used to rely on in NYC in the Bay Area. This journey’s mission: Soup Dumplings aka Xiao Long Bao and Hand-Pulled Noodles. I’d heard great things about the cheap, authentic, Bourdain-approved Chinese food at King of Noodles in the Inner Sunset so one hungover Sunday morning when that particular craving struck, I hoped in my car and headed over to check it out.

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Mike Winston’s Top 10 Best Cocktails of 2014

You guys know I eat a ton of food. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I’m also quite passionate about my cocktails. Some would even go so far as to call me a lush.

Well, this year provided no shortage of impressive and outstanding cocktails (and obviously food as I’ve already recapped). And since the end of the year is rolling around, it only seems fair to look back and remember the best of the best cocktails as well. I’ve even inclcuded a list of ingredients for each drink recipe so you can try to whip them up for yourself at home… if you’re particularly talented.

Warning: there are some really obscure ingredients in a lot of these, a lot of them are rather complicated to concoct. Also, I don’t have any of the proportions for the different parts… so good luck!
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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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Eating a Whole Dungeness Crab Head at Swan Oyster Depot

A Hanukkah miracle has occurred. I walked by Swan Oyster Depot when I was going out for lunch AND THERE WAS NO LINE. That just doesn’t happen. I walked right up and grabbed a seat at the bar.

Now, it’s not often I write a post about just a single dish, and it’s even less often I write about a place twice, but everything is so freaking incredible at Swan Oyster Depot that I just had to. This time, there was just one dish on my mind – not something listed on the giant menu overhead – something I saw Anthony Bourdain eating on the San Francisco episode of The Layover – a dish simply called Crab Fat.

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Serious Sausage Sandwiches & Epic Meats at 4505 Butcher in the Mission

*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that this butcher shop is no longer open.

4505 Butcher Shop is a big deal in SF. Formerly an extremely popular farmers market stall, this brick-and-mortar shop functions primarily as a permanent place to purchase really high-quality meats for home use. But, beyond the gorgeous cuts of steak and other game meats sold, they also make a variety of awesome sausages and hot dogs in-house. In fact, I hear that’s really how they made their name and became so popular.

All of their hot dogs, sausages, and cuts of meat are made sustainably from animals raised locally in Northern California and come with a glowing reputation for being some of the very best butchery around. In fact, these days there are many bars and fine dining establishments that proudly serve 4505 bacon-studded hot dogs in a variety of fancy preparations.

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A Quiet, Classy, and Impressive Brunch at Maven in Lower Haight

One of my favorite weekend city pastimes is to just pick a direction, wander aimlessly (get it? Winston Wanders), and see where my feet take me. This is also one of the many ways I find new places to eat – I just walk unfamiliar streets and routes and see if I can stumble across something new and interesting.

On this particularly long wander, I started at home in Lower Nob Hill, headed down to Hayes Valley, then over across the Panhandle, through Haight-Ashbury, up Divisadero, across Alamo Square, and down to Lower Haight before I finally decided on a place to sit down for a quality brunch with my buddy, Corey.

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The Very Best Airport Food I’ve Ever Eaten

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It’s getting to be that time when we look back on the year in review and 2014 was a very big year of travel for me. Between working remotely in Silicon Valley while still officially living in NYC, moving from NYC to SF, and other miscellaneous leisure travel, I spent a lot of time in airports.

I know that airports get a bad rap when it comes to dining options and you know what, most of the time the food really does suck. But, every now and then I’ve been able to come across some truly excellent dishes. Beyond that, I’ve even managed to find a number of dishes served in airports that blew me away – the overacheivers – the kinds of things I would get even if I wasn’t stuck eating in an airport. Without further ado, read on below to see the best of the best to eat before you fly in the sky. (more…)

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Looking for Lost Love at The Bagelry in Russian Hill

Who would be surprised to hear that this New York Jew loves bagels and lox? No one? OK.

There are plenty of foods that I can now have in San Francisco that I could never get my hands on before in NY. And in fact there are many food that I could get in NY that are done so much better in SF. But, there are still a few dishes that I find myself truly homesick for that I can’t seem to replace. Topping that list – a quality bagel with cream cheese and lox.

By reputation, I didn’t expect much from San Francisco bagel shops. In fact, I figured they’d be pretty abysmal based on the things I had read online. But, one day I woke up particularly hungover with an uncontrollable urge to crush a bagel with lox. On this day, nothing was going to stop me from embarking on this quest despite the fact that I knew it would likely disappoint me. So I headed six blocks north on Polk St. to my best nearby bet – a place called The Bagelry.

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