My best of 2013

When I first started my food blogs in 2009 (I had two – one was purely for burgers and the other covered everything else), the mission was twofold:

“Here’s the deal – the cheeseburger is the quintessential American food. A couple of years back, after reading a review in the Wall Street Journal about the best burgers in the country, only to find that three of the top five were in my own back yard, I decided that I needed to see for myself. With the help of George Motz’s “Hamburger America”, several lists, recommendations from friends and asking everyone about burgers from “their” town, this is the result…”; and

“A couple of years ago I was trying to set up a lunch meeting with someone. When I asked them, they said they really didn’t “eat lunch” – for them food was just fuel. I was shocked.  For me, food is an experience. A journey. And a quest. So here are my thoughts. If you eat to live, you may not be interested. If you live to eat, you may find some ideas for places here. I went back to the first of this year, as opposed to diving back multiple years and started there. These are my thoughts on everything except for burgers. They deserve their own page and it is here.”

I later switched blog hosts, from blogspot to WordPress (in the spring of 2012), combining the two blogs, and re-created almost all of those posts here.  And this is my 300th post on this blog.  On this occasion, and with the recent passing of 2013, here is my “best of” for 2013: 

Please note – this is completely subjective and based on my personal 2013 experiences.

My favorite food discovery of the year?  Hands down, the hot chicken at Prince’s Hot Chicken.  20130126-221845.jpgThis chicken was so amazing, that we went there three times in 2013.  To recap:  “The skin was extra crispy and peeled off in long pieces.  The meat was incredibly tender and when mixing the chicken with the bread in the sauce it was heavenly (and hellish, at the same time.)  When it was over, my fingers were red, my right nostril felt like I was breathing fire and I was sweating on top of my head.  I like hot food.  I actually love it. (Jo doesn’t like hot food and medium was a bit much for her.)  This was over-the-top.  This may have been the hottest thing I’ve ever eaten.  But it was incredible.”  I couldn’t say it any better today.  Several Atlanta places have tried to replicate “Nashville hot chicken” (Bantam + Biddy, Common Quarter and even Alabama barbecue chain Jim ‘N Nick’s), but no one has done it quite right, yet.  At least by me.

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Back toward the front of the restaurant from the back of the Iberian Pig

The place I’d heard the most hype about that didn’t live up to it?  The Iberian Pig.

It was loud and crowded and the food was fine – parts of it were very good – but the service, particularly the timing, was awful.  The Iberian Pig charcuterie, their eponymous feature, was pricey and it didn’t taste better than most other prosciutto.

The best ethnic food?  Bhojanic.  We’d eaten Indian food several times, at different spots around town, and never been impressed, until we went to Bhojanic.

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My thali, with chicken tikka masala, goat curry and chili paneer

We later went to Cardamon Hill, another “new” Indian restaurant receiving a lot of hype.  I’m glad we went to Bhojanic first – if we had gone in the other order, we likely would not have made that initial visit at the end of June.  Or the two return visits, with other couples. 

About that first meal, I wrote, “…chicken tikka masala – boneless Tandoori chicken in a tomato cream sauce.  The chicken was the standout dish – just the right amount of kick to it.  And when you put some of it and some rice on a piece of Chapati and dipped it in the yogurt sauce, it was a wonderful combination.”

The best burger I ate (anywhere) in 2013?  The Black Label Burger at New York’s Minetta Tavern20130224-133314.jpgThis burger was a thing of beauty.  “You know that taste that comes with a dry-aged steak?  This was that, taken up a notch.  I had this burger with nothing on it – a perfect marriage of beef and bread.  It was one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever eaten, pricy, but worth it.  And the fries were excellent, skinny, crispy and crunchy.”  I wrote that back in February.  I remember the burger being even better, the memory sweetened by time.

The best burger that I ate (in Atlanta) in 2013?  Still, Ann’s Snack Bar. 

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The rules at Ann’s are no joke.

The burger is very good.  And the experience is like no other.

The best new BBQ we tried?  Righteous Que20130823-231909.jpgThis find came about as as result of an attempt at a combined blog with Marie, Let’s Eat, looking for a place that neither of us had been.  We came away winners, including getting a tour from Toby of the smoker.  These guys are throwing out some great ‘que in the East Marietta, Sandy Plains area. 

My best “discovery” north of the Perimeter?  Rico’s World Kitchen 20130827-125803.jpgI ate there for “lone wolf” lunch on my review visit and have met folks there a couple of times since.  An entirely unexpected restaurant to be located in downtown Buford.  

The best “old” restaurant that I just visited?  Tasty China. 20130922-192758.jpg 
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The mala (hot and numbing) beef was too much, but the twice cooked pork belly was amazing.  This place leaves every other strip mall Chinese restaurant I’ve ever eaten at in the dust.  (Although a Christmas-time lunch at the Beautiful came close to winning this category.)

The best corndog that I ever ate (regardless of year)?  Pallookaville Fine Foods.20131228-071021.jpg I’ve told several folks that I have a soft spot in my heart, if not my arteries, for corndogs <g>.  These were absolutely amazing.  I ended that review with, “I’ve already recommended this to my daughters and to some of their friends.  And to my lawyer.  And to the leader of our small group.  It’s a fun spot and the prices are very fair.” 

Today, I recommend it, again, to you.  And one of my daughters and her boyfriend have been since, and came home raving about the corndogs.

Our favorite new Atlanta area restaurant?  We went to four that I would put into contention, King + Duke, the General Muir, Ink & Elm & Gunshow.  It’s a tough decision.  We’ve been to two of them twice (the General Muir – to sample more of the menu, although we still haven’t been for dinner, and Ink & Elm – for Sunday brunch and for their price fixe New Year’s Eve dinner).  But that doesn’t mean that they were better – we didn’t go to Gunshow until mid-December, precluding a second visit and we just didn’t get back to King + Duke.  

The General Muir is the kind of place that you could go to monthly and it not get old, and Ink & Elm may be the same way.  King + Duke is a great spot for a nice dinner out, with a wine menu (if you’re into such things that’s more of a wine book) that’s amazing.  But I think my vote goes to Gunshow,

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The American wagyu matambre was the standout dish from a magnificent meal

primarily for such a unique concept (slow, Southern, intimate dim sum) that was executed absolutely flawlessly.  It’s not a place that we’ll likely visit often, it is a fantastic addition to the Atlanta food landscape. 

That’s it – my recap of the best of 2013.  I’d love to hear your comments, critiques and recommendations.

One comment

  1. Now I know where to satisfy this ridiculous craving for Indian food that’s been eating away at my stomach. 🙂

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