The Best Things We Ate in 2012

Categories: Best of 2012

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

Dominic Perri

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

Thumbnail image for P1080148x.jpg
Robert Sietsema
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

Robert Sietsema
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

Read the most recent posts on our food blog or check our longer weekly reviews. Contact the writer at, @tejalrao.

Location Info

M. Wells Dinette

22-25 Jackson Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Sabor a Mexico Taqueria

160 1st Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant


453 Sixth Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

La Vara

268 Clinton St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Pearl Oyster Bar

18 Cornelia St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Mission Chinese Food

154 Orchard St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Zabb Elee

75 Second Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant


344 Bowery, New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

The Pines

284 3rd Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Category: Restaurant

Downtown Bakery II

69 First Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant


61 W. 8th St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant


18 Greenwich Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant


77 Worth St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Masak - CLOSED

432 E. 13th St., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

606 R&D

606 Vanderbilt Ave., New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

Sponsor Content

Now Trending

From the Vault