Each year, one of Don Day’s most read posts is his “best of” list. So here’s the latest. Not too many changes from the last one. A few favorite dishes were removed because they’re gone from restaurant menus. And a few favorite dishes were removed because the restaurants are gone all together (most to be sadly missed by Don Day).
Chicken liver pate. Hansen’s. A tennis ball sized mound of heaven.
Pork riblets. The Restaurant. Melt in your mouth meat coated in a sweet and savory sauce.
Cabbage and kale salad. DeliCa Mitsu. Makes me wonder why the Japanese aren’t famous for great salads.
Bacon wrapped asparagus. La Posadita. Including those perfectly grilled tomatoes.
Squash ravioli in brown butter and sage. Firenze. A classic sauce kisses a classic pasta.
Sweetbreads. La Virundela. Trust a steak house to know how to make mouthwatering mollejas.
Barbacoa. El Pato. Can’t think of anything else I’d rather fill a taco with.
Thai curry paste. Luna de Queso. Yellow, green or red. Ready to make great Thai curries.
Higaltidos asaltados. La Parada. The best treatment of chicken livers in SMA.
Sopa de queso. La Puertecita. So rich I want to put it on a pasta.
Beef brisket. Longhorn Smokehouse. The temple of red meat in San Miguel.
Pork in a coffee cream sauce. Sabores y Salsas. Part of the best bargain prix fixe lunch.
Beef carpaccio. Moxi. Italian becomes Mexican under Enrique Olvera’s guidance.
Tuna tostadas. The Restaurant. Closest thing to the taste of Japanese sushi.
Short rib of beef. Firenze. Tender loving care produces the tenderest, tastiest meat in town.
Crema de pistache soup. Baile Cafe. Pistachios without the telltale red fingertips.
Geisha roll. DeliCa Mitsu. There isn’t much competition but this is the best maki in town.
Cochinita pibil. La Posadita. One of Mexico’s great dishes with the right amount of orange in this sauce.
The bread dip. La Puertecita. Olive oil with orange peel and nuts. What an innovation.
Duck and vegetable rolls. The Restaurant. With that wonderful ginger chili dipping sauce.
Spaghetti carbonara. Osteria del Italia. That dusting of nutmeg makes the difference.
Jamon Iberico. Calenda. A very generous portion of porcine pleasure.
Hamburger. Hansen’s. Fresh ground sirloin served thick with the essential grilled onions.
Cebiche La Parada. La Parada. Add mango to achieve pure Peruvian pleasure.
Rabbit mixiote. MX. The only mixiote I’ve ever tasted really made in maguey leaves.
Carnitas. Apolo XI. With lots of juicy belly just for the asking.
Pescado Veracruzano. Pescau. Another of Mexico’s great sauces even when it’s only on tilapia.
Arrachera. El Tomato. The finest flank steak with grilled tomatoes and chimichurri sauce.
Oysters parmesan. R Deck. Barely warm with garlic and butter.
Panna cotta. La Bodega de Chu. Cream with a nice drizzle of caramel.
Chicken Madras. Bhaji. The perfect amount of chile heat.
Fried steamed dumplings. El Palacio Chino. The plumpest pot stickers in town.
Pizza fantasia. Osteria del Italia. I’d almost give up pepperoni for this tuna topped pie.
Braised short rib tacos. The Restaurant. Peppery heat cooled by cilantro and onion.
Bavette with bottarga. Sicilia in Bocca. I like my eggs over. As in over and over again in this dish.
Salade Nicoise. Food Factory. You know it’s good when I order a salad as a main course.
Cafe Mexicano. Sabores y Salsas. Amazing what a a touch of canela does to coffee.
Black cod. La Isla. Could this fish be the very best bounty of the sea?
Lamb stew. MX. Memories of what lamb used to taste like, this time with a wonderful sage sauce.
Thin crust pizza. Pizza Pig. But I sure wish it wasn’t so far away.
Gnocchi. La Parada. Mighty clouds of joy no matter what they’re served with.
Camembert de cabra. Luna de Queso. How do you improve camembert? Make it from goat’s milk.
Paella. La Bodega de Chu. The Spanish classic with no scrimping on the saffron.
Lasagna. La Cocina de Boris y Jessi. Yes, please, to so much gooey cheese.
Corned beef. Bollito Relleno. Preferably on levant bread from Cumpanio.
Smoked oysters. La Sirena Gorda. In an almost authentic cantina setting.
Consome. El Pato. So very rich in lamb flavor.
Jamon y queso empanada. Empanadas d Loreto. The flakiest crust in San Miguel.
Pho. OKO. The only place for the Vietnamese version of pozole.
Samosas. Bhaji. So they’re not authentic, the phyllo works.
Triple Chocolate Ice Cream. Helado Santa Clara. Like life, you’ve got to enjoy it before it melts.
French Fries. Hansen’s. Thin cut. Twice fried, Nicely dusted.
Drowned Burrito. La Frontera. The burrito king is dead (or at least wounded). Long live the burrito queen.
Sourdough baguette. La Mesa Grande. Simply the very best loaf in town.
Burnt caramel sundae. The Restaurant. Proving that sugar and salt make great bedfellows.
Clams. La Isla. The place to buy your bivalves for linguine con le vongole.
Sopa Azteca. Café Muro. Not sure where the cockles of my heart are but this definitely warms them.
Torchon de foie gras. Calenda. With some fabulous fruit sauces for company.
Orange chicken. El Palacio Chino. Rivals the very best of Toronto’s Chinatown.
Pozole con puerco. La Alborada. When it comes to pozole, this is San Miguel’s institution.
There you have it. I know I’ve missed at least one or two delights. So I apologize to the restaurants. And even more so to the readers. And if there’s any dish I might not know about that you think belongs on the list, please share it with me. And help me eat my way through the town I love so well.