Here’s how I can tell which are really, truly my favorite restaurants among those I spent the year revisiting and reviewing: I recommend them to my friends. Every time someone asks me where to take their parents when they’re in town, or where to book an anniversary dinner, or where to go for a perfect meal, alone at the bar after a rough day, I don’t go back and read my reviews. I pick the places that I loved, for one reason or another, and hope that my friends will love them, too.
These are the same places I usually find an excuse to wander back to for dinner myself, even after the review’s been filed to my editor. And while I realize that a few of the restaurants on my list technically opened at the very end of 2014, they were babies then. They spent 2015 getting better, growing into themselves, and becoming vital to the restaurant scene. Here we go: