The 15 Best Things I Ate in 2015

By jeffrey_merrihue on December 22nd, 2015

This year, I have travelled the four corners of the globe trying out the recommendations of our 185 food experts covering 267 cities and oh what a treat that has been! I would love to share the best with you.

So here is a countdown of the 15 best things I ate in 2015:

15. Sausage Pizza - Pequod’s - Chicago 

Image courtesy of

Burt the pizza legend founded Pequod’s in 1970 and added an innovation that elevated Chicago deep dish pizza to an exalted status. Burt sprinkled grated parmesan cheese around the outside of the crust which then caramelised when baked in the black, cast iron pans. Deep dish pizza lovers argue about whether Uno, Malnatti’s, Pizano or Gino’s make the best pie, but no-one disputes that Pequod's makes the best crust. Add delicious sauce and house made sausage and you have a pizza lover’s dream.

Many thanks to Kit Graham from The Kittchen.

14. Fresh Water Prawns -  Ruay Goong Pao – Bangkok 

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Merrihue

After visiting the spectacular temples and Buddhas of Ayutthaya, an hour north of Bangkok, set your GPS for this floating riverside wonderland. Here you will find the most spectacular live, freshwater prawns you have ever seen on this great planet of ours. Weighing in at almost a pound each, these creatures are served roasted. The heads are filled with an elixir that will leave you dizzy, while the long arms are served fried and spicy. The two floating pontoons are a magical setting for this feast.

Many thanks to Mark Wiens from Eating Thai Food.

13. Tacos de Milanesa Jamón y Queso - Los Milanesos – Mexico City 

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Merrihue

Woah. Deep fried ham and cheese Milanesa's chopped into a taco with fresh green chili sauce. This stand on the outskirts of Mexico City is packed with cops, taxi drivers and other tradesmen in search of a hearty lunch. While your cardiologist would frown, your heart will soar from this wondrous intersection of Italy meets Mexico.

Many thanks to Nicholas Gilman from Good Food in Mexico City.

12. Souffle -  L’Affable – Cannes

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Merrihue

Come for the excellent French cooking and stay for the benchmark Soufflé. It is so puffed up with air that it looks enormous but after “cratering” the top to pour in the small cup of Grand Marnier, the luxuriant cloud begins to deflate. This is a classic French dessert served perfectly.

11. Cioppino - Anchor Oyster Bar – San Francisco

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Merrihue

If you only have one meal in San Francisco, come here. Cioppino fish soup is the most famous dish invented in the 1800s by Italian fishermen from Genoa. Terry and Roseann Grimm, who have owned the restaurant since 1977, are known for having the best cioppino in the city. Right when served, the tomato rich broth is delicious. But as the juices seep out of the crab, fish, mussels and clams, the slightly spicy soup transforms into an elixir. Order a sake oyster shooter and watch out for the waits on weekends!

Many thanks to Sandy Wada from Foodhoe's Foraging.

10. Sisters Drunken Chicken Noodle Soup – Beh brothers restaurant – Kuala Lumpur 

Image courtesy of Sharking for Chips and Drinks

Silky yellow rice noodles in a flavorful chicken broth – made all the more rich and delicious by the addition of shredded black fungus (supposed to lower cholesterol) and slices of chicken that have been soaked and cooked in Chinese rice wine. Traditionally served to women after giving birth – and great for hangovers. The stall, hidden behind another stall is a dump but the soup is one of the finest Asian soups you will ever taste.

Many thanks to Sharking for Chips & Drinks.

9. Escargot at Le Montrachet – Burgundy, France 

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Merrihue

In a beautiful limestone house in the middle of the world’s greatest white wine vineyards of Montrachet sits a jewel of a restaurant: Le Montrachet. The escargot are the best in the world. Locally sourced fresh escargot are served in gorgeous shells with a garlic and parsley sauce that is silky and smooth (not sitting in the usual pool of butter). Once you scoop out the snail and sip the creamy sauce, there is a tiny piece of crunchy garlic toast hidden at the bottom of each shell that provides a crunchy kick at the end. Make sure to order a dozen for yourself. 

8. Polpettone - Jardim de Napoli – Sao Paulo 

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Merrihue

You would be forgiven for thinking this is a space ship from another planet. No, it’s just the legendary Polpettone which is an enormous meatloaf disc stuffed with cheese and smothered with a beautifully seasoned tomato sauce. Descended from Italy, this Italian meatloaf is out of this world. The chef arrives at 6:30am to prepare 500 of these daily.

Many thanks to Raphael Corrêa from Nossacozinha.

7. Simmering Pork Legs - Khao Kha Moo – Chiang Mai

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Merrihue

The famous woman in her signature cowboy hat chopping up pork knuckles with a big cleaver is street food legend. The slow-stewed Thai pork knuckle is incredibly tender and the two-level dry and juicy cauldron is gastronomic genius. The slow stewed pork is served in a sweet sauce packed with Chinese five spice flavor and served over rice. Kha Moo Chang Phueak is an essential destination for those who treasure street food.

Many thanks to Mark Wiens from Eating Thai Food.

6. Fried Chicken - Willie Mae's Scotch House – New Orleans

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Willie Mae's Scotch House is regarded as the most iconic eatery in all of New Orleans. Off the beaten path of the French Quarter, it is nestled in the neighborhood of the 5th Ward, which saw some of the worst damage during Hurricane Katrina. Willie Mae's was so beloved, that when it was destroyed in the storm, the neighbors rallied together to rebuild the restaurant. Kerry Seaton, great granddaughter of Willie Mae prepares her grandmother's fried chicken secret recipe to perfection, maintaining the Scotch House's delicious reputation. Fans were devastated when Willie Mae passed away at 99 this year.

5. Bleecker Black Burger - Bleecker Street - London

Image courtesy of Bleecker St. Burger

This is for true burger-lovers and a glorious example of what works perfectly between two buns. Two medium-rare patties of tender, rare-breed minced beef surround a block of rich black pudding. The locally sourced beef is dry-aged for forty to fifty days, giving the burgers an intense, beefy flavor. To finish: a melty slice of American cheese, burger scratch sauce, and a soft sesame bun. Simple, but so very effective.

Many thanks to Niamh Shields from Eat Like a Girl.

4. Chorizo and cheese empanada - Iyael – Santiago 

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Merrihue

This lightly fried cheesy, chorizo empanada is served so inflated it is difficult to photograph. Clocking in at a whopping 6 inches long and 2 by 3 inches wide – when cut in half it hits you with a waft of steamy flavor. Inside, modest amounts of chorizo-cheesy goo slides down the inside wall of what may be the world’s finest empanada. The mama owner refuses to reveal the secret to the crispy, juicy flavor chamber she has created. It is simply historic.

Many thanks to Liz Caskey from Liz Caskey Culinary & Wine Experiences.

3. Tapas - El Quim - Barcelona

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Merrihue

Is this the greatest tapa ever served? Mixed forest mushrooms with organically farmed eggs topped with foie gras, sea salt and a drizzle of vinegar from Modena. The Boqueria Market on Las Ramblas is a mecca for any foodie visiting Barcelona. One of its hidden gems is El Quim. It is just a tiny kitchen surrounded by a counter with a small row of stools. Quim, the owner, has been running this bar since 1987. His specialty is eggs and this is his masterpiece.

Many thanks to Marta Laurent Veciana from ForeverBarcelona.

2. Beef rib - Louis Mueller BBQ – Taylor Texas 

Image Courtsey of Bon Appetit

One of the most well-known BBQ items in all of Texas. Louie Mueller’s legacy, which began in 1949 as a grocery in Taylor, is hailed as a “cathedral of smoke” justly famous for its massive beef rib. The tender, flavorful, post-oak-cooked beef-on-a bone is fatty deliciousness so rich one bite has been known to induce dizziness and swooning. Eating at Louie Mueller’s — bone in hand, surrounded by the soot-stained walls and blackened wood ceilings from half a century of smoking – is a primal experience most barbecue devotees only dream of.

Many thanks to Drew Thorney from Man Up Texas BBQ. 

1. Sweetwater Noodles - Zhanglaoerliangfen – Chengdu 

Image courtesy of Jing Theory

My favorite dish for 2015 is vegan. Yup…vegan. Tian Shui Mian sweet and spicy noodles are a revelation. Each bowl is assembled on the spot with thick, almost rectangular noodles with a soft and simultaneously chewy texture that is unique. The noodles are then bathed in red hot chili oil, sesame seeds, ground Sichuan peppercorn and sugar.  Zhanglaoerliangfen noodles are a treasure that have never been replicated outside of Chengdu.

Many thanks to Jenny Gao from Jing Theory.

Check our Jeffrey's reviews of the World's 50 Best Restaurants here.

Meet the author

Jeffrey Merrihue is the Founder of XtremeFoodies which is the world's largest network of local food experts. He has eaten at all 125 restaurants that have been on the World's 50 Best Restaurants lists since 2005. He is currently a judge on Iron Chef and has published a book: The History and Science Behind the World's Best Pizzas. You can visit Jeffrey at his Santa Monica restaurant Heroic Deli and Wine Bar. Follow…... More