After reading the best of 2011 lists from writers like UlteriorEpicure and ChuckEats, I was inspired to compile my own. Not that I think I’m eating or writing anywhere near that level (you’ll want to read mine first), but because I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to visit these places, and even luckier to have done so in the company of some amazing people. Like my other restaurant reviews, I do not have a specific grading criteria. There is no algorithm for the placements – varying amount of a number of influences led to my decisions. So before I ramble on too long, here are my top 10 of 2011.
10. Diablo Burger - The food was good enough, and I especially like the restaurants commitment to the quality, local ingredients, but that’s not why they made the list. This one reminds me of traveling cross country with my favorite lady in the world, and stopping in the amazing town of Flagstaff. A nice restaurant for a burger – an incredibly town to visit.
9. Salt of The Earth - I doubt this came as a surprise to anyone who is familiar with this site. This post encompassed two visits, but I’m speaking more of the first with my good friend Michelle. The Cockscombs were one of my favorite apps ever. Great food coupled with the always amazing staff, Salt was sure a pick.
8. Il Pizzaiolo - Visited with my sister and our good friend Emily. My first time with a VPN certified Margherita Pizza, and the best Pizza I’ve had to date.
7. Georges California Modern - My Mom, the Mooms-man, and myself in one of the most beautiful dining destinations in San Diego. The food wan’t too shabby either – a TBL3 reservation is the on the top of my list for when I return.
6. Notion - My first true tasting menu with my good friends Emily, Steve, and Brian. Great company, still some of the best dishes I’ve had, and it turned out to be a humongous influence on my interests in fine dining.
5. Notion – a return visit. Yeah I know – Notion made the list twice, and back to back no less. However, this was nearly a year later, and after a lot more eating. My best friend Katy was with me, and we were once again blown away. Chef Racicot and team are in the process of moving to East Liberty – can not wait.
4. Providence - 2 Michelin stars, 15+ courses (including black truffle supplements), and paid for by the most generous guy I know. Not a meal Greg (the generous Mooms-man), Tim, or I are soon to forget. Oh, I think we met Michael Cimarusti as well..
3. Kaito Sushi - 3 hours with one of my best friends and some of the best sushi I’ve had. Pretty hard to top this one, especially considering the great time we had talking with the famed Chef Kaz.
2. Blanca - Okay, so I didn’t actually cover this one in detail, but Kevin, Ryan, and James did. In my defense, Sam skipped reviewing as well. The whole evening was set up by Bobby and his beautiful girlfriend Stephanie of the soon to open Ariccia Market. Blanca has closed as Chef Schmidt has been doing pop-ups around San Diego while planning his next venture. The food was amazing, but the company was even better. Not only one the best meals, but one of the best times I’ve ever had.
1. Urasawa – I still can’t believe this happened.
I suppose I should go ahead and thank everyone who made these experiences possible. The food was amazing – the company was better. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to top 2011, but I’m s hell going to try.