Best Of 2021

Staff Pick — Best New Carbs: Deli Desires
Photo by Rob Bartlett

Most of Orlando learned what a bialy is last year, when Hannah Jaffe and Nathan Sloan schooled us deliciously. This non-boiled, malt-free cousin of the bagel has a dimple, not a hole, and Jaffe and Sloan fill theirs with either caramelized onions or a smoked jalapeño-and-Muenster mix.

They also deal in — and we do mean deal; this stuff is borderline addictive — an unkosher and undaunted menu of labneh and gravlax, latkes and scrapple, challah and gribiche-style egg salad, all of it embellished with lashings of Manischewitz-shallot butter and Duke's mayo. (And that's just the regular menu — specials tend toward the baroque, like a matzo brei tortilla española or a Campari-grapefruit chess pie.)

This fearless mix of Jewish deli, Southern comfort, and L.A. edgy makes sense when you dig into the pair's past: Jaffe cooked with Sqirl's Jessica Koslow and Top Chef Michael Voltaggio, while Sloan worked with Beard Award winners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo at their Los Angeles seafood joint, Son of a Gun. Despite those West Coast pedigrees, Jaffe and Sloan met at the Hideaway Bar and got married at Redlight Redlight, which is, just about the most Orlando thing ever. And now their food is too, and we're delighted to eat it all up. (

Staff Pick — Best Dining Trend: Normalizing takeout
Photo by Rob Bartlett

As your grandma may have said to you, it's an ill wind that blows no good at all. And while a global pandemic may be the illest wind of any of our lives, it has led to a few small adjustments to the norm that are welcome. For instance, the widespread necessity of working from home means far fewer cars doing the daily commute, leading to cleaner air. Another unintended but overdue change to our everyday situation has been the rapid expansion of restaurants' delivery, takeout and drive-through services. While none of these are new options, never before has there been such panoply of dishes available to enjoy at home — from ramen to cocktails to ice cream, even fine dining. We were even able to get proper wine with a to-go meal, which is oh so civilized. Menus have been optimized, employees have been trained, and pickup, delivery and drive-through are no longer dirty words, no matter the price tag. It's a welcome development, not just in pandemic lockdown times, but for anyone who might not be able to sit in a restaurant due to disability or illness. Here's hoping it sticks around.