As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. Here's last year's run-down for the nostalgic. So far we've covered restaurant standbys, top newcomers, and more. Readers, please add your thoughts to the comments.
Q: What was your best meal of 2013?
Jessica Dupuy, food and wine writer with CultureMap, Texas Monthly and Fodor's: Tough one. I remember two in particular... One was at Uchiko. I brought some friends who are new to Austin and swore they hated sushi. Tell that to the kitchen at Uchi or Uchiko and they seem to come alive with inventive ways to change your mind. I had them with the first bite of Madai (Japanese sea bream) sushi. The rest of the night was a series of one dish topping the next. My friends relish it as one of the best meals they've ever had. The other time was the first time I had East Side Kings Chicken Tortilla Ramen at Hole In the Wall. It was on a chilly spring day when I was trying to get over a cold. A few bites of that spicy broth and I felt restored.
Melanie Haupt, restaurant critic for The Chronicle and author of Historic Austin Restaurants: For someone who dines out as much as I do, that's a very tough question, so I'll go with the most recent memory. I took my husband out to dinner at Uchiko for his birthday and, even though we only had an hour to eat, we had really amazing food and our server, Bobby, took really good care of us. They really give you the whole package at Uchiko, and it always makes me happy. We're looking forward to introducing our 8-year-old son to the experience of cooking tiny slabs of meat on a searing-hot rock!
Megan Giller, editor of Zagat Austin: Jeffrey's: baby yellowtail carpaccio, persimmon and duck confit salad, oven-roasted halibut with grapes and short-rib ravioli, Akaushi NY strip steak with a giant onion ring and foie gras butter, green beans almondine, butternut squash bread pudding
Jane Ko, editor at A Taste of Koko and food photographer: The Arros Negre at Barlata - black rice smothered with a rich broth made from sepia squid ink, squid, clams, and fish.
Addie Broyles, Statesman columnist and editor of Relish Austin: A one-two birthday lunch punch of John Mueller Meat Co. and Salt & Time. My dad and I were in a meat coma for the rest of the day.
Meredith Bethune, CultureMap and Serious Eats contributor : The El Sancho sandwich at La Barbecue with their moist chopped brisket, spicy sausage, and pickled red onion piled high on a bun. That thing is a masterpiece as it is-- it doesn't need any sauce. I also freaked out over the savory Vietnamese beef stew at Duy Vietnamese and Chinese restaurant. Hmmm... I need to go back there soon.
Melody Fury, Serious Eats contributor and blogger at Gourmet Fury: I celebrated my birthday with Barley Swine's new prix fixe menu and was very happy with my choice - same signature seasonal plates, seamless service, interesting wine pairings, good value.
Patricia Sharpe, executive editor/food writer, Texas Monthly: Congress, where chef David Bull keeps pulling rabbits out of hats. His polenta dumpling with white truffles makes you weak in the knees.
Tom Thornton, Eater Austin contributor and freelance food writer: Mine were the Olamaie pop-up and the 6-course set menu at qui.
Andrea Grimes, Eater Austin editor emeritus and senior political reporter at RH Reality Check: It is so terribly hard to narrow this down - we had fantastic meals at Barley Swine, at Qui, at Sway, at La Condesa, at Swift's Attic. But the dining experience--if John Mueller will forgive me using the term--that stands out most was a summer Sunday at John Mueller Meat Co. when my husband and I met up with some of our best friends from all areas of our lives--work friends, grad school friends, old-school friends--and just had the biggest pile of smoked meats, cold beers and Bloody Marys. It's amazing how well live music, booze and incredible ribs and brisket pair with the people you like most on planet earth.
Meghan McCarron, editor, Eater Austin: My best meal was a celebratory fall dinner at Foreign & Domestic. It was the perfect alchemy of company, wine and food. F&D's take on burrata elevated it far above cliche status, and the braised goat was tender and meaty without being heavy at all. Other great meals include sharing Sway's peanut curry with my girlfriend while we watched a thunderstorm pour, and ordering the entire menu at Odd Duck with some fellow food nerds. Oh, oh, and a satisfying and very necessary plate of migas, with a horchata coffee, at Tamale House East.
· All Year in Eater 2013 [EATX]