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Local Food Writers Rave About Their Best Meals of 2015

As is tradition at Eater, we close out the year by surveying local food writers and our own staff on various restaurant-related topics, and we'll be publishing their responses throughout the week. Readers, feel free to share your thoughts below. Next question: What was your single best meal in 2015?

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Townsman
Townsman
Katie Chudy for Eater

MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:

It’s always hard to pick one, but I’ll cite a gorgeous multi-course Piemontese feast at Erbaluce in Bay Village, punctuated throughout with little showers of white truffles. (This was nearly equaled by a different meal here that finished with a stunning cheese-and-grappa pairing, featuring a beautiful array of local, edible crabapples.) Chef/owner Chuck Draghi and partner/GM/sommelier Joan Johnson never disappoint, but their traditional Northern Italian cuisine, wines, and extraordinary hospitality seem to get better every year.

Marc Hurwitz of Boston's Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk:

In the immediate Boston area, I'd have to say the grilled beef skewers, duck soup, and beef vermicelli that we had at Sunrise Restaurant in Dorchester. A bit outside of the area, the clam chowder, tomato soup, tacos with rare coriander-seared tuna, and chopped brisket sandwich from CK Pearl in Essex.

Dan Whalen, cookbook authorfood blogger, and contributor to WGBH's Craving Boston:

I went to a winter pop-up at Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, Maine and it was a magical night. In fact, when I returned to Earth at their actual location in the fall my meal was also a highlight of the year. They have these squid ink chicken wings that are unreal. They are so good that I recreated them on my website.

Kerry J. Byrne, food writer for the Boston Herald:

Always tough to pick one. My best meals this year were probably in Phoenix for the Super Bowl, a combination of the tangible excitement that surrounds every Super Bowl paired with great regional food. Enjoyed awesome Sonoran at Jalapeño Inferno in Scottsdale, for example, thanks to a recommendation from Boston chef (by way of Phoenix) Brian Poe.

Most notably, randomly stumbled across Little Miss BBQ the day before the game in a shady neighborhood south of the Phoenix airport, when we saw a huge line snaking out the door and around the parking lot. We made a U-turn to check it out. Turns out Little Miss BBQ might be the hottest barbecue joint in the country. After waiting an hour in line, tasted the best brisket of my life, humbly adorned with raw white onions and jalapeños, plus a choice of house sauces. While waiting in line met a Patriots fan and New Hampshire native named Les Drent, who shared his stash of Sam Adams with us in the parking lot. Turns out he owns a coffee, cacao,  and tobacco farm on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Visited him a few weeks later. Ate raw, waxy cocoa beans right out of the pod and picked coffee berries and bananas out of his trees. Not Boston. But all came together because of a Boston connection made the day before the Patriots won the Super Bowl in epic fashion. Pretty awesome!

Also enjoyed a cool quirk of geography this year: drank Guinness at the westernmost pub in Europe (Kruger's in Dingle, Ireland), hand-pulled stout at the westernmost brewery in Europe (West Kerry Brewers in Dingle), and house-brewed IPA at the westernmost brewery in the world (Kauai Island Brewery) — reputedly the last barroom before you cross the International Dateline.

Scott Kearnan, writer for Zagat and more:

Ooh. This is really tough, because some of my favorites are so very different — how can I pick between, say, the roasted chicken at Moody’s Backroom or the pretty-much-everything at Hojoko?

But for sheer consistency, shout-out to Juan Pedrosa and Kate Holowchik: Every individual meal I’ve had at Yvonne’s has been uniformly excellent. I have previously, in private and drunken company, referred to the food as "panty-dropping awesome." In the light of sobriety and a public forum, I realize that sounds sorta gross. But, I mean, you get the point.

Sam Hiersteiner, food writer for Lucky Peach, First We Feast, Art of Eating, and other publications:

My wife's birthday dinner at Alden & Harlow, with a boffo Wagyu special as the centerpiece. Close second was the Feast of the Seven Fishes tasting menu at Centre Street Cafe.

Rachel Cossar, Boston city editor for The Daily Meal:

Charcuterie tasting at Bar Boulud at their tasting counter...and the flaming baked Alaska Townsman made for my birthday dinner.

BosGuy, LGBT Blogger (with a lot of South End restaurant coverage):

My single best meal in 2015 was actually at Joon in Provincetown, but my best meal was at CHG's Ostra Boston where I had the hamachi, grilled octopus, and monkfish. Everything was perfect. This is a great Boston restaurant for those who enjoy fine dining and seafood.

Catherine Smart, managing editor of WGBH's Craving Boston and Boston Globe correspondent:

The Bagelsaurus hot-smoked salmon sandwich. I can’t tell you anything else about the meal because I blacked-out from the pure pleasure of it.

Dana Hatic, Eater Boston associate editor:

I'm gonna go with my most recent best meal, and that is for sure the caprini pizza at City Girl Cafe. As we know, I love cheese, and this pizza's goat cheese and mozzarella go perfectly with caramelized onions, spinach, and marinara. Paired with a Cisco Whale's Tale Pale Ale = perfection.

Katie Chudycookbook author and Eater Boston contributor:

The meal that I had this year that stands out the most is the one I had at Branch Line. From start to finish, the meal was just classically good and the service was truly outstanding. If I had to pick a favorite of that night, hard as is it would be, the porchetta would be hard to beat.

Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor:

I hate answering this question, which is probably unfair, since I convinced all the other people on this page to answer it. Over on Instagram, I've spent the last couple days sharing photos of my best meals for every month of 2015, and wow, I have no idea how I could narrow them all down to a single best meal.

Would it be a single slice of my favorite pizza? Or maybe a meal where the food wasn't perfect, but the company was? Can I shy away from naming a local favorite and instead rave about everything I ate in three days in Portland, Maine?

Well, I'm going to weasel my way around this question and give a cheesy answer — but to be fair, it highlights a few of my Somerville favorites. My single best meal of 2015 — er, day of meals — was in late May, when my now-fiance proposed by feeding me (clueless the whole time) ring-shaped foods all day. There were Union Square Donuts for breakfast, store-bought tortellini for lunch, and a home-made, calamari-covered pizza for dinner (with a big hole ripped in the middle — he told me it was an accident).

We went out for drinks before and after dinner (the actual proposal came after the second drinking session), so I want to give a big shout-out to two of my favorite local bartenders, who inadvertently played a role in the day: Taso Papatsoris at Casa B and Joe Cammarata at Backbar (now at Hojoko). If you haven't yet made their acquaintance, you should — they both make killer drinks and great conversation. Backbar, while physically pretty hidden, probably doesn't qualify for "hidden gem" status these days since it receives plenty of attention, but the tiny downstairs Casa B bar deserves to be discovered.

Bar Boulud Boston

776 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199 (617) 535-8800 Visit Website

Sunrise Restaurant

1157 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02125 (617) 288-7314

Jalapeño Inferno

23587 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85255 (480) 585-6442 Visit Website

Erbaluce

69 Church Street, , MA 02116 (617) 426-6969 Visit Website

Townsman

120 Kingston Street, Boston, MA 02111 (617) 993-0750 Visit Website

Alden & Harlow

40 Brattle Street, , MA 02138 (617) 864-2100 Visit Website

Centre Street Cafe

669 Centre St, #A, Boston, MA 02130 (617) 524-9217 Visit Website

casa b

253 Washington Street, Somerville, MA 02143 617 764 2180 Visit Website

City Girl Cafe

204 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02139 (617) 864-2809 Visit Website

CK Pearl

112 Main Street, , MA 01929 (978) 890-7378 Visit Website

Hojoko

1271 Boylston Street, , MA 02215 (617) 670-0507 Visit Website

Backbar

7 Sanborn Court, , MA 02143 (617) 718-0249 Visit Website

Earth

354 Goose Rocks Rd, Kennebunkport, ME 04046 (207) 967-6550 Visit Website

Yvonne's

3 Winter Pl., Boston, MA 02108 Visit Website

Union Square Donuts

20 Bow Street, , MA 02143 (617) 209-2257 Visit Website

Bagelsaurus

1796 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02140 (857) 285-6103 Visit Website

Little Miss BBQ

4301 East University Drive, , AZ 85034 (602) 437-1177 Visit Website

Branch Line

321 Arsenal Street, , MA 02472 (617) 420-1900 Visit Website

Ostra

1 Charles Street South, , MA 02116 (617) 421-1200 Visit Website

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