We here at Grubgraders were busy in 2014. We were mainly busy stuffing our faces, and it’s a miracle we’re both not morbidly obese. We dined at 54 different restaurants in 4 different states (Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Virginia). Now, that’s 54 different restaurants that we graded – we actually dined out at lot more than that. We visited the Winking Lizard at least 15 times this past year. Our big regret is that we didn’t make it to Boston as we had initially planned, but we had a blast at our alternate destination (Nashville). The following is our list of the best things we ate this year. If you want more details on any of the restaurants we are about to mention, please use the search option and read the entire review for yourselves:
Best Italian Restaurant: We had to choose from the following: Bucca di Beppo, Guiseppe’s, Brio, and Amerigo. The winner, without a doubt, was Amerigo. Amerigo Italian Restaurant near Nashville had better than expected quality for a reasonable price, and it was the only Italian restaurant to score in the “A” range (overall grade of A-). Watch out for that lasagna that’s cooked to the same temperature as the surface of the sun…you don’t want to leave with burned lips.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Contenders were as follows: Plaza Azteca, Cuco’s Taqueria, La Casita, Chile Verde, El Vaquero, Abuelos, and El Acapulco. The winner, hands down, was Abuelos. In 2013, we had a great year for really good Mexican restaurants. In 2014, however, that was not the case. It was a pretty lean year for Mexican restaurants, so it wasn’t hard for Abuelos to capture the title with a mix of great food for a good price despite the service not being to our normal standards.
Best Burger Joint: We had to choose between Burger Republic, Smashburger, Flipside, and B Spot. The winner was Burger Republic, but it was a tight race. Three of the 4 contenders really impressed us, making 2014 definitely the “Year of the Burger.” The atmosphere at Burger Republic allowed it to edge out B Spot, but barely.
Best Breakfast Spot: Only 3 to choose from in this category: Puffy Muffin, Shorty’s Diner, and Pocohontas Pancake. Shorty’s Diner barely edged out Pocohontas Pancake for the top honors, and despite not quite understanding what the word “stuffed” means, the breakfast at Shorty’s was quite good, and the atmosphere was a little less touristy than Pocohontas Pancake.
Best Irish Pub: Our choices were Keagan’s, Flannery’s, and Brazenhead. While all 3 were terrific spots to dine at, Keagan’s gets the top prize here. We were blown away at the quality of the food and the fun atmosphere, and I almost vetoed Katina’s suggestion we stop there. That would have been a huge mistake.
Best Seafood Restaurant: We just had Nick’s Fresh Seafood and Bonefish Grill to choose from. Obviously, if you’ve read the Crabbageddon post, you can figure out the winner here is Bonefish Grill. We’re definetely going to have to target more seafood restaurants in 2015.
Best Asian Restaurant: Contenders in this category were as follows: Koto Japanese Steakhouse, Molly Woos, J Liu, and PF Changs. With a combination of really good drinks and superior food (as long as you don’t try to reheat the leftovers), Molly Woos took the top in this category. J Liu was a close second but was a more expensive for comparable quality – thus Molly gets the nod.
Best Pizza Joint: Our choices were Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza and Villa Reale Pizzeria. Honestly, this was like trying to pick which disease you’d rather have…malaria or dysentery. We picked Natalie’s because even though Villa Reale had the same overall score, the service was so poor we could never suggest it was the best of anything.
Best Upscale Steakhouse: Our choices were Eddie Merlots, Mitchell’s Steakhouse, J Alexander’s, Ruth’s Chris, Capital Grille, and Firebirds. Mitchell’s Steakhouse took top honors this year, beating out our normal favorite of Eddie Merlots. While the quality of food between the two restaurants is simliar, the service at Mitchell’s was in a class by itself, making our evening there one of the best experiences we’ve ever had.
Best European Restaurant: We had Bon Vie and Barcelona to choose from, since Barcelona was one of the few restaurants to score an “A” this year, it is the hands down choice for best restarant in this category, and was one of the best overall restaurants we visited this year.
Best Casual American Restaurant: There were a ton of restaurants in this category (pretty much all of the restaurants we reviewed this year but haven’t mentioned yet). Columbus Brewing Company was the one true standout in this category this year, and has been one of our favorites for a while.
Best Overall Restaurant: Mitchell’s Steakhouse
Best Appetizer: Philly Egg Rolls (Burger Republic) with an honorable mention going to Bang Bang Shrimp (Bonefish Grill)
Best Dessert: Fried Cookie Dough (Keagan’s Irish Pub)
Best Burger: B Spot – Burger Republic might be the overall better restaurant, but for the actual burger itself, B Spot smokes the competition.
Best Dish: King Crab Legs (Bonefish Grill)
Best Beer: New Holland Dragon’s Milk (Flipside) with Tennessee Brew Works Southern Wit (Burger Republic) a close second
Best Mixed Drink: Banana’s Foster Milkshake (Burger Republic) with Stawberry Limeaid (Keagan’s) a close second
Best Value: Keagan’s Irish Pub
Best Atmosphere and Best Service: Mitchell’s Steakhouse