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The Best Things We Ate and Drank in 2017 Gallery

From calamari in London to tacos in Los Angeles and every meal everywhere in between
Tamago
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The Best Things We Ate and Drank in 2017

The Best Things We Ate and Drank in 2017
iStock

At The Daily Meal, our motto is pretty simple: “All things food and drink.” We live for good food and fine beverages, and throughout the year we spend a solid portion of our free time exploring new restaurants, brunching with friends at familiar spots in our neighborhood, sampling new cocktails, and experimenting in our own kitchens.

The end of the year brings with it some level of reflection. It’s unavoidable. And for our staff, that means reflecting on the best things we ate and drank.

By the “best things we ate and drank,” we don’t just mean fancy dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants, though those are always wonderful experiences. The best meals and beverages for most of us were those simple things. A perfectly-broiled cheeseburger at our hometown bar, an ice cold pina colada and a shot of tequila at the end of a long day, and meals with friends and family who we maybe don’t see all that often… these are the most memorable (and the best) things one can have. A meal shared with loved ones is a better meal.

Avocado Toast on Wood-Charred Bread at Lupulo’s, New York City

Avocado Toast on Wood-Charred Bread at Lupulo’s, New York City
Carolyn Menyes

Earlier this year I ate breakfast every meal for a week. (I know, I know, it’s a tough job but someone has to do it.) The best meal I ate that week — and, it turned out, in all of 2017 — was the avocado toast from the Portugese restaurant Lupulo, the second restaurant from Michelin-starred chef George Mendes, located two blocks from our offices in midtown Manhattan. The dish, which is served atop crusty wood-charred bread and procured from their adorable walk-up takeout window, is a $9 piece of perfection that proves this dish is not for millennials alone! The avocado is creamy and flavorful with the addition of a touch of olive oil and coriander and comes with or without the traditional sunny-side egg on top, cherry tomatoes and the unexpected twist of perfectly cooked black-eyed peas. I would eat this every day if my waistline and wallet could afford it. — Susan Houriet, editor-in-chief

Beignets at Café du Monde, New Orleans

Beignets at Café du Monde, New Orleans
Daisy Nichols

The best thing I ate this year was an order of beignets with a large iced coffee at Café du Monde in New Orleans while I was in Louisiana for my best friend’s bachelorette party. On Sunday, after a weekend full of hen-party fun, a few of us managed to wake up early enough to make it to the famous NOLA establishment. We waited in line, sunglasses shielding our tired eyes from the morning light, and eventually placed our order. When we finally got them, the still-warm beignets smothered in powdered sugar paired with the thirst quenching iced coffee were restorative to say the least! Daisy Nichols, cook editor

Bottle of Miller High Life and Shot of Fernet at Bushwick Country Club, Brooklyn

Bottle of Miller High Life and Shot of Fernet at Bushwick Country Club, Brooklyn
Jeremy Rose

Bushwick Country Club is neither in Bushwick nor a country club, but the longstanding Brooklyn dive does offer a reasonable price on the perfect boilermaker for these deeply stupid times. Turns out that while many of us were smugly fawning over craft beers and artisanal cocktails for the past decade, society was going directly down the tubes, and at this point indulging in connoisseurship feels kinda frivolous and gross. 2017 has been a beer-and-a-shot year.

The Champagne of Beers is the ideal tipple to address this sort of frothy weltschmerz, because it’s actually pretty tasty and it’s cheap. That’s all that needs to be said about it. Fernet, on the other hand, will meet you in the dark place and slap you around until you agree to climb out. The amaro has been known to serve as a collegial handshake among service industry comrades, its astringent herbal attack a homeopathic remedy to the bitterness of a shift spent kowtowing to one’s socioeconomic betters. Jeremy Rose, copy editor

Brown Derby at High West Distillery Saloon, Park City, Utah

Brown Derby at High West Distillery Saloon, Park City, Utah
iStock

While my husband and I were vacationing in Park City, Utah, we stopped by the High West Distillery Saloon for a few cocktails. I tried the Brown Derby, and I have to admit, I went back multiple times for that drink during the week while we were visiting. It was a simple mix of American Prairie bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, and honey (with a dash of mountain air). That cocktail went down just a bit too easily, as did all the others that followed. — Shannon Darnall, editorial coordinator

Calamari ai Ferri at The River Café, London

Calamari ai Ferri at The River Café, London
Erin Walker

This appetizer of grilled squid with minced fresh red chiles and wild arugula has been on the River Café menu for probably 20 years or more, and I've ordered it almost every time I've eaten there. It never disappoints, and it's a nice change to have squid that isn't breaded and fried (not that there's anything wrong with that) — especially when it's as tender and flavorful as this presentation. Colman Andrews, vice president and editorial director

Callos de Ternera con Pata y Morro at Tasquería de Javi, Estévez, Madrid

Callos de Ternera con Pata y Morro at Tasquería de Javi, Estévez, Madrid
Gerry Dawes

If you think you don't like tripe, this preparation of veal tripe with veal shank and muzzle, served at a small, contemporary-style restaurant specializing in offal, might change your mind. Combined with falling-apart long-cooked meat from veal shank and muzzle, in a rich brown sauce, the tripe is meltingly savory. I could have eaten three bowls of it. — Colman Andrews, vice president and editorial director

Cereal and Milk at River Park, New York City

Cereal and Milk at River Park, New York City
Natalie Lobel

This was one of the most extraordinary desserts I ever saw, let alone tasted. The child in me was thrilled to see Rice Krispies displayed in such an elegant way. But then when the waiter enjoined us to “break” the chocolate dome and a cascade of milk flowed into the bowl of cereal, I was truly a kid in a candy store. Once the hype surrounding this interesting dish died down, my table discovered a delicious chocolate ganache cake as the base of the dome — the perfect trifecta!Natalie Lobel, recipes editor

Chicken Schnitzel Salad at Dudley’s, New York City

Chicken Schnitzel Salad at Dudley’s, New York City
Darnell A Scott

This perfectly-fried chicken schnitzel paired with the bib lettuce evenly tossed in a sweet chili sauce really makes for a delicious Sunday brunch option. — Kathleen Collins, photo editor

Chicken Tikka Masala on Garlic Naan at Taco Mahal, New York City

Chicken Tikka Masala on Garlic Naan at Taco Mahal, New York City
Syjil Ashraf

If I wasn't so enamored by how delicious Danikkah Josan's creation is, I'd be mad I didn't think of it first. In high school, I actually had a habit of making a "hot dog" out of naan and a beef frankfurter as an after school snack, and I wish I thought of doing the same with, you know, actual curry. After months of seeing videos about it on Facebook, I finally dragged my friends out to Greenwich Village to try this dish. Feeling that this joint might be more catered to more non-South Asian palates, I was ready to be a tad disappointed. But Taco Mahal doesn't hold back on the spices or the flavor. In all honesty, there isn't much of a representation of the founder's Latina side, other than the fact that the naan or roti is folded up like a taco and topped with cilantro and onions, the "tacos" are pretty South Asian. And for me, that's the best part.Syjil Ashraf, travel editor

Coffee Dino S’mores, Milk and Hops, New York City

Coffee Dino S’mores, Milk and Hops, New York City

Matt L. / Yelp

Maybe it’s because it was a reprieve in my week of eating like Khloé Kardashian, or maybe it’s because I shared the beer with my husband on our second wedding anniversary, but the best thing I drank this year was the Coffee Dino S’mores stout from Off Color Brewing. I’d tried the original Dino S’mores — a dessert-inspired beer brewed with marshmallow fluff, molasses, vanilla, graham flour, and cocoa nibs — a few years ago. It’s a favorite of mine thanks to its fusion of a childhood favorite (s’mores) and an adulthood favorite (beer). But the coffee variety is an improvement. The warming flavors of freshly roasted coffee help to temper the sweetness of the beer, leading to a fabulous drinking experience even in the middle of summer. Carolyn Menyes, entertain and holidays editor

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict at Le Souk, New York City

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict at Le Souk, New York City
Yelp

Le Souk is an eclectic hookah lounge that (for some strange reason) also serves bottomless brunch. On a Sunday morning, I ate their crab cake eggs Benedict outside at a table, blissfully unaware that inside the building was this otherworldly bar. The waiters were a bit spacey and droopy-eyed, but I didn’t think anything of it. Inside, it’s an Alice in Wonderland-esque dreamscape. I went to use the restroom and literally thought my hangover was playing tricks on my brain, because everything was so weird — I’m talking rose petals on the stairwell, ceilings too low for my head, and bathrooms with black lights and an overflowing sink. Anyway, weirdest brunch experience of my life… but the crab cake soaked in hollandaise was amazing, and I’ll never forget it. Holly Van Hare, healthy eating editor

Dinner at The Florence, Savannah, Georgia

Dinner at The Florence, Savannah, Georgia
Alyssa Haak

Dinner with my dad at Hugh Acheson’s now-shuttered The Florence in Savannah, Georgia, was my favorite meal of the year. After a day of walking through the city, my dad and I went to the Southern chef’s restaurant for an early dinner (or was it a late lunch?). The restaurant was quiet, the service impeccable, and the food delicious. Plus, sharing a good meal with my dad wasn’t too bad either. — Alyssa Haak, restaurant/city guide editor

Green Curry at Ginger in the MGM National Harbor, Maryland

Green Curry at Ginger in the MGM National Harbor, Maryland
Syjil Ashraf

This was the year I had the absolute best green curry I've ever tasted. And as a total Thai food aficionado, I've had a lot of green curry. Located at MGM's latest resort in Maryland's National Harbor, Ginger is a wonderfully authentic pan-East Asian restaurant with delicious dishes from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. Green curry isn't even close to my favorite Thai dish, but I just could not stop inhaling Ginger’s version. It's not the most attractive dish, so I was completely taken aback at how well the eggplant and bell pepper complemented the coconut milk that is its base. I don't know exactly what kind of magic the chef did to the green curry paste, but it worked. It's been over a month, but I've been dreaming about it since. — Syjil Ashraf, travel editor

I Dream of Ginny at Oak and Ivy, Las Vegas

I Dream of Ginny at Oak and Ivy, Las Vegas
Dan Myers

The best thing I drank all year was at Oak and Ivy, a high-end cocktail bar hiding inside a shipping container in Las Vegas’ Downtown Container Park. The bar’s master mixologist, Terry Clark, has created some of the most creative cocktails I’ve ever seen, and my favorite one was called I Dream of Ginny: It was made with gin, crème de violette, house-made lavender bitters, St-Germain, lemon, and egg white, and was a brilliant shade of blue. The violet, lavender, and elderflower teamed up to make it taste like the drinkable equivalent of a Monet painting, if that makes any sense. Dan Myers, senior editor, eat/dine

Improved Piña Colada at Suffolk Arms, New York City

Improved Piña Colada at Suffolk Arms, New York City
Daisy Nichols

The best thing I had to drink this year was the Improved Piña Colada at Suffolk Arms in the Lower East Side. My boyfriend and I had just catered a dinner in a small, hot kitchen with a rather neurotic hostess. After a terrible commute home, full of subway delays, signal failures, and a longer-than-expected walk along Houston Street, we stopped by one of our favorite bars for a late-night pick-me-up. The piña coladas we had that night were unbelievable, with passionfruit adding acidity to the sweet frozen drink and Campari (a favorite of mine) floating on the top to add another wonderful dimension. We each had one, downing them in record time, before finishing the night with a generous shot of the smoothest chilled tequila I’ve ever had. After a night of hard work, it really hit the spot. — Daisy Nichols, cook editor

Jerk Seasoned Pulled Pork Hash at Glady’s, Brooklyn

Jerk Seasoned Pulled Pork Hash at Glady’s, Brooklyn

Mihael K. / Yelp

I had a hard time deciding my favorite dish of the year. Was it the squid ink pasta at La Sirena? The scallop special at Minetta Tavern? A lamb burger I made with exclusively farm-fresh ingredients from the Grand Army Plaza Farmer’s Market? Nope; it’s the jerk seasoned pulled pork hash from Glady’s in Crown Heights. I’m not usually a fan of spicy foods, because heat overwhelms flavor in many cases. While this dish had plenty of spice, it had even more flavor packed into every bite of the perfectly melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork. But the pork wasn’t even the best part — that would be the crispy-beyond-belief potatoes. This dish is a bruncher’s dream. — Carolyn Menyes, entertain and holidays editor

Langoustine Taco at Escuela Taqueria, Los Angeles

Langoustine Taco at Escuela Taqueria, Los Angeles
Natalie Lobel

This is the taco place to go to if you’re in Los Angeles. While living there for four years, I did a lot of taco hunting, and Escuela Taqueria came out on top over and over again. There are a couple of fantastic tacos on their menu, but the batter-fried langoustine tail taco with cabbage slaw, grilled pineapple, and salsa verde is truly memorable. The smokiness of the pineapple paired with the rich seafood is such a fantastic combination, and then of course you have the acidity of the salsa verde to balance it out. Simple. Balanced. And tasty.— Natalie Lobel, recipes editor

Luc Belaire Sparkling Rosé, Retail Purchase

Luc Belaire Sparkling Rosé, Retail Purchase
Courtesy of Luc Belaire

The best thing I’ve had to drink in 2017 is Luc Belaire sparkling rosé. It’s crisp, fruity, and endorsed by my guy Rick Ross. I’m a sucker for good bubbly. Taylor Rock, news editor

Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks, Everywhere

Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino at Starbucks, Everywhere
Photo Courtesy: Starbucks

It's probably for the best that Starbucks is no longer selling its marvelous Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino. This coffee-based dark chocolate frappé was a chocolate lover's dream, and I couldn't get enough while it was available. Topped with some extra dark cocoa and mint sugar crystals, I'm still not sure why this isn't available for the holiday season, because it really felt like Christmas come early. What completely won me over — and what made this drink the guiltiest of pleasures — was the extra layer of whipped cream cut into the middle layer of the drink. — Syjil Ashraf, travel editor

Paul’s Burgers at Paul’s Tavern, Dubuque, Iowa

Paul’s Burgers at Paul’s Tavern, Dubuque, Iowa
Jacqui Wedewer

The best thing I ate this year was at a little bar in my hometown of Dubuque, Iowa. It’s called Paul’s Tavern, and it’s the first place you see after crossing the Mississippi from Illinois. Paul’s is a tiny tavern with every inch covered in taxidermy; their collection of critters is either impressive or horrific, depending on the patron. The menu is small because they don’t technically have a kitchen, so it’s hot ham ‘n’ cheese, tuna salad, chili, or the cheeseburgers. They cook them in an ancient contraption called “The Broilator,” which contains a cast iron griddle, and the bartender/executive chef pulls a lever that positions the patty directly between the top and bottom flames. This cooks the burgers perfectly so that the flavorful crust locks in all the juices. The pickles and grilled onions go on the bottom, and the cheese is melted on top. My preferred pairing is a Busch Light served in a “scoop.” Whether it’s 11 a.m. after church, 5 p.m. for dinner (it’s Iowa, they eat early), or 1 a.m. after touring the Main Street bars, Paul’s Burgers are simply the best. And they’re only $3.25, so you might as well order two. — Jacqui Wedewer, video specialist

Poke at Chikarashi, New York City

Poke at Chikarashi, New York City
Alyssa Haak

While serving jury duty this year, I finally got to check out the poke place Chikarashi. My photo doesn’t do the flavors justice, as the fish was so fresh and the rice so light and fluffy. I probably should have savored it more. — Alyssa Haak, restaurant/city guide editor

Pumpkin Spice Matcha Latte at Cha Cha Matcha, New York City

Pumpkin Spice Matcha Latte at Cha Cha Matcha, New York City
Holly Van Hare

Best thing I drank: Pumpkin Spice Matcha Latte from Cha Cha Matcha! They make it with white chocolate, pumpkin, and honey, and it’s so good. I got mine with almond milk, and it was still thick and frothy. I’ll take one of these over a Starbucks PSL any day. — Holly Van Hare, healthy eating editor

Salmon From Whole Foods, New York

Salmon From Whole Foods, New York
iStock

The best thing I’ve had to eat all year hands down is a salmon portion I got from Whole Foods. Mostly everything I’ve ever bought at that place is amazing, but sometimes I dream about this fish. I keep a memory of it inside my heart. It was so moist and flavorful. Before I threw it in the oven, I seasoned it only with salt and butter. Wow. — Taylor Rock, news editor

Seafood Salad in Portugal

Seafood Salad in Portugal
Shannon Darnall

We’d spent the day on the beach in Portugal, and decided to stop at a little restaurant nestled in the hills for a late afternoon bite. After swimming and baking in the sun all day, a light seafood salad with a crisp glass of white wine was perfection. The mussels, squid, and shrimp were fresh and delicious, paired with hearty chunks of ripe tomato. It was simply dressed with lemon, fruity olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt, and tasted like summer afternoon on a plate. — Shannon Darnall, editorial coordinator

Seared Diver Scallops at Girl and the Goat, Chicago

Seared Diver Scallops at Girl and the Goat, Chicago
Dan Myers

The best thing I ate in 2017 was at Girl and the Goat in Chicago: seared diver scallops with English peas, quinoa, Chinese sausage, and tahini vinaigrette. The perfectly-cooked scallops had a deep caramelized sear that somehow never veered into burnt territory; the peas were super fresh and bright; the crisped thinly-sliced sausage added a hint of chewy, porky, fatty savoriness; the quinoa added texture and earthiness; and the tahini tied it all together. Stephanie Izard is a wizard. — Dan Myers, Senior Editor, Eat/Dine

Smoked Brisket Mascarpone Ravioli at Pig Bleecker, New York City

Smoked Brisket Mascarpone Ravioli at Pig Bleecker, New York City

Aliza R. / Yelp

While I was filming some recipe videos with Matt Abdoo, the chef realized the crew was getting pretty hungry by 2 p.m. We didn’t have time to break for lunch, so Matt whipped us up one of Pig Bleecker’s signature menu items: The legendary smoked brisket ravioli. It became one of my favorite dishes of the year within half a bite. The smoked brisket and mascarpone cheese ravioli were swimming in a delicious truffle cream sauce and drizzled with a Barolo reduction. Even though I ate Matt’s ravioli months ago, on any given day I find my mind starts to wander to those decadent ravioli pillows once 2 o’clock rolls around. — Natalie Lobel, recipes editor

Spinach, Mushroom, and Gorgonzola Pie at Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Connecticut

Spinach, Mushroom, and Gorgonzola Pie at Frank Pepe's, New Haven, Connecticut
Erin Walker

I eat pizza about half a dozen times a year, three or four of those at this classic pizzeria (which took first place in the 2017 edition of our 101 Best Pizzas in America). Everybody talks about the white clam pizza here, but it sort of makes my teeth ache. This specialty, on the other hand, is irresistible — earthy and salty and bright. — Colman Andrews, vice president and editorial director

Tamago Kake Gohan, Travel Center Somewhere Between Osaka and Nagoya, Japan

Tamago Kake Gohan, Travel Center Somewhere Between Osaka and Nagoya, Japan
iStock

Tamago kake gohan is just a bowl of rice, a raw egg, and a splash of soy sauce — and it is absolutely delicious once you dig in your chopsticks and mix the ingredients into a rich, creamy, satisfying, gold-colored composite. I stumbled across it while confusedly navigating the menu at a truck stop in Japan, and it has become a staple of my diet since returning home, because it’s a breeze to prepare for breakfast on a harried morning (I usually pasteurize or coddle a batch of eggs ahead of time). It’s even somewhat customizable — I’ve taken to adding toasted sesame seeds, a few flakes of nori, and hot paprika to mine. — Jeremy Rose, copy editor

Terry Black’s Barbecue, Austin

Terry Black’s Barbecue, Austin
Lily Rose

The best thing I ate this year was a meal at Terry Black’s Barbecue in Austin. I tried to sample every side from the hot bar and ordered ribs as my main dish. The ribs, macaroni, creamed corn, and peach cobbler were the most delicious things I put into my mouth this year. Lily Rose, West Coast news editor