What’s The Best Meal You Ever Had?

What's Your Most Memorable Vacation Meal?

Last weekend, when we were on what felt like our hundredth family walk of the day, I asked my two teenage daughters a question…

“What are your top 5 most favorite restaurant meals?”

I find that asking your kids a “Top 5” question will usually get the conversation flowing, quarantine or no quarantine, but this time the exercise prompted an hours-long drive down memory lane and around the world. In a few short hiking miles, we revisited a Portland picnic bench overlooking the Atlantic where we ate the perfect lobster roll; a bustling, buzzy little cafe in Sicily’s Taormina for the traditional breakfast of brioche with granita (above); a parking lot in Austin, the four of us shoveling down brisket tacos, stopping only to breathe and say things like holy moly, can you believe, omg. It felt so therapeutic talking about the restaurants we miss and family vacations we’d taken through the years, and I thought you might enjoy the game as well.

So tell me: What was the best meal you ever had? (And yes, your own kitchen table is a perfectly legit answer.) I’d really love to know…

P.S. Great reader comments on travel and advice for raising teenage girls.

  1. Nine years ago, I was in Berlin with two friends and we wanted to try Berlin’s best Döner. So we asked everybody we spoke to where wo should go, and most people directed us to the same place. It *actually* was amazing. After I finished mine, I was super sad that I wasn’t hungry anymore, because I wanted to eat another one straight away.

  2. Julia says...

    A couple memorable ones are…

    Lunch of poutine and delicious draft IPA at a local pub on Canada’s Sunshine Coast, BC, watching the seaplanes coming in to the harbor…

    Scallop sandwiches or chicken croquettes at The Highland in Pittsfield, Mass, which has been open nearly 100 years…

    Anything on the breakfast menu at Sunnypoint Cafe in Asheville, NC…

    A $3 bahn mi eaten standing up outside a tiny no name Vietnamese sandwich shop in San Francisco as the rain fell…

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane :)

  3. alexis says...

    I have a few!
    Highbrow/fancy: Blue Hill at Stone Barns. After our son was born, my partner and I decided to splurge after getting our tax return. Spring is such a great time to visit because they’ll just be coming out of root vegetable season. Since we’d been there before, they did a little something extra and led us to the kitchen to serve some courses there. We got to watch all the chefs in action. My favorite dish was DIY scallop tacos using a giant shaved rutabega as the “tortilla.” Every dish is so thoughtfully created and presented. Some may find it pretentious, but I just love going there to see the farm and visit the animals before sitting down to eat.

    Lowbrow/unfancy: Every weekend dim sum trip. We have been going to the same place for almost 10 years now. They have seen us go from newly dating to pregnant, and then have watched our son grow up in their high chairs and booster seats. They closed at the start of the pandemic and we are hoping that we will see them come back after all this. Growing up in California, I had the same experience, going to the same dim sum place my whole life. I left the state when I was 13 and returned after graduating college to visit. My uncle took me to the dim sum restaurant and the same maitre’d recognized me and said “My, you’ve grown up!” It’s always like a homecoming for me, wherever I am.

    Homecooked:
    I visited Paris about 12 years ago and we stayed with a local woman. She cooked cassoulet for us and served it with crusty bread and a side salad of endives, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
    Also any time my grandma makes her DIY fresh vegetarian lumpia. The filling is made with carrots, green beans, and tofu. The add-ons include shredded scrambled eggs, seaweed, ground peanuts with sugar, and a garlic vinegar sauce.
    And lastly, the oxtail ragu my partner makes. It gets cooked low and slow in the oven, then he picks the meat off the tail pieces and gives me the bones to gnaw on. He serves it over cheesy polenta – it’s really filling and perfect for a cold night.

  4. Close to 15 years ago now I was with my second family (my parents lived in OR and I went to college in PA, but thankfully my best friend from high school also moved to PA about the year before, so I spent a lot of time at their house) and after my bestie’s performance we went out to eat at an Italian restaurant. I had linguini with clams and goat cheese and holy moly, I can still taste how perfect it was this many years later. It was a perfect bowl of food.

  5. Katie H says...

    I’m so late to this but I love these comments! I have a few, all related to travel. I think there’s just something so magical about travel food memories, and reading these comments was like a virtual vacation. I may have gone a little crazy here but….

    1. The most incredible, tender, fresh from the ocean octopus sauteed and served in a huge cast iron skillet bubbling with olive oil, garlic, and sliced onions. Recommended by the chef at a tiny cafe down a sidestreet in Porto, Portugal. Midway through the meal it started pouring rain, but our little outdoor umbrella kept us dry as we enjoyed our rich, heavenly meal
    2. Beef tartare in Paris. Enough said.
    3. Literally melt in your mouth steak in Medellin, Colombia
    4. Chicken doesn’t usually do much for me, but I had wood-fired chicken at a restaurant in Bogota, Colombia that blew my mind. It was fall off the bone tender, juicy, and infused with the deepest smoky flavor complemented by a savory sauce and a crisp local beer
    5. I was leading a college study abroad in Greece, on the island of Crete I snuck away from the students to have dinner alone, at a tiny empty outdoor taverna with checkered tablecloths. I sat in the sun and ate Dakos–a traditional Crete food of dried crusty bread topped with the most sumptuous, juicy chopped tomatoes, fresh feta cheese, local olive oil, and oregano with a giant side of thick, creamy tzaziki eaten with warm pita bread.
    6. Ceviche in Lima, Peru–the freshest, barely cooked fish imaginable in a tart, salty lime sauce with local sweet potato and friend Incan corn with spicy sliced red onions
    7. Ethiopian food served at a hole in the wall sitting on cushions in Cape town, South Africa. The spices in that food omg!
    8. Crispy, savory vegetable spring rolls fried fresh in our homestay in Sapa, Vietnam after a long day of hiking
    9. Thick, fluffy skillet-cooked bread served with a hefty pat of butter, eaten outside by the fire at our safari lodge in Sabi Sands South Africa after a game drive
    10. The creamiest, most savory, complex butter chicken served (of all places) at a random hotel I was staying at in Muscat, Oman. Ate the whole bowl of it in my room till I was stuffed to the brim and ordered a second
    11. Drinks: Giant Roja beer at a tiny off the road brewery outside of Cusco, Peru. The first sweet, tart, straight to your head sip of a pisco sour in Santiago Chile after finishing a 5 day hike on the W trail. Stumbling hungover to lunch and being given a free glass of champagne at a steakhouse in Buenos Aires, those crisp bubbles really brought me life. A sip of whiskey given to us from our bike tour guide in Vinales, Cuba. The local beer in any country, probably just as bad as bud light but always tastes amazing when you’re on vacation. And finally, my favorite sweet, spicy, smoky cocktail at Tres Gatos in my current hometown of Boston, MA.

    A few domestic shout-outs:
    1. Duck fat fries at Annabelle Lee Tavern in Baltimore (SO bad for you but so delicious omg)
    2. Not food, but the latte in my hometown of Athens, Ohio with an extra shot of espresso and milk from the local creamery
    3. ENORMOUS portions of Peruvian chicken, plantains, and yucca fries served with the most incredible spicy, creamy green sauce at Cabanitas (now sadly closed) in Baltimore
    4. Chocolate and almond croissants at this place (can’t remember the name) in the Richmond in SF. I swear they were better than Paris!

    I clearly get a lot of joy from good food…

    • Jana says...

      Gonna need the name of the restaurant in Bogota please!

  6. Yining Chiu says...

    This story about my most epic meal is going to start out really gross and sad but I promise it will get better towards the end.

    When I was pregnant with my second child I had horrendous, all-day nausea and vomiting that usually had me faint with hunger and dehydration. My husband and I had planned a trip to Mexico City with our toddler before we had gotten pregnant, and despite my pregnancy symptoms I was DETERMINED to go and have a good time.

    My most epic meal ever took place on one of my most miserable days of pregnancy. I had planned a day packed with activities — a museum, an outdoor market, an old church, and the Palace of Fine Arts at the city center. I hustled my husband and daughter to each of these destinations and also discreetly threw up at each place we visited. By the time it was early afternoon I could barely see, but I VERY MUCH wanted to go to the Palace of Fine Arts. I chugged some water, hoped for the best, and called us an Uber to the city center.

    There was something happening inside the Palace of Fine Arts that required us to wait at the entrance for a bit before entering. The day was sweltering, I was quite dizzy, and the guard had caught me leaning against the building entrance as we waited in line and shook his finger at me, gesturing for me to stand without touching the wall. I stood for what seemed like an eternity, nauseous, hungry, thirsty, and in a cold sweat.

    When we were finally admitted I saw, like a beautiful mirage in the distance, a museum cafe. There were white tablecloths, flowers in vases, glasses of cold water, and blasts of cool air from the AC. For some reason, feeling the kind of hunch I’ve learned in two pregnancies to roll with, I had the sense that if I ate a plain steak I would be able to keep it down and cure my dizziness and nausea. I sat down in the cafe and sent my husband to look at the murals. My toddler passed out beside me in her stroller. I ordered myself a steak. I sat in the cafe, in the quiet, sweat evaporating off my skin, water pouring down my throat, and the sensation of a zillion calories shooting through my body as I wolfed down that steak and discovered that it was the first meal in two days I could eat.

    I’ve had so many good meals with friends and family in so many times and places, but I remember that steak I ate in Mexico City in the midst of a truly arduous pregnancy with special fondness.

    • Drasa says...

      Your comment reminded me of my pregnancies and that strange feeling of how you are physically overtaken. It brought back some beautiful and forgotten memories. Thank you.

  7. Chelsea says...

    Probably 10 years ago My husband ( who was then my boyfriend)’s mom came out to Oregon to visit for the first time since we had moved there from Massachusetts. We had such a great time showing her Portland, wine tasting in the Willamette valley, eating really delicious breakfasts at home. One night we went to Toro Bravo, which was pretty new at the time and had the most fun, delicious meal that I’ll remember forever. When my mother in law died last Spring and we were cleaning out her house I found the paper menu from that night tucked in a book.

  8. Adriana says...

    I just went down memory lane! My best meal: I was with my mom, my aunt and my cousin. We were on a boat tour of the Amalfi coast, when the boat stopped for lunch at this little place. I don’t even know the name of it, but it was the best local Italian I have ever had, fresh fish, fresh pasta…my mouth waters just thinking about it! The company was fantastic, the views amazing, and the food was perfect.

  9. Karen says...

    Mmmmmm, great topic! I have enjoyed everyone’s sharing of both food and companionship. My most favorite:
    On my 12th birthday, my parents took me to a white table cloth restaurant and told me I could order anything. I got the whole lobster with Newberg in the center. They were skeptical; I was certain. Much to my mother’s disappointment, I ate it ALL (‘cos she was hoping for leftovers, LOL).
    Giant burger with blue cheese, grilled onion and pickles from Acorn on Oak in Chicago. Alas sadly long gone, but still my standard for a burger.
    1979 California: first sushi, first oreo ice cream (probably first ever).
    Louisiana: bar be cue shrimp (oh, the butter), crawfish, shrimp, crabs, gumbo, yeah, no sacrifice for Lent here.
    Love you all, stay safe, many thanks for the essential workers.

  10. Lisa Coles says...

    Through some flattering fandom, my husband, in-laws and I got placed at the chef’s table at Ka’ana Kitchen in Maui. We had the most amazing meal of made to order dishes (octopus that literally melts in your mouth!) and wine pairings while overlooking the Wailea sunset. It will always be on my list of most memorable meals.

  11. Suzanne says...

    My best friend and I play this game all the time! My favorite meals have been that perfect, magical combination of experience, time/place/company, and of course the meal…

    1. Dinner at the only tiny bistro in French hamlet Le Puy de Notre Dame with two girlfriends-amazing, rustic French food, copious amounts of wine, and deep conversations with friends=perfection

    2. Dinner at a restaurant in Seattle which unfortunately no longer exists-Elemental…they had two seatings a night, they just brought you food with wine pairings. This is the restaurant that got me into food/wine. The owner gave me a bottle of the wine I was raving about on the house. I’ll never experience better service and hospitality.

    3. Dinner at Talulas Table in Kennet Square outside of Philadelphia. They only serve one table a night, and reservations are hard to come by/coveted…therefore when a big snow storm was coming the night of ours we knew we had to make it work. Amazing meal and then abandoning our now snowed in cars to walk a mile in a blizzard to the nearest hotel, warm from wine and food and friends will always be a favorite memory of my life.

    4. Cooking class in Hoi An, Vietnam at the Red Bridge cooking school. Amazing, fresh dishes, but even better company and fun meeting new people and creating the food together.

    5. Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid. There are probably less touristy spots…but I love the covered market and wandering from stall to stall with a glass of wine in hand to eat all the things…I have dreams about the freshly made burratta…

  12. Kate says...

    I happened to be in Scotland for my 20th birthday. On the big day, I summited Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, with a couple of vastly more physically fit friends. After the hike (which nearly killed me — they didn’t let me stop for a rest or water the whole way up!), we drove to Loch Ness and ate fish and chips out of traditional newspaper cones on the lakeshore, while watching the sun set. Magical.

  13. Kirsten says...

    This is one of my favorite “reader comment” posts, thank you! I’ve been thinking hard on this ever since I started listening to the “Off Menu” podcast.

  14. Eileen says...

    Lobster roll and and raspberry scone overlooking Casco Bay at Salt Cod Cafe, Orr’s Island Maine.

  15. this post brought up such lovely memories.

    the little roadside cafe in greece where i ate souvlaki with my dad with a view of the parthenon and my teenage mind was blown.

    the lovely sushi dinner in seattle that my uncle took me and my partner, making him feel so welcome in my family.

    the quail at the vietnamese restaurant in sydney – i was 8, so you can’t trust my memories, but i thought it was the greatest thing i had ever put in my mouth.

    so many more memories – first pork bun, soup dumplings, new orleans beignet, fresh lobster in maine, tagine from our homestay family in morocco, tapas in spain, and more. but those stand out to me

  16. Amy says...

    When I was 20 I was in Israel visiting friends I knew from an international program. I spent my last night with one of the adult leaders as she was taking me to the airport in the morning. I was SO hungover and her husband made me butternut squash pasta. Hands down the best thing I’ve ever eaten!

  17. Mary Jo says...

    In the early 60’s I was visiting my aunt who lived in Berlin, Md
    For dinner she made fried chicken in a cast iron pan, corn on the cob and fried green tomatoes. Dessert was a homemade orange cake. I remember it like it was yesterday

  18. The Rum Pineapple Doberge topped with bitter cherry ice cream from the Palace Cafe in New Orleans. Literally the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted.

  19. Jess says...

    I’m detoxing, so I don’t eat my kids weight in chocolate, and I read ALL the comments 😭😭😭

  20. Lori says...

    The Inn at Little Washington for my husband’s 50th birthday dinner. Everything was beyond our imaginations. It ended with “apparently, a pear” which looks exactly like a pear but is really pear cheesecake with port poached pear center and almond financier with amaretto sabayon. The whole thing was mind blowing.

  21. Traci says...

    The best meal I’ve ever had was the simplest. But this is where I had it:

    On the porch of my then-boyfriend’s mother’s house. Her house was an hour north of Boone, NC, beautifully situated on 150 acres of pristine woods (She had her own fish pond so visiting her for any length of time was basically a spa vacation).
    Our dinner was a bottle of Biltmore Estates red (I don’t remember the type, just know it was good), ribeyes from the local butcher that we threw on her gas grill, new potatoes with herbs, and a lettuce, tomato and mushroom salad with oil and vinegar. What made the meal memorable: All of the veggies came directly from her garden and were, literally, SECONDS old! There is no greater bliss, I think, than biting into a sun-warmed tomato slice that has been doused with olive oil and vinegar, or a new potato, lightly steamed (when it’s this fresh you don’t want to do too much) and flaked with salt, pepper, parsley AND THAT’S IT.
    Did I mention that we ate on her porch as we watched the sun set? And did I also mention that we listened to Celtic trad as we ate the best meal ever?
    Dessert was vanilla ice cream. That’s all you need for the perfect dining experience, good friends, beautiful scenery and fresh, amazing food.

  22. Lizo says...

    Agedashi tofu at a small family Japanese restaurant in Seattle called Kiriba. It’s comfort food In a bowl. I’ve had it elsewhere and no comparison to Kiribas. Unfortunately, they are one of many restaurants closed right now. It just may be my first go-to meal after things get back to “normal”. Be safe, stay well, everyone

  23. Mercy says...

    I love this thread, and I’m glad I’m glad I’m eating while reading it, otherwise I’d be SALIVATING haha. My top 3:

    1) The omelettes at my dining hall freshman year of college. I straight up hated eggs before that, but Chef Pat made me fall in love with them!

    2) The meat/cheese and cheese/herb biscuits at A Baked Joint in DC. I swear I think about these biscuits multiple times a week and often wanna hop on a 4-hour bus down there just to get some…am honestly casually looking at jobs in DC just to be near these biscuits lol.

    3) Chicken and waffles, fried green tomato/bacon/egg biscuit sandwiches, and a-genius-half-serving-of-peach-cobbler-French-toast-because-we-wouldn’t-be-able-to-manage-a-full-plate at Atlanta Breakfast Club in Georgia. I was on a trip with one of my best friends and we were actually in a cab to another place when we stopped at a red light and saw this place next to us. It had a small crowd waiting so we figured it must be good, and in a split-second asked our driver to drop us off there instead. BEST SPONTANEOUS DECISION EVER!

    • Kate Gilles says...

      If you like their biscuits, you should try their savory oatmeal! Cheesy, buttery, with bacon, green onions, kale, and an egg. I’ve tried to recreate it and come nowhere close.

  24. L says...

    It was a nice trip down memory lane and a great way to remember what I have been thankful for over the years. Good food and memories with the people I love.
    1. Homemade anniversary dinner last October. My partner grilled lamb chops, I’ve never been able to make them well myself but he did an amazing job. The whole setup was extremely romantic.

    2. My best friend and I went to Nobu Downtown in NY. The brussel sprouts were the best thing ever.
    3. Peter Luger my partner went for our one year anniversary in last December. It was the best because I was with him. The portions were all enormous.
    4. Cinnamon’s in Honolulu at the flanked ribs with mac salad. I still think about this meal. Everyone was so nice and they had amazing drinks.
    5. Duke’s Waikiki there buffet breakfast was amazing. All the fruit tasted so amazing. I had three plates of food and lived to tell the tale.

  25. My two daughters and I were in Taormina, Sicily last September and the photo brought back so many fond memories! Bellisimo!
    Ellen

    • Becca says...

      Is this sorbet? This looks AMAZING!!

  26. shannon says...

    Halfway down the comments I burst into tears. The only meal I want is Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled cheese with my grandma. I went over to her house every Saturday growing up, and we’d always make this for lunch. She died almost two years ago, and I just got really sad that we won’t get to eat this meal together again. She loved telling people about our lunch tradition, even years after I moved away and we stopped having our Saturday lunches. I miss her, and I guess now I love telling people about our tradition too.

    • Mercy says...

      This is so sweet. I’m happy you have such a special memory with your grandma. Sending hugs your way! <3

    • Gogogramma says...

      Bless your heart. Everything these days makes me burst into tears. Take care of yourself.

  27. Ruth Wells says...

    I’ll join the fun! Foreign Cinema in the Mission District of San Francisco. We’d gone to see the Stein Family Art collection and dined out every meal of the week.

    A salad starter of fresh baby greens, sea bass with a fava bean purée as the entree. Accompanied by a delightful white Tempranillo.

    My husband had been recounting his extensive bicycling experiences in Texas, Colombia, and Japan with our young waiter in the densely populated restaurant.

    It was difficult to hear and the waiter stopped by for one last visit and quipped, “Do you have any more arcane biking knowledge?”

    Well sated from the fresh food and the crispy wine his retort came from both his lack of hearing and his Minnesota roots, “Only that the Kensington Ruin Stones antiquated Columbus’s discovery of America by 130 years!”

    I howled with laughter as the astonished waiter looked quizzically at me. I said, “ Biking! Not Viking! Besides, have you ever mentioned the Kensington Ruin Stones to anyone, that was a hoax!”

    He chortled and said, “No one ever asked me that before!”

    • C says...

      Oh for Pete’s sake… runestone!

    • C says...

      RUNESTONE

    • Savannah says...

      I took a trip with my parents and boyfriend to SF for opening weekend after the Giants won the world series. We went to Foreign Cinema and everyone ordered seafood while I ordered chicken. Our meals came out- everyone else had these thin beautiful smears of food and I had HALF A CHICKEN. We could not stop laughing at how the spread looked. I think that was the first time I took a photo of a dinner table! I ate the leftovers on the way to the airport the next day.

  28. Jill says...

    1. Ava Gene’s in Portland (note: I’ve been there since and it was good, but not as good as the first time we went, which was so insanely good…every bite).
    2. Rich Table in SF – we live in SF and it’s consistently my favorite restaurant in the city. They make really special food.
    3. Tartine in NYC – I dream about the spicy chicken and fries and there is nothing I love more than BYOB red wine, chicken, and fries date night with my husband at Tartine whenever we’re in NYC.
    4. Dishoom in London – it’s not overhyped. It really is that good…and so consistently good.
    5. Captaine in Paris – amazing restaurant in Paris.
    6. AOC in LA – it’s so cozy at night (brick arches, fireplaces, vines), delicious, and you sometimes spot a celeb there (we sat next to Lily Tomlin)

    Okay, sorry had to include 6. :)

    • Ingrid says...

      We have been cooking from the Dishoom cookbook this year, it’s just so delicious. We lived in London for 7 years and never made it there in that time. I’m dreaming of a visit back and all the meals I hope to eat with friends, when we can finally visit again!

      If you haven’t tried the cookbook, I highly recommend.

  29. Noons says...

    – Tea leaf salad (best salad ever), sesame chicken, coconut rice, & Thai iced tea at Burma Superstar in San Francisco
    – Anything topped off with a passion fruit creme brûlée at Mama’s Fish House in Paia on Maui. That view!!
    – Drunken noodles with rice on the side & Thai iced tea at Arun Thai in Novato, CA
    – Birthday lunch with my (late) mother-in-law and Bouchon in Yountville, CA. Scallops (my fav!) and for dessert bouchons with chocolate sauce & crumbled candy canes…I’m a December baby.
    – Ribs and cornbread made by my amazing husband and!

  30. Allie says...

    I was just thinking about this the other day! Here is what I came up with:

    1) Ravioli in truffle sauce for my 30tg birthday dinner at Il Mulino

    2) Cheesy bread over garlicky soup in Budapest

    3) pain au chocolat in Paris

    4) fettuccine au salmon also in Paris

    5) Raclette in, why yes, Paris

    6) Honorable mentions: my first fried clams with my dad, Bertuccis fettuccine Alfredo late night after a bad break up, shasuka at Mezze from Hummus Place on the UES.

  31. We stayed at an AirBnB within walking distance of this agriturismo on the Amalfi coast a few years back and wandered in late one night to see if we could have dinner. They were both booked and closed, but fed the 4 of us anyway – the simplest, most beautiful food that was made entirely on the property – from the olive oil to the charcuterie, wine and limoncello. Rosa gave us a short tour of the food storage and charged us an incredibly inexpensive price for 6 courses. If I think about it too hard I get start to cry, it was such a beautiful meal lol.

  32. Alyssa says...

    This post makes me so happy and nostalgic thinking about some of my best meals. In no particular order…
    1. The dim sum my mom and I ate in February in Chinatown, NYC (right before the whole world changed.) We consistently talk about the buns and the scallion pancakes.
    2. The original poutine at Le Cellier in Epcot. I convinced several tables to order it.
    3. Lobster Roll at a shack on the harbor near Portland/Brunswick Maine.
    4. Sweet Potato Crusted Salmon at The Crab Trap just across the bridge from Ocean City, NJ.
    5. The Crazy Godzilla roll from my favorite neighborhood sushi place that closed in November.

    • Allie says...

      Now I want to go try the Crab Shack!

  33. Yvette Michael says...

    Both my meals are related to intense work experiences.
    At the Torino Winter Olympics in 2006, very late one night, freezing after a long day on the slopes – I stumbled across a hole in the wall serving bucatini amatriciana with langostines. It was served in massive to-go foil bowl, and the waiter did not blink when I asked for cheese! Instead, he shaved what must have been half a block of parm. It was incredible.

    In Japan, shortly after Fukushima earthquake in 2011. We had spent a few days on the road surviving on snacks from family mart and & 7-11 (lots of wasabi nuts, dried cuttlefish and onigiri) – we spotted smoke in a distance, and found a tiny restaurant that only had hot soup and home made dumplings. There were four of us, our fixer, reporter, myself and cameraman and we sat silently and ate non-stop for an HOUR!!!!! We found so much comfort in that hour after what had been a harrowing week of work.

  34. 1. A steak salad my bf made for dinner when we first started dating – it was filled with arugula, snap peas, avocado, goat cheese and steak. i’ve asked him to replicate it, but in 6 years it has never once been as good!
    2. Cucina Cassreccia in Lecce, Italy. The meal was never ending and everything was amazing, but i have never eaten such a perfect piece of eggplant parmesan
    3. Prado restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal. Everything was wow, including the wine pairings.
    4. My late nonna’s fried rice balls & battered fried broccoli. No one in the family can get them just right like she did.
    5. I Vizi degli Angeli Laboratorio di Gelateria Artigianale. Not a meal, but the BEST gelato i’ve ever eaten in Matera, Italy

  35. Do you mean overlooking the pacific? How can you overlook the Atlantic Ocean if you’re in Portland?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good question! they were in portland, maine xo

    • Robin says...

      Here in New England, we sometimes forget there is another Portland!

  36. Jade Christie-Maples says...

    1. Tomato open face sandwiches with fresh tomatoes from my family’s garden in the heat of the summer. There’s something so simple and satisfying about the crunchy bread, fresh tomato and melted, salty cheese that has always made me happy.
    2. Cold pesto pasta and root beer. After a year abroad in Scotland, my parents picked me up at the airport in Boston and supplied me with my mom’s fresh pesto on pasta and an ice cold root beer. My mother’s pasta has always been my comfort food and I hadn’t had it in so long, it was the perfect welcome home. And root beer — well they don’t have that in Scotland either!
    3. Tomato and mushroom deep dish pizza from the “Lady Bar” in Florence. I’m not sure what they did to that sauce, but that was the best slice of pie ever.
    4. Deep fried fish with mango, citrus and chilis. On our honeymoon, I discovered this dish at “Cabbages and Condoms” – a restaurant promoting various public health efforts across Thailand. That fish was so crispy and perfect paired with the flavors of the sauce that everywhere we went afterward, that was my first choice from the menu.

    I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s responses. I find the nostalgia so extremely comforting!!!

    • Vicky says...

      Oh my gosh, I’ve been to this restaurant! People think I’ve made it up when I tell them the name but it was just the best food! Glad you enjoyed it as much we did xxx

  37. Andrea says...

    a cheap hummus dinner at a tiny street diner somewhere in Tel Aviv in January 2017. Forget the restaurant’s name, forget the street, tucked so tightly in among other diners that we bumped them with our rain-soaked umbrellas, but good lord. The hummus was so delicious that my friend and I returned for several meals within a 48-hour period. The waitress laughed at us and brought us extra hot sauce. That first night, even though we were full, we went to a nearby coffee shop and had chocolate rugelach (Jerusalem chocolate rugelach are the best in the world, I will die on this hill) and my first-ever sahlep. That night shines in my memory — the food, the company, the lights in the rain.

  38. Callie says...

    My parents, sister and I took a trip to South Africa last summer and while every meal we had there was incredible, the one that stood out most is from the second to last night of our trip. We were staying in a bush camp in Sabi Sands Reserve in Mpumalanga, where our rooms and the dining areas were tucked right in the middle of the bush, with wild animals roaming all over camp.

    On that particular night, we ate the most tender, delicious steak that was cooked on an open-fire grill by the owner of the camp, served with crispy potatoes, grilled vegetables, big chunks of fresh bread and lots of wine. Everyone who was staying there at the time (about 15 of us) and the staff sat together at a long table under the brightest stars, surrounded by candles and the wild sounds of the bush. The cherry on top was going to the restroom and being stunned as a wild hyena trotted by just a few feet away from me, on its way to steal food from the outdoor kitchen. It was the most unforgettable meal and I dream about going back someday!

    • Elle says...

      Ah! My husband is South African, I lived there for four years, and we would go to Sabi every year! One of the best places in the world. Makes me happy to read this. :)

  39. Laura says...

    – Bistecca Fiorentina (a giant piece of bone-in steak cooked rare) at a tiny organic restaurant in Florence- it was served with simple boiled potatoes, roasted vegetables, bread and wine and everything was perfection.
    – DISHOOM in London. Oh my gosh, if you ever get the chance to go to any of their UK locations, you are in for the best Indian meal of your life.
    – spicy tuna bowl at a sushi place in LA

  40. stacy says...

    A fire roasted beet made in a jungle-side Tulum restaurant. I don’t remember the name, but it is one of those hyped places where you need to pull strings to get a table. There is no electricity and everything is cooked and lit by fire and candle-light. I left covered in mosquito bites but with unforgettable memories of the fire roasted beet side dish. Served whole, it was crusted in spices and charred to the point where maybe you question if it had gone too far. It hadn’t. Simple. Perfect. Delicious.
    – from an omnivore

    • Callie Walker says...

      Was it Hartwood?! If so, LOVE.

    • Kat says...

      I THINK I HAD THAT BEET DISH!! It also lives in my memory months later :) Mine was at Hartwood and they were golden beets. Wow. It was incredible (and so was the amazing atmosphere you mentioned above!)

  41. Kim says...

    I’m listening to Harry Potter books on my walks these days and geeking out on it even more than I did the first time around. This dinner sounds SO AMAZING! I am going to follow and hope they have another some day!! Best of luck to your sister and her restaurant!

    • Sarah Wynhof says...

      Thank you so much ❤️

  42. Emily says...

    Chez Panisse Restaurant (the downstairs– if you know, you know!)
    Elkano in Basque country, had the most fantastic fish and wine
    Minetta Tavern about 6 months into my relationship with my partner, I was visiting him in NYC and it was both delicious and wonderfully romantic!

    • Emily says...

      Just saw the comment below mine which inspired me to add: the first time I had tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar in SF!

  43. Sigrid says...

    2 different Noodle Dishes in San Fransisco:
    Bucatini with Guanciale at Tosca
    Dan Dan (tan tan) noodles at Y and Z
    Unforgettable!

  44. Lee Ten Hoeve says...

    A pizza in Ischia with a view of the sea. Best pizza I’ve ever eaten.

  45. Reidin Vaughan says...

    Dinner in a guest house in South Africa on our honeymoon. We booked in for dinner because we arrived s bit late and were lazy but it was the most incredible meal of our lives. I’d never had ostrich before and it was mouthwatering. Still talk about that meal!

  46. CAITLIN says...

    This post is making me SO hungry!
    1) Amazing food in Positano when my mother and I went together for a trip in fall 2018. We still talk about the meals! What stood out most was fried calamari (not like we have here) there was something so light and delicious about it! Fresh prawns, and sea urchin pasta-OMG. And on a really hot day after walking around we found this little cafe that served iced coffee (hard to come by in Italy) and it was so cold and perfect. We went back a few days later but could not recreate that moment of first having it-it was THAT good.
    2) Oishi in Boston has the most creative inventive rolls and sashimi. I have had so many special meals there.
    3)Took a cooking class with my father and at the end of the night the chef gave us a HUGE raw tuna fillet to take home. It was such good quality and such an exciting special moment :)
    4) Whenever I have a day off from work on a weekday I always treat myself to a bagel from a shop with the works. Plain cream cheese, capers, onions, and salmon. It always tastes extra special having it on a day where I would normally be working.

  47. Siobhan says...

    It must have been 1989 and I was home from college. My mom treated a friend and me to tickets to see Tamara at the NY Armory. It was the first “audience participation” show that I remember. A whodunit where you would follow a character from room to room and up and down stairs. At intermission they served a buffet that I think was from Le Cirque where you would compare notes with other audience members. Desert was creme brûlée and I remember almost nothing from the show but I do remember breaking into the burnt sugar crust and into the custard flecked with vanilla beans wondering how I had I had lived to the ripe old age of 19 never having had it before. When mom asked how I liked the show all I could talk about was the creme brûlée. Yum.

    • Laura says...

      Thank you SO MUCH for mentioning “Tamara”! For years, I’ve tried in vain to remember the name of that show at the Armory that had us running up and down the stairs, popping into rooms to get a clue then racing to the next room to soak up another bit of intrigue. The public relations agency where I worked took everyone to the show for our holiday party in 1989 and it is a fond memory.

    • Mercy says...

      I’m so jealous you got to have the creme brulee at Le Cirque! I’m actually 28 and have never had it and I really want to, but since I’ve waited so long I want my first to be the BEST OF THE BEST. My research led me to Le Cirque, only to find that their NY location closed a couple years ago :\

  48. Cherie Sage says...

    The Trainwreck sandwich at Beck’s Cajun Cafe in Reading Terminal Market, Philly

  49. Jess says...

    This is lovely xx

  50. Karen says...

    BOSTON PEEPS: Lobster Spaghettini with a glass of rose at Neptune Oyster in Boston, first seating of the day on Mondays (after waiting in line at minimum 30 minutes). I dream of this dish. I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying the dish twice so far – first with my sister while tagging along on her work trip, and the second time with my husband as we attended a friend’s wedding. I hope to be there again this July on our scheduled trip to Boston, with my husband and two daughters (ages 7 and 8) – probably minus the rose at 11:30am :)

    http://www.neptuneoyster.com/menu

    • Elizabeth says...

      Karen, if you like Neptune Oyster, you should try Daily Catch or Mare over in the North End! I promise both won’t disappoint!

  51. Lucia says...

    I was struggling on and off with food insecurity when I met my husband. I was also a terrible cook. I regularly burnt my food so badly I had to take my smoking pan outside my apartment in fear of the fire alarm.
    My then-boyfriend loved to cook. He had a very limited budget in those days due to unemployment but he made such special meals for me. One in particular sticks out– I’d gotten off a long day of teaching and he’d made ramen with pork brisket, lotus root, egg, chives, asparagus, and Maruchan noodles. It was heaven in a bowl. We paired it with a bottle of the finest (cheapest) Trader Joe’s brand red wine and snuggled while we watched cartoons. Truly one of the happiest moments of my life.

    • Kim says...

      I love this!

  52. Emily Werne says...

    Goodness I am dreaming of restaurants.

    Beef jantaboon at Mu Du Noodles in Santa Fe, NM, sadly now closed

    Tasting menu at Markus in London – with a free custard at the end for our anniversary, beyond stunning.

    Perfect pasta and the cod at Piccolo in Portland, Maine. And really, every meal at Eventide.

    Irish brown bread with butter and strawberry jam in Ireland when I was 13, one of the most remembered flavors for me.

    Brunch at Monaci delle Terre Nere near Mt Etna on our honeymoon (the tarts, the jams, the fruit, etc), and all the swordfish and sardines and eggplant and pasta on that trip.

    And this doesn’t even include NYC: Uncle Boon’s, Dirty French, The Breslin or Marea….

  53. Beth B says...

    Love this. We also did the worst meals we’ve had and ended up screaming laughing holding on to each other. Can recommend!

  54. Gaby says...

    Braised beef tortelloni with sage butter sauce. Eaten at an Italian restaurant many years ago in Litchfield Beach, SC. We’ve been back to Litchfield several times, but never found that place. It’s a mystery.

  55. Cece says...

    A simple but delicious sandwich for me- about 2 hours overdue for lunch after a canal tour in Amsterdam ( so we were STARVING), we bought rolls from a little van by the harbour: wonderful grainy seeded bread, goat’s cheese, tiny sweet tomatoes ans sprouts. So amazingly delicious.

  56. Melanie says...

    Lobster roll, shoestring fries and a glass of champagne from Pearl Oyster Bar on a few trips back to NYC … oh it was just absolutely perfect, I still daydream about it routinely x

  57. Melanie Durante says...

    Lobster roll, shoestring fries and a glass of champagne from Pearl Oyster Bar on a few trips back to NYC … oh it was just absolutely perfect, I still daydream about it routinely x

  58. Sally says...

    It was when I was at University doing my post-grad, so about 2008. Myself and some girl friends went to a chain restaurant called Las Iguanas that did Mexican food. It was 2 for 1 cocktails that night, so by the time the fajitas I ordered and arrived, I’d already had 2 alcoholic drinks (I’m a huge lightweight)…
    Those fajitas were the best thing I’d ever eaten, and to this day, have never been topped. :)

  59. Anna says...

    Best banana shake ever. On the beach in Bali. I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since.

  60. Marti says...

    We got lost driving a camper van through southern Portugal and, knowing that our only arguments while traveling happened while hungry and/or lost, we pulled off the road at the first sight of food. It was someone’s home-turned-restaurant, with a big sunny patio strung with a hammock, complete with a lazy little dog, snoozing in the sun. The entire menu was in Portuguese and the waiter didn’t speak English so we smiled and shrugged when he came to take our order. A few moments later the apparent chef came by; a man in his sixties, rotund, grinning, and holding a huge raw fish in his hands. He gestured at it, “this! this!” And we happily nodded back in agreement. From our sunny table we watched him prepare the fish with oil and fresh herbs and grill it over an open flame, then shuffle it over to us, steaming and unbelievably fragrant. It was the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. My husband didn’t even like fish (at the time), we were just starving and up for anything, but it converted him into a lifelong fish lover in an instant. Sometimes it may seem risky but it’s always worth it to just pull over and try the fish.

  61. Linda says...

    My ex and I were driving across Spain. One night we had an incredible dish of sole in champagne sauce. It was my first gourmet meal. It was heaven. We were about one hour away on our way to the next city when we realised we had left our passports at the hotel so drove back and got to have the same incredible meal again. It was like Julia Child’s first taste of French food, a simple sole meuniere, that stayed in her mind the rest of her life.

  62. Sarah says...

    My answer today is a themed Harry Potter dinner at my sister’s restaurant The Hairy Lobster in Portland Oregon just a month ago. She and her husband flipped their entire restaurant to look like the Great Hall and sat everyone at house tables. The staff was all decked out in full costumes and the menu was inspired by the food in the books. Sounds gimicky, but it was such a labor of love for them, as was their entire restaurant. They have been in business for 4 years pouring their heart and soul into that place and feeding them community. I’m so glad I went to that dinner and celebrated with them. Hopefully they’ll be able to reopen when this pandemic is under control and many more delicious memories can be made.

    • Kim says...

      I’m listening to Harry Potter books on my walks these days and geeking out on it even more than I did the first time around. This dinner sounds SO AMAZING! I am going to follow and hope they have another some day!! Best of luck to your sister and her restaurant!

    • Maureen says...

      As part of a family that are huge Harry Potter fans this experience sounds so wonderful, I hope your sister is able to reopen their restaurant soon so others can have the same experience.

    • karen says...

      WOW! I would love that! Especially now, when I’ve run out of library books; my first choice from my bookshelves is the Harry Potter series!
      Hope they and all of us make it out to the other side!
      Karen

  63. AP says...

    In no particular order-
    -The chef’s tasting menu at Cuca in Bali. Every dish was a delight and an experience.
    -A family style meal at an Ethiopian place in Brussels. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but I’ll never forget the meal :).
    -A barbecue plate at a now defunct restaurant in South Carolina. Mouth watering barbecue, perfect vinegar based sauce, and sweet potato casserole with a crispy topping.
    -Chicken, roasted pumpkin, green bean dish on the beach in Western Australia. I was so full but could not put my fork down.
    Thanks for the delicious journey back through cherished memories!

  64. Amanda says...

    A dinner at Chez Panisse with my husband, probably in 2011. They served ricotta gnocchi and goose and melon soup for dessert.

    Poached eggs and sorrel and chocolate mousse at Voltaire in Paris, with my father and stepmom and her family, around 2008.

    Dinner at Sesuit Harbor Cafe on Cape Cod with my whole family last summer. It’s BYOB, you sit at picnic tables by the harbor, and there’s lobster and a raw bar.

  65. Nori says...

    I’m half Japanese and half Peruvian, so have been spoiled by delicious food my whole life, but here are the top hits for me…
    1. My mom’s Lomo Saltado (it’s a Peruvian dish with marinated beef, rice, and french fries. I’m vegetarian now, but would probably request it as my last meal on Earth.)
    2. Kaiseki Japanese breakfast in a Ryokan outside Tokyo
    3. Creamy fondue made with champagne after the sauna in Switzerland
    4. Veggie burgers made on our campfire when we went beach camping in Morro Bay
    5. My mom’s alfajores (Peruvian shortbread cookies with a kind of dulce de leche)
    :)

  66. M says...

    My favorite meal for most of high school was the Cedar-Seared Salmon Pasta at Friday’s. It had the most delicious seasoned salmon and zucchini and tomatoes and I loved it so much that it became a joke amongst my friends to say the name in a sing-songy way. They don’t have it anymore, and I haven’t been to a Friday’s in years, but I remember it fondly. In my early twenties I would have been so embarrassed for my younger self for having a favorite meal at such an ‘average restaurant chain’, but now I’m less insecure and self-critical. That pasta was my go to through comforting family meals out and some of my first solo friend meals at restaurants and I’m grateful for it’s time and place in my top 5 list.

    • SS says...

      I remember TGIF in the early 80s was a fantastic place to dine. One of my favorite meals was their fettuccine with mushrooms, artichokes, and …. maybe ham.

  67. Casey says...

    Cacio de Pepe at Nicole Taylor Pasta in Indianapolis. I think it was served on a paper plate. Totally unexpectedly out of this world.

  68. Jennifer says...

    What a trip thinking about all of these moments, all lovely and comforting in their own right.

    A fresh softshell crab sandwich on white bread with homemade old bay potato chips – Tangier Island, Virginia.

    Road weary and starving on a drive from Barcelona to Sevilla, I stopped at a rest station and wandered in for provisions. Much to my surprise, there was freshly toasted chunks of bread being served with this tomato purée spread on top. That pa amb tomaquet is now something I dream about, from that roadside somewhere in Spain.

    Being with my friends, nursing one of those day-long hangovers from my early twenties, eating every delicious thing put in front of me at Nom Wah Tea Parlor – NYC.

    A creamy, salty tarte flambé and a cold glass of Riesling in a cozy basement restaurant – Strasbourg, France.

    The smash burger with grilled onions and curly Q fries at Swope’s Drive-In – Rich Hill, Missouri.

    • Carrington says...

      Nom Wah! Every time I’m in NYC :)

  69. Sally says...

    Late to the party but here we go, this is my favorite topic and thinking about food during this time has been so comforting.

    1. My great grandma came to the the US from Italy and she used to make me brodo with orzo. It was beyond delicious but she died when I was 6 and I hadn’t had it since, it was a distant memory, until I went to Italy to stay with family at 19 – they unknowingly made it for me and what a trip. IT WAS AMAZING. THEN, I just had a similar version at Luce in PDX a few months ago. MIND. BLOWN. Didn’t know it was a thing one could get outside Nonna’s kitchen.
    2. Hamachi Kama (and everything else) at Village Sake in Fairfax, CA. This restaurant is where I want my last meal to be before I die.
    3. Everything at Mama’s Fish House in Paia.
    4. Ribs at Pecan Lodge in Dallas. Best meal ever. Life altering.
    5. Lobster roll (sushi) and Purple Haze (sake with chambord) at Nuka in Haiku.
    6. Hawaiian shave ice with ice cream and sno cap. Big Wave is my favorite but I also love Wailua shave ice

  70. McKenzie says...

    Miznon in Vienna. *The* Cauliflower with all the fixins (Tehina, labneh, zhug), their roasted sweet potato, and this magical thing called Spatchel. I still thing about my visits there, and try to recreate it as often as possible at home.

  71. Isabella says...

    I used to always request the same birthday dinner when I was younger and still lived at home: homemade linguini with spot prawns in a light tomato sauce. My dad was — and still is — an incredible cook, and it was always great, though this particular dish could only happen on random years when a fisherperson had happened to bring some spot prawns to the fish market. One year we bought them while they were still alive and had been caught that morning, and they were exquisite. A few days later, by total coincidence, I happened to meet the fisherman who’d caught them, while we were both out for a stroll on the beach. He was totally thrilled to learn that *his* prawns had gone into the making of the best birthday dinner ever!

  72. Anna says...

    Best meal ever: Iskinder kebab in a hole in the wall place in Bursa, Turkey; melt in you mouth meat on a bed of freshly baked bread and generous amounts of butter.

  73. Dana says...

    Moved away from Chicago this past year and miss a few choice meals!
    1. Kale burger patty melt from Same Day Cafe
    2. Ramen from Wasabi
    3. Hot Fudge Sundae from Margie’s

    Also my mom is the queen of putting out far too many bowls of snacks for family gatherings, but it ends up making a pretty good meal, I have to say.

  74. Ana says...

    My mother’s Gallo Pinto with fresh papaya and pineapple plus a cup of fresh brewed coffee from our aunt’s organic coffee plantation…while looking at the green costa rican mountains and the rising tropical sun. Heaven!!!

  75. An amazing “kiosko” in Puerto Rico named Edelweiss which, oddly, served the best traditional Criollo dishes. We were on our honeymoon, eating in the moonlight at a beachside shack, with $5 handmade mojitos and 2 huge plates of skirt steak with chimichurri and sides of yuca fries. We went back 2 more times that week 🤣

  76. Emily L says...

    I was in the Cinque Terre village of Vernazza, and we stopped for a snack before we got on the trail to walk to Corniglia. I saw a shop called “Bruschetta: More Than Bread,” and I stepped in to see a lovely display of sandwiches. I chose a rustic looking bread with mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto, and then asked the proprietor to add salami and cheese (she spoke no English; I pointed and said “Salami?” “Parmesan?”). I then said “Forno?” asking her to please put it in the oven. She looked at me like I was crazy but obliged me and sold the concoction and a bottle of water to me for five euros. I stepped into the street and, realizing there was nowhere to sit, gobbled it down right there. When I was done, I realized….I had just eaten the most delicious thing I’ve ever had in my life without taking a picture or sitting down or anything. I only have the memory, but it is a superb one.

    • Jess says...

      Love Vernazza! Bread, cheese & wine 😍

  77. Jennifer S. says...

    After giving birth to my second daughter at 12:22 AM, the nurse brought me the closest thing to a meal she could scrounge up – a turkey sandwich, with a packet of Hellman’s mayo nestled beside it. I squeezed on that mayo, and devoured it. It was heaven on a bun.

    • Caitlin says...

      Yes! Same!

  78. Erin says...

    My favorite meal ever was a dinner party I had a few weeks before coronavirus became a big deal. Twelve of my closest friends came over for a homemade lasagna dinner. We used my grandmother’s wedding china and everything. After dinner, they piled into the kitchen and helped with the dishes while we chatted, laughed, and sipped wine. I miss that so much now….a house so full of life and love.

  79. Kate says...

    It’s such a great question and too hard to pick just one. My most recent was when my husband and I brought our four-month-old down to a friend’s wedding at a resort near Playa del Carmen, leaving our older three children at home. My husband was really antsy to escape the all-inclusive beach scene (still not totally sure why) and we ducked out to explore Tulum for the day. We stopped at a beachside restaurant at Hotel Zamas and had the most delicious tacos–pollo pibil, carnitas, fried fish–I have ever had on the most beautiful afternoon I can remember. (It was especially sweet because we fed our baby his first solid food–some fresh avocado–which he loved.)

  80. Kamina says...

    At a restaurant called Nusantara in Bali. We mostly travel very cheaply but we’d decided to splurge on this one and only , extra special date night. It was the most exquisite service and decor and high-end Indonesian food. The highlight was a coconut soup cooked inside the coconut on the coals of the fire – I’ve never had anything like it. In the middle of the meal I noticed the table was shaking…and didn’t stop shaking…and I said to my husband, “I think this is an earthquake.” I looked over at the staff, figuring they’d be used to this and know what to do, and they were all sprinting, panicked, outside! So we all followed. After a little while the shakes stopped and we all went back inside. The staff resumed the excellent service without comment and we finished the meal with an absolutely incredible shaved iced dessert with avocado.

    The next day we found out there had been a 7.0 earthquake around 150km away and many locals and long-term residents told us they’d never experience anything like it before. So I guess the staff were as freaked as we were. Still, one of the most amazing food experiences of my life.

  81. Liz says...

    Fava and grilled octopus with a bottle of icy cold local white wine in Santorini, while watching the sunset.

    Whole lobsters with all the sides in Belfast, ME (corn, chowder, baby potatoes plus BYOB cold local lagers)
    AND
    Foie gras, boeuf bourguignon and duck confit with a bottle of dry red wine at a hole in the wall French restaurant in the East Village for my one year dating anniversary with my now husband.

  82. Marianne says...

    Butternut squash ravioli in sage butter at D’Annas in Bellingham Washington 20 years ago! I dont eat gluten anymore and don’t really miss pasta, but what I wouldn’t give for this dish with a side of crusty bread and glass of wine.

    • Danielle says...

      I went to school in Bellingham and had forgotten about that restaurant until reading this!! My family all gathered there after my college graduation and I don’t remember exactly what we ate but I remember it was delicious. Thanks for the memory. :)

  83. Bex says...

    Beautiful yellow mushrooms on a mountaintop in Haiti. My then partner was living in a national park for his job as a conservationist and I went down to spend a week with him. He had some local kids forage them for us. He sauteed them with garlic and ribbons of carrot. I’m not sure what else we had with them but I think about those mushrooms – and him – often.

  84. Becca says...

    I’ve had many delicious meals over my lifetime but the best by far was the simple scrambled eggs and toast my midwives made for me when I gave birth to my daughter after 22 hours of labor. I’m sure if I ate that meal now I’d think the eggs were not cooked perfectly or the toast would be a touch dry but in that moment when I had just become a mother and my sweet new baby was sleeping in my husband’s arms next to me, it was the perfect nourishment that felt life giving.
    It’s amazing how something so simple like food has an ability meet you at a specific moment in time and become something truly magical.

  85. Caitlyn says...

    Fall 2018, dinner at The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine. The whole night was an ethereal experience that centered around an outstanding meal. It was the first time going out to dinner since my father had died, at the restaurant we had planned to visit together if either of our postcards were picked. So bittersweet, but so beautifully memorable. The whole night lasted hours- there were three courses before the official menu even began! The lamp chops, napa wedge salad and charcuterie board (homemade pate!) were standouts, but really, it all was.

  86. This is going to sound weird…

    When I was 14 I went on a Pioneer re-enactment trip for my church. It was LEGIT. We had to wear pioneer dresses, bloomers, (thankfully modern tennis shoes) and pull hand carts, etc. I wasn’t much of a go getter at that age, I almost skipped it all together. The first day we hiked from noon until sometime after dark in the summer, so after 9PM. We had been told to eat a large breakfast, but I had stupidly gone without, and they didn’t feed us anything else the rest of the day as I remember, although we drank plenty of water. (“The Pioneers never knew when they were going to eat next!”) When we pulled into camp that night, we had to make our dinner–some sort of stew–by candlelight and cook it over an open fire in a dutch oven. I still remember chopping potatoes for the stew on a rock with my pocket knife (one of the required items to bring). My hands were so cold that evening that I was letting the wax drip down on them to keep them warm. When I finally got some stew in my empty soup can (another item requirement and the only thing we had to eat out of the entire trip) I remember thinking, “This is the best meal I’ve ever eaten in my life.” My husband and I have splurged on plenty of fine dining restaurants in our adult lives–many of NYC’s finest during our years there–but I think that night in the mountains of Colorado on a pioneer trek where I learned I could do hard things, will always be at the top of my list.

    • B says...

      AMEN! Hahaha the chicken sandwiches we threw together after pulling the handcarts into camp at dusk. Thanks, trek, for giving us some of the best mediocre (but well-earned) meals of our lives.

  87. As a kid, I loved watching my mom pick the meat from blue crabs. She’d sit in the living room with a bowl in her lap and a brown bag on the floor. Everything suddenly felt homey and wonderful because I knew we were having crab cakes for dinner. I miss those.

    I live in Austin now, and I’m curious, Jenny. What taco truck are you referencing? I’m dying to know!

  88. Caeli says...

    Inspired to comment for the first time!
    1. A simple meal of baguette, cheese, olives and a bottle of crisp white wine shared with my sister on the rocks in Cinque Terra, watching the sun go down.
    2. Dinner celebrating my mom’s 50th birthday in Vancouver. Don’t remember the name of the restaurant, or even what I ate. Just recall it was all delicious and we had a delicious time. So much so that another patron remarked on “how much we all seemed to enjoy each other” as he was leaving. And I thought that, despite our ups and downs, “we really do.”
    3. Pinotxo Bar in La Boqueria in Barcelona. My husband and I were jet-lagged, grumpy, hungry and somewhat overwhelmed. I wanted to give up searching for this gem inside the market. I’m SO glad we didn’t.
    4. Cacio e pepe with my husband at Roscioli in Rome. It had been a rough few months, and I brought my husband with me to Rome on a work trip. I remember being overwhelmed with gratitude for the moment.
    5. The Halal Guys cart in NYC. We went to Le Bernadin to celebrate my parents’ anniversary and had an amazing meal (at 5:30 pm). But by midnight, after much merriment, we were all starving again when my dad remembered the halal guys cart was around the corner from our hotel. Such a good memory standing on the street corner, shoveling white sauce into our faces, laughing at the ridiculousness of it.

  89. Rose says...

    Baja fish tacos and spicy mezcal margaritas at El Nene in Plaza Carrizalillo, near Puerto Escondido, coast of mexico. We stumbled on this place in 2016 and made our way back in 2018 with my family. I’ve had multiple dreams about those fish tacos….

    • Kim says...

      Playa Carizalillo is what dreams are made of! We talk about the food and BEST MARGARITAS EVER from our favorite palapa there all the time…We’ve been three times and can’t wait to go back again. We ate in the Plaza just once because we never wanted to leave the beach, but I’ll put El Nene on our list for when we go back….the thought of which is helping me get through these times!! xoxo

  90. Amanda says...

    I went camping with a bunch of friends about six or seven years ago, and one of my friends is aces at campfire cooking, so breakfast both days was potatoes, eggs, bacon, and coffee, all outside in about 45-degree weather (Fahrenheit, so that’s about 7 degrees Celsius for all you metric folks). Hot breakfast outside in cool weather with a bunch of my friends followed by a hike? Perfect.

  91. Amanda says...

    This is a hard question! I have several top meals and some of them are for different things (dinner company, location, yummy food). One of my absolute most memorable meals was a dinner with my family and two other families we were close with. We were all together for a trip to Italy and went to Il Latini in Florence in 2006. We’d been told about the no reservations, call you one-at-a-time off the street situation, and the Dads went by earlier in the day to see if they could talk to someone since we were a large group (12). When we arrived later that night and they finally pointed to us to come in, they’d set up their wine cellar for our group. The whole night was giant carafes of house wine, plate after plate of amazing food (no menu) and the magic of the old wine cellar. It was special then and even more memorable now, because my father, and the son of one of the families have both passed away. What a phenomenal moment in time to go back to. Celebrating food, family and friends in an old Italian wine cellar.

  92. Nicole says...

    My husband and I do this a lot- ask questions like, “what is your perfect meal?” or “what is your perfect 48 hours/weekend?” It is so much fun to mix and match from all of your best memories!

    For example…start with a Mai Tai and house-made potato chips at House Without a Key (Waikiki beach), apps at George’s on the Cove (overlooking La Jolla cove in San Diego), tuna steak at Mesa Grill (Vegas), and finish off with a big ice cream sundae from Sundae School (cape cod). It’s so fun to both reminisce, and to travel through our memories.

  93. Sally says...

    The last amazing meal I had was chicken and waffles at Ida Claire in Dallas. I’m still dreaming about how crispy the chicken was and how incredible the gravy, runny egg, and waffle tasted together. Oh my god.

  94. mary s says...

    These comments are so yummy! Travel meals are often extra special because you are (a) so hungry and (b) so proud of yourself for having gotten to the place and ordered the food. For that reason, I would put at the top of my list a very fresh fish that I had in a restaurant on the beach (literally — the “floor” was sand) in Mamallapuram, India, last year, along with aloo gobi and a British Empire beer. The waiter was clearly stoned, but in a good way; he had us choose our fish before it was cooked (and we deferred to him).

    The other top meal was at the French Laundry. To celebrate my 40th birthday I reserved their private room because I couldn’t get a reservation in the main restaurant, and that turned out to be great: a dozen or so people around a large round table in a lovely room on a very warm night, eating course and course of rich and delicious food that was brought to us by wait staff who seemed glide into the room. I only needed to go there once in my life.

  95. K says...

    Riding to the end of the subway line in Lisbon for kicks and stumbling upon this little rustic warm family restaurant where we realized the chef was turning away other customers a short while after we got there. I cannot accurately describe what we had, just that it was stewy and meaty and comforting with herby citrusy touches that sent the flavors over the edge. The music was nice, the chef was so nice explaining everything. I was with my parents and brother and we weren’t fighting. Our table neighbors were little old ladies in a book club. It was the perfect combination of spontaneity, luck, kindness, and soul food.

    Thank you for this question, I thought it would be difficult but one memory led to the next. And thank you for confirming that there IS a point to my Instagram ;).

  96. Ella says...

    Maine oysters with mignonette, potato chips, and a dirty, dirty martini from Eventide in Portland.

    The perfect low country boil my friends recreated in New England for my 30th birthday. Eating off of newspaper and all…still wearing jackets in mid-June.

    The most decadent sourdough, mushroom pizza from Nina Pizza in Quebec City. We at two whole pizzas and almost bought another to go.

    Somewhere in Shanghai with a group of friends where we ordered mountains of food and drank innumerable basil martinis.

    Always, fried chicken and french fries.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      eventide is a dream!!!!!

    • Kelly says...

      Sichuan citizen in shanghai!!!! Love those basil martinis. Even tide is also lovely.

    • Rosie G. says...

      Yes – Eventide is terrific. Particularly their oysters.

  97. Cindy says...

    When my first child was born, several of my friends created a Meal Train for our family. Every single meal was a gift–I loved seeing my friends and showing off our new baby, plus we didn’t have to cook for several weeks!–but one meal stands out in particular. My friend brought us a chicken pot pie. Like, a legit, pastry-crust-homemade-gravy-diced-chicken-and-vegetables, delicious chicken pot pie. It was such an extravagance, and we felt so loved!

    • rachel simmons says...

      OH MY GOSH, ME TOO. I savored EVERY slice of that pie… and mourned it when it was over!!!! My mom (who was staying with us at the time) still says to this day, it was the best pot pie I’ve ever had.

    • Quyen Nguyen says...

      Is your friend named Donna? Haha because my friend, Donna, made me a chicken pot pie too!

  98. jane says...

    Shortly after I first went all raw, I was at a retreat center in Maui, and met their raw food chef, who proceeded to feed me a gourmet raw dinner that was actually revelatory. It was the famous raw lasagna which is an everyday thing now, (in raw food anyway lol), but back then it was brand new. In fact I think she invented it. I had very happily been eating a simple raw diet and she blew the doors wide open for me, for better or for worse who can say, because it is actually healthier to eat simply, but anyway it was delicious and mind opening.

    • leslie says...

      Awesome! I had forgotten about my first raw vegan meals and how amazing they were!

  99. Ingerid says...

    Oh my – the curry crab at T & K Seafood in Yaowrat, Bangkok, which was an angry meal due to friction between travel companions – yet oh soo delicious. I’ll never forget it. I salivate at the thought.

  100. My favorite meal was last June at Jack Russell Steak House in Bar Harbor Maine. Everything was great from the appetizer through the dinner and blueberry crumble for dessert. Small local place not much to look at but food is outstanding.

  101. Kay says...

    The seafood risotto at Quartino’s in Chicago.
    My mom’s red beans + rice (with sweet tea!)

  102. Lauren says...

    Such a great and happy question and SO many memories stand out — an insanely bottomless bowl of fresh steamed clams in garlicky broth at my Uncle’s summer house on the Olympic Peninsula; a meal my husband and I had at a bistro in Paris on our honeymoon; BLT’s we made each August with the best, freshest tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market (look forward to those sandwiches every year); an amazing bowl of Khao Soi in Chiang Mai; the richest chocolate birthday cake that my mom baked for me every year growing up; special meals at our favorite restaurants in our city, Portland (Langbaan; Ataula; Beast). Food is so magical!

    • Lucia says...

      My husband and I do the same thing every August, buy the best bacon, find the juiciest tomato, and make the best BLT’s we can possibly make. It’s my favorite meal of the year.
      Other top food memories: strawberries warm from the sun, homemade toasted coconut ice cream, waffles on Christmas morning and the roast sucking pig from Bar Canete in Barcelona made me cry so that has to be my top restaurant meal. What a lovely prompt.

  103. Lauren B says...

    After an absolutely exhausting trip from the US to Rome that included canceled flights, missed connections, long layovers and lost luggage, my mom, cousins, aunts and I arrived to our hotel. We asked a local for a restaurant recommendation and they pointed us around the corner. It was about 9:30 in Rome and we stumbled into our seats at a tiny sidewalk cafe. My white wine and linguine with clams was perfection. The chocolate gelato almost brought me to tears. The limoncello to follow made us just tipsy enough that we walked back to our hotel in a giddy stupor. We still don’t know if it was the exhaustion mixed with our excitement of finally arriving in Rome or truly the best meal ever, but it will forever be sealed in my memory as one of the best food experiences of my life. The fact that it was shared with all the girls in my family while in a foreign country was just the icing on an already-delicious cake.

  104. Meredith says...

    Scallop sandwiches at a seafood restaurant right on the water in Little River, SC called Crab Catchers with my Grandparents the week of Thanksgiving 2017. It’s so good we drove over from Sunset Beach, NC to eat dinner there 2 nights that week! But the first night it was just the three of us on the way to see The South’s Grandest Christmas Show at the Alabama Theatre in Myrtle Beach and that is definitely a meal (and show!) I will never forget, especially my grandma singing along with the Christmas carols by the end of the production.

    • Lauren says...

      Meredith, I’m going to pass this along to my in-laws who recently moved to Sunset Beach!

  105. Elizabeth Kully says...

    Several summers ago my friend Michelle and I had an amazing dinner at The Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis. We sat at the bar and shared course after course of exquisitely curated food including a flight of toasts so delicious and buttery I’ll never forget. To call it “toast” truely an understatement.

  106. Amanda says...

    I love this question with all of my heart! It is bringing back such good memories, because of course part of the amazingness of the food is drawn from the entire experience surrounding it :) A few at the top of my list…
    1. Rotisserie chicken and sides from a little hole-in-the-wall buried deep off the tourist track in Cozumel. We paid around $8 USD for a half chicken that came with fresh corn tortillas, beans, and spaghetti (surprisingly, a very Yucatecan food). We took it to a sunny plaza, perched on a low wall, and ate everything with our fingers. To this day, it is the most succulent and delicious chicken I have ever eaten.
    2. My aunt’s pork ribs and sauerkraut, a Polish-ish recipe she makes for me every time I visit her <3
    3. The most ENORMOUS tagine at our riad in Marrakech. It had to have weighed at least fifteen pounds! Vegetables, lamb, and chicken piled high over couscous, served with a coconut tomato soup and a fruity white wine. We dined by candlelight on the rooftop, listening to the night sounds of the medina and the evening call to prayer.
    4. Any meal at our favorite restaurant in Denver, Adelita's. Washed down with plenty of their amazing house margs!
    5. Tuna pizza at a little roadside pizza place on Moorea. Honestly the best pizza I've ever had, and the views weren't half bad either ;) Capped off our meal with a bag of passion fruit from a beachfront fruit stand – magical.

    • Sarz says...

      Tuna pizza?! Never in my life have I seen such a thing on any menu. My gosh, it makes so much sense! Clearly, I can’t blame the pandemic for this lack of availability in my neighborhood – I’ll just have to take matters into my own hands. ;-)

    • shannon says...

      Those food stands in Moorea! Yes!! Better than any of the resort/restaurant options. We had the most incredible fish there, off paper plates, in the dark…I have no idea what it was (I speak only the most basic French) but it was heaven.

    • Amanda says...

      Sarz – I have to say, I was hesitant at first, imagining canned flaked tuna – but it was fresh fish, and chunked! And cooked juuuuust right in the pizza oven, with a white cream sauce and lots of garlic. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!!

  107. Bonnie Friesen says...

    Years ago, I worked as a stagiaire at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, WA. It was months of 15 hour days spent scrubbing mussel shells, perfectly mincing shallots, cleaning out bone marrow, foraging wild rose petals around the island (which sounds nice, but really it was very frantic and stressful to make sure we foraged enough in time for dinner service), doing anything they told me to do. I remember after one especially long day, at 2 am, the Chef brought out cans of white paint and we had to paint everything a fresh coat! It was one of the most perfect kitchens I have ever worked in, and one of the most challenging and formative experiences of my life. At the end of my stage, they treated me and my husband to a dinner. It was 18 courses with wine and juice pairings of smoked mussels served on rocks collected from the ocean across the road, crispy halibut skins, cabbage charred on coals and served with dried salmon roe and verjus, lummi reef net salmon, lamb shank from the island braised with herbs and rhubarb, a dish with 9 different berries foraged from the island… It was exquisite; everything tasted that much more vivid after working so hard behind the scenes along side all these talented chefs. Everything about my time there has informed my career in more ways than I know, and I’ll never forget it.

    • b says...

      What an amazing opportunity. I feel like there’s a memoir in here somewhere.

  108. Katie says...

    Best Meal – Lunch at Le Normandie at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok. It was a splurge at the end of a two week trip to Thailand. The food was so delicate – I’ll never forget the tiny diced carrots that could barely fit on a fork. The service was so kind, as it was everywhere in Thailand, and the restaurant was a beautiful jewel box . They even sent a boat to our hotel to pick us up.

    Best Cocktail – The margarita at the downtown El Cardinal in Mexico City. It is a icy, frosty, boozy delight.

  109. Christine says...

    Le Pigeon in Portland, OR
    A hole in the wall sushi bar in Tokyo that we stumbled upon by chance
    Lawry’s Prime Rib is always nostalgic and wonderful
    Ad Hoc in Yountville, CA on a horrible date but the food was lovely

  110. Allison says...

    La Tagliata in Positano. We sat down, and they just started bringing us food and jugs of their house wine…. amazing. And the view is unbelievable!

  111. Katie says...

    Oh, this is a delight. I’ve a handful.

    1. Rome with my father and brother when I was 15. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but we arrived at 7:30 with no one there (blew my Midwestern mind!) and watched as a waiter cracked open a massive salt block to serve us the fish that had cooked in it. What a visceral memory.

    2. My husband and I visited London together this past October and queued for two hours to eat at Dishoom. We ordered so many plates there was barely enough space for our drink glasses! It was divine and a wonderful evening.

    3. The country club in the small Indiana town where I grew up had cookout nights in the summer on the patio. My grandmother (now deceased) would come into town and it was her favorite night of the week. They served Graeter’s ice cream in old fashioned ice cream glasses. So special to remember her face on those evenings.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Agreed, Dishoom is amazing!

    • Michaela says...

      I miss Dishoom so much!I

    • Megan says...

      I would fly back to London just to go to Dishoom again & have biscuits with clotted cream!

  112. JennP says...

    My auntie’s braised chicken thigh adobo, steamed bok choy seasoned with a hint of hoisin sauce and perfectly cooked jasmine rice.

    My husband and I love to talk about all things food and what our last meal would be. My answer is always the same. It harkens me back to my childhood surrounded by family and love and joy.

  113. maywyn says...

    Hawaiian chicken at the Hawaii Kai in New York City

  114. kiki says...

    1. I went to Switzerland in college with my boyfriend (now husband of 13 years!) and the place we were staying packed us a “brown bag lunch” to take out on our hike for the day. It was a piece of brown bread, a hunk of some amazing cheese, a bell pepper, hard boiled eggs with flaky salt and big piece of chocolate. It was incredible! I still try and recreate it to this day, but of course we can’t get the same kind of bread and cheese here in the states.
    2. I found myself on a work trip to NYC with friends (who all lived in different states, and just happened to be in Manhattan at the same time) and we made reservations at Hudson Clearwater – thanks to your recommendation Joanna! – and shared the most amazing meal and bottles in their wine cellar! It was on of my first trips post-baby and it was so good to feel like a human again!
    3. Living Room Theater (a small movie theater here in Portland, Oregon) – I played hooky from work one afternoon for a matinee. I ordered a popcorn, red wine, and caesar salad to go with my chick-flick. It was the BEST combination of flavors!! This is now my “self-care” treatment of choice and I try to make it happen every few months.
    4. Dame – a wine bar also here in Portland that has rotating chefs. We happened in one night and ordered risotto, roasted veggies, and apple fritters for dessert. They also do half-pours of wine so you can try a bunch of amazing varieties without getting too tipsy. And the ambience is perfection.
    5. Lastly: does anything really beat take out at home on the couch?? Our go-to is usually chicken wings or pizza. OR, when we want something sweet, we’ll skip the lines at Papa Haydn’s and grab dessert to go – usually the boccone dolce.

    Le sigh! Can’t wait to be able to go out again!!

    • Sarah says...

      So many Portland restaurants in these comments. Love living room theaters so much!

  115. My 30th birthday dinner at Coquine in Portland, OR. The sommelier made the experience unforgettable!

  116. Sarah Miller says...

    This might be my favorite conversation ever. My husband and I frequently discuss this as eating and traveling our two of our very highest passions. Top honors include: the pepper steak at the Double Musky in Alaska, the tomato pastry at the Santa Irini bakery in Greece, the big bowl of pho at Pho Thin (locals only!) in Vietnam, and the anchovy pasta in Cinque Terre, Italy.

    • A says...

      Double Musky! I went to a prom dinner here a million years ago. Such a Wonderfully Alaskan place.

  117. This is such a thinker! I think the best meal I’ve had (my husband would maybe think differently) is the lasagna from a restaurant called the Pink Door (in Seattle). All of their food is amazing but that is one meal I could never get tired of.

    • Lauren says...

      Their lasagna is SO GOOD.

    • Julee says...

      The PINK DOOR. *sob* I’m so far from home. I miss the Pink Door so much.😄 so many good memories there!!!

  118. Sarah says...

    I was about 10 years old when I had the best meal of my life. My parents took me to New York City (and left my three younger siblings at home with grandparents!) and the three of us spent a glorious week exploring the city. We saw all the sites and I got to be an only child which was such a kick! We ate amazing food from small hole in the wall places in China Town to fancy Italian restaurants. On one of our last nights we got dressed up and went to Le Bernardin. My parents told me it was very fancy and very special but I had no idea just how special that restaurant is. The staff couldn’t have been more lovely and welcoming despite many patrons giving us looks expecting that I wouldn’t be well behaved during the long dinner service. I don’t remember most of what we ate, but I remember the feeling of getting to spend uninterrupted time with my parents and realizing the food was absolutely ridiculously amazing. I do remember the dessert I was served. It was three desserts on a plate that all had caramel in them and they were covered in a spun sugar net. It was beautiful and amazingly delicious and I remember smiling the whole time I ate it. Though I know the food was amazing, I think it was the experience that made the meal the most memorable of my life.