LAMag's Digest blog staffers ate and drank their way around L.A. and beyond in 2013. Here are the bites that we'll never forget.
Eddie Lin: The singular awesomeness of pork skin ramen by chef Gavin Lansdale at Ford's Filling Station; Freshly shucked oysters at The Jolly Oyster shack at San Buenaventura State Beach; Ridiculously tender and moist braised short ribs at El Encanto in Santa Barbara by Chef Patrice; The incredibly dynamic flavors of Jason Neroni's smoked bucatini carbonara at Superba Snack Bar; Ricardo Zarate's amazing pacu (piranha-related fish) at Paiche; Nick Shipp's Iberico pork "breakfast, lunch, dinner" platter at Upper West (pictured above). The lobster roll at Hinoki & the Bird; Pig tails at Willie Jane; The super rich tonkotsu ramen at Tsujita Annex; Chef Vartan Abgaryan's wild boar spare ribs at Cliff's Edge; Sea urchin at Q Sushi in Downtown LA; Cheeseburger at Shake Shack in Times Square, New York; Beef pho at Pho Saigon 1 in Chatsworth.
Caroline on Crack: 2013 was a stellar eating/imbibing year for me what with all the traveling! But my absolute faves, which I still dream about, were The Church Key's brown butter glaze doughnuts with black sesame shake, Artichoke Basille's artichoke pizza in New York, Picca's pumpkin quinoa stew (so good I had to order it twice), the Grand Cru El Salvador Kilimanjaro Kenya Process from Stumptown in Seattle, The Hoodlum cocktail at Corner Door, Son of a Gun's Cheddar Bay biscuits a la Red Lobster, and Ink's Fernet soda with Coca Cola Fernet Branca cream.
Daniela Galarza: Trois Mec's potato pulp; the Blondie at Connie & Ted's; Adam Perry Lang's barbecue; Republique's bombolini; apricots from Frog Hollow Farms.
Bill Esparza: A bowl of rich, and marrow-laced migas (pork leg and bread crumb soup) at the Tepito neighborhood in Mexico City—I recently consulted for Parts Unknown and recommended Migas La Güera, so you'll see how delicious this is on the new season of CNN's Parts Unknown. In Brazil, it was the feijao tropeiro, or trooper beans meal I had in at Feijao Tropeiro with my wife in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and I still dream about the white pepper crab I shared with chef Bryant Ng and his wife Kim at J.B. Ah Meng in Singpore's Geylang district. In L.A., it was my flawless dinner at Trois Mec, Republique's uni and egg scramble, and my first taste of Quiroga-style carnitas at Carnitas El Momo. Perhaps the best though, were several meals I had from the women at Tamales Elena: Elena, Teresa, Judepth, Nayeli, Maria, and Heidi Irra continue to floor me with their cooking of dishes like Guerrero-style white pozole and mole guerrerense, which are both transcendent.
Randy Clemens: Favorite bites: Malva pudding cake (and just about everything else I ate) at SQIRL, Colonia Taco Lounge's cauliflower taco, Pizzeria Mozza's baby eggplant al forno with mint yogurt, Sage Organic Vegan Bistro's mole burrito, and "I Am Humble" from Café Gratitude. Favorite sips: This was the year of Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach; they got voted Best Mid-Sized Brewpub at the Great American Beer Festival, and I think they absolutely deserved it. I've also enjoyed sampling Buttress of Windsor, a rye coffee porter from fledgling brewery Los Angeles Ale Works, and the specialty hard ciders I've been finding at Lou Wine & Provisions and Sunset Beer Company.