The Best Things We Ate in 2012


It has been such a good year for eating in New York! Here, the Fork team looks back at some of the best things we ate in 2012, from rice porridge with uni in the West Village to dreamy cheese fries upstate.

Share your best bites in the comments.

Bone marrow with snails at M. Wells Dinette
I’m so glad M. Wells is back and serving this excellent dish from the archive. It seemed like there was a boring halved marrow bone on every menu this year, but Hugue Dufour’s over-the-top version stuffed with snails and topped with golden fat-soaked bread crumbs really broke the monotony. — Tejal Rao

Green pozole from Sabor a Mexico
This verdant soup, said to be served in the state of Guerrero only on Thursday afternoons, is loaded with shredded chicken and the slaked corn called pozole, with a roster of add-ins that let you customize the soup, including almost-crunchy Mexican oregano, avocado, raw onions, and deep-fried tortillas. Nothing better on a winter afternoon. — Robert Sietsema

Cold sesame noodles from Sammy’s Noodle House
I remember eating these once when I was kid and knew I had to have at them again when I moved to the city. They were just as good as I remembered: thick noodles covered in what tastes like pure peanut butter. — Jess Goodman

Remojón at La Vara
La Vara was easily one of my favorite new restaurants this year with its strong point of view and warm, unfussy style. The menu changes constantly, as it should, but the dish that first drew me in was the remojón, a clutter of blood orange, house-cured salt cod, pistachios, olives, pomegranate, and hard-boiled eggs. Lots of good olive oil. It was colorful and messy, but balanced. I’ve thought about it a bunch of times over the year, and will probably think about it a little next year as well. — Tejal Rao

Lobster roll from Pearl Oyster Bar
Until this year, I thought I suffered from a shellfish allergy. Turns out, I don’t. This roll was my initiation into the world of seafood and it felt like a historic moment to enjoy such a widely known and loved dish. The giant chunks of sweet lobster meat yielded to the crisp, buttery roll. I felt like a kid tasting ice cream for the first time. — Mallory Stuchin

Kung pao pastrami from Mission Chinese
Pow! This fiery dish is so full of heat and flavor that many turned away from it, with its additional salty smokiness and gravel of peanuts. Fork in the Road ate it in two cities last year and, regional differences aside, found it enthralling, and worth munching again and again. Yes, there’s some ketchup in there. — Robert Sietsema

Chinese broccoli from Zabb Elee
A friend claimed this place was the best Thai food in New York, and after this dish, I have to agree. The pork is deep-fried and heavenly with a sweet brown sauce. If you’re not wont for spice, beware of the whole menu here. — Jess Goodman

Bacon and cheese fries from Hot Dog Charlie’s
This venerable frankfurter stand, founded in 1921, represents fine dining in Cohoes, New York. And what could be finer than good fries topped with Whiz and plenty of crumbled bacon? — Robert Sietsema

Pint of prawns at The Wren
The peel-and-eat shrimp are brined and then doused in Old Bay, leaving them tender and pleasantly spiced. I’ve had them at least half a dozen times since August and would still run back at any opportunity. If my tastes remain the same in 2013, I might have to move to Maine. — Mallory Stuchin

Oxtail cappelacci at The Pines
Angelo Romano is making some exciting stuff in Gowanus. The cappellacci filled with an essence of oxtail and lardo, lounging in crab broth, are like Italian soup dumplings. Usually sophisticated dishes can’t help but show off about their techniques, but this one just lets you discover its finesse as you eat, which is way more fun. — Tejal Rao

Steak breakfast burrito from Downtown Bakery
I’m not from Texas or California, so take the next sentence as you will: This is the absolute best breakfast burrito on the planet. I think it’s in the hot sauce, but nothing can cure a case of the Mondays or a hangover better. — Jess Goodman

Uni porridge at Neta
Neta was another one of my favorite new restaurants this year. Nick Kim and Jimmy Lau are cooking serious Japanese food, but they’re playing around a little, too. I like the hot rice cakes and the dancing bonito in their various noisy incarnations, but the little bowl of soft uni porridge — warm rice and melty uni — crushed me. — Tejal Rao

Spaghetti a la pomodoro from Rosemary’s
This new boite that grows its own vegetables on the roof turns out some simple but elegant pastas. The spaghetti with tomatoes is scintillating in the freshness of its sauce, a glimmer of flavor that cuts across the bowl like a comet in the heavens. — Robert Sietsema

Milk ice cream at Atera
There was a lot to love about Matthew Lightner’s restaurant, but one dish stood out early this fall: a raw-milk ice cream and a sweet-savory lump of slightly chewy candied tomato. It was pure and simple, and a reminder that yes, this sort of expensive, smart fine dining can be delicious. — Tejal Rao

Chili crab dip with mantou from Masak
Crabby? Yes, it is, a bowl of red crustacean so infested that the thing threatens to turn into a sweet garlicky crab patty. Dip in the mantou (sweet tiny loaf of bread) and you have the year’s most perfect starter or snack. And you don’t have to bother with the crab shells. — Robert Sietsema

Mussels at 606 R&D
I loved this American mussel dish from chef Ilene Rosen. Tiny, wild mussels from the Hampton Bays, carefully grilled bread from Grandaisy Bakery, and a salty, buttery, brilliant broth, impossibly bright and green. I’d forgotten that mussels could taste so good. — Tejal Rao