First off, I have to apologize for lying to you. "How could you have lied to us when you haven't said anything yet?" someone probably just said to their computer screen. See, it's like this. Every January, I post an annual Best/Worst list of the old year's meals. But this time, there's no worst. My post title is a big fat fib. A total lie. A fabrication of the first order. There are no worsts. Only bests. Don't get me wrong, I'm as surprised by a yearlong string of bests as you are. As years go, I've had better ones than 2014, starting but hardly ending when my car spontaneously combusted and tried to immolate me in a bucolic Philadelphia suburb. Foodwise, on the other hand, I did well. My dining experiences, from a Hells Kitchen wine bar with a spectacular stuffed pepper, to a Tribeca rooftop, to a cool spot in Connecticut I went to after a ski trip, to a eating deep fried piece of meat-filled dough on the beach. It's somehow all been good. So here we go: Best/Worst 2014.


Best Restaurant

For a combination of the meal, the ambiance, the plating, the attention, and almost as importantly, the price, as well as for affording me the opportunity to put a dizzying array of commas into a single sentence, Perry Street, part of the Jean Georges group, wins Best Restaurant. Absolutely nothing was subpar. It was trendy (without being pretentious and filled with the stink of old money trust fund kids) while also being classy (without being pretentious and forcing me to wear a jacket - which I did anyway). You can go with your parents and not feel out of place, your friends from college and not feel out of place, and while we didn't see any kids, I'm sure they'd love to have the little munchkins running all over the place like it's an IHOP. Maybe that's a stretch. Anyway, the food was amazing. I never liked soft-shelled crab until I ate it here and the rabbit...

Best Bar

Cocktail spots are some of my favorite spots. The intimacy of the dark room and nursing a drink that's been made with the same skill a baker might employ creating a fine pastry is always something that I both appreciate and find extraordinarily soothing. Pouring Ribbons, which has always been on every best-of cocktail list that there is finally got onto mine (and this one is way more exclusive because, unlike Thrillist or Gawker or just about everyone else (I'm looking at you HuffPo), I only do one top-ten list a year... and there aren't even ten things on it. Sophisticated. Sexy. Hidden. Great drinks. Takes credit cards so that you and your date don't have to run to an Alphabet City bodega ATM. Perfect.

Best Burger

There are good burgers where you go "Hey! This is a good burger!" and then there are good burgers where you just drool all over the table like a zoned out zombie with an aneurysm. The Black Iron Burger gastropub makes the latter. Best burger of the year, without question. Need I say more?

Best Beer Garden

Once upon a time, the only reason I had to go to New Jersey was for A) Casinos - but I heard that Atlantic City is about to be repossessed for not paying their Discover Card bill. B) Ikea - but then Brooklyn happened. And C) uh. Maybe there were only two. Now there's a C! Beer and brats! Zeppelin Hall is fucking massive, has lotsa beer, serves good food, and is only a PATH train away. Of course, if Chris Christie has his way, you'll leave quickly before the PATH turns off and strands you there with naught but a $900 Uber cab to take your sucker ass home. Also get this. Jersey City is filled to bursting point with hotties and apparently they're all at Zeppelin Hall and they all love football. Now there's a D.

Best Under the Radar Restaurant You Should Be Eating At Right Now 

What's better than a speakeasy? How about a speakeasy that serves food! Good food. Astor Room, which gets a good sized brunch crowd, is where the cocktail-focused people who were thinking about hoofing it from one place to another all across town should be eating at. Efficiency, people! Cocktails, a cool prohibition-era vibe, sliders so good that you'll become violently enraged that you ate them all in less than four seconds, plus smokey live jazz. All in one basement in Astoria. And nobody seems to know about this place? Crazy.

Best Sandwich

Best Sandwich goes to Court Street Grocer's Ultimate Warrior. And you can't have it because it was a daily special and that particular day was in mid-November. But take my word for it. Pork shoulder, roast pepper, provolone, and broccoli rabe never tasted so good.

Best Wine Bar
Queens gets a double tap of bests this year with this Sunnyside wine bar/bistro. Fantastic food, great drinks, and a sweeeeet atmosphere. I've already recommended the spot for friends who need neat great date spots. And it is one. You can sit there all night long, drinking, eating, and having a ball.


Sorry guys. I got nothin'. This year I'll try to find a real dump.

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