Last year, I put thousands of pounds of food in my mouth. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the meals that were most important to me in 2018.
This was very tough to narrow down. There are several meals I feel bad leaving out. But I can’t spend any more time scrolling through pictures of food on my phone.
Honorable and Mentionable
Before we get to the top-shelf stuff, I have to give shoutouts to the unsung heroes in my eating life.
It was a great year for my ongoing, very passionate, relationship with complimentary bread. But two free loaves stand apart from the rest.
- The complimentary bread at Luciano’s Italian Restaurant is absolutely bonkers.
- The brown bread at Cheesecake Factory is a toasty, sweet dream.
- When I found out that the Cheesecake Factory sells their bread at Albertsons… I knelt in the supermarket like I was Tim Tebow and the year was 2009.
I couldn’t stand a week on this Earth without black beans. In 2018, I ate four cans of black beans per week. They are my rock and my inspiration. To every last legume I scarfed in 2018, I say, thank you.
The Lola at Janjou Patisserie still might be the best bite in Boise, but I’ve talked about it enough already.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, my favorite things!
5. Avocado Banh Mi at Wild Root in Boise
This was my go-to lunch in 2018. It’s a big sandwich packed with meat (or tofu), kimchi, and the first veganaise I’ve ever tolerated—and I don’t just tolerate it, I like it. If you spot Wild Root co-owner Michael Trebbi making your sandwich, get ready for something extra special and extra saucy.
4. Fried Chicken Sandwich at Pretty Bird in Salt Lake City
The recipe is simple. A Flintstones-sized portion of fried chicken, brushed in seasoned butter, topped with sliced pickles and cabbage. Oh, baby!
3. Halibut Cheeks at Petite 4 in Boise
Halibut cheeks in butter would have been good enough. Buttery halibut cheeks with citrus is clever and delicious. Buttery citrus halibut cheeks topped with fried olives so rich they’re almost chocolatey? That’s galaxy brain stuff.
2. Squash Blossom and Burrata Pizza at Gjelina in Venice, CA
Gjelina is the culinary mecca for the West LA hipster. I almost expected the building itself to grow arms and start writing a screenplay on its MacBook Air.
But here’s the thing about hipsters, the food they make is often so good you can’t complain. The pizza I ate here in November, powered to greatness by cherry tomato and confit garlic, was an entire garden on display. And the mouth-feel was, frankly, unprecedented.
1. Esquite at Nopalito in San Francisco
The best bites of food are the ones you never see coming. And this feisty little opening course caught me off guard entirely. This bowl of corn is sauteed to the zenith of sweetness, mixed with a dollop of mayo, and bathed in a squeeze of lime.
It still shimmers before me as I drift off to sleep… that ephemeral streak of fat, sugar, and acid that flew—straight and true—into the deepest recesses of my mammalian brain, robbing me of the ability to speak, allowing me only to grunt and grip my spoon more tightly.
Those are the moments we eat for.
And now, we hurtle into 2019!
I know this is a time for bok choy and false hope, but I encourage you to take a different approach in the new year. Let’s take a moment to be proud of all the food we pounded down like champs in 2018.
And tonight, when you get home, poke a new hole at the very end of your belt. That’s the hole you should be using in January of 2020 when another year of good living is in the books. ∎