In the last decade, CityBeat's food writers have hit up fancy spots, holes-in-the-wall, authentic ethnic eateries and even strip clubs (see below) in the hopes of turning readers on to the best places to eat or (we hope) offering constructive criticism to restaurants that miss the mark.
Here, in chronological order, are 10 excerpts that gave us a laugh or made our mouths water.
1. David Burger on Roppongi's barbecue lamb chops, Nov. 6, 2002: "A quartet of five bite-sized chops rested above a crispy potato haystack. The thick hoisin sauce was painted on each chop in perfect proportion so that meat and sauce were tasted in unison with neither flavor drowning out the other. The excess sauce trickled down to the shredded potatoes, and the clanging of forks soon resounded as we fenced each other for the last bites
2. Steve Mayberry's "informal" survey of strip-club fare, June 4, 2003: "The DIY condiment stand at Pacers ups the topping ante with red onions. They also use a slightly superior sesame-seed bun. The food here is unlimited; I could have eaten all day, provided I kept ordering booze. Even now, the thought nauseates me."
3. Steve Mayberry pits Taste of Szechuan against Golden Dragon, March 31, 2004: "One time, I requested extra fortune cookies at Taste of Szechuan, and since then, my server has showed up with a handful of fortunes. One time, I stopped by Golden Dragon on the way home, and asked for some fortune cookies. The little bespectacled women looked at me like I was an idiot. No points for being right."
4. Joshua Sibelman on Mother's Kitchen, Oct. 12, 2005: "A lot of vegetarian restaurants seem to believe in an inverse relationship between healthfulness and flavor. When I heard about a vegetarian restaurant popular with bikers, my curiosity was piqued. Surely such a place could not survive long offering bland food. It also doesn't hurt that it's at the top of a fun and twisty mountain road."
5. Candice Woo on South Beach Bar & Grille's fried baby octopus, March 12, 2008: "Warning to the squeamish: You get the whole octopus. My friend, usually a fearless eater, decapitated each octopus and ate only the more familiar tentacle portions—but, luckily, I'm the clean-up crew of the operation, so I happily ate the more tender heads while he went on a beer run."
6. Candice Woo on Bencotto, May 12, 2010: "If I could do without something at Bencotto, it would be the way that they dispense the balsamic onto their bread dipping plates—out of a spray bottle. Sometimes the tableside misting is so vigorous that it feels like you're getting a vinegar facial." (Note: Shortly after this review, the spray bottles disappeared. When asked recently what happened to them, a server used "vinegar facial" in his explanation.)
7. Jenny Montgomery on Searsucker, Sept. 9, 2010: "A famous person (it may have been Jesus) once said, Before you leave the house, remove one thing.' The menu at Searsucker would do well to follow this adage
. The salmon had beets, grapefruit and goat cheese fondue,' which, I think, was the faint milky puddle under the fish."
8. Jenny Montgomery on Ranas Mexico City Cuisine, Feb. 23, 2011: "I rarely pass up Cochinita Pibil when I can find it, but Ranas has completely raised the bar. Instead of a pile of lightly seasoned shredded pork in a puddle of orange juice, this plate arrives with huge chunks of tender pork luxuriously doing the backstroke in a velvety red sauce. The tang of oranges and the warmth of the chiles, along with the pickle of red onion, make this a sauce I would drizzle on everything, including dessert."
9. Amy T. Granite on the spare ribs at Coop's West Texas BBQ, Aug. 17, 2011: "Rubbed down with seasonings, then smoked over mesquite wood and charcoal for three hours, the results are orgasmic. Soft, moist skin gives way to smoke-penetrated meat, followed by a layer of pork-like jam that melts into the hammy flesh I willfully sucked off the bone in ecstasy."
10. Amy T. Granite on Neveria Tocumbo, June 13, 2012: "The experience of eating the mangoneada was so titillating that it felt like Mexican jumping beans occupied my pants; bouncing on the little stool, I considered taking my purse and hitting one of the piñatas hanging from the ceiling. The mangoneada is party-time incarnate."