Welcome to Best of Flavor 2018

This collection of 125 “best flavor builds” is brimming with flavor-forward wins that showcase not only culinary skill and passion, but also the heightened expectations of the marketplace. Consider this a playbook of menu trends and ideas, as a whole, summarizing the continued momentum of flavor-driven innovation.

When asked to put their best flavors forward, our readers delivered, sharing not only their own passions, but as a whole, shining a light on the bold flavor innovations leading menu development today.

Kale 2.0

Matadora offers a Kale Salad with melted provolone, chickpeas, olives, red onion, burnt raisins, crispy pumpkin, pepitas

Top Chop

Maison 208 offers Australian Lamb Chops with Okinawa potatoes, Pinot Noir, hazelnut-spice crust

Short Order

Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile offers Braised Short Rib with candied pork belly and Mission fig reduction

Southern Ways

Dusek’s Board & Beer offers Chicken-Fried Rabbit with Hoppin’ John risotto, charred okra, chicory greens, pancetta and brown-butter Tabasco

Ceviche Strike

Pinstripes offers Gnocchi & Ahi Tuna: Seared ricotta gnocchi in garlic butter and Parmesan, with fresh tuna and Calabrese vinaigrette

Seasonal Bounty

Coast Guard House offers a Pan-Roasted Rhode Island Striped Bass with local summer succotash, smoked romesco broth and sweet-corn custard

That’s Amaro

Dianoia’s Eatery offers its Hot Buttered Amaro Cocktail: Amaro, vanilla ice cream, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, shaved nutmeg; served warm

Fried Chicken’s New Look

Bessou offers Chicken Karaage: Japanese-style fried chicken with Moroccan spices, potato salad, shiso tzatziki

A Craveable Combo

Chicken Kimbachi offers a Chicken Kimbachi: Kimchi fried rice, gochujang, hibachi chicken, yum yum sauce, sunny-side-up egg, shredded nori

A Fixed Star

Minigrow offers a The Chicken Jawn: Fresh three-wheat noodles, whole roasted chicken, sweet-and-sour onions, black truffle, miso corn, chives, Parmesan

Can’t Be Beet

Salon By Sucré offers a Beet Salad with goat cheese mousse, walnut granola, champagne vinaigrette, bittersweet chocolate

What A Catch

Slapfish offers its Clobster Grilled Cheese: Maine lobster, Dungeness crab, aged white cheddar, mozzarella, sourdough bread, with Jersey sauce

Flipping The Quesadilla

California Milk Advisory Board with Alta Calidad offers a Pumpkin Blossom Quesadilla: Espuma over tortilla filled with pumpkin blossom, onion, Chihuahua cheese; garnished with ancho- chile activated-charcoal ash

Korean-Style Ramen

Mŏkbar offers a Mŏkbar Classic: Ramen, braised pork, gochujang pork broth, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, bean sprouts, scallion, nori

Elevated Wings

The Immigrant Restaurant offers Duck Wings with celery leaves in vinaigrette and blue-cheese potato chips

Salad On Top

Redbrick Pizza Kitchen Cafe offers its Pizza-Zzalada: Baked multigrain crust with chia, flax seeds, açai berry and sprouted red-grain flour, topped with salad

Cauliflower Plays Chicken

100 Sails Restaurant & Bar offers Korean Fried Cauliflower: Tempura-fried cauliflower with spicy soy glaze, topped with Kewpie mayonnaise, chile threads, sesame seeds, microgreens

A Little Lamb

True Aussie Beef & Lamb offers Madras Curry Lamb Sliders with yogurt-mint-lime sauce, cucumbers and arugula

Comfort Zone

101 Beer Kitchen offers Green Chili: Roasted pork, puréed tomatillo, roasted poblanos, served over yellow rice with sour cream, charred lime, queso fresco and cilantro

Shank Goodness

Manzo At Eataly Flatiron offers Arrosto D’Agnello: Roasted lamb shank with rosemary, thyme, potatoes, red onion and artichokes

Flexing Mussels

Woods Hill Table offers Calendar Mussels with anadama bread and crunchy ham vinaigrette

Turn The Beet Around

701 Restaurant offers a Beet Tartare: Roasted, diced and smoked red beets with yellow beet “yolk” and beet chips

Pulling Favor

Square Roots Kitchen offers a Comfort Food Bowl: Pulled pork, housemade spicy corn, black beans, cheddar and barbecue sauce over warm quinoa

The Golden Touch

The Whistler offers its Golden Fleece: Kikusui Funaguchi sake, preserved Meyer lemon, honey, soda

A Sweet Throwback

Benny’s Chop House offers a Banana Cream Pie: Banana compound, pastry cream, graham-cracker pie crust, whipped cream, caramel-glazed bananas

Star Burger

Ted’s Montana Grill offers its Avalon Burger with Gruyère, blue cheese, bacon-caramelized onions, roasted-garlic aïoli, baby arugula on a toasted brioche

Elemental Success

Altabira City Tavern offers a Ribeye with poblano potato purée, melted leeks, wilted arugula, sautéed oyster mushrooms, roasted cipollini demi-glace

Pheasant Run

Vivere offers an Agnolottini Di Fagiano: Pillow-shaped pheasant-filled pasta, butter, sage, Parmigiano-Reggiano

Smooth As Silk

Better Half offers its Silk Handkerchief Pasta: Hand-rolled pasta, garlic-porcini cream, wild mushrooms, tomato marmalade, Cotija, snow pea shoots

Them Apples

Patent Pending offers 'The Twain': Tequila, Alpine liqueur, gin, pear, Woodruff syrup, almond, Fuji apple and lemon

Old School

Okeechobee Steakhouse offers a Cowboy Ribeye: slow roasted and served with housemade au jus

Seafood Switch-Up

Portsmith offers a Fried Fish & Waffle with housemade tartar sauce and Dark Matter malt maple syrup

Rolling With Rice

Jsix offers a Korean Rice Balls: Deep-fried balls of rice, gochujang, bulgogi, kimchi, spinach, carrots, sesame seeds

A Game Of Squash

Farm Spirit offers Tetsukabuto Squash with wild stinging-nettle purée, hazelnut “yogurt,” wild cress

Unlikely Pairing

Artichoke Basille’s Pizza offers a Crab Pie: Crab sauce with herbs, mozzarella and surimi crabmeat stuffing atop signature pizza dough, topped with fresh parsley

Upping The Umami

Urbain 40 offers a Ginger-Teriyaki Char-Crusted Yellowfin Tuna Filet with young carrots, snap peas, lotus root and mushrooms, curry butter emulsion

Sum Of The Parts

USA Rice offers a Super Bowl: Brown rice, red quinoa, miso-tahini dressing, sweet potato, avocado, spiced chickpeas, baby kale, red cabbage, cherry tomatoes

Mad About Mole

Alto Bajo offers a Hangar Steak with mole rojo—pasilla and ancho chile, ground nuts and sesame seeds, chocolate

Killer Kraut

Avocados From Mexico offers an Avo Reuben with corned beef, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing, pumpernickel bread and avocado sauerkraut

Like Butter

Brennan’s Pub offers a Butter Cake with seasonal fruit and vegan honeycomb ice cream

Omelette, Oh My!

Signature Flavor: “This dish is a sensory roller coaster. You get smooth, creamy, briny, crispy, smoky, salty, sour—all in one bite.”

Best Of Both Worlds

Idaho Potato Commission offers Idaho Potato and French Onion Soup: Baked russet potato, fontina, Asiago croutons, caramelized onions, bison stock, scallion, sour cream

Steak Sushi

Naiyara offers Steak and Eggs Sushi: Seared Wagyu Beef Over Rice and Kimchi, Topped With Quail Egg and Ponzu

The Buffalo Boost

The Ruin Daily offers a Buffalo Chicken Melt: Parmesan-crusted sourdough, cheddar-Swiss-fontina blend, Buffalo chicken, celery barigoule, ranch sauce

A Bowl’d Strategy

D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches offers its Southwestern Chicken, Rice & Grain Bowl: Grilled chicken and onions, charred corn-black bean-pepper salad, bell peppers, pickled jalapeños and cilantro with chipotle sauce and ranch dressing

Salad Lessons

Princeton University offers a Kale, Carrot, Sriracha Salad: Shaved tri-color carrots, kale, and Brussels sprouts with Sriracha vinaigrette

Seafood Switch-Up

Portsmith offers a Fried Fish & Waffle with housemade tartar sauce and Dark Matter malt maple syrup

Elevated Wings

The Immigrant Restaurant offers Duck Wings with celery leaves in vinaigrette and blue-cheese potato chips

Tropical Treat

Planta offers its Young Thai Coconut: with coconut, basil and chia-seed pudding, passionfruit sorbet, coconut chips

Sweet On Greek

Ousia offers its Donut Pikilia: Housemade sampler of Halva Mousse with hazelnut chocolate, Mastiha Yogurt Mousse with pistachio glaze, and Spiced Apple

Southern Ways

Dusek’s Board & Beer offers Chicken-Fried Rabbit with Hoppin’ John risotto, charred okra, chicory greens, pancetta and brown-butter Tabasco

Pulling Favor

Square Roots Kitchen offers a Comfort Food Bowl: Pulled pork, housemade spicy corn, black beans, cheddar and barbecue sauce over warm quinoa

Sea Worthy

Michael Jordan’s Steak House offers Charred Sea Scallops glazed with white miso paste, yuzu juice, gochujang

Masala Mash-Up

Curry Up Now offers a Tikka Masala Burrito: Chicken or paneer tikka masala, rice, chana and onions wrapped in a tortilla

Spring Fling

Red Rabbit offers a San Jorge: Tequila, grapefruit, lemon, Tattersall Grapefruit Crema, St. George Pear Brandy

Pork Preservation

Temple Bar offers Heritage Pork with Lacinato kale, roasted sweet potatoes with miso and black barbecue sauce

Old School

Okeechobee Steakhouse offers a Cowboy Ribeye: slow roasted and served with housemade au jus

Short Order

Intercontinental Chicago Magnificent Mile offers Braised Short Rib with candied pork belly and Mission fig reduction

Upping The Umami

Urbain 40 offers a Ginger-Teriyaki Char-Crusted Yellowfin Tuna Filet with young carrots, snap peas, lotus root and mushrooms, curry butter emulsion

Just Ducky

Komodo offers a Arroz Con Pato: Peking duck, rice, enoki mushroom, green onion, bell pepper, poached egg, shaved black truffle, served in a hot stone pot

A Game Of Squash

Farm Spirit offers Tetsukabuto Squash with wild stinging-nettle purée, hazelnut “yogurt,” wild cress

Lucky 13

Schlotzsky’s offers 'The Original': Smoked ham with Genoa and cotto salami, cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, black olives, red onion, lettuce, tomato, on Schlotzsky’s sourdough bun

All Choked Up

Steadfast offers Halibut with brown-butter solids, artichoke purée, artichoke chips, roasted sunchokes, pickled sunchokes, shaved lemon, preserved lemon, cress

Movie Star

Ambar Clarendon and Baba offer a Cinema Manhattan: Cocktail Bourbon infused with caramel popcorn, port-Coca-Cola reduction, cherry bitters, with a side of sweet-and-spicy popcorn

King Of The Cold Brew

Pj’s Coffee Of New Orleans offers The King Cake Protein Velvet Ice: Cold-brew coffee concentrate, fat-free milk, whey-protein concentrate, vanilla, cinnamon

Like Butter

Brennan’s Pub offers a Butter Cake with seasonal fruit and vegan honeycomb ice cream

Poke Evolution

Rooh offers a Tuna Bhel: Fresh ahi tuna, avocado, tamarind gel, puffed black rice, green mango, green apple, togarashi

Up In Smoke

Potatoes USA offers Campfire Potatoes: Fingerling potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, duck fat, dark soy sauce, applewood smoked sea salt, cane sugar

Tostada Takeover

Compass Group North America offers a BBQ Carrot Tostada: Crispy corn tostada topped with avocado, barbecue carrots, pineapple-zucchini salsa, garnished with scallions, carrot greens and cilantro

Fit For A King

The Rez Grill offers King Crab: Grilled Alaskan king crab legs, grainy mustard butter, chimichurri

Bring Me Burrata

Midici Neapolitan Pizza offers Burrata With Melon and Prosciutto with toasted Neapolitan bread

Elemental Success

Altabira City Tavern offers a Ribeye with poblano potato purée, melted leeks, wilted arugula, sautéed oyster mushrooms, roasted cipollini demi-glace

Planting It

Blaze Pizza offers its Veg Out with roasted seasonal vegetables, mushrooms, red onion, mozzarella, Gorgonzola, red sauce

Hip Half-Shells

Público offers Baked Oysters with corn custard and smoked trout roe

Spanish Translation

Red Cow offers a Barcelona Burger with manchego, jamón serrano, piquillo pepper and smoked pepper aïoli

Top Chop

Maison 208 offers Australian Lamb Chops with Okinawa potatoes, Pinot Noir, hazelnut-spice crust

Weiss So Nice

Birch’s On The Lake Brewhouse & Supperclub offers a Blood Orange Berliner Weiss

Can’t Be Beet

Salon By Sucré offers a Beet Salad with goat cheese mousse, walnut granola, champagne vinaigrette, bittersweet chocolate

Avocado Rush

Wendy’s offers a Southwest Chicken Avocado Salad: Greens, avocados, grilled chicken, tomatoes, bacon, pepper Jack, Southwest ranch dressing

Ceviche Strike

Pinstripes offers Gnocchi & Ahi Tuna: Seared ricotta gnocchi in garlic butter and Parmesan, with fresh tuna and Calabrese vinaigrette

Relishing Flavor

South offers Chow-Chow with braised beef short ribs, rosemary-roasted potatoes and creamed collard greens

The Golden Touch

The Whistler offers its Golden Fleece: Kikusui Funaguchi sake, preserved Meyer lemon, honey, soda

Sensory Sweets

National Peanut Board offers a Bittersweet Chocolate Bread Pudding served with whipped cream, peanut-butter mousse and Scotch bonnet peanut brittle

Pheasant Run

Vivere offers an Agnolottini Di Fagiano: Pillow-shaped pheasant-filled pasta, butter, sage, Parmigiano-Reggiano

Ceviche Strike

Pinstripes offers Gnocchi & Ahi Tuna: Seared ricotta gnocchi in garlic butter and Parmesan, with fresh tuna and Calabrese vinaigrette

Egg On Top

Jason’s Deli offers an Eggstreme Pastrami Melt: Pimento cheese, jalapeño Jack, cheddar, Muenster, roasted piquillo peppers, pastrami, fried egg, telera roll

These Wings Fly

Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen offers Thai Sticky Wings topped with peanuts, green onion and crispy spring-roll wrappers

Flipping The Quesadilla

California Milk Advisory Board with Alta Calidad offers a Pumpkin Blossom Quesadilla: Espuma over tortilla filled with pumpkin blossom, onion, Chihuahua cheese; garnished with ancho- chile activated-charcoal ash

Southern Ways

Dusek’s Board & Beer offers Chicken-Fried Rabbit with Hoppin’ John risotto, charred okra, chicory greens, pancetta and brown-butter Tabasco

Sensory Sweets

National Peanut Board offers a Bittersweet Chocolate Bread Pudding served with whipped cream, peanut-butter mousse and Scotch bonnet peanut brittle

Sky-High Flavor

Gategroup/Delta Air Lines offers a Short Rib and Pickled Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Buffalo Boost

The Ruin Daily offers a Buffalo Chicken Melt: Parmesan-crusted sourdough, cheddar-Swiss-fontina blend, Buffalo chicken, celery barigoule, ranch sauce

Chocolate Landscape

Reserve Wine & Food offers its Chocolate Mondae: Dark-chocolate ganache, milk-chocolate malt foam, Averna amaro semifreddo, cherry, cocoa nibs

The Golden Touch

The Whistler offers its Golden Fleece: Kikusui Funaguchi sake, preserved Meyer lemon, honey, soda

Weiss So Nice

Birch’s On The Lake Brewhouse & Supperclub offers a Blood Orange Berliner Weiss

Shake ’N Bake Redux

National Pork Board With Pig Bleecker offers a Smoked & Grilled Pork Chop with peach-habanero jam, firecracker onions, greens, beans and pickled turnip

Raising A Toast

Ida Claire offers Nashville Hot Chicken: Fried chicken, grilled brioche, pimento cheese, pickles, onions and sesame seeds

An Ode To Carrots

The Lakehouse offers Moroccan Spice Roasted Carrots with rich yogurt, chiles, almonds and mint

Smooth As Silk

Better Half offers its Silk Handkerchief Pasta: Hand-rolled pasta, garlic-porcini cream, wild mushrooms, tomato marmalade, Cotija, snow pea shoots

A Punch Of Rum

Burlock Coast offers a Challah Brioche French Toast Sandwich: Challah with rum milk, rum cream, rum butter, fruit jam and pecans

Seafood Switch-Up

Portsmith offers a Fried Fish & Waffle with housemade tartar sauce and Dark Matter malt maple syrup

Hip Half-Shells

Público offers Baked Oysters with corn custard and smoked trout roe

A Choux In

Little Bird Bistro offers a Tarragon Goat Cheese Gnocchi made with pâte à choux, served with tarragon, Banyuls cream, golden beets, garlic-lemon pistachios, egg-yolk shavings

Sublime Centerpiece

Geist offers Burrata With Roasted Spaghetti Squash: Housemade burrata, roasted and charred spaghetti squash, grilled rye sourdough

Pulling Favor

Square Roots Kitchen offers a Comfort Food Bowl: Pulled pork, housemade spicy corn, black beans, cheddar and barbecue sauce over warm quinoa

Golden Opportunity

Rice & Gold offers a Golden Chicken: Roasted Cornish hen, Persian spices, stuffed shishito peppers, feta-stuffed Medjool dates, white sauce and harissa sauce

Shank Goodness

Manzo At Eataly Flatiron offers Arrosto D’Agnello: Roasted lamb shank with rosemary, thyme, potatoes, red onion and artichokes

Starring Roll

Smack Shack offers a Smack Shack Original: Chilled lobster salad with cucumber and tarragon on griddled milk bread

Dashi Done Right

Southfork offers a Mushroom Dashi: Oyster and shiitake mushrooms, smoked tofu, shoyu and miso butter

Flexing Mussels

Woods Hill Table offers Calendar Mussels with anadama bread and crunchy ham vinaigrette

Elevated Wings

The Immigrant Restaurant offers Duck Wings with celery leaves in vinaigrette and blue-cheese potato chips

A Sweet Throwback

Benny’s Chop House offers a Banana Cream Pie: Banana compound, pastry cream, graham-cracker pie crust, whipped cream, caramel-glazed bananas

Southern Comfort

Cotton Patch Cafe offers its Chicken Fried Bacon: Breaded bacon with carnitas spices, served with ranch dressing and pepper gravy

Korean-Style Ramen

Mŏkbar offers a Mŏkbar Classic: Ramen, braised pork, gochujang pork broth, shiitake mushrooms, spinach, bean sprouts, scallion, nori

Shakshuka Heats Up

The General Public offers Shakshuka with crushed tomato, cayenne, toasted cumin, smoked paprika, soft poached eggs and buttered baguette

Bountiful Bowl

Farmer Boys offers a Southwest Chicken Salad with grilled chicken breast, roasted corn, black beans, avocado, tortilla strips, iceberg and green leaf lettuce, chile-ranch dressing

Omelette, Oh My!

Signature Flavor: “This dish is a sensory roller coaster. You get smooth, creamy, briny, crispy, smoky, salty, sour—all in one bite.”

That’s Amaro

Dianoia’s Eatery offers its Hot Buttered Amaro Cocktail: Amaro, vanilla ice cream, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, shaved nutmeg; served warm

Green With Envy

Sunday In Brooklyn offers a Green Goddess: Tequila blanco, Salers Aperitif, tonic, vanilla bean simple syrup, juice blend of celery, lime and pineapple

Totally Awesome Dog

Doghaus offers a Sooo Cali Beef hot dog with wild arugula, avocado, tomato, fried onions, spicy basil aïoli on King’s Hawaiian rolls

Them Apples

Patent Pending offers 'The Twain': Tequila, Alpine liqueur, gin, pear, Woodruff syrup, almond, Fuji apple and lemon

What A Catch

Slapfish offers its Clobster Grilled Cheese: Maine lobster, Dungeness crab, aged white cheddar, mozzarella, sourdough bread, with Jersey sauce

Best Of Both Worlds

Idaho Potato Commission offers Idaho Potato and French Onion Soup: Baked russet potato, fontina, Asiago croutons, caramelized onions, bison stock, scallion, sour cream

Going Whole Hog

Rare Steak and Seafood offers a Pork Tasting: Pâté, slow-cooked belly, chicharrón and lardo

French Trifecta

Db Bistro Moderne offers its Beef Rossini: Filet mignon served over pommes lyonnaise, topped with foie gras, truffles and beef jus

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