As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. We've already covered Best Standbys, Top Newcomers, 2012 in One Word, Best Restohoods, and Biggest Surprises. Now, Best Meals. Readers, please add your thoughts to the comments.
[Photo: The Sample Room, home to Eater's best meal of the year, Yelp]
Q: What and where was your single best meal in 2012?
Stephanie Meyer, columnist, Minnesota Monthly TC Taste; blogger, Fresh Tart: Tough! A year of incredible meals, truly. I'll give the nod to Corner Table for several feasts of all of my favorite things: beautifully prepared, locally sourced pork, duck, bison, vegetables, foraged treats, grits, cassoulet, on and on. Paired with lovely and interesting wines. And terrific hospitality. All good.
Jay Gabler, writer/editor, The Tangential, writer/editor, TC Daily Planet: My sister's coworkers gave her a Manny's Steakhouse gift certificate for her birthday, and like a good sister, she invited her siblings to help her spend it. Though that meal cost a few times as much as a meal would at most restaurants, I've fondly remembered it many times since. That splurge (for my sister's coworkers) was totally worth it.
Stephanie March, food editor/writer, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine: That's like naming your favorite kid. I can say I have experienced the perfect bite at Bachelor Farmer, Piccolo, and Corner Table this year.
Emily Weiss, writer, City Pages: It was a non-work meal in Monterosso, Cinque Terre, Italy—a plate of fresh squid ink spaghetti with prawns, oranges, zucchini, and a creamy sort of curry sauce. So unique and so fresh. It was unbelievable. Locally, I'd say it was probably the Hill Burger followed by the Tres Leches at Harriet Brasserie (purrrrrr). I also have a very strong affection for the spicy peanut udon noodles with chicken confit at Blackbird which I somehow only just discovered this year.
Joy Summers, food editor, Lavender Magazine; columnist, City Pages: I'm so lucky. I had a lot of bests. Drinking a beer and feasting on Jellybean & Julia's at Fulton Brewery. Tearing apart crispy roasted pork shoulder at a Fortify gathering with my fellow food fiends. A massive table of ladies who love bourbon, piled with food at Butcher and the Boar, falling into hysterics as we tackled the long rib. Digging in to Mike Phillips charcuterie at a table outside of Little Foot Farm for Outstanding in the Field. An ice cold martini and wings happy hour at Monte Carlo.
Andrew Zimmern, columnist Mpls.St.Paul Magazine; host, Bizarre Foods; owner, AZ Canteen: I went to NEXT in Chicago on a day they were closed and ate a meal constructed of the key dishes from 4 previous menu incarnations, then went back the next night and ate the Sicily menu. What Dave Beran, Nick Kokonis, and Grant Achatz are doing in that building is simply breathtaking.
Claire Stanford, editor, Eater MPLS: My most memorable meal was definitely the half pig's head at The Sample Room. Not only is it an adventure, but if you order it, you're practically putting on a show—the whole restaurant watches you carve it up. It was incredibly delicious, but, more importantly, it was a real experience. I will never forget it.