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Really Good Things

I like dining out more than the average person, so I’m probably well suited to my current job. I check out restaurants the way some people check out performances and, I like to think, there is something performative about a dining room in the swing of things—the house lights dimmed, everyone in costume, reciting a script, of sorts, to a packed house. Doing a round-up of some of my favorite comestibles of the year is hard. We live in a good food town. So, in the spirit of ending the year on a high note, I offer the following.

Here, 7 things I could eat (and drink) again and again:

In the starch category, I have a few true loves. The frites with herbs at Universal Café remain the gold standard that I measure all other fried potatoes against. A very honorable mention is awarded to the smashed potatoes served alongside the in-side-out burger at neighboring restaurant Spork. Accolades, too, for the potatoes at SPQR, bright with lemon, capers and parsley.

In early fall, I had a dish of shrimp with peppers at Laiola that so rocked my world we finished the first plate and promptly ordered another in rapid succession. That’s not the only exciting thing on their frequently changing menu, however—worth the trip to the Marina if you haven’t already checked it out.

Boudin Blanc with house-made sauerkraut at Spruce. This little gem off of the bar menu is so well executed it makes you remember why cabbage and pork make such brilliant bedfellows.

An aprium and ice milk coupe at Bar Tartine: the perfect spring dessert—honey roasted apriums (an apricot and plum hybrid) served in an elegant coupe glass, topped with ice milk. Kendra, the former pastry chef, has headed South to the kitchens of Manresa, but her legacy looms large.

The perfect dry-aged New York steak (and biscuits with andouille-pecan butter) at LarkCreek Steak.

The fried egg sandwich at Mission Beach Café. Served at brunch, this is the platonic ideal of egg sandwich: house-made English muffin, egg over easy, oven-roasted tomatoes, aioli and cheddar (and bacon, if you wish). Served with smoky paprika-spiked potatoes and Blue Bottle coffee. Breakfast nirvana.

The Lonsdale at Bourbon and Branch. Though technically not food, this perfectly balanced cocktail, a mixture of Plymouth gin, lemon and apple juices, with the merest suggestion of basil, is supremely drinkable.

Now, on to 2008. Cheers!