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Detroit Restaurant Experts Recall Their Best Meals of 2016

Whole fried fish, PB&J sundaes, ricotta gnocchi, and beyond

A neon sign on the wooden green wall says Eat ‘Em Up. There’s a poster from the Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey circus, too
Stache International.
Michelle and Chris Gerard
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

As is tradition at Eater, we close out the year by surveying local food writers and our own staff on various restaurant-related topics, and we'll be publishing their responses throughout the week. Readers, feel free to share your thoughts below. Next question: What was your single best meal in 2016?

Aaron Foley, Editor, BLAC Magazine:

An old favorite and a new favorite: Shangri-La and the Peterboro, respectively. Go with a friend to both, order a bunch of side dishes and chow down. But make sure to add on the crab Rangoon at the Peterboro — yes, it’s on every Chinese menu, but they really complement everything else there.

Serena Maria Daniels, Dining Editor, Metro Times:

I had one of the decadent meals this year at Grey Ghost. I tried the dry aged rib eye, gem lettuce, butternut squash, trumpet mushrooms, and P.B. & J. sundae.

Dorothy Hernandez, Managing Editor, Hour Detroit (co-owner of Sarap Detroit):

Fried whole fish at Katoi and then on another day I had the crispy pork ribs, which have gotten better each time I’ve had it — the fish sauce caramel is next level.

Melody Baetens, Features Reporter and Bar/Restaurant Columnist, Detroit News:

Eve in Ann Arbor, which has sadly closed. It was very early in the year. The atmosphere, service and food were all top notch and I remember thinking it was the best dining experience in the first few weeks of the year. I may have measured everything against it. (My last visits to Rock City’s Hamtramck location was pretty great, too.)

John Reyes, Ann Arbor Contributor, Eater Detroit:

Katoi. It was in Ann Arbor before the Detroit location opened, and I wondered whether the quality could hold up in a larger space. It got better.

Lexi Trimpe, Food Writer, Freelance/Hour Detroit:

Easily the best meal I had in 2016 came from La Rondinella. From the starters to the main course, everything was seasoned and cooked to perfection. The ricotta gnocchi was some of the best pasta I’ve ever had — a fairly impressive compliment coming from something that grew up with an Italian grandmother! A very close second would go to my first experience with pupusas at the Pupuseria in Southwest. How did I go so long without these in my life?

Kat Rembacki, Editor, Core Detroit:

I had a bologna sandwich at Stache International that gave me goosebumps it was so tasty — that combination of toasty bread, smoked meats, tangy mustard and melty cheese was just perfect. Great food doesn’t always have to be fancy.

Mark Kurlyandchik, Restaurant Critic, Detroit Free Press:

Here's my dirty little secret: My first meal at Selden Standard didn't happen until March of this year. (I didn't move back to Detroit permanently until February and had been away for the previous three years.) That first meal there made me completely understand why Sylvia Rector selected it as the Restaurant of the Year in 2015. My wife and I sampled a selection of Selden's "greatest hits," and each one was better than the last. I still dream about that vegetable carpaccio and pretty much all of chef Andy's pastas.

Seoung Lee, Social Media Influencer, Chow Down Detroit:

Thai Steak and Curry Catfish from Bangkok 96. They are two separate dishes but they are perfect together. Also, the Sweet Potato Gnocchi w/ Lobster at Andiamo was incredible.

Nick Britsky, Cocktail Expert, Freelance:

Pintxos from La Dulce paired with sherry. The delicate skewers of pickled veggies and fish were transcendent and sipping on a chilled glass of fino made the experience even better. Now, I never leave without a few of the apps on my bill.

Brenna Houck, Editor, Eater Detroit:

I’ve had some really outstanding meals this year. Katoi’s dishes have this savory and really bright notes to them that I really haven’t found in many other places. The khao soi I had on one of my first visits is still one of my favorite bites of the year.

I had a sort of funny experience at Flowers of Vietnam over the summer when I ordered a bowl of mushroom pho, but my order was misheard and I was brought a dish of broken rice instead with the fried eggs and sausage and blackened shrimp skewers. Normally I think some people would be annoyed about that mistake, but it was like someone had read my subconscious. That plate of food was a deliciously happy accident.

Beyond Michigan, I was fortunate enough to have some outstanding meals at Night + Market Song in LA (so much uni and roe!) and Le Coucou in New York.

All Year in Eater Coverage [ED]