I posted my best bites of 2013 last year if you want to check that out. My rules are that it's something I ate this year (not necessarily for the first time) and something I both remember well and crave often.
I was stuck on which dish at multiple places so I listed my second favorites, too. In no particular order...
1) Almond Croissant at Common Bond - Anytime I hear someone is going to Common Bond, I insist they try the almond croissant first. As a confirmed chocolate person, this is a huge endorsement. The perfect amount of almond paste, huge in size, flaky, sugary, and a perfect crunch on top. A close second: the chocolate chip cookie. You can tell the chocolate is good quality and the texture is always chewy without being mush.
2) Jalapeño Cheese Grits at Mickelthwaite in Austin - The texture and cheesiness of these grits are my favorite part. They have the perfect hint of jalapeño flavor and are just as amazing leftover. I would know, because on my second trip I got enough to feed five people. At least. A close second: their from-scratch moonpies. I was heartbroken they weren't available on my last trip.
3) Spaghetti, black pepper, parmigiano, and olive oil at Coltivare - So simple but I'm not kidding when I say I could eat this weekly at least. Perfect pasta, enough cheese to taste and bind it together, and even perfectly-sized pepper grounds. Nearly everything I've had at Coltivare has been amazing, so it's hard not to just get this every time. A close second: the cauliflower. It's roasted with pine nuts and raisins. I hate cauliflower but not this.
1, Mickelthwaite Trailer, 3
4) "Everything" Kolache from the Fluff Bake Bar Pop-Up - I probably wouldn't have tried this if I was left to order, but my awesome friend Tig got one of everything at this event and then came to my house to share. This is basically your traditional kolache dough, and instead of there being fruit in the middle, there was a dollop of cream cheese surrounded by the garlic and onion tastes of an Everything bagel. It was soft and creamy and savory and I immediately wanted another.
5) The Honeycake dessert at Oxheart - I just love the surprises at Oxheart, and the hardest thing about going there is that every dish is pretty much a once in a lifetime experience. They rarely repeat menu items for more than a season at a time, and as the menu is such that you order the entire meal (not just a dish at a time), it isn't cheap and is therefore a treat each time we go. On one visit, we were treated to a dessert of honeycake with cooked carrots and cream cheese with candied pecans that I couldn't stop raving about. Again, for this chocolate lover, that's saying a lot. A close second: the onions cooked in goat's milk. Rich and warm and a little sweet with fantastic textures.
6) Creamed corn from Killen's BBQ - I eat more barbecue than the average person, and I don't like beef or meat on the bone all that much. My barbecue restaurant loyalty lies with the side offerings and Killen's creamed corn is the best. I once told someone I would bathe in it (but that would be gross). It's a little sweet and has a little spice and the cream is so thick, you want to lick it from the plate. A close second: the mac and cheese is pretty delicious, too.
4 (top left), 5, 6 (also top left)
7) Chicken Biryani at Great W'Kana - Rice and chicken cooked with spices and served in a porcelain dish beneath a hot, flaky bread dome with a side of raita to cool it down. The chicken is juicy, it smells fantastic, and I want to drink the raita. I hate that this place is so hard to get to from our new side of town.
8) Cafe Sua Da ice cream from Cloud 10 Creamery - The only repeat from last year! I went to Cloud 10 on my birthday and again more recently for a blogger event where I got to chat with the chef and ask him ridiculous questions (and he told me about making arugula ice cream for a client that was a total mess) so now I love this place even more. I love so many things but I have a hard time not getting the cafe sua da (Vietnamese coffee) ice cream in a waffle cone each and every time.
9) Brussels Sprouts from The Modular - I dare someone who doesn't like Brussels sprouts to try these and not change their mind. They're flash fried so the leaves are crispy and then tossed with golden raisins so there's a hint of sweetness. Every other sprout I eat gets automatically compared to these since they're the best.
10) Tom Kha Soup from almost anywhere - When I eat Thai, I tend to be boring and only get Panang curry because I just love it. Last year, my step-mom ordered this soup when we were out for Thai. I tried it and didn't want anything else. It's great at Vieng Thai, my favorite place, but it's also solid at our nearby, average-to-decent spot, which leads me to think this chicken and coconut soup is just something like mac and cheese that I'll like in nearly any iteration. It's warm and comforting without being heavy and, fun fact, part of my last meal of 2014.
7, 8, 9 (sorry, no Tom Kha pics)
And now, the fun part - starting on my list for 2015...