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The Munchies: Best Food City 2014 Winner - New York City

Munchies NYC Hero
New York City boasts innovative cuisines and plenty of top notch food options. There's a reason it was voted best food city in the 2014 The Munchies awards.
By TBSP Kitchens

Last year’s best city was none other than the Big Apple: New York City. Here’s a little recap of what the city that never sleeps, but always eats, has to offer.

What city has got what it takes to be the best this year? Check out the 2015 The Munchies People's Choice Food Awards nominees for Best Food City and vote for your favorite beginning Monday, February 23rd. 

Avant-garde experiments, heritage dishes, delectably ridiculous mashups: New York City is home to it all. The town is the definitive melting pot—check out the New Yorkers (both personalities and restaurants) in this year’s Munchies, and they span the culinary globe. No wonder the Big Apple crushed the 2014 Best Food City Munchies award. 

Where New York shines is putting a big-city spin on regional signature specialties. Case in point: BBQ. The pitmasters of Texas, the Carolinas and other points South have long carried the baton of well-Q’d beef, but this year, NY is giving them a run for their money—like Hugh Mangum’s Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque. Granted, his roots are in Houston, but Mangum’s appreciation for the slow burn and smoked perfection has tempted many a New York vegetarian. (Nobody’s fessing up to giving themselves a flexitarian day pass, but nobody’s asking, either). 

As Munchies panelist Arthur Bovino comments, one of the food trends to watch in 2015 will be, "More good barbeque outside the barbeque belt.” Into a little slow-smoked experimentation of your own? Restaurant-grade smokers and grills are great, but you can get great results at home with using your slow cooker and secret ingredients - like your favorite soda.

Asian influence has certainly been felt in the Big City, and when the weather turns blustery, ramen shops are packed with eager noodle fans. Rising to the top—and possibly even taking home this year’s Munchies award in one of the most popular categories—are Ippudo  and Ivan Ramen, where the carefully tended broths and hush-hush ingredient lists produce steaming bowls that rival those of traditional ramen shops. Munchies panelist Jenn Louis notes: “How awesome is it that delicious broth is revived!”

Peter Colon of Ippudo offers his definition of the perfect bowl: “The perfect bowl of ramen needs to be hot, like scalding hot. It also needs to have fresh noodles, and it needs to be balanced. Whether it's shoyutonkotsu, or shio ramen, it's difficult to achieve the right balance of flavors. It can be too strong, too bland, too oily. The broth needs to constantly be cared for in order to strike the perfect balance.” (This quote—and a lot of great ramen 101 info—can be found in The Daily Meal's article on America's Best Ramen Shops.)

Chef Ivan Rokin of Ivan Ramen achieved the impossible for an American: a successful ramen shop in the heart of Tokyo, where the passion for ramen is matched only by a fervor for authenticity. His New York restaurants, as described in “Eater New York”, reflect his take on what’s sometimes Japan’s junk food: refined, flavorful, crafted. “I just made it up. I ate a lot of ramen, thought about it all the time, and figured out what I liked the most. Then I decided to do what I figured would be my favorite ramen.”

Finding your favorite ramen is easier than you think—and you’re not limited to the salt-laden store version. Make your own ramen noodles, and experiment with chicken, beef, and other house-special touches. (Or, there’s always the ramen-as-delivery-vehicle technique too.)

Even the taco, the ultimate high/low handheld meal, has been claimed by New Yorkers as one of their own. The city’s entry in the Munchies Best Taco category, Empellon Taqueria, explores all possible avenues that Mexican cuisine can bring to the simple taco, including a full spectrum of moles flavored with everything from avocado leaves to chocolate to cinnamon.

Want to get your taco on? Check out these recipes for having tacos morning, noon and night for 24/7 fiesta flavor. And don't forget to vote for the Munchies Best Taco while you're at it!  

Which city deserves to win this year’s title of Best Food City? Cast your votes Monday February 23rd and vote daily through March 31st, 2015.