PORK LIVER PÂTÉ AT CITY PROVISIONS DELI
We could have picked one of its sandwiches (the ham and Gruyère, for instance), or one of its take-out meals (e.g., the meat loaf). But this ethereal puree of pork liver wins, because it’s ridiculously smooth, impossibly rich—and no other deli does it quite so well (if at all).
BURRATA AT SPACCA NAPOLI
Burrata—soft buffalo mozzarella with a cream center—can’t ever really be bad. But if you get it at Spacca Napoli, where it seems to be somehow fresher and creamier, it can be transcendent.
WHITE ANCHOVIES AT FRANCESCA’S PIZZERIA NAPOLETANA (FORMERLY NELLA)
Simplicity rules at Francesca’s, and it doesn’tget much more simple than these pristine anchovies, splashed with balsamic and dotted with garlic.
UOVO IN RAVIOLO AT DAVANTI ENOTECA
Jonathan Beatty isn’t the first chef in the city to put a big raviolo filled with ricotta, spinach and egg on his menu. But his brown butter–topped version hits the mark so hard, he may be the last.
BOT CHIEN AT NHU LAN BAKERY
On your next banh mi run, focus on the Vietnamese take-away snacks marked FRIED RICE CAKES instead. This is bot chien, a spongy, tofulike rice cake with lightly crisped edges, and egg, caramelized garlic and scallions stuck to each bite. Drown the whole mess in soy-fish sauce and you’ll forget about those banh mi.
ROASTED KABOCHA SQUASH AT NORTH POND
Bruce Sherman’s respect for local ingredients at the height of their season comes to fruition in this simple side, where kabocha squash is pureed to a texture so smooth and rich it (no joke) brought to mind foie gras.
TOGARASHI-SEARED TUNA AT ARAMI
The butteriness of the fish (sometimes yellowfin, sometimes ahi), the crunchiness of the seaweed salad, the creaminess of the dressing: That’s all it took to have us worshipping at the altar of sushi chef B.K. Park.
LAMB SAUSAGE HAND-PIE AT HOOSIER MAMA PIE CO.
Paula Haney is a woman who does only a few things—and does them better than anyone else. So when she started offering savory hand-pies at the Green City Market, we knew almost before we tasted the generously spiced ground meat and absurdly flaky crust that it was going to be something very special.
HUARACHITOS AT MOM'S OLD RECIPE MEXICAN RESTAURANT
Every meal at this cute Gladstone Park spot should start with an order of these delicate, oval-shaped fried masa cakes spread with tomatillo salsa, cotija cheese and sprightly red onion.
FIVE SPICE PEANUTS WITH LOTUS AND BURDOCK ROOT AT X-MARX
Supper club X-Marx’s “Fiery Chinatown” dinner was one of the best this year, and the stunner of the meal was the simplest: crunchy burdock root and peanuts simmered in a beautiful broth of star anise, Szechuan peppercorn, cinnamon, soy sauce and black vinegar.
PORK AND CRAB ROE XIAO LONG BAO AT TAO RAN JU
When this Chinatown hot pot newcomer debuted this year, the xiao long bao (a.k.a. soup dumplings) got more attention than the induction burners on each table (also pretty cool). They’re thin-skinned and filled with perfectly seasoned minced pork, a dollop of briny crab roe and just enough broth.
GOMAE AT UKAI
Chef Paul Chant dresses up a standard sushi-bar dish by tightly wrapping the cooked spinach around pickled gourd and cucumber and topping it with a soy-yuzu “air.”
| Burgers, pizza and hot dogs
| Small bites
| Soups and sandwiches
| The 101st best thing we ate: slow-cooked farm egg at June
| Dish wish list (PDF)