There are lists to wank off other lists in this city about the places you must eat before you die. Obviously, if you don’t eat that $64 roast chicken (feeds two! lol!) from Zuni, upon your death, St. Peter is going to check you out, give you the big thumbs down, and then you’re screwed. If only you’d eaten that $64 chicken before you overdosed on expired Four Loko… Ass.

We here at The Tender aren’t going to resort to theatrics and we’re not going to tell you where you must eat before you… uh… move somewhere else or something. Instead, here are a couple of dishes that you should give a try to this year, you know, if you’re in the mood:

  • Chim Quay (roasted squab) at Bodega Bistro, which can be a bit off-putting as the full head and legs are included, but the glaze coating is just irresistible. Not a very extensive menu, but with a couple of gems and a sometimes hilariously lively atmosphere on weekends.
  • Meatball Sandwich at Hoang Dat, juicy and simply delicious. Sure, officially it’s a coffee shop, but it’s also a maker of tasty bahn mi.
  • Pad Kra Prow (meat with basil and “special sauce”) at Lers Ros. Solid Thai food which we like to proclaim the best in the hood. Anything with basil is a winner as well as anything with coconut milk and anything spicy while we’re at it.
  • Karahi Chicken at Lahore Karahi, the perfect balance of spices, tomato and creaminess. Yeah, even though Christmas has passed, you could still go down there and experience opening up Valentine’s Day in your mouth, which sounds no end of foul, but would probably still be delicious.
  • Bread Pudding with caramel and seasonal fruits at Hooker’s Sweet Treats. We like sweet stuff and despite being tea nerds, Sightglass makes for a great coffee to go with it.
  • Al Pastor Burrito at Tesoro, nicely marinated, fast and really close to our place. Still slapping out those tasty burritos and probably even decent wings albeit I still find the later to be a crime against nature.
  • Ga/bo/tom’ Xao Lang (curry and meat stir fry) at Pagolac. The crowds have died down which means that you totally win with being able to get a table pretty easily, but fucking hell, if I see one more review about the Seven Flavors of Beef, I’m going to start vomiting chicken. Try more of the menu people!
  • Water Fried Buns (Happy Dumplings) at Little Saigon Cafe, made in house by the owner. If you don’t know that you go there for the Happy Dumplings, then you just haven’t been. In other words, go.
  • $0.99 Tacos at El Castillito Taqueria, very tasty and with nice chunks of good meat in spite of its great price. Not to be confused with the other tacos at the other castle joints.
  • Biscuits at Brenda’s, so buttery, so flaky, so hmmmm… Yeah baby, and now Brenda’s is even bigger than it was before.
  • Knaffe at Saha, which is a delicious pile of phyllo paste that they serve either as a main dish with mushrooms and cheese, or as a syrupy and decadent dessert. Yeah, it’s not the cheapest, but damn diddly if it ain’t tasty. Get your Yemenese on.
  • Chicken curry dog at Showdogs. You got some curry, you got some nice sausage. I see that being a much more harmonious combo than a “sushirrito“.

You have suggestions of your own must-have dishes in the Tenderloin? Toss ’em in below!