Chicken at The Beagle
The summer half-chicken with leeks and Maitake mushrooms pictured here has been swapped out with a preparation with chorizo bread pudding; I haven't tried the current one yet, but the dish pictured here was one of the best things I ate all year. A leg and a breast are pressed together with foie gras and Lincolnshire Poacher cheese in between. Its seared skin is seriously crisp and the meat is crazy-juicy, with a deeply seasoned, fennel scented flavor, almost like good Italian sausage. I rarely order chicken at restaurants, but The Beagle reminded me why I should.
Egg in a Hole with Tripe at Fedora
The "tripe ragoût" listed on the menu shows up as slim cuts of tripe in a bright, simple tomato sauce, just covering the egg toast, which really steals the show—a thick slice of crusty bread with a just-set egg in the middle and a melty blanket of cheddar, so that with one cut through the center, yolk and cheese spill all over the plate.
Foie Gras Doughnut at Do or Dine
I'm not one for gimmicky menus, which is why I was skeptical of whacked-out Bed-Stuy restaurant Do or Dine in general and their foie gras doughnut in particular. But man, is this thing good. A beautiful, barely crisp-edged yeasted doughnut from nearby Dough is filled with a silky foie mousse that's as improbably light as the doughnut itself. It's served, according to owner Justin Warner, with "whatever Smuckers preserves I feel like filling it with." A little tartness does pick up the palate, but honestly, foie plus dough is a combination that needs no improvement. Best as a shared starter.
Tofu Bowl at Korilla BBQ
Billed as a "mobile Korean grill," Korilla BBQ is one of the best new food trucks we tried this year. I spent a solid chunk of this spring following the cart around town for the tofu chosun bowl (with bacon kimchi fried rice; yes, I like tofu, I like bacon too). The thick but still-jiggly tofu slices pick up flavor from "Korilla sauce," an additive smoky-spicy mayo-based sauce, and "Korean hot sauce," vinegary and spicy, but not aggressively so. And I love a dab of "K'illa Sauce," a darker 5-pepper sauce that sets your mouth on fire before it moves on to your sinuses.
Corn Fritters at The Monkey Bar
New chef Damon Wise's bar menu includes a killer burger and awesome fries, but what I'm really still dreaming about is the corn-truffle fritters, moist in the middle with dark, earthy truffle bits and a perfect golden-brown shell. (Full review to follow in the New Year!)
Mee Goreng at Laut
I've been on a bit of a Malaysian kick this year, and while I've eaten my way through some great restaurants in Chinatown, Union Square's Laut does just about every noodle dish much better. Like the mee goreng pictured here, a classic street vendor dish: thin egg noodles stir-fried with dark and light soy, chili, and plenty of shrimp paste (which gives Malaysian food its signature funky kick). Bean sprouts, tofu, tomato, and egg. Shrimp is the way to go with any noodle dish here.
Pumpkin Bun at Golden Steamer
Yes, we've written about them half a dozen times. But I've been back there even more. In fact, I'd be embarrassed to admit to my coworkers just how often I sneak around the corner for a pillowy soft, rich-middled pumpkin bun that I can pay for with the change in my pocket. Sweet but not too sweet and always fresh and fluffy, it's the afternoon snack of my dreams.
"Freddy's Junior" at King of Falafel and Shawarma
All the other bites were ones I'd discovered this year; Freddy I met long ago. But I hadn't been to his Astoria cart in at least a year, and on this visit I was struck by how downright amazing a plate of food is his "Freddy's Junior". There's the chicken, thighs marinated overnight and grilled with onions and peppers; kofte, alluringly spiced with cumin and mint and coriander; but the ample tahini and hot sauces (both of which Freddie makes) pull the whole pile together. I love his oblong falafel balls too, but since you'll probably be handed one while standing in line, and get another with your Freddy's Junior, might as well branch out. Did I mention this massive pile of food costs $7?