The Best Things We Ate in 2016

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Our City Editors share the meals they can’t stop thinking about

The Sophia pizza from Atlanta's Antico was one of the best things we ate this year.

We spend our days thinking about food, eating food, and writing about food. We eat good things, we eat some not-so-good things, and we eat some great things. Here are the best things we've eaten this year.

 

Best thing I ate this year would have to be the mapo eggplant at Old Thousand. Old Thousand is Austin's newest "eat-in" and "take-out" Chinese Brasserie and cocktail bar. This isn't your ordinary soggy mapo eggplant. Old Thousand's version is delicately fried and smothered with chili bean paste and Szechuan spices.  

-Jane Ko, Austin Contributor

In the most unconventional of places I discovered my newest obsession. The best thing I ever ate this year was a carrot cake by Kona Grill from The Domain shopping center in Austin, Texas. Sushi is always a good idea, however this Japanese hotspot has served this delectable dessert from a farmer’s unaltered  recipe since 1998. It is the perfect combination of a three-tiered cake with hints of raisins, layered with smooth cream cheese frosting, drizzled in caramel sauce, topped with toasted walnuts, and garnished with a single fresh raspberry against a mint leaf. It is served chilled, with plenty of forks to share.

-Leilani Lim-Villegas, Austin City Editor

The best thing I had this year was definitely the Sophia pizza from Antico (Our 42nd best pizza in America). It’s the house specialty for a reason, with perfectly paired buffalo mozzarella and roasted mushrooms and drizzled with truffle oil.

-Olivia Arnold, Atlanta City Editor

As for the best thing I ate this year, that's such a hard question, but I would have to say it wasn't so much what I ate as to what ended up happening during a meal my boyfriend and I were enjoying at Aquitaine in South End, when ‘Filming in Progress…’ signs were taped to the doors. A flight attendant from Air Canada came up to our table, and we were surrounded by a posse of film crew. “We think you have the best seats in the house,” she said. “We were wondering if you would like to exchange your seats for two seats on a Premium Economy flight, all-expenses paid, to Paris?” We said yes and were off!

From Aquitaine to Paris All in One Bite

-Rachel Cossar, Boston City Editor

My best and favorite meal of the year was at Staplehouse in Atlanta. That place is really special, and everything I ate was remarkable. The chicken liver tart, with apple, dill, and corn nuts (they do change it so not sure it was exact mix but what’s on the menu now) was the best chicken liver I have ever had.

-Angel Postell, Charleston City Editor

In Dallas, the best meal I had was at Kitchen LTO, a perma-popup for chefs and artists. For six months, one chef and one artist get to cook in and decorate the space. I went in May during Josh Harmon’s stint for a food experience that was more experimental, more audacious, and more bound breaking than maybe anywhere else in Dallas at the time. Congratulations are in order for founder Casie Caldwell for finding such a high-quality group of chefs. When I first heard of the idea I was skeptical, but it is providing facilities and exposure to people with the potential to make a big difference.

In London, it was at Eneko at One Aldwych, in a boutique hotel in the ever-improving restaurant Mecca of Covent Garden. The modern Basque restaurant is the product of Eneko Atxa, a Basque Country native and owner/chef of Azurmendi, a Bilbao restaurant with three Michelin stars and placement at No. 16 in the World’s Top 50 Restaurants.

-Andrew Chalk, Dallas City Editor

I had to adjust my thinking beyond typical bacon and eggs. I was in Spain, after all, and here I had to make my way to a little passageway near the Puerta Del Sol public square to find Chocolatería San Ginés for chocolate con churros. Believe it or not, freshly made churros and hot chocolate are wildly popular in Madrid, so much in fact that this spot is open 24/7.

With a history dating back to 1894, this café turns out freshly made, lightly battered and fried churros served with a cup of thick, hot chocolatey goodness with a hint of cinnamon. Downstairs is the best place to eat as the space is decorated with turn of the century green wooden paneling and mirrors as well as matching upholstered seating. This is a decadent culinary experience that I savored as I dipped my churro into the decadent chocolate and let the flavors meld in my mouth.

-Ron Stern, Denver City Editor

The salmon eggs benedict with sous-vide eggs at GC Marketplace, a modern culinary boutique where guests can dine-in, meet for coffee, or grab something to go. The space includes a French boulangerie, rotisserie, gourmet cheese counter, coffee and wine bar, and a marketplace.

-Shaena Engle, Los Angeles City Editor

In a city known for its incredible cuisine, picking the best thing I’ve eaten this year is a difficult task. When I think of all the truly delicious meals and dishes that I’ve had throughout 2016, one dish in particular stands out: the curried fried cauliflower hummus from James Beard Best New Restaurant Award winner Shaya. This hummus is a taste of Israel that I crave constantly. Luckily, the popular restaurant offers take-out, so I don’t have to wait weeks for a reservation to get my fix! 

-Michelle Brennan, New Orleans City Editor

I know, I know. When someone says wagyu beef tartare, you can't help but roll your eyes. Trust me, though, not all tartare is created equally. And the wagyu at Benjamin Prime proves it. It is the most mouth-melting tartare you will ever put into your mouth. Topped with a thin layer of caviar, it's decadent and delicious and really brings your meal to life. i can't stop thinking of it.

-Fabiana Santana, New York Contributor

The best thing I ate all year was lunch at Herdade do Esporão (a winery that also operates a sustainable farm and a kitchen to cook the plants and animals they raise there) in southern Portugal. Chef Pedro Bastos's black Alentejo pork (loin and belly) with carrots — both roasted and puréed — all drizzled with coffee molasses was served with aged butter (what?!) and fresh bread. It was served with a glass of the winery's T wine (made from their trincadeira grapes). I'm still thinking about it months later.

-Susan H. Gordon, Philadelphia and New York City Drinks Editor

The burger I had at Drake Devonshire Inn in Prince Edward County, Ontario (just two hours outside of Toronto). It was a medium beef patty with bacon, cheddar, Russian dressing, and pickles on a fluffy, milk bun with a side of truffle butter fries topped with parmesan. This was the best burger I had in 2016: The beef patty was so juicy and the flavors from the bacon and pickles mixed in with the cheddar dressing made my tastebuds sing! I would drive two hours just to eat this again!! No, seriously…

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-Karen Ng, Toronto City Editor