2016 has been a fantastic year for food. Baltimore saw the opening of many new restaurants and I ate a ton of delicious dishes. I definitely slacked on blogging more than just a little, but I wanted to share my favorite dishes of this year with everyone. My rules are: no chains, nothing I tried before January 1, 2016, only one dish per restaurant, and no meals that were comped.
In no particular order here are my favorites – did I miss yours? Let me know so I make a point to try it in 2017!
- Gazpacho at Café Cito. This Hampden spot has been on my radar for a while. I don’t know what took me so long to pop in but I am beyond thrilled that I did. I’ve loved everything I had this year, but the most standout dish for me was the gazpacho. It was so fresh; I’m counting down to tomato season next year. You bet that when this is on the menu again I will be back.
- Tea Smoked Duck Breast at Gunther & Co. A newbie in the Canton scene, everything I’ve had here has blown me away. But this duck is tender and packed with flavor, I highly recommend to anyone who likes duck.
- The Original Steam Bun at Ekiben. The anticipation for Ekiben to open in March was killing me. But, it was well worth the wait. The bun overflows with meatballs and the Coconut Peppercorn sauce gets everywhere. It’s a messy bite – but those are the best, right? And pair it with the tempura broccoli; you will not be disappointed. That dish reformed me, a broccoli hater.
- Crispy Fried Mushrooms at All Purpose. To be honest, I knew nothing about this place before stumbling in. The night turned cold and we were looking for someplace to warm up and grab a bite. The dish came highly recommended from our waiter and they were a hit. The avocado ranch underneath is something I’ll be dreaming about for months to come.
- Scottish Salmon Crudo at Azumi. I had heard that the quality of fish at Azumi was the best in Baltimore – but that’s something you don’t believe until you try it. I’m a believer. This dish was perfect and on their happy hour which makes it a steal. Crudo has been on many menus in 2016, but Azumi is a place that handles the salmon delicately and gets it right.
- Pastrami Waffle at Saison Wafel Bar. Exploring Union Market one-day lead me here and I can’t look at waffles the same again. This was topped with pastrami, greens, Dijon mustard, and balsamic. Your favorite sandwich can only be made better by the addition of a waffle, that’s a fact.
- Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb at Corner Restaurant and Charcuterie Bar. This dish was everything I ever want in an entrée. It was hearty, it was salty, it was peppery, and it was easily the best lamb I’ve had all year – lamb is one of my favorite proteins, I’ve had that a lot. But they didn’t forget the broccolini under the lamb, which was a standout of 2016 all on its own.
- Street Cauliflower at La Food Marketa. Never did I think that there would be a restaurant so good it would drag me out to the suburbs multiple times. Enter La Food Marketa and this fun seasonal take on Mexican street corn. Cauliflower has been on my hit list this year and this was the best of both worlds. It kept the dish seasonal but didn’t lose anything in the flavor. In fact, I liked this more than traditional street corn because I prefer cauliflower. The spice level was perfect on this dish and it needs to be on your table next time you visit.
- Ricotta Dumplings at Pizzeria Toro. These were light and fluffy, just how dumplings should be. I ordered them on a whim because it was raining and I wanted comfort food. The raisins in the dish added sweetness and I can’t speak highly enough about them.
- Ding-Dong at LB Bakery. It’s no secret that I have a love affair with all of the pastries here. The Executive Pastry Chef, Mary Plovanich is a wiz, this dessert brought back childhood memories and it was so darn good. It’s a bit of a struggle for me not to pop in any time I’m nearby – which is often.
With so many fantastic dishes in 2016, I’m looking forward to what 2017 has in store!
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Looking for a place to eat? Check out Rachel’s Baltimore Restaurant List.