It’s that time of year again, sharing the 15 best things I ate in 2017. Narrowing my list down to 15 items isn’t as easy as you would think because I am always eating something good. This past year my travels involved Southern California, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Tahiti, and of course New York City! Each year I try stepping out of my comfort zone so this past year my most adventurous bite was a grasshopper. Yup! Grasshoppers are quite the delicacy in Mexico and I had some with guacamole, it was salty and crunchy, but not quite a fan just yet. With that said, here are the 15 best things I ate in 2017.
NOTE: 15 Best List is NOT in any particular order.
1. Spicy Rigatoni Vodka @ Carbone, New York City (greenwich village)
Carbone brings you old-school Italian comfort food, and it is nearly impossible to score a reservation here, but once I dined here, I understood why. Everything here is absolutely delicious… from the starters to the meatballs to the carrot cake. Often voted as the BEST PASTA in NYC, the Spicy Rigatoni Vodka is prepared in a creamy vodka sauce with a slight kick is just incredible. This drool worthy dish right here goes down as the best thing I ate in 2017 and Carbone comes in as my most favorite restaurant of 2017!
2. Spaghetti with Garlic, Chilies, Parmesan @ L’Artusi, New York City (west village)
The Spaghetti dish at L’Artusi is such a simple dish prepared with just a few ingredients... olive oil, green chilies, garlic, and breadcrumbs, but it was one of the best pasta dishes I had in 2017. Can you believe such simple ingredients can deliver such a delectable pasta bowl? Another favorite at this fabulous Italian restaurant is the Olive Oil Cake. A must-do!
3. Lotus Root Kofta @ Rahi New York City, (west village)
Being of Indian origin, I seldom dine out for Indian food, Rahi is the exception to my rule which is now my favorite Indian restaurant in Manhattan. There were many outstanding dishes, but this Lotus Root Kofta is by far the best dish at Rahi. Creamy, soft dumplings prepped in a rich gravy flavored with aromatic Indian spices such as cardamom and fenugreek seeds. Another favorite restaurant of 2017.
4. Croquetas del Dia @ Salinas New York City, (chelsea)
It’s not often that you’ll come by a good Spanish restaurant in NYC, for whatever reason, there aren’t too many good ones. This past June I celebrated my birthday at Salinas which was the most romantic restaurant I dined at in 2017. There are floral arrangements spread throughout this beautiful restaurant, but make sure you request to be seated in their garden room which is a much more intimate setting. Don’t leave Salinas without trying the Croquetas del Dia which are essentially fried croquettes with a soft, cheesy interior that is paired impeccably well with a cumin aioli sauce. Also, you must try their Red Sangria which is refreshing and delicious.
5. Black Truffle and Fontina Cheese Pizza @ The Mercer Kitchen, New York City (soho)
Aside from the painfully slow service at The Mercer Kitchen, a Jean-Georges restaurant rarely disappoints with food. The Black Truffle and Fontina Cheese Pizzas are seriously one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. This delectable pizza has a bold truffle flavor and is topped with creamy fontina cheese. Doesn’t get any better than that.
6. Lil’ Brgs @ STK Downtown, New York City (meatpacking district)
As you guys know, I am not much of a red meat eater, but these juicy little burgers made with Wagyu beef and a special secret sauce at STK are insanely delicious. Tender meat in a cheesy burger was perfect, there is no way I can resist STK beef burgers.
7. Truffle Cheddar Pretzel @ Sigmund’s, New York City (Christmas Holiday Markets)
Sigmund's was my very first bite of 2017. I’ve never actually been to Sigmund’s store, I just pick up their Truffle Cheddar pretzel every time I hit up NYC’s holiday markets. Not only are they cheesy, they also have a bold truffle flavor which I love. Sigmund by far is the best pretzels I have ever had.
8. Salt Roasted Branzino @ The Tasting Kitchen, Venice, Los Angeles
A Mediterranean sea bass is my most preferred fish, and The Tasting Kitchen’s version is the best I have ever had because it truly consists of those Mediterranean flavors I so love. This incredible fish was dressed up with lots of extra virgin olive oil and flavored with lemon, oregano, olives, capers, and sun-dried tomatoes… I mean these flavors are just perfection. Succulent, delicate, and highly flavorsome dish, The Tasting Kitchen is another favorite restaurant of 2017 located in Los Angeles.
9. Seafood Paella @ Watermarc Restaurant, Laguna Beach, CA. (permanently closed)
I’ve been to Spain, but sadly the best seafood paella I had was in Laguna Beach (say whaaaaaaa?). This delicious paella comes with an assortment of fish including lobster, mussels, shrimp, calamari, and linguica. An incredible dish with pieces of spicy sausage adds an ocean of flavor to this divine dish.
10. Fried Potatoes @ Open Sesame, Long Beach, CA.
Open Sesame consists of some of the most exotic Lebanese flavors I’ve had. There were many dishes that stole my heart at this casual, reasonably priced spot in Long Beach, but the fried potatoes ultimately won my heart. This highly aromatic appetizer is flavored with garlic, cilantro, chili, and lots of lemons. The garlic sauce that came with this dish was heavenly. This is one restaurant I would keep going back to when I eventually move to SoCal.
11. Red Velvet Cupcake @ SusieCakes, Costa Mesa, CA. (other locations in CA.)
The Red Velvet Cupcake at SusieCakes is so scrumptious that I ended up ordering my wedding cake from them, 2 out of the 4 tiers were Red Velvet Cakes. Perfectly moist cupcake with a sweet cream cheese frosting. What makes Susie’s different from the rest is it is moist and their goodies aren’t painfully sweet, it’s just right. Favorite bakery of 2017.
12. Chicken Enchiladas @ La Cueva del Chango, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
La Cueva del Chango has a very rainforest feel to it at dirt-cheap prices. The food here is delicious and the menu is extensive. Everything I tried here was so good, but my favorite dish was the Chicken Enchiladas made with shredded chicken. Out of the 3 sauces, my favorites were the suiza (green) sauce and mole sauce. Best Enchiladas, and again so cheap! If you visit Playa del Carmen, Mexico, you must go to La Cueva del Chango. Best cheap eats of 2017!
13. Mahi Mahi Fish Sandwich @ Moorea Beach Café, Moorea, Tahiti, French Polynesia
This year I went to Tahiti for my honeymoon, and Moorea Beach Café was recommended to my husband and me by our hotel concierge. Additionally, this restaurant has a ton of great reviews on TripAdvisor. My hubby and I stopped here for a quick bite and shared this Mahi Mahi Fish Sandwich which was surprisingly huge. The mahi-mahi itself was so juicy and flaky, and the fish was sandwiched between tender coconut bread. Oh YES! Sitting by the beach hearing the waves gently crash against one another and enjoying this mouthwatering sandwich was pure bliss.
14. Sweet Potato & Vegetables Veggie Mofongo Burger @ Mi Vida Café & Burger, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
This adorable restaurant is located on a side street just before you drive up to the El Yunque Rainforest, hence make sure you stop here for breakfast or lunch. Everything here was incredible, but this mofongo burger was the best thing I ate in Puerto Rico. The patty itself was made with sweet potato and vegetables, but it tasted like a beef burger. So juicy and delicious. Another best cheap eats of 2017.
15. Chicken & Shrimp Mofongo @ Punto de Vista, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
When in Puerto Rico, get a mofongo. Punto de Vista located in Old San Juan is a must-do. Grilled chicken and shrimp mofongo topped with a creamy garlic cilantro sauce. There was so much flavor in this dish and the view from this rooftop was just lovely. Make sure you stop here for happy hour, 1 mojito for just $8, and get a second free.
What's the best thing you ate in 2017? Dish and restaurant! Share with us!