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Best of 2011

January 11, 2012

If anything was made apparent to me in 2011, it was this: I am supposed to be in New York.

I may have only lived here for 14 months but I already feel like NYC is turning into home. I may have been born and raised in LA but, every time I went back to visit this past year, I became bored and antsy and only wanted to be back in the city. There’s something about New York that makes me feel so alive; here, I feel like I’m slowly becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be.

My best of 2011 list reflects a similar perspective as my life; as I created a home for myself in NYC, I immersed myself in food that reminded me of home. It’s surprising how many places I didn’t eat at in 2011: I only had one fine dining meal (Del Posto, for my birthday). I missed out on most (if not all) of the big name restaurant openings. For a girl who prides herself in trying new restaurants, this year was definitely not the norm.

Even though I may not have indulged in my typical extravagant fooding adventures, I feel like my time this past year was spent wisely. I discovered casual eateries and hole-in-the-walls and reignited my love of comfort food. I found some of my favorite restaurants in the entire city this past year – places that I will go to over and over again, no matter the season or occasion. So what if this year’s list may be a bit tame compared to years past – I have all of 2012 to eat!

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The Food Ledger’s Best of 2011

(If you’re not aware of my “Best of” policy, this list only includes restaurants I ate at for the first time in 2011. Carryovers from prior years not allowed.)

I Can’t Live Without

(I’m somewhat obsessed with knife cut noodles at the moment.)

  1. King 5 Noodle House (NYC) – If I’m headed to Flushing, there’s a very good chance I’m going so I can eat here. The only place I know of that serves an authentic Taiwanese breakfast, King 5 Noodle House reminds me of the restaurant the parents used to take me on Sunday mornings.
  2. Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles (NYC) – When I think “Chinese comfort food”, I can’t help but think of beef noodle soup. I was at the edge of death (or maybe just severely hungover) the first time I came here but by the time I was done with my bowl, I was feeling almost 100%. I’ve been coming back here ever since.
  3. Rockaway Taco (NYC) – I love fish tacos. I NEED fish tacos. I found a fish taco place in NYC that actually compares to LA fish tacos. ‘Nuff said.

One Bite and I’m Yours

(It’s a fig cupcake with prosciutto and a balsamic reduction. These are the cupcakes of your dreams.)

  1. Robicelli’s (NYC) – I am not a cupcake person but I will travel long distances for a Robicelli’s cupcake. Once, I traveled from Manhattan to Brooklyn, just to eat ONE of their cupcakes. That’s right – I rode the train there, bought one cupcake, ate the cupcake, then rode the train back. Their flavors are unique, inspiring and absolutely incomparable.
  2. Dough (NYC) – Dough’s light, fluffly pillows of fried dough haunt my dreams. Forget those other doughnut shops (*cough* Doughnut Plant *cough*), none of them have the airiness of Dough’s.
  3. Del Posto (NYC) – My goat cheese, celery and fig dessert was easily the best formal dessert of 2011.

2011’s Favorite Restaurant Group

(Sadly, Totto Ramen doesn’t count for this year’s list since I first tried it in 2010. Luckily, its sister restaurants are just as good!)

  1. Yakatori Totto (NYC) – Two words: Chicken liver. I have never had chicken livers as creamy as the ones at Yakatori Totto. Order more than one skewer – you’re going to want as many as you can get.
  2. Soba Totto (NYC) – Soba Totto is like the best of both Totto worlds. Their yakatori is of the same quality as Yakatori Totto’s and their soba noodles in broth is as comforting as a bowl of ramen fromTotto Ramen. This is my go-to restaurant on the east side.

One Step Closer to a True New Yorker

(See that pizza on the counter? That was MY pizza.)

  1. Di Fara Pizza (NYC) – Everything they say is true. The waits will be long. The crowds will be impatient. The pizza is worth it.

Almost…But Not Quite

(A ceviche tostada for less than $5. You can’t get anything like this in NYC.)

  1. Marisco Jalisco (LA) – One delicious fried shrimp taco covered in slices of avocado – less than $2. That would have easily cost me $5+ in NYC. (NYC Mexican food just cannot compare to LA Mexican food.)
  2. M. Wells (NYC) – Brunch at M. Wells was amazing. Sadly, it closed too soon to try anything else on the menu.
  3. Shopsins (NYC) – Order the Mo’ Jemima: poached eggs, bacon and mac and cheese pancakes. Yes, macaroni and cheese pancakes. This is epic breakfast food.
  4. Neptune Oyster (Boston) – The best lobster rolls I’ve had to date. If you go, just remember – butter is better!
  5. Tia Pol (NYC) – Their tapas are delicious and affordable but their fried chickpeas are easily the most addicting thing on their menu.

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…Well, look at that. I’ve been so busy reminiscing about 2011 that I’m almost two weeks into 2012! Into the new year we go!

One Comment on “Best of 2011”

  • Miriam

    I am proud to say that I have been to the first 5 of 6 on this list with you!!! And I’d love a blood orange donut right now 😉

    January 23, 2012 » 1:19 PM »

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