Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers to the annual Year in Eater survey will be revealed in several posts. Next up, the dining experts share their favorite meal of the year.
What was your best restaurant meal of 2020, either takeout or dine-in?
Melanie Lee, Eater Vegas: The chef Morimoto and Manzo collab inside Eataly was amazing. It was one of my last restaurant meals before the casinos closed but it would have been memorable anyway because it was such a great meal.
Bob Barnes, editor of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional and Las Vegas writer for Gayot: I had the good fortune to be invited to the T.A.B.L.E. (True Aussie Beef and Lamb Experience) pop-up dinner hosted at Every Grain, a five-course meal highlighting proteins raised in Australia prepared by chef Roy Villacrusis, namely wagyu, lamb, goat, and grass-fed beef. Chef called on his Filipino background, as each dish had an Asian flair, including kilawin wagyu beef and kinilaw prawns with crab fat, coconut vinaigrette, labuyo pepper and chicharon flakes; kalbi of shaved lamb loin in dolsot, a play on bibimap with lamb instead of beef; kaldereta of goat with root vegetables and steamed pandan rice; and binchotan grilled grass-fed beef kushiyaki with creamed cauliflower, maitake and honshimeji mushrooms in wagyu fat and truffled soy butter.
Emmy Kasten, freelance writer: My best restaurant meals of 2020 was at Kaiseki Yuzu, hands down. Chef Kaori Azeuchi’s intricate and artful presentations shine even more brightly at his new location on Spring Mountain. The “shou” multi-course menu highlighted melt-in-your-mouth uni and toro along with Japanese A5 wagyu beef that we cooked ourselves on individual sizzling hot stone plates.
Philip Tzeng, food blogger at Las Vegas Fill: It is a tie and I apologize in advance for the lack of brevity. Enjoying chef Michael Rubinstein’s culinary talents at Momofuku one last time before he moved on to Raiders HQ. It was my first dinner on the Strip post lock down highlighted by a ton of truffles and fried chicken caviar 5.0 in their beautiful private dining room. The one-night collaboration between Partage’s chef Yuri Szarzewski and Kaiseki Yuzu’s chef Kaoru Azeuchi was a showcase of amazing techniques and flavors for an unforgettable seven-course dinner at Partage. I cannot wait for the next one, which will be held at Kaiseki Yuzu featuring a totally different menu when the time is right.
Krista Diamond, freelance writer at Eater Vegas: I am extremely happy that Good Pie is now open in the Arts District, because honestly, we all need pizza in our lives right now. The Grandma-style pies they’re known for have the best crust.
Rob Kachelriess, Las Vegas writer at Thrillist: A couple meals from Sparrow + Wolf really stand out. Their new brunch is full of inventive dishes and a welcome change-of-pace from the same old bacon and Benedicts. I love how juice is fresh-pressed to order for individual cocktails. We also ordered Sparrow + Wolf’s takeaway Thanksgiving meal, a huge feast with subtle Asian modifications on familiar holiday dishes. Every bite was delicious.
Sonja Swanson, food and culture writer: A couple months ago, I treated myself to a nice takeout meal from Oh La La French Bistro: Steak frites, a chevre chaud salad, and a lemon tart for dessert. It wasn’t quite the same at home as eating there would’ve been, but I avoid indoor dining since I see my parents.
Louiie Victa, Eater Vegas photographer and co-host of Two Sharp Chefs and a Microphone: If I had to name just one, it would be Toridokoro Raku. I was blown away at how chef Endo Mitsui interpreted every part of the chicken. For takeout, JamonJamon Tapas blew me away at the quality of their food.
Lorraine Moss, co-host of Two Sharp Chefs and a Microphone: Partage for delicious French indulgence. When I took a bite of the saboyan with truffles, my eyes rolled back and I experienced pure food joy.
Melinda Sheckells, editor OffTheStrip.com, OnTheStrip.com: Mizumi at Wynn. While this is a mainstay, their new chef Min Kim really revolutionized the experience and it always reminds me of eating at its very elegant sister restaurant at Wynn Macau.
Diana Edelman, founder Vegans, Baby: Chikyu Vegan Sushi & Izakaya. Even though they were only open for dine-in for a few weeks out of the year, the culinary experience at Chikyu is exceptional. The sushi is creative, vibrant and flavorful ... and presentation is exquisite even in a cardboard takeaway box.
Scott Roeben, Vital Vegas: Has to be at 8 East at Circa Las Vegas. The food is so simple but also mind-blowing. The must-try items are the brisket fried rice, chicken skewers, and pork belly bao. I’m not a pork belly person, but everything 8 East makes is absolutely delicious. Also, pretty much anything at Esther’s Kitchen downtown is going to be a contender for best restaurant meal of 2020.
Susan Stapleton, editor of Eater Vegas: I’m going to stick with the birria queso tacos at Durango Taco Shop, even though every time I order them the recipe tastes different. The Slanted Door at the Forum Shops at Caesars left me wanting to try more of the menu, to which I say, “Someday.”
Disclosure: David Chang is producing shows for Hulu in partnership with Vox Media Studios, part of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media. No Eater staff member is involved in the production of those shows, and this does not impact coverage on Eater.
• All Year in Eater Coverage [ELV]