As is tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. We've already looked at top restaurant standbys, top newcomers, the one word to sum up 2013, best dining neighborhoods, and the biggest dining surprises. For our next question, friends of Eater pick their single best meal of 2013. (Here are last year's responses if you'd like to relive 2012 memories as well.) Readers, please add your thoughts to the comments.
[Photo: UpStairs on the Square/Cal Bingham]
Q: What was your single best meal of 2013?
MC Slim JB, restaurant critic, The Improper Bostonian: It's excruciating to choose from so many outstanding meals this year, but I'll settle for Strip-T's hosting of Providence's excellent North Restaurant in February; they clubbed it out of the park with a dozen amazing dishes, like a spicy dan dan mien with goat and squid. A breathtaking lineup.
Marc H., Boston's Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk: Locally, any of my meals at China King in Chinatown could count here, with the Shanghai chow mein being the most memorable of the lot. Outside of the area, the coppa pizza from When Pigs Fly in Kittery, ME, was beyond spectacular--one of the best pizzas in New England.
Luke O'Neil, freelance journalist on cocktails and lots more, all over the internet: Something my wife Michelle cooked on Sunday nights probably. She's not a professional, but the extra ingredient is always love. Also I don't have to get off my couch to eat it.
Leah Mennies, food editor at Boston Magazine: Can I give you a frankenmeal? Hoping so! I'd start with the puffy duck fat garlic knots from Ribelle (between those and the ones from Area Four, evidence that a garlic knot revival should absolutely happen). Then, the grilled carrot salad from Kirkland Tap & Trotter, where carrots are perched on a pool of ranch-like dressing and sprinkled with crunchy sprouted legumes. I'd follow that up with a bowl of the poke-like tuna ceviche with coconut milk and crispy shallots from the bar at Clio, a fried chicken sandwich from Cutty's, and finish it off with super long, super narrow slice of the coconut cream pie from Asta.
South End blogger BosGuy: My goodbye/final dinner at UpStairs on the Square. I will miss the restaurant, which I first ate at when it was above The Hasty Pudding Theatre. My most fun meal was my late-night ramen noodle dinner at Uni in the Back Bay.
Damien S., community manager for Yelp Boston: The béchamel-forward Lasagna alla Bolognese, preceded by the best burrata on the market, from L'Impasto. Didn't hurt that they sent us home with three half loaves of house-baked bread. Except when I tried to put on a belt after. Hey-o!
Katie Chudy, Eater Boston contributing writer: I keep going back to a meal that I had at Giulia. You could just taste the passion and love in the food.
Drew Starr, Eater Boston contributing writer: So many great meals this year, but the highlights for me were almost always popups or events. Something about watching great chefs in a new location, designing meals from start to finish for a one-night-only event will draw me in almost every time. Looking back, though, most of the best involved Brasstacks — the supper club started by Marc Sheehan and Matt Schrage. My favorite was a benefit for Slow Food Boston held at the Lowell Boat Club in Amesbury. Reuben Varzea documented it nicely here. Sheehan is the new chef de cuisine at Bondir Cambridge, and Brasstacks hasn't done an event in some time as he's gotten his legs under him there. He is absolutely worth visiting at Bondir (I went recently for a dinner with wine importer Terry Thiese), and keep an eye out for the next Brasstacks event.
Jacqueline Dole, food writer and photographer: Over the summer I went to a dinner at the Walrus and Carpenter oyster farm in Rhode Island. After a boat ride and tour of the farm there was an in-water raw bar and five courses cooked over an open fire by James Mark of north. Slow cooked squid with fermented chiles, quahog and oyster escabeche, a pile of grilled lobster smothered in cilantro all served family style on the beach at sunset? It was perfect.
Marian White, BostInno staff writer: Thankfully, that's a hard decision — but if I have to choose I'd say my meal at the pop-up restaurant, Whisk. It was love at first bite. Everything from the tasty oysters to the black duck — all in a cozy, friendly atmosphere. I'm looking forward to seeing where they pop up next.
TJ Connelly, Red Sox music director, onthebar co-founder, Thirst Boston co-founder: I was lucky to enjoy a few incredible meals, but I never miss an opportunity to eat fried grits & gumbo at Tupelo in Inman Square.
Dave Levy, We Love Beantown blogger: It may not be the sexiest pick, but I have to say that a late spring Steak Night down at Boston Chops sticks out the most to me. I love the decor and the environment; there are solid options to dress up your frites and greens; and respectable beer and bourbon chioces is a win in my books.
Bianca Garcia, Confessions of a Chocoholic blogger: My best meal was at Domenica, a John Besh restaurant in New Orleans. The pastas were pretty phenomenal — stracci with oxtail and fried chicken livers, and squid ink tagliolini with blue crab and herbs. I know that pasta/Italian food isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of New Orleans, but the food there was so good, it would probably be my first stop when I come back!
Leah Klein, Leah's Life: Pearls and Oysters blogger: This is always a tough one. Sake Bomb Sunday at Uni Sashimi Bar was definitely one of them. My daughter's birthday dinner (by request) at Island Creek Oyster Bar was another one. I have to add one more: the Ferrari tasting menu at Il Casale!
Rachel Cossar, Foodista on Pointe blogger: Whisk at 351 Hanover Street, hands down. (But only if you went the whole nine yards, seven courses with pairings.)
Aaron G., Eater Boston reader: My single best dish of 2013 was the carbonara at Erbaluce.
Michele Won, Eater Boston reader: A bowl of seafood pho from Le's in Allston. Cilantro + hearty broath = Best potion for hangover!