Happy New Year! We spent the end of 2017 soaking up small town life in St. Michaels, MD during our first ever house sit (much more on that soon). I hope everyone had a happy holiday! We’ve got lots of great content and a big announcement coming soon, but in the meantime here is our B.S. Best of 2017. I’d intended to recap both our travels and food favorites over the year, but the blog was down last week and I got behind, so we’ll just stick to the food!
Best Breakfast Tacos: Brazos Tacos (Charlottesville, VA)
Although we visited taco mecca Austin in 2017, the award for best breakfast tacos of the year goes to Brazos Tacos in Charlottesville. We loved all the different combinations like yam and eggs and brisket with mashed potatoes.
Best Communal Dining Experience: The Underground Kitchen
We were fortunate to attend several show stopping wine dinners in 2017, but one of the most memorable by far was The Underground Kitchen pop-up dinner in Warrenton, Virginia. We met so many great people, tasted delicious food and wine all surrounded by a lush gorgeous setting. I’d love to attend another one of these parties in 2018!
Best Banana Pudding: Chow (Las Vegas)
It was a good year for this banana pudding lover. I used to only see it on menus at BBQ restaurants, but it seems to be gaining popularity. The best I had by far was at Chow in Las Vegas, perfectly rich and creamy with no fake banana flavor and plenty of fresh banana chunks and Nilla wafers.
Honorable Mention: DC Harvest
While not banana pudding per se, the deconstructed banana cream pie at DC Harvest had everything I love about banana pudding with the added deliciousness of salted rum caramel on top.
Best Fried Chicken Sandwich: Silver (Bethesda, MD)
The pickle fried chicken sandwich at Silver is what dreams are made of, ’nuff said.
Best BBQ: Franklin BBQ (Austin, TX)
Franklin’s more than lived up to the hype and goes down as the best brisket we ate all year.
Honorable Mention: Black Hog BBQ (Frederick, MD) + Okie Dokies Smokehouse (Asheville, NC)
Best Brunch: Maketto (DC)
Not only the best brunch we had this year, but also one of the most fun. Heading to Maketto with friends for Sunday dim sum should definitely be one of your New Year resolutions.
Honorable Mention: Mola (DC)
Mola was another incredible and beautiful brunch we just can’t stop thinking about. We especially loved the sun-drenched space, flavor-packed small plates and skillet egg dishes.
Best Bread: Hazel (DC)
The zucchini bread with foie gras mousse, chamomile gelee and bee pollen at Hazel is a work of art. If you haven’t tried it yet, don’t let 2018 pass you by without doing so.
Best Pizza: Ava’s Pizzeria (St. Michaels, MD)
During our trip to St. Michaels, we completely fell in love with the pizza at Ava’s Pizzeria (and everything else there – blog post coming soon!). The crust is perfect, just chewy enough and not too dry around the edges. The toppings are fresh and the mozzarella is made in-house every day.
Honorable Mention: All Purpose (DC)
Of course, you also can’t go wrong with All Purpose – especially the Buona with tomato, pepperoni, mozzarella, chili honey and basil.
Best Biscuit: Biscuit Head (Asheville, NC)
Biscuit Head is the obvious winner for 2017’s best biscuit. These are huge, fluffy masterpieces made even better with a gravy flight.
Best Reimagined Dish: Himitsu (DC)
Himitsu can do no wrong, but this cabbage e pepe was one of the most interesting and captivating dishes I had all year.
Best Splurge Meal: Volt (Frederick, MD)
Over the years, we’ve become somewhat disillusioned with “fine dining” restaurants in the DC area. So often they are over-hyped, over-priced and overly pretentious and we never quite feel the experience was worth it. Volt was a nice change of pace for a splurge that wasn’t half a month’s rent. We opted to go at brunch for the 5 course tasting menu and received beautiful food and exquisite service.
Best Affordable Meal That Felt Like a Splurge: Triple George Grill (Las Vegas)
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also loved how affordably we dined at old school restaurant Triple George Grill in downtown Las Vegas, a town that can easily break the bank with just one meal.
Best Fast Casual: Brassica (Columbus, OH)
Most fast casual restaurants have a learning curve, and it takes a couple of visits to perfect your order. At Brassica, we were able to get it exactly right the first time. I really wish these would expand outside of Columbus!
Honorable Mention: Rasa (DC)
Oh Rasa, where have you been all my life? So many vibrant colors and delicious Indian flavors, all in a nutritious bowl. Plus, I want to live in the impeccably decorated dining space.
Best Carb-Loaded Dish: Bar Elena (DC)
The spaghetti sandwich at Bar Elena is just fun to eat. It would also be superb carbo-loading before a big race, for those who are into such things.
Best Soup: Timber Stone Grill (Hammandsport, NY)
Is there anything better than gooey melted cheese on top of rich savory, beef broth? The French Onion soup at Timber Stone Grill in the Finger Lakes warmed my bones and my soul on a frigid day.
Best Chicken: Hattie B’s (Nashville)
We would be remiss not to include Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in this roundup. Tom simply has not stopped talking about it since we left Nashville.
Best Food Festival: Madison Square Eats
Stumbling upon Madison Square Eats during our quick trip to New York City this Spring was culinary kismet. We feasted on Bolivian food and pizza in a festive atmosphere, which turned out to be one of the highlights of our visit.
Best Waffle: Stella Modern Italian (Oklahoma City)
Tom’s love for waffles runs deep, but this pork belly and sweet potato waffle from our visit to OKC was tops in 2017.