By The New York Times
We traveled widely and ate avidly as we built the annual list of our favorite restaurants in America. From Oklahoma City to Juncos, Puerto Rico, to Orcas Island off the coast of Washington State, our food reporters, editors and critics found revelatory Ethiopian barbecue, innovative Haitian cooking and possibly the most delicious fried pork sandwich in the United States.
While we love to see a dynamic new dining room open its doors, we’re equally impressed by kitchens that are doing their best work years in. So while some of our picks debuted just this summer, others have been around for decades. The one thing they do have in common: The food is amazing.
At this corner restaurant lit up in neon, the caramelo stands apart. It’s a nontraditional take: a corn tortilla grilled until crisp and piled generously with salsa, queso fresco, plump pinto beans and shreds of carne asada. But this place is hardly a one-hit wonder. There are practically no misses on the short menu of Sonoran food, anchored by a large grill (there are no ovens or stoves) and the chef Rene Andrade’s uncanny ability to balance brightness, salt and acidity. He’s the kind of cook who puts as much care into a side of beans as he does into a special of grilled yellowtail collar glazed with tangy chamoy — and it shows. PRIYA KRISHNA
Kabob Grill N’ Go
Pick a skewer, any skewer. At Kabob Grill N’ Go, large cases display swords of lamb, beef, pork ribs and chicken, each marinating in a different blend of spices — cayenne, sumac, black pepper — the flavors rooted in Persian and Armenian cuisines. Once you’ve made your choice, the co-owner Tony Chilingaryan, who does the butchering himself, will grill your selection over mesquite wood to order, basting the meat with his secret sauce. Expect to wait at least 20 minutes, but you’ll be rewarded with kabobs that are juicy beyond belief. Douse everything in Mr. Chilingaryan’s pepper-forward take on chimichurri, and you’ve got what may be one of the best lunches in Phoenix. PRIYA KRISHNA