The places to eat that I like best are imperfect. They might include unsteady tables and bony chairs, set too close together, and doors that don’t shut effectively, letting in every hiss of wind. They might keep erratic time, close early without warning and never response the telephone. A dish might feel heaven on one check out and fall to earth another.
What they give me is something more: entry not merely to a cuisine, but also to an integral part of the city I wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to know. I desire there were room here to include all of the places that astonished me this year: A Bhutanese snooker hall. A Cuban ventanita (espresso windowpane). A Brooklyn pizzeria whose authentic specialty is certainly Egyptian feteer (a many-layered crepe), and a Bronx pizzeria whose authentic specialty is certainly Albanian burek (phyllo pie). An Ethiopian restaurant that doubles as a temple to road art. A Korean-Uzbek restaurant serving fernbrake under crystal lights. Maybe the simply Burmese restaurant around.
All over the place I went, I was welcomed, and designed to feel that this was my area of the city, too.
Below, in descending order, will be the places that taught me personally the most in 2017.