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Eat and Drink

The best things we ate in 2015

2015 was the year of the fried chicken sandwich. The year of the vegetable. The year of ramen (again).

Here are the best things we ate this year.

Wassail

This all veggie restaurant blew me away this
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

This all veggie restaurant blew me away this summer. The menu is seasonal and constantly changing. One dish we ate that stands out is this one: morel mushrooms with goat cheese, toasted breadcrumbs, watercress puree, charred baby onions and flowers. Presentation couldn't be better and the inventiveness was top-notch. 162 Orchard St., wassailnyc.com

Vegan chicharrones locos at El Rey

Have you been to El Rey, the oasis
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

Have you been to El Rey, the oasis of chill vibes on the Lower East Side that feels nothing like New York and yet everything like New York (circa now)? This coffee shop cum restaurant is a place to nosh on "healthy" foods made from whole ingredients. But it's tasty, don't let the healthy part throw you. And chicharrones made out of a mix of grains and not pork fat is a revelation, not blasphemy. Just look at those crispy babies. And the crema, made from cashews, very much resembles Mexican crema. It's annoyingly amazing. 100 Stanton St., elreynyc.com

The burger at Bar Bolinas

Continuing the Cali in NYC vibe is Bar
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

Continuing the Cali in NYC vibe is Bar Bolinas, named after the cute, hippie town (albeit rich!) just north of San Francisco. But all that aside, the burger here is a marvel: pastured, Vermont beef with havarti (gruyere when we had it), pickled onions (look at the color), house made mayo and purple lettuce. It's served on a squishy but thick bun called a Dutch Crunch, popular in the Bay Area, that's got a crunchy crust. 455 Myrtle Ave., Clinton Hill, barbolinas.com

Tampa-style ramen at Ramen Lab

Sun Noodle's Ramen Lab transformed into a Ramen
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Sun Noodle's Ramen Lab transformed into a Ramen Incubator this spring, hosting renowned and experimental ramen chefs for brief pop-ups introducing New Yorkers to even more ramen style. The pilot menu from Ichicoro, brought Latin-inspired Florida flavors to each bowl of noodle soup -- we're ready for them to open in NYC! 70 Kenmare St., 646-613-7522, ramen-lab.com!

Spicy fried chicken sandwich at Fuku

David Chang, you had me at fried chicken.
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

David Chang, you had me at fried chicken. (And every other New Yorker, too, apparently.) The fact that the chicken is perfectly brined and spiced, and from small family farms is just gravy. No, there's no gravy on the sandwich, just sweet butter (that may or may not be spiked with something) and pickles. BRB I'm hungry. 163 First Ave., momofuku.com/new-york/fuku

Combo No.1 at Chicks to Go

Feasting in a bikini may not sound super
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Feasting in a bikini may not sound super beach appropriate, but when at Rockaway Beach, it's hard to avoid this superb Peruvian rotisserie spot. This $23 combo to share with all your beach buds makes for an incredible summer bite -- a whole juicy chicken comes with sides (rice, beans, plantains, french fries) and a salad, good to the very last pick off the bone. 97-02 Rockaway Beach Blvd., 718-945-4100, chicks-togo.com

Emmy Burger at Emily

Another amazing burger hailing from Clinton Hill. What
Photo Credit: PizzaLovesEmily via Twitter

Another amazing burger hailing from Clinton Hill. What gives?! Those who live there are lucky. Emily, the pizzeria that's expanding and beloved, also makes one hell of a burger. It's so good it was made into dumplings at Mimi Kim's. Served on a pretzel bun is a dry-aged beef patty (funky, richly flavorful), Emmy sauce (basically like crack, supposedly spiked with gochujang), caramelized onions and Grafton cheddar. It's an umami bomb. 919 Fulton St., Clinton Hill, pizzalovesemily.com

Homemade Bucatini at Irvington NYC

New to the restaurant scene this year, Irvington
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

New to the restaurant scene this year, Irvington served up some flavorful comfort food. Their homemade Bucatini with porchetta, Parmesan, black pepper and egg, a creative riff on carbonara, stood out as one of the best bites of the year! The menu changes seasonally, but we hope to see this dish return again next year.

Ants on a Log sorbet at Oddfellow's

There I am, sweaty and happy, which never
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

There I am, sweaty and happy, which never happens. Why? I was eating delicious, delicious ice cream at Oddfellows! Well, in this case it was sorbet, but anyway. It was a warm night, I was 7 months pregnant and had just stood through a Built to Spill show on the Williamsburg Waterfront. (Impressed?!) I wanted something cold and sweet, so Oddfellows it was. They had a crazy flavor that night that I have dreamed of since then many times. Did you love ants on a log as a kid? Well then, listen to this: celery sorbet, peanut butter chunks and raisins. So refreshing. And healthy? Maybe? 179 Kent Ave., oddfellowsnyc.com

Bamee phoo moo dang nam at Pye Boat Noodle

If you've never had Bamee phoo moo dang
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

If you've never had Bamee phoo moo dang nam, we can guarantee this will be the best Bamee phoo moo dang nam you've ever had! This meaty soup noodle, made with thin egg noodle and topped with roasted pork and crab meat comes with a condiment bin of spicy, sweet and tangy elements to add to customize the cold weather cure to your liking. 35-13 Broadway, Astoria, 718-685-2329, pyeboatnoodle.com

Everything at Blanca

My husband took me to Blanca for my
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

My husband took me to Blanca for my birthday in January. It was a surprise, and the best one ever. Not only that, it was the best dinner I'd ever had. (I think it still is.) The night was so joyous and the food so perfect, we had to laugh to make sense of it all. I was pregnant at the time, so we skipped the wine pairings, but I think that was for the best. Others around us were straight up drunk, and I'm not sure a single bite of a precious something or other can truly be appreciated if your palate and brain are blasted. ANYWAY, the food at Blanca is perfection. It's boundary pushing and thoughtful. Pictured here, clockwise: Wagyu and black truffle; duck, persimmon and beet mole; sweet potato, espresso and macadamia nut broth; King crab and bottarga. 261 Moore St., blancanyc.com

Phumplings

Pho in a dumpling! This edible invention is
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Pho in a dumpling! This edible invention is beyond brilliant and one of the best bites of the year. The phumplings -- stuffed with fragrant Vietnamese beef pho broth -- are steamed to order and topped with Sriracha and basil for the ultimate pop of flavor in your mouth. Locations vary, phumplings.com

Squash carpaccio at Santina

When Santina opened in January of this year,
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

When Santina opened in January of this year, everyone was so excited to eat and drink there because it felt like a restaurant in Miami or on a beach somewhere in Italy. It was bright, colorful and fun. I didn't get in there until winter had come and gone, and summer, too, but in fall 2015 it still felt exciting inside. And then there was the food. It was all refreshing and delicious, but the squash carpaccio stole the show. Think thinly sliced meat only not meat at all, dollops of sweet cream (creme fraiche?) dotting the plate and herbs and pumpkin seeds garnishing the plate. 820 Washington St., Visit W3Schools

Bibimbap Ramen at Mokbar

Chef Esther Choi's gateway to Korean food: ramen!
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Chef Esther Choi's gateway to Korean food: ramen! This unassuming spot tucked away in Chelsea Market serves some of the best ramen and Korean food in the city. The Bibimbap ramen takes flavors from one of Korea's most popular dishes and transforms them into a brothy noodle soup slurpable to the last drop. 75 Ninth Ave., 646-964-5963, mokbar.com

Fried Chicken at The Pomeroy

The Pomeroy opened in Astoria in November and
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

The Pomeroy opened in Astoria in November and immediately hit the map for food lovers and celeb chasers alike, thanks to Lady GaGa's friend and personal chef Bo O'Connor helming the kitchen. On the menu -- surprise! -- fried chicken! Juicy, crisp and decorated with just the right amount of kosher salt, half and whole birds ($16, $29) are served with honey carrot and jalapeño herb dipping sauces. A classic cocktail helps chase down this amazing bite. 36-12 Ditmars Blvd., 718- 721-1579, thepomeroynyc.com

The Scuttlebutt at Saltie

Every year, every week, this is my favorite
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

Every year, every week, this is my favorite sandwich in the city. So salty. So unctuous. So overwhelmingly flavorful. And vegetarian?!?! Here's what's between those two slices of focaccia: hard boiled egg, feta, black olives, capers, pickles and pimenton aioli. 378 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg, saltieny.com

Corn Boil at Dirt Candy

A vegetarian riff on the traditional seafood boil,
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

A vegetarian riff on the traditional seafood boil, chef Amanda Cohen's grilled corn, broad beans, tempura corn and red potato combo with bespoke hot sauce made for a remarkably tasty summer dish. Complete with disposable crab bibs, just eating the corn boil was fun! Served on free newspapers, we really did like the look of this seasonal menu item. 86 Allen St., 212-228-7732, dirtcandynyc.com

Buffalo mozz pie at Pizza Moto

When Pizza Moto left Berg'n, which is about
Photo Credit: Georgia Kral

When Pizza Moto left Berg'n, which is about a 10 minute walk from my apartment, I was crestfallen. I love their square pies: the tangy sauce and the crispy crust. I take all visitors to Berg'n, and we would always get Pizza Moto. No more. Sad, sad. Yes, they now have a permanent spot in Red Hook, but the convenience is gone. I'll never not love you though, Pizza Moto. 338 Hamilton Ave., pizzamoto.com

Fried Okra at The Heyward

Crisp like tempura and soft inside, like, well,
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Crisp like tempura and soft inside, like, well, a cooked vegetable, each bite of this side dish at new Williamsburg spot The Heyward was heavenly. Yet another seasonal item, we're ready for the summer menu again here. 258 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn, 718-384-1990, theheyward.com

Fettuccine Alfredo at Alfredo 100

The oldest and most authentic fettuccine Alfredo in
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

The oldest and most authentic fettuccine Alfredo in NYC, this was still the best fettuccine Alfredo of 2015! 7 E. 54th St., 212-688-1999, alfredonyc.com

Banana Pudding Cupcake at Magnolia Bakery

The limited-edition Banana Pudding Cupcake debuted at Magnolia
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

The limited-edition Banana Pudding Cupcake debuted at Magnolia Bakery this August for National Banana Pudding Day and it was one of the sweetest mash-ups off all time. Come baaack!

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