I love doing this list every year - work takes me all over the country to meet with restaurant clients and do food research; eating takes up a good amount of my time, and it's fun to look back at all the great places where I was lucky enough to eat. These aren't ranked, but rather are in chronological order:
Tombstone BBQ - Park City, Utah
The 'Dr. Pepper Short Rib' - if I recall correctly, it was braised for a while in Dr. Pepper, then finished on the smoker.
Smitty's BBQ - Lockhart, Texas
If there's a better beef sausage, I haven't found it.
Faidley Seafood - Baltimore, Maryland
World's greatest crab cake. Stand at the bar and pair it with some fried clams.
Hut's Hamburgers - Austin, Texas
Nothing fancy, just a classic burger.
Grand Central Oyster Bar - New York, New York
One of my absolute favorite places in the city...oyster pan roast! (And fried clams)
Nightingale 9 - Brooklyn, New York
Amazing Vietnamese food from our friends just down the street at Seersucker.
Porky's Pit - Manchester, Tennessee
Very excited that we discovered this BBQ hut to break up our regular drives between Atlanta and Nashville.
Franklin Barbecue - Austin, Texas by way of New York, New York
This year, we found a great way around the hours-long line at Austin's Franklin Barbecue - just hang out with Aaron Franklin when he's cooking for an Event at Hill Country BBQ in New York.
Keen's Steakhouse - New York, NY
Stone-cold classic steakhouse atmosphere, with perfect steaks to match.
Barbuzzo - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
My favorite pizza this year - asparagus & truffled farm egg.
Swan Oyster Depot - San Francisco, California
There's no better setting to have oysters for breakfast.
Pizzeria Toro - Durham, North Carolina
Taqueria Chapala Jalisco - San Antonio, Texas
One of my favorite cheese enchiladas anywhere. Add a barbacoa taco and a big bowl of refried beans, and your total bill comes to less than five dollars.
Pok Pok - Portland, Oregon
The Fish Sauce Chicken Wings deserve all the hype they get.
B&G Oysters - Boston, Massachusetts
One of my all-time favorite restaurants. Always our first stop straight off the plane when in Boston.
Hog & Hominy - Memphis, Tennessee
Our usual plan here is to let Chefs Andy and Mikey just keep sending plates out. Here's our first course.
Steve's Lunch - Cleveland, Ohio
Old-school Cleveland lunch counter with top-notch chili dogs.
Alder - New York, NY
wd-50's more casual sibling, it's made its way into our must-visit New York restaurants. Below: foie gras and watermelon on Ritz crackers.
Neptune Oyster - Boston, Massachusetts
One of our hardest decisions when eating here is whether to have the lobster roll dressed with butter or mayo. Butter won out:
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen - Memphis, Tennessee
It's hard to beat a seven-course meal from the guys who also run Hog & Hominy. Pastas are as good as anywhere: