Food Dudes Best of All Time Part 2: Forreal This Time


The best until next year. Nah’mean?
Last year we broke out our first ever year-end favorites list and it was pretty cool to shout-out some of our homies and our faves so why wouldn’t we do it again? With Kanye back as our official “Best of All Time!” mascot, here’s the list.
Editor’s Note: Yeezus did not make any of these picks.
Best American – Match

Last year Match was our co-pick for Best Burger, and while it’s still extremely solid, the food as a whole rules bigtime. Sure, you’ll find infusions on Matt Storch’s menu too, and you won’t want to miss his bao, pho or ramen when it’s a special, but everything on the menu is can’t miss. I spent my birthday here in early 2015 and Chef Storch made it extra special, so this was a no-brainer choice. Worth checking out is his other spot, The Chelsea, in Fairfield.
Best Italian – Bar Sugo

Bar Sugo was last year’s pick and I honestly can’t see them moving from the top spot anytime soon. Chef Pat Pascarella’s menu is always creative and his sauces & fresh pastas are to die for (and best meatballs, OMG!). One of the fun parts of the menu are the small plates, best shared with a group so you can try them all. If it wasn’t for having to be an adult and pay bills I’d likely be here every other week or more.
Best Dive — Lou’s Pizza
 
Nothing fancy, straightforward, takeout (mostly), and freakin’ great. That describes a dive. I find myself stopping by Lou’smore and more. It’s thin crust, the sauce is flavorful, and it’s perfectly greasy. It’s also reminiscent of Letizia’s so it’s worth mentioning that they’re related! This pizza place is one of Norwalk’s best kept secrets and a true hidden gem.
Best Asian — Kawa Ni

It’s been a while since I’ve paid these guys a visit but when people ask, “What’s the best Asian?” or “Where can I get good noodles?” I always respond right away with, “KAWA NI!”, exclamation point included. Their ramen is the best in CT by far and Chef Jeff Taibe is always creating cool Asian inspired dishes with his own spin on each. One of my faves here is the Karaage Don, basically a bowl of fried chicken, sticky rice and a creamy sauce similar to coleslaw dressing. I need to get back here very soon. Get my Sake Bomb ready!
Best Latin — Rincon Taqueria

Another category where I could pick more than one but Rincon is like right down the street from me so I’m there often. They’re a repeat winner because of their authentic Mexican tacos, crispy empanadas (try the cheese with powdered sugar), burritos stuffed to the size of a small baby, and the best arroz con gandules that they serve with every order. For dessert you SHOULD get the tres leches cake. The best part besides the food? It’s really affordable. Btw: They now sell beer, sangria and margaritas.
Best BBQ — Hoodoo Brown

I reviewed Hoodoo twice this year; once for Westchester Magazine and again on here. I visited in the second half of 2015 and realized quickly that it’s the best BBQ in CT and beyond. What should you try? Everything. But don’t miss the brisket, it’s the best I’ve ever had.

Best Brunch — The Spread

You can’t go wrong with The Spread at any time of the day but it’s a chill spot for brunch. After many visits, I ducked in for brunch when the SoNo Arts Fest was a total bust and this became the best part of that day. For brunch they serve an array of sandwiches including their burger with a runny egg on it (they tied with Match last year for our best burger pick), but they offer an abbreviated dinner menu as well as classic breakfast items with their own twist on ‘em.

Best New Fairfield County Addition — Mecha Noodle Bar in South Norwalk 
I thought long and hard about this one and Mecha eventually emerged for me. I’ve never been to their Fairfield location and they pretty much JUST opened. I snuck in on a Monday night for bao and pho and walked away feelin’ their flow. Why the accolade? SoNo has needed a noodle spot for WAY TOO LONG! Welcome to the ‘hood, Mecha!
Best Burger — South End Uncorked

While reviewing SE Uncorked for another publication, Chef Nick Martschenko fed me nearly the entire menu, but I had to try his take on In & Out’s Double Double, appropriately named the Uncorked Double Double Cheeseburger. It’s the quintessential bar burger; double beef patties (secret meat blend), house made ketchup, SE Burger Sauce similar to but better than Secret Sauce, and zucchini pickles. It’s a good version of messy, the meat is juicy and packed with flavor, and it’s what you want while drinking. I haven’t been able to stop fantasizing since that night. Miss you, Double Double!  

Best Pizza — Amore

 
Bruno DiFabio’s Amore is still going strong and the pizza here is tops for me, in fact, both versions (wood-fired Neapolitan and thicker crust gas oven pies) are available in outstanding flavor combos. They should also get an honorable nod for their Sunday brunch service 😉
Best Bar — South End Uncorked

A double winner! SE Uncorked doesn’t only boast a great food menu but this is where you need to be drinking, even if this NYC-ish speakeasy is located in sleepy New Canaan. Michelle Mauro created a fun bar program that’s a mix of fresh ingredients used in hand crafted cocktails, wine and beer on tap, and creative shots that you’ll be tempted to try.
Best Cocktails — Ordinary
 
So this was a tough one. I’ll shout-out 116 Crown for its chill vibe and drinks that are bomb af, and I’ll give props to Elm City Social for the tacky/drinkable/sweet Rubber Ducky but Ordinary won me over with a Sazerac. It’s a boisterous haunt but they made me a Sazerac on par with the ones I enjoyed at the Carousel Bar and The Sazerac Bar in New Orleans. That’s high praise, but very deserving. Keep being awesome.  
Best Beer Bar—DeCicco’sArmonk

Normally I go with a neighborhood craft beer bar but why not a supermarket this year? It wins because this supermarket has a beer store within it, as well as an upstairs area with more beer aisles and shelves and a bar with consistently good selections, growler fills, and cool special events like when Garrett Oliver showed up with Ghost Bottles from Brooklyn Brewery. Yeah, that was a hell of a night.
Best Happy Hour (M-F, 4:30 – 7) — The Spread
A selection of half price apps, half off beer/wine/select cocktails, and $1 oysters (Tuesdays ONLY)… Umm…Yeah! I’ve been here a handful of times this year just for happy hour and probably one too many times late at night, taking shots behind the bar with the guys. Long story short, The Spread is fun, son.
Place I’m most looking forward to trying … Rothbard Ale + Larder
When the Walrus + Carpenter guys open a spot featuring German, Belgian, Alsatian, and Swiss food & beer, you know it’s going to be a hit. I’m a fan of both Joe & Adam so I’m eager to stop by and get the meat sweats.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Great re-review! Hard to choose when there are so many great choices.

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  2. Christine says:

    I am relieved this was NOT about Yeezus! 🙂 Nice job.

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  3. The food scene in CT has come a long way. So many places to choose from in every town it seems. A great problem to have!

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  4. Ha! Thanks! Most people hate that guy so it's a goofy touch to add to the list 😛

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  5. WineEsquire says:

    Everything sounds delicious! Cheers to more food adventures in 2016!

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  6. Thanks! So tough to leave some out though 😦

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  7. Yay, Mecha and Kawa Ni! I'm actually headed to the Fairfield Mecha with my mom today. Will have to check out Rothbard Ale and Larder, thanks for the recommendation!

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  8. Cool! Have fun and eat a lot 😛

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