I am a sucker for good food. So much in fact, that I plan most of my trips around the restaurants I want to try in each city I visit. I thought I’d share my best foodie discoveries with you all in case you happen to be visiting any of the cities that house these amazing restaurants. So, without further ado, here are my best restaurant finds of 2018 ranked good to best:
5. Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden
Location: 79 Rainey St, Austin, TX 78701
Must order: Manmosas
Experience: Banger’s is a must see when in Austin. I had no clue what Banger’s was when I arrived, but, I knew Rainey street was a must visit, full of bungalow type hipster bars and good eats and drinks. We visited on a Sunday for brunch and were told to fully prepare for a 2 hour wait. We put our name in, and waited inside at the communal tables where we ordered small bites and a Manmosa (full bottle of champagne mimosa) to start our meal. Manmosas are so big, the restaurant only allows you to order one per person!
Our two hour wait went pretty quickly thanks to our very large drinks. Be aware, while the waiting area is inside, all brunch seating is outside. We went on a very rainy day, but got lucky that we were seated under an awning. All tables are communal tables; that combined with the largest mimosas I’ve ever seen, makes for a very friendly atmosphere! As I’m sure you guessed, almost all menu items revolve around some kind of sausage. I opted for a Bratwurst Salad (in an attempt to be healthy) and it was phenomenal! By far the best Bratwurst I’ve ever tried. There was a live band playing as we ate brunch and we were surrounded by many people in very good moods thanks to their very large drinks.
While the food at Banger’s was amazing, it wasn’t necessarily the best food I’ve ever tasted. But, then again, that’s not why you go. Banger’s made my list of Top 5 Restaurants I visited this year because of it’s uniqueness and pure fun nature. It’s unlike any other restaurant I visited in Austin and I will most definitely be making a stop there again the next time I’m in town.
4. Balmori Roofbar
Location: Zacatecas 139, Fl 3, Mexico City, 06700, Mexico (Colonia Roma)
Must order: Craft Cocktails
Experience: Balmori is exactly what I think of when I picture Roma in Mexico City: the perfect mix of hipster, posh, and unique vibes. While it is considered a “roofbar” it doesn’t exactly have a view of the city. But, that doesn’t take away from ambiance of the restaurant. We had a large group of 15 people, and I appreciate that Balmori is one of the few places in CDMX that can fit a group of that size.
There is a DJ that starts around 9 PM but the sound isn’t overpowering. Think deep house beats playing in the background. We started with some craft cocktails, all of which were phenomenal. My boyfriend and I split the mac & cheese (I consider myself a connoisseur and this mac was perfect. It was rich, but not overly rich as mac & cheese is sometimes) and the rib eye which was also tasty. Again, while the food was good, it wasn’t necessarily to die for. Balmori made my list of top restaurants for the ambiance and the craft cocktails (which were some the best in the biz).
While I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again for dinner, I’d also be fine just coming for the drinks. Balmori was one of my favorite mixes of great cocktails, good food, and a phenomenal ambiance that I had yet to find anywhere else in my travels this year. By the end of our meal, our group was feeling good and primed for a night out on the town.
3. Rosa Negra
Location: Av. Pdte. Masaryk 298, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, 11550 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico (Colonia Polanco)
Must order: Black Market Meat
Experience: Rosa Negra is situated on my favorite street in Polanco, called Avenida Presidente Masaryk. It’s known as the “Beverly Hills” of Mexico City. When we first booked our trip to CDMX we were hoping to get reservations at Quintonil or Pujol. Unfortunately, even three months out wasn’t enough time to book our group of 15. However, not getting reservations was probably the best thing that happened because it led to our discovery of Rosa Negra, which was recommended by an Airbnb Host.
From the time you step into the restaurant, Rosa Negra oozes a posh, upscale, and very wealthy vibe. We were seated in a downstairs room where we were surrounded by the soft hum of chatter and deep house tunes from the DJ (is it just me or does every trendy restaurant in CDMX have a DJ?). Our drinks came out first, and they were beautiful craft cocktails that did not disappoint. We were then presented with a tray of uncooked meats and seafood so we could see what Rosa Negra was offering that night.
Of course you can choose from your typical lobster, filet, or ribeye, or even splurge for genuine Japanese Wagyu if you’re in the mood. But something different caught my eye, that I had never seen before. The menu read “Black Market Meat.” Apparently, Rosa Negra offers a very rare cut of premium meat which can only be obtained seasonally from Australia. Naturally, I had to try it. When our food came out, presented beautifully on round wooden blocks, I found my steak cooked to perfection. I salted my steak lightly with sea salt, but didn’t use any dipping sauces. The flavor of the meat was phenomenally unique.
In addition, we ordered a variety of appetizers and sides: elote (cooked to perfection and NOT slathered in mayo), ahi, artichoke, asparagus, and potatoes. Everything was tasty, the service was impeccable, and the vibe and ambiance were to die for. I cannot wait for my next trip to Polanco to visit Rosa Negra again!
2. Bistro Jeanty
Location: 6510 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599
Must order: Tomato Soup Puff Pastry
Experience: Bistro Jeanty is exactly what you need to end a perfect quaint day of wine tasting. Walking into Bistro Jeanty feels like you’ve just walked into a cafe in France. Tables and chairs are small, space is tight, but that’s what gives it it’s charm.
Napa is famous for it’s restaurant, French Laundry, but Bistro Jeanty is the perfect replacement if you don’t feel like shelling out $500 for dinner. The service is friendly, relaxed yet efficient, and the food is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. I’m a sucker for a good tomato soup. So, when I saw the tomato soup puff pastry on the menu I knew I had to order it. I also ordered the steak frites. While the steak frites were tasty, they were nothing to write home about. But, the puff pastry tomato soup, was to die for! I’m already trying to find another excuse to go to Napa so I can have it again.
It’s hard to explain why the tomato soup was so phenomenal. It must be a mix between the piping hot, perfectly flavored soup, and the awe I experienced when I saw how perfectly crisp yet soft the puff pastry stayed throughout my whole meal. Whatever you order at Bistro Jeanty, you must add on a tomato soup; you won’t be sorry.
Bistro Jeanty is the kind of place you can get dressed up, or go casual; you can go with a big group, or one other person; you can order a whole feast for the family, or sip on some good wine and appetizers. It’s a fit for any kind of night you’re hoping to have. And, one thing is for sure, you won’t be disappointed!
1. Hueso Restaurant
Location: Calle Efraín González Luna 2061, Obrera, 44140 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Must order: Everything! (menu changes frequently)
Experience: I almost have no words to describe my experience at Hueso. The whole concept of Hueso forms a juxtaposition of being surrounded by bones (very unappetizing), yet being surrounded by some of the best food and lively service I’ve ever experienced. Most patrons sit at the communal table in the middle of the downstairs room. But, our large group was taken upstairs and seated in one of two private rooms that share a large balcony outside.
I was slightly sick throughout the whole meal, which was a bummer (thank you mosquito allergies). However, it didn’t stop me from fully enjoying the meal. The craft cocktails are beautiful, dawned with real flowers and perfectly crafted. The best thing you can do at Hueso is go with a large group so you can split a variety of things. Four salads, four meat dishes, and three desserts was far more than the 8 of us could handle.
Each dish is filled with so many unique combinations of flavors. The most surprising was a salad with what I believed to be guava ice cream mixed in. The meats were all tender and cooked to perfection. We tried everything from beef to pork to lamb. While the food was phenomenal on it’s own, the service and ambiance took the cake as the shining star.
Each time a new course was brought out the dish looked almost too pretty to eat. In addition, each plate was served at exactly the same time: the waiters would enter the room, stand evenly spaced behind my group, and present the plates on the table at the same time. This is true fine dining. In addition, part way through the meal I began to overheat and feel very faint and nauseous (apparently Benadryl and alcohol don’t mix well). Not only did our waitress bring me ice cold water and a rag to put on the back of my neck, but she brought out plain breadsticks to try to help settle my stomach and get food down. There was genuine concern for how I was doing.
Chef Alfonso Cadena does a phenomenal job with this restaurant. I could go on and on about Hueso, but it’s an experience you must try for yourself. I was halfway joking when I told my boyfriend I wanted to buy a vacation home in Guadalajara so I could eat at Hueso whenever I wanted. 26 years of eating, and I’ve never found a restaurant I liked more!
Well, there you have it! My favorite foodie discoveries from 2018. I already have my eye on some places I’m hoping to try in 2019. Be sure to comment with any restaurant suggestions throughout the world that I need to check out!
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” -George Bernard Shaw