Whatever bad can be said about 2016 — yes, there's a lot — the Springs does have some superlative new eateries. To acknowledge that, we, the Indy's food team, picked some of our favorite dishes from the past year. Whatever geopolitical destabilization and celebrity death 2017 brings, at least we'll still eat well.
Cerberus Brewing Company (702 W. Colorado Ave., cerberusbrewingco.com) impressed us with great beers and a semi-gourmet menu. And for me, it's all about that beef marrow bone, buttery bliss on its own, but better under included veal demi-glace and balsamic shallots. A little bread, a little acid, and a lot of fat. What's not to love?
When we went to Mikado Asian Bistro (13141 Bass Pro Drive, mikadoco.com), we found main chef Eamon Lin, who prepared a mind-boggling omakase (chef's choice meal). Expect fresh cuts of fish from simple and fresh to outright luxurious, with seasonal items like kinmedai and bluefin tuna. And spend the extra $4 for real grated wasabi.
Eric Brenner's Red Gravy (23 S. Tejon St., redgravyco.com) gave us two killer dishes, but thanks to lunch specials, we can get a little of both. Butternut squash tortelloni in sage-brown butter sauce still delights. Spend the extra buck for a calamari Caesar salad on the side, punchy and bright in a chilled bowl.
But culinary pleasure comes in humble packages, too. Lucy, I'm Home (mobile, facebook.com/lucyimhomeco) serves up a legit Cubano — roast pork, ham, Swiss, pickles, mustard and soft-crusty, purpose-made baguette. Generally, a sandwich is a sandwich, but we fantasize about that Cubano, even days after dining.
Naturally, the Napa valley transplants in the kitchen at TILL (9633 Prominent Point, tillkitchen.com) serve seasonal, so the chicken liver mousse with pepper jelly that we so loved is off the menu for a few months yet. But the stupid-good sourdough that accompanied it remains. Try that in the meantime. — GS
I'm not a big burrito guy usually, so it's saying a lot that Taquería Elvira's (2356 S. Academy Blvd., taqueriaelviras.com) remains on my mind nine months later for something named the Wet Super Burrito. It's gluttonously massive, stuffed with flavorful pork, chicken and refried beans, and smothered in chile rojo and verde. Add a searing tomatillo-jalapeño side salsa for full effect.
Yellow Mountain Tea House (2616 W. Colorado Ave., 229-9986) reflects the beauty of China's tea culture, encouraging time conversing with friends over a traditional tea ceremony. It's even better now thanks to an addition early in the year of excellent Chinese 7 Spice-laced house dumplings (beef, chicken, veggie or soup), Pearl Meatballs (sticky rice-coated pork) and xiaolongbao (steamed buns). Say yes to Chao Tian Jiao hot peppers on the side.
So much sincerity and heart showed during our meals at Arabian Nights Café (8029 N. Academy Blvd., arabiannightscafe.com), and plenty savory plates pleased us. But dessert really shines under the care of chef Simood Gorguis (an Iraq and Syrian refugee). Try her pistachio baklava, and a superb, rosewater-laced cheesecake rendition made famous by the central Syrian city of Hama, called "halawa eljoubna."
There's no word short of stunning that describes our encounter with the jagerschnitzel at The Potato House (2220 Academy Place, potatoespotatoespotatoes.com). House breadcrumbs cling to two huge pounded pork cutlets, pan seared (not deep fried) in coconut (and sometimes avocado) oil for a fabulously crunchy texture that holds up even under a creamy white-wine-and-mushroom gravy. Best. Comfort. Food. Ever.
The first to our knowledge to introduce the Springs to Chiles en Nogada, La Cava (1755 S. Eighth St., lacavacolorado.com) executes a stellar rendition. Faint sweetness pervades through layers of unfolding rich textures and flavors: pork, beef and dried fruit fill a poblano pepper, drowned in a pool of walnut cream sauce and garnished with bright red pomegranate seeds. — MS