My 5 Favorite Meals from the First Half of 2013

One of the perks of travel is a constant exposure to new restaurants, new cuisines, and new places your friends insist that you have to go while you’re in town.

The first half of 2013 definitely had its fair share of excellent, excellent meals — on both coasts of the US and down in South America.

Here’s my top 5 favorite meals from January-June 2013:

La Cabrera — Buenos Aires, Argentina

The best steak in the world’s best steak town. There’s almost nothing else that needs to be said about it. But I’ll try.

La Cabrera draws crowds and even though some travel sites will tell you it’s overrated, it’s rated so high anyway that even a little bit over that is still about as prime of a steakhouse as you’re going to get.

Add in the diminishing value of the Argentinian peso and I split an 800g steak (over 1.75 pounds), a chorizo sausage, some bread and a whole lot of side dishes (complimentary with steak orders) for something like $22 per person.

You don’t get that value everywhere. In fact, you really can’t get it anywhere.

The first, and potentially last, time I’ll ever taste steak that damn near melted in my mouth. Don’t steak Argentinian cuisine lightly.

Restaurant Link

Au Cheval — Chicago, IL

I had heard about this burger spot in Chicago months before I got there. Chicagoans love to talk food and this is a name that comes up A LOT. So was glad to hop in a car with some friends, show up on a Sunday night and wait at the bar next door for a table to open up.

Nothing disappointed. We started with rich sides (foie gras) and moved on to a helping of delicious burgers (with egg on top, naturally). Burgers are double pattied and just the perfect bite each time going in. In 6 months, I’ve had a lot of burgers, but none of really come close to this guy.

Restaurant Link

Torchy’s Tacos — Austin, TX

It’s hard to eat amazing food within the first 20 minutes of being in a new city (or is it?) — but that’s exactly what Austin (and my friend Jordan) provided. With some of the big and established names on this, Torchy’s Tacos comes via a food truck in a very Austin-y food truck lot. We waited and waited for these guys (and a side of deep fried cookie dough) but they were the best tacos I’ve had all year.

Fun names, cheap eats and sitting outside on a warm Texas night. What’s better?

Restaurant Link

Thai X-ing — Washington, DC

Any meal that ends with the best  sticky rice you’ve ever had in the States should make this list. When you’re so full of other incredible Thai food that makes the list on its own that you can barely eat that sticky rice, that should tell you something.

This set-but-secret-menu Thai place in DC blew my mind in January and hasn’t left my mind since. Have to go back. Something like $30 got you more food than you can eat in 2 days, all delicious, all varieties of meat, noodles, fruit. In an old house, the food comes from outside and though the door snug open a lot and let some colder winter air in, I was too busy scooping food up to really notice.

Restaurant Link

[Seafood Restaurant] — Valparaiso, Chile

Usually when you can’t remember the name of a restaurant it meant you were fast to get out there. Not this place — though i still can’t remember it and google isnt much help at the moment. I’ll track it down.

My buddy and I were on a search for ceviche in the beautiful Chilean seaside town of Valparaiso and stumbled in to the first place we saw near the fish market (after seeing a high speed chase with a hit and run driver, and a cop shooting his pistol). Ordered that ceviche and got a fish drenched in a black butter sauce. We nearly licked that sauce off the plate it was so good.

Perhaps it was the 8 hours of walking we did before it — but truly an unforgettable meal not too far from the famous Valpo docks on the Pacific Coast.