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The Best Restaurant Meals of 2018

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What meals really stood out for food writers and editors this year

Guk soup with burdock, fish cakes, baby corn, and plum blossom fill a third of a dark, earthenware bowl
Atomix’s guk 국: soup with burdock, fish cakes, baby corn, and plum blossom
Louise Palmberg/Eater

Welcome to Year in Eater 2018, Eater’s annual ritual of eulogizing the last year through input from the city’s top food writers. Today, Eater editors and friends of Eater were asked to remember their best meal of the year.

Stefanie Tuder, senior editor of Eater NY: Two meals at Olmsted really stand out, one of which included food from star Seattle chef Edouardo Jordan. I was a latecomer to the magic that is the Olmsted garden, and I want s’more.

Chris Gayomali, senior editor at GQ: My two brothers and I haven’t been in the same city since 2015 (one lived in Korea, the other Los Angeles) so when they both came to visit New York at the same time we went in on all the hits. One afternoon, when Mission Chinese ended up being closed for an event, we did a hard swerve on over to Spicy Village, which miraculously didn’t have a wait. It felt like winning the lottery so we ordered 85 percent of the menu. I bought a t-shirt.

Helen Rosner, New Yorker food correspondent: Sorry, Eater NY, but my two best were both in the Bay Area — Angler and Dyafa. But in New York, probably dinner at Shabu-Shabu Macoron, or any one of a thousand summer lunches at Via Carota.

Priya Krishna, writer and author of forthcoming cookbook Indian-ish: Atomix

Alicia Kennedy, food and spirits writer: It happened outside of New York, at Theodore Rex in Houston, Texas, probably because they encourage you to order a bottle of pet-nat. The other best was from the food truck at Claudia Fleming’s North Fork Table and Inn in Southhold, out on Long Island, where a veggie sandwich and (again) perfect fries at a picnic table feels like bliss. Oh, and when Lil Deb’s Oasis from Hudson did a dinner at Hart’s and served a crazy-good tomato-cucumber salad.

Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor at Eater: It’s a tie between Kopitiam and Atomix on two opposite ends of the dining spectrum.

Roasted eggplant with Calabrian chile
Roasted eggplant with Calabrian chile at Misi
Louise Palmberg/Eater

Kat Kinsman, Extra Crispy Senior Food & Drinks Editor and Food & Wine Contributor: Eating out is often tough for me because I have so many dietary restrictions, so the vegetable courses at Misi were an absolute godsend. I texted a friend on the way home freaking out about how each of them was excellent in a violently different way, and that I could partake of just about everything with glee. Also, I must mention the hospitality at Temple Court. Even during an overwhelmed Restaurant Week, every single person was gracious, informed, efficient, and warm. I know I’m an easily identifiable food world professional, but I also take care to look around and see how other tables are being treated. All smiles. It was a joy.

Matt Rodbard, editor-in-chief, Taste: For my birthday I took the LIRR to Queens to Myung San. We had a nice crew with us, and they just cooked us the most delicious Korean home-style dishes. Kalbi jjim, samgyeopsal, ssambap from the garden, fresh tofu. And then we finished with cheonggukjang (extra funky doenjang jjigae) and hongeo (fermented skate). Wild stuff. I love that place.

Matt Buchanan, executive editor at Eater: It was not in NY, I’m sorry.

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter for Eater NY: It’s not like me to go with a meal that didn’t involve wine, but I had a particularly outstanding and healing night of hot pot at Zhen Wei Fang this winter.

Robert Sietsema, Eater NY senior critic: My best meal is often in a Chinese restaurant with lots of guests, partly because so many dishes can be ordered and enjoyed. This year it was a banquet at the East Village’s Szechuan Mountain House with several families with kids, where everyone enjoyed mung bean jelly salad, crisp lotus root, pork belly hung over a dowel like washing, ma po tofu, fish filet with pickled cabbage, and chile grilled beef ribs.

Ryan Sutton, Eater’s chief critic: Without a moment of hesitation: Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo, Albert Adria’s avant-garde Mexican tasting menu restaurant and taqueria, respectively, in Barcelona. But since the focus here is New York, my fave meal was Saint Julivert. I sat at the bar by myself and spent like 20 minutes ripping apart barnacles and sucking out the meat while the boiled crustaceans squirted juice over my clothes. It was very casual and Coastal European. And then I ordered a Chinese pig ear terrine with kombu and chile oil and broiled oysters; honestly that dish wouldn’t have felt out of place at some ambitious Sichuan tasting menu spot. It was all quite perfect.

Serena Dai, editor of Eater NY: I was lucky enough to have tons of amazing meals in 2018; I think it was a great year for new restaurants in New York, which as a scene seemed to lean into pleasing locals in smart, fun, yet still comforting ways. That often meant stellar wine lists, with an increasing focus on natural, and food that did not beg for attention, instead deciding that specificity and simply tasting really good was an acceptable way to be. With all that said, the most memorable meals are always attached to people, the scene, and a feeling. My finest meal was in one of those spacious booths at Frenchette, with close friends, a couple bottles of wacky wine, and an acceptance that over-ordering was the only way to go.