The Best Meal You Ever Had .... The Great Meal Discussion

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I can remember some truly incredible dishes I’ve had over the years
Some of the noteworthy ones:

Best Burger: the Guinness-marinated hamburgers & cheeseburgers at Slatery Rand’s in Irving, TX back in the late1990s. They also had great steak & mushroom pie and a spring greens with strawberry vinaigrette. They shuttered after a St. Patrick’s Day shindig when the owner skipped town after not paying rent for a couple months.

Best Steak Sandwich: Early 1990s, McClesky’s in Austin, Tx. They marinated their 3/4” thick rib-eyes in red wine, grilled them up with onions and put them on a nicely toasted bun with mayo and other toppings. The owner sold out to a well-heeled idiot who changed the recipe- they closed within a year of the sale.

Best Pho: a place in Irving, Tx in the late 1980s, across from Irving Mall and next to a Hooters. The owner spoke no English, but his pho was the most fragrant and flavorful I’ve ever had. His place closed in less than a year, probably because of the dining environment. His American nephew chose the decor and piped in music- mottled pink wallpaper and extended-play dance remixes. Not the best option for the Bible Belt in those days.

Best Creamy Mushroom Soup: 2005, in Moscow, Russia. I was having a meal in an upscale place in a Galleria-style mall just off of Red Square before going to St. Petersburg for a few days. I ordered the wild mushroom & garlic soup and…something else that didn’t matter. The soup was fragrant but nondescript…until I took a spoonful. The texture was more like a Kool-Whip, and it behaved like it. The spoonful of soup evaporated in my mouth, leaving behind only the mushroom & garlic flavors.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
More:

Best Escargot: 15-20 years ago, our family was invited to a catered party at the house of one of my Dad’s peers. No expenses spared- live band, catering done by a chef hired for the evening. Everything was top-notch, but the chef’s handling of escargot was superlative. Instead of serving them traditionally in their shells with a buttery garlic sauce and specialized little forks, he transformed each snail served into an individual, bite-sized tart. The tart itself was a nice, crispy shell. The sauce had been thickened to more of a gel or pudding that was exploding with garlic and butter flavors. I fully admit to making a public spectacle of myself eating them. Every time the server passed with some, I grabbed a couple. At the end of the evening, as we’re all saying our goodbyes in the front hall, the waitstaff placed the remaining tarts on a 4 tier serving platter. I stood next to that table and grabbed another couple every so often as the goodbyes dragged on. I do not know how many I ate; I regret none of my consumption. If I evr encounter that chef again, I’m asking for a lesson.

Best Blue Cheese: Actually, this one’s still a mystery of sorts. We were at a hotel’s Easter brunch, as we often do, and I hit all my faves. Eggs Benedict. Prime rib. Lox. Shrimp. But when I got to the bread & cheese table, I noticed an unusual soft blue cheese. Blues being my fave, I grabbed a couple slices. And with every trip back to the buffet, I grabbed more. I even got a couple more slices instead of dessert. For the next 2 years, I searched the D/FW for that cheese. The closes I came (very close indeed) were cambozola and blue castello. Those remain staples in my fridge to this day.

Best Olive: another 2-fer mystery of sorts. Right now, my go-to are castlevetrano olives. I have 2 jars in my pantry, and one in the fridge right now. But before them, a local liquor store had a small cheese & other stuff section run by an Italian guy and an Irish lady, full of imported goodies from around the world. One of the imports they had were these reddish-purple colored olives that were quite large. Their flavor was a niece and slightly briny olive, and their texture was nearly as creamy as room-temperature butter. Unfortunately, the Italian guy found employment elsewhere, and the Irish lady moved back to Dublin…and nobody else in the store knew where the got the olives from, or even what variety they were. Once they sold out, they were gone forever. I’ve tried hunting for them for years, and not eve people I know with their own olive groves have a clue as to what they were.

Best nonstandard BBQ: that would be the smoked mutton ribs at a short-lived joint in Austin, Tx in the early 2000’s. They were large, meaty, and spoon tender. Yes, I tried a spoon on them, and the meat just parted like the Red Sea did for Moses. But the owner apparently had a spotty record for obeying the law- taxes, wages, etc.- and the local government shut him down.

Best Salsa: a family-owned Tex-Mex place near our house in Irving, Tx called Estela’s. Dad ate there often because it was 3 minutes from his office. It was also a favorite hangout for ZZ Top (we never met them, though). Her entire menu was good, but her salsa was a maddening impossibility because it was- and remains- the hottest salsa I’ve ever enjoyed. I can take a lot of heat, but I don’t seek it out. Usually, once it gets past a certain heat level, the spiciness overwhelms the flavor. Not so with hers. Even on its hottest days, you could taste the distinct flavors of the tomatoes, the cilantro, the onion, etc. The restaurant closed after 13 years, supposedly over infra-family drama.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But that's not the winner. The winner is, strangely, Meals by Genet. While it was some time ago, this Ethiopian restaurant in Los Angeles was absolutely amazing. The flavors were insane; to this day, I still seek out Ethiopian food when I travel, but I'm inevitably disappointed when it doesn't live up to the meals I enjoyed at this place. Korean food is deservedly having its day in the sun- hopefully, Ethiopian will follow.
Well, you may not be in Los Angeles any longer, but I am and will try to remember to try this place.

1. Best Meal


My wife and I are longtime fans of Top Chef. A number of years ago we discovered Tom Colicchio's restaurant here in Los Angeles called Craft. Most of the food there is absolutely amazing. Those few less than amazing items we've found over the years are just good. To go with the fantastic food is great service. They have many servers who all watch out for low drinks and come by to make sure everything is fine, but not so often that it intrudes. And while this dropped off during Covid, when they are fully staffed they will bring out samplers of great food items that aren't on the menu free of charge that adds to the dining experience.

2. Last Meal

I'd have to go with a wagyu or kobe beef aged ribeye, an arugula salad with a fine vinaigrette dressing, and some sauteed broccolini.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I'm going to add - most disappointing meal: Craftsteak also in Las Vegas. I LOVE a good steak, and this was supposed to be THE steak place. And best I can say - the steak was fine, definitely not great. I was expecting to be blown away (I love a good steak) and just wasn't.
I've heard that the Vegas location isn't as good as the Los Angeles location. I've had friends who have been to both and while they love LA as much as I do, they won't go back to the Vegas restaurant.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The best meal I ever had was in Cambridge, UK, at a pub called "The Red Bull" near campus. It was simple fare--fish & chips with bitter ale--but it was all done perfectly. The fish was perfectly cooked, the chips were still sizzling, even the ale had the perfect head of foam. I'm a sucker for simple things done well, and this was flawless.
 

South by Southwest

Incorrigible Daydreamer
The best meal I ever had was in Cambridge, UK, at a pub called "The Red Bull" near campus. It was simple fare--fish & chips with bitter ale--but it was all done perfectly. The fish was perfectly cooked, the chips were still sizzling, even the ale had the perfect head of foam. I'm a sucker for simple things done well, and this was flawless.
In France they've a dessert dish called "pomme ris," which is just sticky rice with sliced apples on it. But if it's done just right, it's wonderful.
 

Ryujin

Legend
The best meal I ever had was in Cambridge, UK, at a pub called "The Red Bull" near campus. It was simple fare--fish & chips with bitter ale--but it was all done perfectly. The fish was perfectly cooked, the chips were still sizzling, even the ale had the perfect head of foam. I'm a sucker for simple things done well, and this was flawless.
That's how you get a successful restaurant. Simple food, done well, doesn't take a lot of time, nor different ingredients. Costs are low. Client turnover is quick.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
That's how you get a successful restaurant. Simple food, done well, doesn't take a lot of time, nor different ingredients. Costs are low. Client turnover is quick.
Yep, agreed. You don't need a Michelin star and a gourmet chef to make excellent food. Really all you need is quality ingredients, a practiced technique, and pride in your work.

Certain recipes are called "classics" for a reason...when they're done right, they really can't be improved upon. Even Gordon Ramsey himself would have been impressed with that meal, and it was nothing fancy. It didn't need to be fancy. It was already a classic.
 

GreyLord

Legend
I'm going to be the junk food junkie here.

Best dinner is one I can replicate as often as I want.

Either a Big Mac with Fries or a Taco Bell Beef Chalupa with another Beef Chalupa to go with it and a thing of Mountain Dew.

Very bad for you.

I don't need expensive things for the rich, give me cheap food and plenty of it and I'm happy.

Second bests would be a breakfast of Krispy Kreme Donuts with as much milk as I want.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
There used to be a chain called Jojo’s. It was sort of an upscale diner crossed with a downscale restaurant. The food was generally simple, traditional American fare. The floors were carpeted wall-to wall. In the center of each one was a large aquarium featuring cichlids.

I think part of their demise was their reluctance to ditch their smoking section…which was usually by the entrance. 😒

But I loved eating there for one menu item in particular: the Peasant Lunch. It was a bottomless bowl of cream of broccoli soup, garlic toast, a sliced apple, and several cubes of cheddar. I’d usually add a side of their fries, which were “steakhouse” style, perfectly cooked and salted. It was simple, affordable, and filling comfort food, executed consistently at every location I dined in.

In the years since they folded, I’ve tried to recreate it, and have never found a place that even got close. Cream of broccoli has been largely replaced by broccoli cheese soup. Some places don’t have garlic toast. Some don’t have apples. And apparently, very few places get their cheddar in blocks or wheels- shredded cheddar is everywhere.
 

payn

Legend
I'm going to be the junk food junkie here.

Best dinner is one I can replicate as often as I want.

Either a Big Mac with Fries or a Taco Bell Beef Chalupa with another Beef Chalupa to go with it and a thing of Mountain Dew.

Very bad for you.

I don't need expensive things for the rich, give me cheap food and plenty of it and I'm happy.

Second bests would be a breakfast of Krispy Kreme Donuts with as much milk as I want.
You dont have to be rich to eat vegetables and food that hasnt been processed.
 

Mallus

Legend
I'm going to have to think about 'best meal'. Snarf's rule #4 about 'no external circumstances' is throwing me. If it weren't for that, I'd pick the Icelandic-style hot dog I had at 1:00 AM from the famous hot dog stand near the harbor in downtown Reykjavik, eaten while being serenaded by a drunk local kid railing against "the CORPORATIONS!" in English. It made me feel like we were starring in a Wim Wenders film. Also, the hot dog was delicious.

My last meal would either be steak tartare followed by confit duck leg or a sack of 6 White Castle sliders -- 3 with cheese, 3 without -- and onion rings. Serve either with a martini, up with olives.
 

deganawida

Adventurer
Hmm. I can only answer for recently. A month ago, I was in Plano, TX for work, and the CIO, SVP of IT Operations, and I went to Bob's Chop House. While they all went for steak, I saw that they had duck on the menu. It's really hard to find a good duck, so I got it, and it melted in my mouth. Absolutely delicious meal, highly recommend if you're ever in Plano. CIO said he should have gotten it from my reactions to eating it.

Will say it was enhanced by the drinks we had before going there, but it didn't take much to enhance that duck.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Best Meal: Bulgulgi Bap in Seoul. They had an entire huge spread on the table of all the great food, and you made your own wrap. So good.

2nd place goes to Ruth Chris. Petite filet. Not only was the food great, but the staff was amazing. We were there when my son was 6. We were the only people there with a kid. The waiter got down on his level and asked what he wanted like he was a real person. When my son said "chocolate milk", the waiter said they don't normally have that, but he'd see what he'd do. He took dessert chocolate and make chocolate milk with it and brought it out.

Best Burger: Strangely enough, also Korea. Uijeongbu in a tiny hole in the wall place just outside of the military base. The owner steamed the buns and made the burgers in a way that to this day are still the best I've had.

Last Meal: Probably a really good fajita
.
 




GreyLord

Legend
Fair enough, I was just commenting on this;

I have tastes that don't go for the more expensive stuff I suppose. I've been all around the world, eaten at many places of great exhibit and taste, but the best places are almost always places you wouldn't imagine. (for me, at least. Eventually you realize, at least for many, that the places that cost a lot are many times selling an "experience" more than what the food is, and if you really want the food, go to the street and find out what is actually really popular among the people who live there. The more popular a place, no matter how cheap, is probably where you are going to find the food that is actually what they like more and tastes better...at least for me).

And interestingly enough, I've always come back to American Fast Food as what I would prefer as the best of the best in the US. At the top of it all (though, go back to when they used the real method of cooking them), the best fry there is are the ones from Mcdonalds (as long as you eat them fresh).
 

payn

Legend
I have tastes that don't go for the more expensive stuff I suppose. I've been all around the world, eaten at many places of great exhibit and taste, but the best places are almost always places you wouldn't imagine. (for me, at least. Eventually you realize, at least for many, that the places that cost a lot are many times selling an "experience" more than what the food is, and if you really want the food, go to the street and find out what is actually really popular among the people who live there. The more popular a place, no matter how cheap, is probably where you are going to find the food that is actually what they like more and tastes better...at least for me).

And interestingly enough, I've always come back to American Fast Food as what I would prefer as the best of the best in the US. At the top of it all (though, go back to when they used the real method of cooking them), the best fry there is are the ones from Mcdonalds (as long as you eat them fresh).
Not my experience, but I appreciate you expanding on this. Fast food is pretty awesome when I'm drunk, but I don't think my tastes should be taken seriously at that point. ;)
 


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