Category Archives: BRIAN’S 100 Best ’17

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

No, Rockaway’s Asparagus beer does not taste like asparagus. You never know with the crazy craft beer creations these days. But Rockaway focuses on more approachable and traditional beers. Despite the name, this session beer goes down very easy. It’s a full-on wheat beer with hints of lemon and pine bitterness. Very subtle, light, and too easy to drink. It’s good thing the ABV is only 3% – I can keep drinking this all day long. Not what most people say about asparagus itself.

ROCKAWAY BREWING COMPANY
46-01 5th Street (at 46th Avenue),
Long Island City, Queens
(718) 482-6528
rockawaybrewco.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

These creations that are like an empanada meets an egg roll meets a stuffed tennis ball are not exactly traditional from any one Latin American country. But the folks at Che Café have put a spin on the empanada with these chechenitas. They’re fun and full of surprising flavor combinations like this Greek-inspired spinach feta with a side of tzatziki. That’s what New York fast food is all about – fusing flavors and creating a new vessel for a quick mid-day snack. Price: $5.25

CHE CAFÉ
86 East 7th Street (between First and Second Avenue),
East Village
(212) 420-1250
checafenyc.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

After experimenting with some different soda flavor combinations, two friends stumbled upon the surprisingly perfect marriage between coffee and citrus. After roasting their own flash brewed coffee, they add a blend of tangerine, lemon, and lime juice and some cane sugar for a sweet refreshing pick-me-up.

KEEPERS COFFEE SODA
keepers.co

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

There are many bakeries along the Italian enclave of Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. But only one makes something called white chocolate bread. And Madonia Bakery only makes it for holidays and on the weekends. When I’m lucky enough to give our Arthur Avenue food tour, I find myself in heaven. I’m not even a fan of white chocolate but it works wonders in this perfectly made soft bread with a just browned crust. The baked pieces of cooked white chocolate are a pleasant not too sweet surprise. And if you’re lucky enough to get a loaf right out of the oven, you’ll enter a whole other dimension of delicious. Price: $4.50

MADONIA BAKERY
2348 Arthur Avenue (between East 187th Street and Crescent Avenue),
Belmont, Bronx
(718) 295-5573

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

Xi’an Famous Foods has grown since I first visited their original location deep in the heart of Flushing, Queens. Since then the prices have grown and they’ve expanded to more than ten locations around the city. But I must admit the food flavor hasn’t diminished. Case in point were their famous cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles. I had tried this tingly meaty doughy plate of goodness but never with the addition of a complex lamb based soup. The soup was seasoned with bits of celery and a scattering of cilantro. It was spicy, warming, and thankfully just as good as I remembered. Price: $10.95

XI’AN FAMOUS FOODS
81 St. Marks Place (between First and Second Avenue),
East Village
(212) 786-2068
xianfoods.com

I’m counting down the 100 best dishes I tasted in 2017…

Ignore the silly name for this brilliant concoction. It’s more brilliant than the complex pun makes it sound. But it’s more complex than the words smoked salmon slider implies. The Loxness Knotster is available at brunch and dinner and it is a perfect little bite. Pastrami smoked salmon slider is piled onto an everything garlic knot and smeared with ricotta and cream cheese. Price: $6

GRISTMILL
289 5th Avenue (between 1st and 2nd Street),
Park Slope, Brooklyn
(718) 499-2424
gristmillbk.com

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