Banh Mi Alaska Black Cod Sliders with pickled vegetables, jalapeño, cilantro, cucumber, Sriracha and lime juice, on a baguette

Beef Filet with mushroom and Cognac XO sauce

Barcelona Wine Bar's Burnt Basque Cheesecake with Luxardo cherries

Pineapple Rum Cake, made with coconut sherbet and pineapple caramel

Virginia Tech's African Jollof Chicken with masala chai sauce and burnt grape tomatoes

Wild Mushroom Flatbread with goat cheese, arugula, and egg fried in olive oil

Welcome to Best of Flavor 2017

We asked Flavor readers to profile a winning flavor build, whether a bestseller, a surprising hit, a runaway limited-time offer or a transformative flavor experience. We had them share with us the “Aha!” moments and what makes this a “best” in their opinion. This edition is a unique resource for our readers, as these 125 entries come together as a collection of menu inspirations and a playbook of flavor-building successes. And it’s an up-to-the-minute look at flavor and menu trends

Go to Best of Flavor 2016


Listed in order

1Med Fries via Berlin

Spitz Restaurants' loaded fries, with cool cucumber-y tzatziki, a spicy, garlicky tomato sauce, red and green cabbage slaw, diced onions and pepperoncinis.

2Enter the Dragon

Vitality Bowls' Dragon Bowl - pitaya, mango, pineapple, coconut, raspberries, banana, almonds, goji berries, kiwi, strawberries, honey and bee pollen

3Tuned-up Tapa

Income Tax's Pan Con Tomate - house saffron bread, gelled tomato water and garlic.

4The Poke Has Spoken

Laurel Point's Poke Burrito - sushi rice, black beans, avocado, chuka wakame, marinated tuna, cabbage and spicy mayonnaise.

5The Test of Time

Champagne French Bakery's decadent sandwich is made with sliced Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese and creamy béchamel sauce, served between two buttered slices of pain de mie. It’s topped with a mild grated Swiss cheese, then oven-baked to create a flavorful crust.

6Give Me a Beet

Quaintrelle's latest beet salad juxtaposes earthy and buttery flavors (roasted sunchokes, beets and toasted cashews), with contrasting sharper elements (ancho cress, radish, tahini purée and lemon oil to finish).

7A Beautiful Rendering

Primehouse steakhouse's Venison Chop uses Miyazaki beef fat to make the real flavor difference. It's served with red wine venison sausage made in house, and a lavender broth with diced vegetables and baby root vegetables.

8Multi-Culti Experience

Annunciation's offers a Seared Yellowfin Tuna with Creole fried black rice, sweet potato-habanero sauce and signature “Steel sauce”. “The dish is warm, cool, salty, sweet, spicy, meaty, light, crunchy and tender.”

9A Brunch Stew

Slipsteam's hearty, comforting Yukatan Stew - pork, sweet potatoes, and rutabaga with roasted onions, garlic and tomatoes.

10Dramatic Flavor

Le Petit Paris's flambeéd black truffle pasta - black truffle pasta flambéd in cognac in a parmesan cheese wheel, topped with fresh truffles.

11Watermelon Whimsy

Hen Quarter's Watermelon Salad - compressed watermelon, mozzarella, baby heirloom tomatoes, fennel, cucumbers, basil, lemon-curd vinaigrette.

12Classic Beauty

Ron's Steakhouse's Filet Mignon au Poivre - beef medallions, cracked green peppercorns, sauce of heavy cream, shallots, Dijon mustard and cognac.

13All Grown Up

Great Wolf Lodge - Chile-Coffee Rubbed Lamb with roasted carrots, puréed potatoes and mint gastrique

14New Wave Seafood

Sixth Engine - Seared Rockfish with green wax beans, peewee potatoes, toasted almonds, lemon confit

15Crisp Innovation

Bennigan’s offers Lina’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich - fried chicken breast, pepper Jack, Sriracha aïoli, coleslaw, brioche roll

16Lobster Takes a Bao

Eventide Oyster Co offers the Eventide Brown Butter Lobster Roll with Lobster meat, brown butter vinaigrette, bao-style steamed bun, sea salt, chives

17True Grit

Watermark Restaurant offers Grit Soufflé - local goat cheese, grits, bacon beurre blanc, shiitake and crispy leek

18Me Want Cookie

Cinnaholic's Cookie Monster - Cinnamon roll, cream cheese frosting, homemade cookie dough, chocolate sauce

19A Bright Star

Nazca Mochica's Mochica Cebiche comprises lime-marinated seasonal whitefish, cilantro, red onions, caramelized sweet potato, choclo

20Resto-Bar Winner

Liquid Riot offer Venison Meatloaf Sliders with melted Gruyère, Maine blueberry ketchup, whiskey onions

22One Hot Pear

Crushed Red's This Pear is on Fire - Spiced pears, dried cranberries, bacon, goat cheese, avocado, spinach, house mix, habanero-honey dressing, candied walnuts

23Italian Comfort Combo

Lago's Gnocchi Carbonara offers housemade gnocchi, pancetta, peas, cream, egg yolk, black pepper

24Global Garnish

National Peanut Board offers Korean Barbecue - Chicken Wings with five-spiced peanuts

25Triple-Comfort Noodles

Ani Ramen House's Chicken Katsu Curry Ramen - Japanese curry and panko-breaded chicken over ramen noodles

26That Ahi Moment

Newk’s Eatery offers an Ahi Tuna Salad with radishes, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, greens and ginger-wasabi dressing

27Carolina Meats Cuban

Cottage Inn Pizza offers The Cuban - pulled pork and ham, Carolina gold barbecue sauce and pickles

28BLT of the Sea

Bourbon House offers a Fried Oyster BLT with smoked pork belly, tomato jam and micro arugula

29Devilish Pairing

Gilmore Catering offers B.O.B.’s Brewery Deviled Eggs with maple bacon “fries”

30Sweet Masterpiece

CarneVino Italian Steakhouse offers a Chocolate & Peanut Butter Torte with peanut brittle and salted peanut butter caramel

31Smokin' Salad

FoodE offers a Smoked Trout Salad with romaine, wheat berries, fresh vegetables, avocado and bacon

32Big & Bold Lightens Up

Cheddar's Sweet Heat Chicken & Shrimp, with ginger-garlic rice and side salad of mixed greens, carrot, cucumber and tomato vinaigrette

33Cream of the Crop

Avocados from Mexico offers Mac 'N' Ado with avocado Mornay sauce, asparagus and cherry tomatoes

34Spinning Chicken

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa's Rotisserie Roasted Free-Range Chicken with lemon and rosemary, seasonal vegetables, and whipped potatoes.

35Here Comes the Sunchoke

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates & Gardens offers a Sunchoke Soup with duck confit, mushrooms, dried cherries and sunchoke chips

36Deli Delight

OB Surf Lodge offers a Sunchoke Soup with duck confit, mushrooms, dried cherries and sunchoke chips

37Just-Right Porridge

Mary Hoopa’s House of Fried Chicken & Oysters offers a Golden Rice Porridge Bowl with pork belly, boiled peanuts, Calabrese chile and six-minute egg

38Wrap Star

Which Wich's Superfood Wich Vegan black bean patty and quinoa wrapped in a spinach tortilla

39Belly Up

Gan Shan Station' offers Lamb Belly with Sichuan peppercorns, cucumber, pickled peach

40Alla Famiglia

Vinoteca's Gnocchi with braised lamb sugo and porcini mushrooms

41Buffy the Sauce Slayer

PDQ's Buffy Bleu Fried Chicken Sandwich with Buffalo sauce, lettuce, toasted brioche bun

42India via Nashville

Chauhan Ale & Masala House's Hot Chicken Pakoras features house blend spice mix, crispy chicken, ghost pepper sauce

43Ale of a Sandwich

RAM Restaurant & Brewery features a Buttface Amber Ale Chicken Sandwich.

44Raw Heat

Dos Urban 's Cantina Raw Scallop AguaChile with sweet potato purée, pickled red onion, spicy lime aguachile, cilantro, chia seed.

45Red-Hot Sweethearts

National Honey Board offers a Hot Honey Pan-Asian Poutine

46The Secret's in the Sauce

Kirsh Bakery & Kitchen offers a Beef Filet with mushroom and Cognac XO sauce

47Rustic Elegance

Mioposto Pizza's Melanzane - eggplant, mozzarella, arugula, mint-basil salsa verde, served with bread

48Better-Burger Madness

Chumley’s 86'D Burger has bone marrow, Chumley's sauce, crispy shallot, cheese

49Mexican on the Move

Del Taco Restaurants offers Huevos Rancheros - Epic Burrito with Mexican chorizo, freshly scrambled eggs, sliced avocado, slow-cooked beans, cheddar, roasted chile salsa and sour cream

50Spring Forward

JP Atlanta's Wild Mushroom Flatbread with goat cheese, arugula, and egg fried in olive oil

51Bowl Model

At Beehive Kitchen East Meets West with Whole-grain brown rice, sweet potato glass noodles, Szechuan green beans, ahi tuna poke, citrus-marinated avocado, Thai coconut curry

52Southern Comfort

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board offers the mouthwatering Fried Chicken & Pimento Cheese Sandwich - Chicken cutlet, cheddar biscuit, pimento cheese, heirloom tomatoes, pickles, lettuce

53Pot Luck

Livingston Restaurant + Bar offers LowCountry Seafood Boil - Cracked crab, shrimp, andouille sausage, chicken, new potatoes, Georgia sweet corn

54Caribbean Queen

Compère Lapin - Curried Goat with sweet potato gnocchi and cashews

55From Brazil with Love

Texas de Brazil's Matambre Recheado contains braised rolled beef stuffed with ground beef, onion, carrot, sausage, eggs, bacon and scallion

56Right on 'Cue

Olga’s Kitchen offers Carolina BBQ Olga - Barbecue smoked pork, cheddar, pickle, onion straws

57Sensational Scallops

Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House - Seared Scallops with beet vinaigrette, cauliflower purée and microgreens

58Beefy Goes Bold

Norms Restaurants offers a Habanero Jalapeño Bacon Cheeseburger with habanero-jalapeño cheddar cheese, bacon, batter-fried jalapeño, habanero mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, red onions, heat-blistered jalapeño

59Get Shorty

Wood Ranch offers a Certified Angus Beef Giant Short Rib

60Hot, Hot, Hot

Bird & Bone offers Chef Hales’ Hot Chicken with Florida honey, house mustard, cucumber pickles

61Salad Daze

True Aussie Beef & Lamb offers Braised Grass-fed Aussie Short Rib Salad with pretzel croutons and honey-bourbon vinaigrette

62Bombay Flavor Bomb

Rasa offers Bombay Sliders with tamarind chutney, cilantro chutney and a market salad

63Reuben, Reborn

University of Montana offers The Beet Reuben - Sliced beets, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, marble rye bread

64Southern Accents

Fatz Cafe's Southern Sampler includes calabash chicken, pimento cheese dip, garlic bread, fried pickle skewers, potato straws

65Mammoth Success

R&R Barbeque offers The Caveman Burger with smoked sausage, pulled pork, jalapeño, pepper Jack and R&R sweet sauce

66The Spirit of Mezcal

Laurel Hardware's Lila Downs - Green chartreuse, lime, La Niña del Mezcal Espadin, Casamigos Blanco Tequila and Giffard Banane du Brésil liqueur

67Polenta Power

The Cookery offers a Creamy Chocolate Polenta with graham cracker and toasted marshmallow

68Hidden Gem

Richlandtown Inn's Filet Special - Center-cut filet, blue cheese-white wine-shallot cream sauce, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon

69Carnival Cravings

Red’s Table offers a Caramel Corn Sundae Vanilla funnel cake, buttered popcorn ice cream, salted caramel corn

70Game for Rabbit

Canoe offers Slow Roasted Carolina Rabbit with candied garlic sauce

71A Good Egg

Ripple offers Hen Egg with hay-smoked potatoes, grilled maitake, pickled shimeji, veal sweetbreads and cured yolk

72Side Show

Idaho Potato Commission with The Farm House - Hot Chicken with biscuit purée, warm potato salad, kohlrabi, candied skin

73Bayou Spice

Burger 21's Bayou Burger - Andouille sausage and turkey burger topped with blackened grilled shrimp, Sriracha, rémoulade, Ragin’ Cajun slaw, on a toasted brioche bun

74Spanish Serenade

Barcelona Wine Bar's Burnt Basque Cheesecake with Luxardo cherries

75Out of Africa

Virginia Tech's African Jollof Chicken with masala chai sauce and burnt grape tomatoes

76A Shell of a Story

Waypoint Seafood & Grill offers Oysters the Waypoint Way with Virginia smokehouse ham, cheddar, spinach, Chesapeake Bay crab and Béarnaise

77Thanksgiving Every Day

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop offers The Bobbie - Homemade turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayo

78Mousse Magic

California Milk Advisory Board with Nico - Makeover Cheese-Rind Mousse with Mission figs and red mustard greens

79Raising the Steaks

The Wallace's Cauliflower Steak with confit garlic mash, opal basil salsa verde, A-2 sauce

80Alfredo Goes Coastal

Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours offer Coastal South Seafood Pasta - Pappardelle, Georgia white shrimp, Gulf crawfish tails, calamari, Alfredo sauce

81The Good Earth

Nel Centro offers Housemade Baked Ricotta with local greens, shaved Oregon black truffles and black truffle vinaigrette

82Italian Trifecta

Subway's Italian Hero with mortadella, capicola, Genoa salami and provolone

83Transforming Turkey

Cotton Restaurant offers an Almond-Encrusted Turkey Schnitzel with cheddar cheese gratinée, bourbon applesauce, mashed potatoes and buttered green beans

84Brunch Surf 'n' Turf

The Feast.LA's Surf & Turf Pancake - Garlic-poached crab, wine-braised oxtails, micro wasabi and baby cherry tomatoes over a jalapeño hot-water cornbread

85A Novel Idea

Loews Chicago Hotel's Catcher in the Rye, made with Rittenhouse rye, beet syrup, lemon, Angostura bitters, ginger ale

86Hummus With Heart

The Bellwether's Fava e Cicoria - Dried fava bean purée, Mission figs, Parmigiano, Arnaud AOC olive oil, frisée

87Raw Talent

Luke’s Kitchen & Bar offers Red Snapper Ceviche with cashew butter, pickled mango and jalapeño sorbet

88Working from Memory

The Dutch makes its Gripper’s Grail with homemade chocolate and caramel ice cream, passionfruit sorbet, homemade marshmallow fluff, caramelized banana, chocolate mousse, crunchy meringue

89Sriracha Celebration

Applebee’s Firecracker Shrimp Cavatappi - Crispy Sriracha shrimp, grilled zucchini, red bell pepper, red onion, cavatappi, Parmesan-Sriracha cream sauce

90Brewpub Showpiece

Pint Brothers Alehouse offers Pint Bros. Burger with beer cheese, tomato, chives, crispy onions, toasted pretzel bun

91A Shot in the Dark

At Bodega Negra in NYC the Disco Nap contains tequila, espresso, Amaro Averna, Ancho Reyes and coconut milk.

92Ode to Spring

Webster’s Prime offer scallops with clamshell mushrooms, spring peas, dashi and pork belly

93Southwestern Sweet

Kachina Southwestern Grill offers Chocolate Cola Cake with pepita crunch, caramel sauce and honey-lavender caviar

94Fishing for Flavor

Captain D’s offers Cajun Fish Tenders with D’s Dippin’ Sauce

95Having a Ball

Publik Draft House's Falafel Balls - Deep-fried chickpea balls, quinoa salad, red pepper hummus, tzatziki

96Going Green

Red Star Tavern's Manila Clam Velouté with early green garlic and smoked bacon

97Home Advantage

Harvard University offers Chicken Tinga with cilantro rice and zucchini crema

98Banh Mi from the Sea

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute offers Banh Mi Alaska Black Cod Sliders with pickled vegetables, jalapeño, cilantro, cucumber, Sriracha and lime juice, on a baguette

99South American Sliders

Fogo de Chão's Braised Beef Rib Sliders - Xingu beer-braised beef topped with caramelized onions and melted smoked provolone on toasted brioche buns

100Fine as Wine

Cava offers a Grapefruit + Mint Raspberry Shrub

101Crabby Patty

Coastal Grill & Bar offers a Coastal Crab Burger topped with spinach salad, crab dip, tortilla strips

102Pho Show

Claudia Restaurant's Pho - Wagyu beef, basil, jalapeño, noodles, bean sprouts, micro cilantro and basil

103Greek to Me

The Gyro Shack offers a Spicy Bacon Avocado Gyro

104Destination Crab

The St. Paul Grill offers a St. Paul Grill Crab Cake - colossal blue crab served with citrus-tarragon aïoli

105Roll Call

Mr. Gatti’s Pizza - Pepperoni Rolls with pepperoni and provolone, fresh-made dough, with pizza or ranch sauce

106Wings for the Win

Storm King Lounge offers Japanese Sticky Wing with sambal teriyaki and dynamite, pickled beet salad, fried ramen garnish

107Sweet Serendipity

Vital Dining's Festival! Fried dough with tamarind glaze, coconut ice cream and coconut flakes

108Comeback Flavor

Copeland’s of New Orleans offers Oysters, Bacon & Brie - fried oysters, Brie, creamed spinach, bacon, yellow pepper coulis, citrus- honey gastrique, microgreens

109Destination Burger

Bar Louie offers a Spiked Bulleit Bourbon Burger with spiked housemade sauce with Bulleit bourbon, topped with cheddar cheese, cream cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and crispy onion strings

110Stealing the Show

The Guild House offers Scallops with English peas, glazed baby carrots, parsnip purée, carrot-orange vinaigrette

111Crudo with Charisma

The Oval Room offers Yellowfin Tuna Crudo with blood orange, hearts of palm, lipstick radish, smoked trout roe, yuzu emulsion

112High-Impact Pie

The Forge offers a Two-Pound Lobster Pot Pie with root vegetables and mustard sauce

113Pop Stars

The Soda Shop's is made with Red Bull, strawberry, watermelon, fresh orange

114A Little Lamb

Shula’s Steak House offers Double-Cut Lamb Chops with blistered heirloom tomatoes and roasted artichoke

115A Day in the Life

The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group's The Weston - wheated bourbon, coffee syrup, pipe tobacco

116Salmon Star

Virtue Feed & Grain offers Grilled Atlantic Salmon over creamy quinoa, with harissa sauce and mâche lettuce

117Meat-Lover's Libation

Lawry’s The Prime Rib offers a Meat & Potato Martini Potato vodka, olives stuffed with horseradish and prime rib

118A Way with Wagyu

Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen offers a Wagyu Beef Tenderloin with Florida orange chimichurri, sunny-side-up local quail egg and microgreens

119Shake It, Honey

Creamline's Honey Milkshake with all-natural honey from Catskills Provisions, Ronnybrook Farm Dairy soft-serve vanilla ice cream

120Candy Crush

Sonic Drive-In's Cherry Slush with Rainbow Candy

121Best in Show

Swine Southern Table & Bar offers a Crispy Pig Head with Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka sauce, served with buttered buns and pickled vegetables

122New Fashioned

Midnight Rambler's Cuffs & Buttons, made with spiced bourbon, orange blossom honey, Peychaud bitters, peach liqueur

123Island Escapes

Pacific Hideaway offers Captain Barbosa and Whole Fried Tai Snapper

124Peruvian Icon

Andina offers a Cebiche de Mango Verde y Langostinos

Listed by contributor

Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute


Ani Ramen House



Avocados from Mexico

Bar Louie

Barcelona Wine Bar

Beehive Kitchen


Bird & Bone

Bodega Negra

Bourbon House

Burger 21

California Milk Advisory Board with Nico


Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop

Captain D’s

CarneVino Italian Steakhouse


Champagne French Bakery

Chauhan Ale & Masala House

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen

Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen



Claudia Restaurant

Coastal Grill & Bar

Compère Lapin

Copeland’s of New Orleans

Cottage Inn Pizza

Cotton Restaurant


Crushed Red

Del Taco Restaurants

Dos Urban Cantina

Eventide Oyster Co.

Fatz Cafe

Fogo de Chão


Gan Shan Station

Gilmore Catering

Great Wolf Lodge

Harvard University

Hen Quarter

Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House

Idaho Potato Commission with The Farm House

Income Tax

JP Atlanta

Kachina Southwestern Grill

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates & Gardens

Kirsh Bakery & Kitchen


Laurel Hardware

Laurel Point

Lawry’s The Prime Rib

Le Petit Paris

Liquid Riot

Livingston Restaurant + Bar

Loews Chicago Hotel

Luke’s Kitchen & Bar

Mary Hoopa’s House of Fried Chicken & Oysters

Midnight Rambler

Mioposto Pizza

Mr. Gatti’s Pizza

National Honey Board

National Peanut Board

Nazca Mochica

Nel Centro

Newk’s Eatery

Norms Restaurants

OB Surf Lodge

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Olga’s Kitchen

Pacific Hideaway


Pint Brothers Alehouse


Publik Draft House


R&R Barbeque

RAM Restaurant & Brewery


Red Star Tavern

Red’s Table

Richlandtown Inn


Ron’s Steakhouse



Shula’s Steak House

Sixth Engine


Sonic Drive-In

Spitz Restaurants

Storm King Lounge


Swine Southern Table & Bar

Texas de Brazil

The Bellwether

The Cookery

The Dutch

The Feast.LA

The Fifty/50 Restaurant Group

The Forge

The Guild House

The Gyro Shack

The Oval Room

The Soda Shop

The St. Paul Grill

The Wallace

True Aussie Beef & Lamb

Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours

University of Montana


Virginia Tech

Virtue Feed & Grain

Vital Dining

Vitality Bowls

Watermark Restaurant

Waypoint Seafood & Grill

Webster’s Prime

Which Wich

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Wood Ranch