The Daily Meal's Year in Restaurant Reviews 2011 Slideshow
Magic Performed with a Cuban Version of the Hamburger
Frequent contributor to The Daily Meal, GutterGourmet, discovered a version of the hamburger that he's never stumbled upon before while traveling in Miami. At a joint called El Mago de las Fritas, they're known for their frita cubanas, Cuba's rendition of the burger. The dish combines familiar elements of Cuban cuisine, like a soft, sweet bread and chorizo mixed with beef to make the patty.
"Forget about Butter Burgers, Goober Burgers, or LaFrieda Black Label Burgers. Forget sliders, Shack Burgers, Crunch Burgers, or In-N-Out. There is a regional style of hamburger in Miami that has been overlooked by the likes of Kuban, Solares, and Ozersky." — GutterGourmet
Where the Locals Go for Fried Chicken
Cook editor, Yasmin Fahr, claims that the fried chicken she had at Coop's Place in New Orleans is the best she's ever had. That's quite a statement. Her advice for first-timers is to arrive hungry and be prepared to wait (they don't take reservations and the line is always out the door). Order their signature dishes — the rabbit and sausage jambalaya, and of course, fried chicken.
"On several recommendations, I dragged two friends with me to get a plate of the fried chicken with a side of the house signature rabbit and sausage jambalaya and chowed down while downing some Abita beer — and I went back two days later." — Yasmin Fahr
Seeking Out the "Pizza Capital of the World"
Frequent special contributor to The Daily Meal, GutterGourmet, took a road trip to a city claiming to be the “Pizza Capital of the World” — Old Forge, Pa. Armed with plenty of skepticism, given his considerable musings on such pizza havens as Brooklyn, New Haven, and Chicago, GutterGourmet ventured into Arcaro & Genell for a pie.
“Old Forge, just 15 minutes south of Scranton, home to 19th-century blacksmiths, then a mining town, then the textile industry, then…Pizza Capital of the World?” — GutterGourmet
A Cut Above
A hotspot for USC students in LA’s Koreatown, ChoSun Galbee has made a name for itself by offering tried and true renditions of classic Korean dishes and service their customers can count on. The Daily Meal’s recipe editor, Will Budiaman, recommends ordering the bulgogi and the restaurant’s signature dish, chosun galbee — house-marinated short ribs that are cooked on a tableside grill.
"The atmosphere, being slightly more upscale, might fool skeptical diners into thinking that this place is just a watered-down imitator purporting to be Korean. It’s hardly a hole-in-the-wall, after all. Fortunately, the skeptics are proven wrong." — Will Budiaman
Elegant Old-Style Dining at Manhattan's Landmark Carlyle Hotel
These days the trendy New York City dining scene tends to be filled with restaurants that lean closer to the edge than the elegant and upper-crust hotel restaurants that once reigned over the Big Apple. Which is exactly why TDM's editorial director, Colman Andrews, was pleasantly surprised by how satisfying his meal was during a recent trip to the The Carlyle restaurant at The Carlyle hotel.
"The Carlyle, to put it mildly, isn't a hipster hangout. The lobby doesn't double as a bar scene; there's no hypnotically throbbing lounge-house soundtrack; the staff isn't dressed in black pajamas." — Colman Andrews
A Hot Spot That's Well Worth the Wait
TDM contributor, Frugal Foodista, recently scored a table at Bondir, one of Boston's hottest restaurant openings this year (and named the best new restaurant of 2011 by Boston Magazine). Jason Bondir, the chef and owner of the trendy Cambridge restaurant, changes the menu daily based on the locally sourced items available each week.
"Bondir was an experience that quite lived up to my expectations. The atmosphere is cozy and warm, the service is likewise — nothing feels pretentious, and chef Bond himself is the epitomy of a humble genius." — Frugal Foodista
Bronx Broccoli Rabe From a Brother From Corona
Frequent TDM contibutor, Fried Neck Bones, ventured out to Fratelli's Pizza Cafe in the Bronx for one thing and one thing only broccoli rabe. The pizzeria is famous for offering up their garlicky rendition of the bittersweet green vegetable, both as a pizza topping or simply sautéed as a side dish.
"Broccoli rabe's appeal, with its bittersweet flavor, especially combined with garlic, olive oil, and crushed red pepper, goes directly to my nerve center, immediately stirring a rare combination of feelings including but not limited to pure pleasure, child-like happiness, and a primal sense of contentment." Fried Neck Bones
One of Austin's Premier Mexican Restaurants
When TDM contributors, the Austin Food Junkies, got invited to dine at one of Austin's hottest new restaurants, Fonda San Miguel, they were treated to a whirlwind feast of Mexican cuisine. The restaurant is known for serving up modern interpretations of classic Mexican dishes, blue corn quesadillas served with ceviche-style Canadian lobster and muenster cheese.
"The pork did not disappoint; it was tender and flavorful with the citrusy marinade coming through and the pickled onions popping off like exploding flavor crystals." — Austin Food Junkies
Modern French Brasserie-Style
Located on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, Comme Ça manages to strike the balance between being a casual neighborhood standby and a trendy, modern hot spot at once. David Myers, the chef and owner of Comme Ça, offers a menu of his own takes on brasserie-style classics, such as roasted beef marrow and moules frites.
"It’s one of those rare L.A. places that everyone goes to, but no one cares who else is there. That’s probably because the food is delicious, despite the restaurant’s popularity." — Nicole Campoy Leffler