PK’s Best 9 New Eats of 2016

PK’s Best 9 New Eats of 2016:

You’ve seen on instagram (@eatsbypk), that people are posting their #Best9 most liked photos of 2016.  Mine (shown below) featured mostly homemade original recipes!  I love the affirmation that other people liked my home cooking!  In 2016, I learned new techniques and continued to creatively expand my original recipe collection.

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As much as I love cooking, nothing compares to a stellar dining experience, where chef-inspired preparation meets local foods, hospitality, and interior design!  I love taking in every detail about dining out.

Here are MY top 9 new eats of 2016 (noteworthy places I had not been until this year):

Shake Shack (Dallas, Houston, Austin, & Many more)

Finally, I got to try Shake Shack as it made its Texas debut.  I love a good burger.  The Shack Burger is the classic perfect cheeseburger.

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Supper at Hotel Emma (San Antonio)

I loved the Smoked Crispy Quail with pickled corn relish and gold potato puré.  For dessert the Sweet Corn Panna Cotta with blueberry sorbet, cornbread, elderflower, blueberry relish blew my mind (photo below)!  The location in Hotel Emma is beautiful, the patio is along the Riverwalk extension makes for great outdoor dining & the bar at Hotel Emma is a cool place to get an after-dinner drink!

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Biga on the Banks (San Antonio)

I was born and raised in San Antonio but somehow missed this amazing dining experience until a recent visit!  The menu changes daily.  I had some incredibly tender deer meat.  They have large and small portion options (love that)!  On our visit, we had a toddler and baby with us, the staff was super accommodating (kudos to our server, Rob).  Chef Auden has been honored with multiple nominations to the prestigious James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef / Southwest Award.

Husk (Nashville)

Southern food at its best!  James Beard award-winning Chef Sean Brock is at the helm of this beautiful restaurant in a neighborhood area near downtown Nashville!  It was the culinary highlight of my girls’ trip to Nashville.  Our favorites included the deviled eggs, the pimento cheese & the shrimp and grits!  The menu changes daily.

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BCN Taste and Tradition (Houston)

Our date nights at Uchi are amazing, but were getting a bit repetitive.  We are excited to add BCN to the mix.  This is easily one of the more romantic places in Houston – located in a dim lit house and service is top notch!  The food is traditional and modern Spanish cuisine.  It has been open since 2013, but we finally paid it a visit and love it!  I wrote about our first visit in this blog post.

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Helen Greek Food (Houston)

This small restaurant in Rice Village takes Greek food to a new level.  The Greek wine menu is a fun educational experience.  I am a fan of the grilled halloumi and feta brined chicken.  Opened in 2015, Helen Greek Food received a James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant in 2016.  This restaurant is one of my best new eats of 2016.

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Emily (Pizza loves Emily) (Brooklyn)

I love a good pizza, especially one inspired by love!  This pizza place is named after chef Matthew Hyland’s wife Emily.  I shared the Colony pizza with my best friend (red sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, pickled chili, honey), but we added burrata (blogged about my burrata obsession here).  This was easily the best pizza I had in 2016, but maybe in my lifetime.  Matthew and Emily opened the second location Emmy Squared.

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Two from our honeymoon in Italy:

Aurora Capri (Capri, Italy)

If you find yourself on the island of Capri in Italy, this place is incredible.  We loved the way the server took control and picked things for us that we would like.  The pizza was this incredibly thin crust masterpiece – something I have never had in the states.  We didn’t know this, but it is apparently a celebrity hot spot and Mariah is a regular.  It is the oldest restaurant in Capri, and the pizza recipe is allegedly 100 years old.

La Scala (Trastavere Neighborhood, Rome, Italy)

Truffle fries, truffle popcorn, truffle everything!  Truffle oil that has taken over many menus here in Houston, but the real deal is actual shaved truffle mushrooms over fresh pasta, soft cheeses, etc. This restaurant has an entire menu dedicated to black truffle!  We loved the toasted bread with black truffle, burrata and black truffle, & steak with green peppercorns and cream.

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All-Inclusive, Including Bliss

You know the phrase, follow your bliss?  I found mine, it is next to an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, at a boutique all-inclusive hotel nestled on a hill in the jungle!  This combo of nature and hospitality has serious healing powers.  This is a slight departure from my regular all food programming, but I have to tell you about this all inclusive in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

I’ve been to a few all-inclusives in my life.  I am not a fan of the theme-park style wrist bands, the watered down or too sweet/syrupy cocktails made with so-so liquor brands, and the average food.

So, I was really excited about our trip to Puerto Vallarta when I found Hotel Mousai.  It is not as big as the all-inclusive theme parks (adult only), but includes many of the great amenities.  We picked Puerto Vallarta because it is one of the few travel destinations of Mexico less prone to hurricanes during October.  Hotel Mousai did not disappoint!  The only “downside” is that because the hotel is practically built along a jungly cliff side, it has a small private sand beach, surrounded by mostly rocks.  But, the pools with the views made up for it!  Also, the rooms were so comfortable, with amazing balcony views, and state-of-the art technology (automated curtains, gorgeous bathrooms with toto toilets, and surround sound just to name a few).  Here’s my simple summary, followed by pictures that speak for themselves.

  • Hotel Mousai has 3 great restaurants for dinner (top shelf alcohol and great wine by the glass)
    • Steak (BocaDos STK)
    • Mexican (Blanca Blue)
    • Sushi (Hiroshi)
  • The hotel has 3 infinity pools each with its own appeal.
    • One on the roof (unreal views as you are suspended between the ocean and the sky)
    • One in the “middle” amidst shady palm trees and beautiful flowers (my personal favorite, it was just very relaxing)
    • One right along the beach (great for getting some sun and hearing the ocean waves)
  • You can enjoy it all in a quick 3 night trip!

 

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One of 3 Infinity Pools Overlooking the Ocean
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Sunset View from our Balcony
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Balcony of my Dreams ❤
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Perfect Breakfast – Huevos Rancheros, Fresh Fruit, and French Toast.
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Room service Breakfast – Poached eggs over English muffins with lox salmon and chocolate chip pancakes.
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This Black Cod Miso at the Sushi Restaurant (Hiroshi) was so tender and flavorful, we ordered a second one.
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Salmon Sashimi with crab, avocado, micro-greens and sauce
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spicy tuna + lime roll!