The Docsconz Top 25 Restaurant Meals of 2015

Chef Jordi Cruz Mas of ABaC in Barcelona

Chef Jordi Cruz Mas of ABaC in Barcelona

With two long, culinary focused trips to Spain in 2015, it is no surprise, to me at least, that this list is dominated by Spanish restaurants. While my travels may not have been as geographically diverse as in some years, I still ate extraordinarily well, forcing me to leave many a superb meal off the top 25. Creativity, technique and “magic” remain extremely important elements to me, but, perhaps, because so many of my Spanish meals focused on primacy of product and traditional preparations, these elements show particularly strongly on this list, especially in the forms of Etxebarri, D’Berto and Kaia. I did not get to Mexico this year, but I didn’t have to given the outstanding quality of some of the Mexican influenced meals I had outside of Mexico, especially at Hoja Santa, Cosme and Niño Viejo, all of which were stellar and need no qualifiers.

  1. Abac – 2/11/2015 – Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
    Total elegance at ABaC

    Total elegance at ABaC

    Creative, elegant and delicious, an extraordinary experience that married great product with intense creativity, terrific technique and absolute luxury! This restaurant should have three Michelin stars without a doubt!

  2. Etxebarri – 11/4/2015 – Axpe, Euskadi, Spain
    Asador Etxebarri http://asadoretxebarri.com/en/ Plaza de San Juan, 1 48291 Atxondo, Bizkaia (+34) 946 58 30 42 info@asadoretxebarri.com GPS: 43.11555, -2.59923

    Bitor Arguinzoniz grilling a chuleta de vaca at Asador Etxebarri

    Nobody cooks with the finesse and brilliance of Bitor Arguinzoniz. He takes product already second to none and somehow manages to elevate it even further using incredible subtlety so as not to mask the product’s inherent brilliance.

  3. Hoja Santa 1/24/15 – Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
    Chef Paco Mendez of Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo in the kitchen at Hoja Santa

    Chef Paco Mendez of Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo in the kitchen at Hoja Santa

    There is no question that Albert Adria is a creative genius, but part of his genius is having the right people to contribute to and execute his vision. In this case, that person is Paco Mendez, who creates a modern Mexican menu in Barcelona that is sheer brilliance!

  4. D’Berto – 2/6/2015 & 10/30/2015 – O Grove, Galicia, Spain
    Chef Marisol Dominguez behind the stove at d'Berto

    Chef Marisol Dominguez behind the stove at d’Berto

    Pristine product simply, but perfectly prepared along with great wines make a fabulous meal. I’ve never had better shellfish and the region’s albariño wines are the perfect match for the perfect product served here.

  5. Kaia Kaipe -11/5/2015 – Getaria, Euskadi, Spain
    Turning the turbot at Kaia Kaipe

    Turning the turbot at Kaia Kaipe

    Elkano gets all of the notoriety, but its sister restaurant, Kaia, serves food no less extraordinary. The wine list is extensive, great and reasonable.

  6. Momofuku Ko – 10/23/15 – NYC
    Chef Sean Alex Gray of Momofuku Ko tasting as a chef should.

    Chef Sean Alex Gray of Momofuku Ko tasting as a chef should.

    I never made to the original Momofuku Ko, which had a reputation of being a bit stand-offish. If that were true then, it is so no longer. This iteration is warm, inviting and totally terrific!

  7. Disfrutar 1/29/15 – Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
    Olives with a twist at Disfrutar in Barcelona

    Olives with a twist at Disfrutar in Barcelona

    This is not elBulli, but with Ferran’s three right hand men, who were not his brother, Albert, it does a great job of channeling the spirit and creativity of its inspiration into something all its own. but still reminiscent of elBulli. Enjoy!

  8. Bodega 1900 – 2/10/2015 – Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
    Evocative, creative and real - Bodega 1900.

    Evocative, creative and real – Bodega 1900.

    Primarily the best of traditional Spanish with an overlay of Adria creativity in a comfortable, intimate environment has placed this restaurant on my Top 10 list for the second year in a row.

  9. Restaurante El Crucero – 2/9/15 – Corella, Navarro, Spain
    Nabor Jiménez cutting up his spectacular roast cabrito

    Nabor Jiménez cutting up his spectacular roast cabrito

    Vegetable centric, but still doing great things with meat and meat products, this fabulous restaurant is largely unknown outside of its region.

  10. Wildair – 10/27/2015 – NYC
    An array of brilliant dishes at Wildair.

    An array of brilliant dishes at Wildair.

    Classics with totally delicious and original twists. These guys bring it!

  11. Restaurant Elias – 1/30/15 – El Xinorlet, Alicante, Spain
    Cooking arrozes over grape vine fires at Restaurante Elias

    Cooking arrozes over grape vine fires at Restaurante Elias

    Extraordinary arroz in the region where its is done best!

  12. Cosme – 5/9/15 – NYC
    Ducks on their way to becoming delicious duck carnitas at Cosme

    Ducks on their way to becoming delicious duck carnitas at Cosme

    Excellent and keeps getting better! Chefs Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes have hit a grand slam!

  13. Fiola Mare – 5/23/15 – Georgetown, DC
    Fabio and Maria Trabocchi at Fiola Mare

    Fabio and Maria Trabocchi at Fiola Mare

    Elegant and delicious, Fiola Mare is a deceptively large restaurant that still provides intimacy and the feeling of being coddled and special.

  14. La Gabarra -11/3/2015 – Bilbao, Euskadi, Spain
    Sidrería - Asador La Gabarra www.lagabarra.es Botica Vieja, 18. 48014 DEUSTO - BILBAO. Tel. (+34) 944 477 062

    Sensational Spanish beef!

    Some of the finest steaks that I’ve ever eaten.

  15. Asador Chuleta La Balconada – 2/5/15 – Chinchon, Spain
    Chuletas de lechón

    Chuletas de lechón

    Extraordinary roast baby lamb as only the Spanish do!

  16. Niño Viejo – 1/24/15 – Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
    Braised Ibérico ribs at Niño Viejo - the best of both worlds.

    Braised Ibérico ribs at Niño Viejo – the best of both worlds.

    Simpler and more down to Earth than its sister, Hoja Santa, Niño Viejo serves some of the best Mexican cooking outside of Mexico utilizing top quality product from Mexico and Europe.

  17. Los Arcos – 11/3/2015 – Cangas de Onis – Asturias, Spain
    Fabada Asturiana

    Fabada Asturiana

    Great Fabada Asturiana and much more.

  18. Asador El Torreón – 2/5/15 – Tordesillas, Spain
    Spanish beef hitting the grill - Chuleton!

    Spanish beef hitting the grill – Chuleton!

    Outstanding Spanish chuletón with attitude!

  19. Restaurante Rafa – 2/2/15 – Madrid, Spain
    Chef Miguel Angel Andres with angullas ready for the pan at Rafa in Madrid

    Chef Miguel Angel Andres with angulas ready for the pan at Rafa in Madrid

    Not on everyone’s list of get to places in Madrid, nor as famous as the similarly named spot in Roses in Catalunya, Madrid’s Rafa was a great spot for classic Spanish seafood.

  20. Curaté – 8/7/15 – Asheville, VA
    The real deal - La Secreta Ibérico at Curaté

    The real deal – La Secreta Ibérico at Curaté

    As great a Spanish meal as I’ve had outside of Spain – honoring tradition, but taking its own creative path.

  21. One Restaurant – 8/6/15 – Chapel Hill, NC –
    The dynamic duo of One - Kim Floresca and Daniel Ryan

    The dynamic duo of One – Kim Floresca and Daniel Ryan

    Vanguardism with taste and skill, but without pretense.

  22. The Crimson Sparrow – 7/10/15 – Hudson, NY
    Chef John McCarthy crafts food as delicious as it is beautiful in this Hudson Valley gem.

    Chef John McCarthy crafts food as delicious as it is beautiful.

    The food is gorgeous and delicious with Japanese overtones at this Hudson Valley gem.

  23. The NoMad – 8/31/15 – NYC
    The glorious roast chicken

    The glorious roast chicken of The NoMad

    It was lunch and we shared but one dish. That one dish, whole roast chicken, doesn’t get any better than this, though.

  24. BarBas – 2/9/15 – Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain –
    Peas, pork and truffles and BarBas

    Peas, pork and truffles and BarBas

    My biggest surprise of the year – the food was great in a location where I would have expected a tourist trap!

  25. Community Table – 5/7/15 – Connecticut
    Chef Joel Viehland at Community Table last spring

    Chef Joel Viehland at Community Table last spring

    He’s no longer there and is currently waiting to open his own restaurant in Connecticut, but Chef Joel Viehland crafted a fabulous meal at Community Table last spring showing a deft touch blending ingredients.


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