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The Official 2foodtrippers Top 10 List for 2014

2014 was a year of targeted travel for the 2foodtrippers. We traveled to some of the best US food cities including New York and Chicago along with a marathon trip to Italy by way of Seattle. Mostly though, we had fun exploring our home base of Philadelphia.

Top 10 List 2014

We can’t let the year end without sharing our culinary top 10 list. So, without further adieu…

1. Best Food to Start the Day: Smashed Garlic-Fried Potatoes at Lola in Seattle

Lola's Smashed Potatoes - Crispy and Golden Lola Seattle
Lola’s Smashed Potatoes – Crispy and Golden

Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, the smashed potatoes at Lola were so good that they warranted a return visit to Tom Douglas’ classic diner in downtown Seattle. We were offered the recipe to make these potatoes at home, but our arteries are thanking us for savoring the memory instead.

2. Best Appetizer: Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates at avec in Chicago

Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates with Smoked Bacon and Piquilo Pepper-Tomato Sauce at Avec in Chicago
Chorizo-Stuffed Medjool Dates with Smoked Bacon and Piquilo Pepper-Tomato Sauce

We loved the vibe at avec on Chicago’s Randolph Street, but it was the food that stole our hearts. When ordering, we couldn’t resist these bacon wrapped beauties – a Chicago twist on the Mediterranean classic with thick bacon wrapped around dates and ground chorizo.

3. Best Bowl of Noodles: Ramen at Ivan Ramen in New York City

Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazemen Ramen with tonkotsu Broth, Pork Chashu and Whole Wheat Noodles - Fully Loaded at Ivan Ramen in New York
Triple Pork Triple Garlic Mazemen Ramen with tonkotsu Broth, Pork Chashu and Whole Wheat Noodles – Fully Loaded

We missed Ivan Ramen when we were in Tokyo, so we raced up the New Jersey Turnpike when the ramen mecca opened in New York.

We’ve now been twice, and we’re sure about two things. First, we prefer the lower east side location.

Second, the ramen at Ivan Ramen rocks. Beyond the ramen, Chef Ivan Orkin’s eclectic menu of Japanese mash-ups like the 1000 year deviled egg and the pickled daikon XO transported us back to Tokyo.

4. Best Pizza: Pizzaria La Notizia in Naples

Our first pizza in Naples - Note the vibrant, fresh ingredients.
Our first pizza in Naples – Note the vibrant, fresh ingredients.

The pizza at Pizzaria La Notizia featured incredibly fresh ingredients (could the basil leaves be any more robust?) and perfect crust. Eating this pizza made by pizzaiola Enzo Coccia was a true culinary highlight of our trip to Italy, not to mention our entire year.

5. Best Burger: Au Cheval in Chicago

Au Cheval Cheeseburger in Chicago
Au Cheval Cheeseburger

The single cheeseburger topped with bacon and an egg at Au Cheval was so large that we could barely fit it in our mouths. This loaded burger was worth the extra effort thanks to the juicy beef patties and the smokey, thick house-cured bacon. The fried egg added an unnecessary but delightful decadence. It added up to the best burger we ate all year.

6. Best Bar Food: Pub Cheese at Alder in New York City

Pub Cheese with Pistachio-White Fig and Martin’s “Potato Chips” at Alder
Pub Cheese with Pistachio-White Fig and Martin’s “Potato Chips”

We expected interesting molecular gastronomic concoctions when we dined at Wylie Dufresne’s Alder in New York City. We didn’t expect melt-in-your-mouth bar food. It turns out that we got both with the pub cheese starter.

The spread is made with red wine instead of beer, and the chips are made from Martin’s potato rolls. If only we could find bar food like this in actual bars…

7. Best Date Night Spot: Serpico in Philadelphia

Ramen with Corn Fritters at Serpico Philadelphia
Ramen with Corn Fritters at Serpico

For us, a date night always involves great food. Serpico has that plus the added feature of “entertainment” provided by its open kitchen. When it’s just the two of us, we like to sit at the counter and watch ultra-serious Chef Peter Serpico conduct the culinary show.

When joined by a friend, a booth is in order, not to mention an empty stomach. Either way, Serpico is our favorite date night spot.

8. Best Place to Drink Wine: Basilicata in Italy

Future Wine in Basilicata
Future Wine in Basilicata

We had many reasons to visit Basilicata, and wine was at the top of our list. We first tasted Aglianico del Vulture when we were in Florence a few years ago, and we just had to visit the region that makes this big yet affordable wine. With plump grapes growing on the side of the roads, it’s no surprise that the wine in Basilicata exceeded our expectations.

9. Best Dessert: Honey-Dipped Mini Doughnuts with Raspberry Jam at Federal Donuts in Philadelphia

Honey-Dipped Chanukah Mini Donuts with Raspberry Jam Federal Donuts Philadelphia
Honey-Dipped Chanukah Mini Donuts with Raspberry Jam

We always love the donuts at Federal Donuts, so it was a no-brainer to order the special Chanukah donuts for our annual seven fishes dinner on Christmas Eve. The mini donuts tasted better than we expected despite their uncanny resemblance to a certain female body part.

10. Best Overall Meal: Joule in Seattle

Joule Other than Steak - Octopus, Bok Choy and Hot Bacon Vinaigrette
Joule Other than Steak – Octopus, Bok Choy and Hot Bacon Vinaigrette

It’s fair to say that we ate a lot of great food in 2014, but the overall meal that stands out in our memories is the one that we shared with friends at Joule in Seattle. Every dish was spot on, from the spicy rice cakes with chorizo to the simple grilled octopus. We loved every bite from the savory beginning to the sweet end.

Final Thoughts

We enjoyed loads of other foods experiences in 2014, but these are the top 10. Creating this list has made us excited to experience more great food and travel in 2015.

Stay tuned and stay hungry!

About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosure

We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Original Publication Date: December 29, 2014

Andrew

Saturday 28th of February 2015

I really really need to stop reading your posts when I'm ALREADY hungry. Your tastebuds had an excellent 2014 by the looks of things - great list!

Tiffany

Thursday 22nd of January 2015

Can you say yummy! What a round up! I've lived in the Seattle area for 6 years now and have never heard of Lola's. I definitely plan on trying this place out with the hubs.

jen

Sunday 18th of January 2015

Great choices and lovely pictures. Sampling and discovering great food and is one of the best things about travel. Thanks for sharing your list.

Lisa

Saturday 17th of January 2015

I love this post-it has my mouth watering!!!!!! Being Italian, I'm a fan (of course) of la pizza napolitana, but I have to say that the chorizo-stuffed dates sound TO DIE FOR!!!!!!!

Susan

Tuesday 13th of January 2015

I have never seen those donuts at Federal! Next time I am in Philly I have to try them!

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Tuesday 13th of January 2015

These donuts were special for Chanukah. Hopefully they'll have them again next year.