In January, when I celebrated 10 years of Pop.Bop.Shop., I asked you, my amazing readers, what you'd like to see here on the blog in 2019 and several people suggested a series of Top 10 lists showcasing my best discoveries over the past decade.
I was so inspired by that brilliant recommendation, that I made it one of my New Year's resolutions, committing to sharing a new ranking every month this year.
We're going to do this David Letterman-style, starting with #10 and working our way up to #1.
10. The Woolworth (Dallas, TX)
Last summer, I flew to Dallas, TX for work. It was my first time there (I was desperately hoping for a Mark Cuban sighting) and though I found the downtown area pretty uninspiring, the bright spot was a restaurant called The Woolworth.
I found it on Eater.com, on a list called "14 Essential Downtown Dallas Restaurants." We asked to sit outside, and were walked to a table on the roof deck. Our seats were right on the edge, overlooking a park down below that is home to one of Dallas' most peculiar sculptures, the eyeball.
After a stressful work day at a client event, we were thrilled to be sitting down for cocktails and dinner. The portions at The Woolworth are huge (no complaints here).
There is even an item on the dessert menu called the colossal chocolate cake, which of course we had to order.
This meal wound up being our favorite memory from the trip, and if I'm ever in Dallas again, The Woolworth is going to be my first stop!
9. The Engine Room (Mystic, CT)
Sigh. Mystic. I love it so much. If you haven't been, Mystic is a charming, seaside town in Connecticut. It's about a two-hour drive from Boston, and it's worth every minute in the car.
I have a long list of Mystic go-to spots, but the top of that list is a restaurant called The Engine Room.
It's on a quiet street, an offshoot of the main drag downtown, and the most blissful place to enjoy a meal there is on their deck out front.
The food at The Engine Room is incredible. From salads to burgers to chicken and waffles, everyone has a favorite dish they keep coming back for.
8. 1-800-Lucky (Miami, FL)
I went to 1-800-Lucky for the first time in July 2018. My parents had gone a few weeks prior, and texted me from the table that they wanted me to experience it on my next visit.
1-800-Lucky is essentially an Asian-themed food hall. When you enter from the street, there is a big room, lined with vendor stalls along the perimeter. You order from as many as you like, and you get a buzzer to be alerted when your food is ready (last time I was holding five buzzers).
Not only is the food amazing, but they have a big, spacious, outdoor patio. It gets pretty crowded, so you have to be aggressive about snagging chairs, but it's worth it.
The patio is also the ideal spot to enjoy a fish cone from Taiyaki NYC, which opened in Boston this weekend!
At night, the patio turns into more of a club vibe. That's not my scene at all, but if you're into drinking and dancing until the sun comes up, you can do that here too.
Since that first visit last summer, I think I've been back four times? I try to sneak a trip there into every Miami weekend.
7. Branch Line (Watertown, MA)
How could I make a list of the best outdoor dining spots and not include my local favorite, Branch Line? Since it opened in 2015, I have been a loyal, happy diner, enjoying dozens of meals on the patio each summer.
Branch Line is part of the same restaurant group as Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, the Hawthorne and Row 34, all places with a reputation for excellence in their beverage programs, culinary chops, and approach to hospitality and the guest experience.
Branch Line is famous for their snap pea salad. I have to get it every time.
No matter what I order, I always get the fried potatoes with rosemary and parmesan as a side.
I'm also addicted to their sweet cream ice cream with caramel and hazelnuts. You know it has to be off the charts if I am recommending something that isn't chocolate.
In the summer, Branch Line also has bocce courts and a recurring outdoor music series. You can find me there basically all the time.
6. Michael's Harborside (Newburyport, MA)
Michael's Harborside is everything great about New England summer.
People roll up after a day at the beach or out on their boats and sip ice cold beers on the roof deck while digging into appetizers like fried pickles, spinach and artichoke dip (in a bread bowl!) or mussels.
The roof deck overlooks the harbor, offering a gorgeous view from every seat.
Whenever a friend suggests we go to Michael's, my reply is always, "Yes! When?"
5. Rama's Kitchen (Nataf, Israel)
Have you ever had a dining experience so special, that while it's happening, you start to realize nothing may ever top it? That was how I felt at Rama's Kitchen in Israel.
That restaurant is in a town called Nataf, which is about 12 miles west of Jerusalem in the Judean Hills.
In my original blog post, I wrote, "The setting is so picturesque and the views are so expansive that it just doesn't seem real."
Rama's specializes in farm-to-table food and grows most of the herbs and veggies on site. You can actually see the rows and rows of beds from most seats in the dining area.
Every plate of food I tasted that day was so fresh. Here is a photo of our first course: taboon bread (a popular Middle Eastern style), olives, chickpeas and a trio of spreads.
It gets very hot in Israel, especially in the summer, so Rama's has misters!
This summer, Rama's will re-open after coming back from a devastating fire. I am so happy they are able to welcome visitors again.
4. The Canteen (Provincetown, MA)
I grew up going to Cape Cod every summer, and it's still one of my most treasured family rituals. In 2018, we discovered a new restaurant in Provincetown, The Canteen.
It's right on Commercial Street, the bustling, pedestrian playground of P-town.
Though you can't see it from the street, behind the storefront (where you place your order) is a huge backyard that goes all the way to the beach.
We watched the moon rise over the ocean while we were sipping our drinks.
The Canteen also has a killer view of the Provincetown monument.
I would have been thrilled just to hang out at The Canteen for drinks, but I'm so glad we decided to have dinner there too, because otherwise I never would have discovered they make a vegetarian version of fish and chips! They use mushrooms instead and it is so delicious.
We are headed to Cape Cod the third week of July this year, and I am already counting down to our return trip to The Canteen.
3. Birba (Palm Springs, CA)
I have so many happy memories from my vacation in Palm Springs, CA last summer, and one of the happiest was our dinner at Birba.
The Italian restaurant has a beautiful outdoor patio, lined with tall shrubs. It feels like you're in a secret garden.
Twinkle lights hang over the dining area, giving it that magical glow.
We loved every single thing we tried. Here are a few shots of the stand out dishes.
Our waitress that evening was awesome, and she surprised us by delivering a birthday dessert (complete with candle) straight to the gal at our table we were all there to celebrate.
I can't wait to go back to Palm Springs (I think about it constantly) and a repeat trip to Birba will absolutely be happening.
2. Lido (Miami, FL)
Whenever someone reaches out to me for Miami restaurants recommendations, especially someone visiting for the first time, the very first place I send them is Lido, the outdoor restaurant at The Standard Hotel in Miami Beach.
Lido is quintessential Miami: on the water, outdoor seating, and bright decor.
If your table is right on the edge of the patio, you're so close to the water it almost feels like you're on a boat.
I love their brunch (prepare to drool), but it's truly worth it to visit at any time of day.
I shared my first meal there with my parents, in one of their many attempts to get me to move there. Because of Lido, it almost worked.
1. Derech Hagefen (Jerusalem, Israel)
As soon as I decided on this theme for the April list, I already knew which restaurant would be in the number one spot. Back in May 2013, my aunt and cousin took me out to lunch at Derech Hagefen in Jerusalem and I was completely blown away. If you ask them, they would recount for you how my jaw was hanging down in awe the entire time.
The restaurant is located in a neighborhood called Beit Zait, adjacent to the Jerusalem forest.
We sat on the patio among the blooming flowers and trees, breathing in the sweetest smelling air.
Derech Hagefen has champagne and sparkling rosé at the ready, which I greatly appreciated.
We had salads for lunch, which were topped with the most generous portion of goodies.
Revisit my original post to see the unrivaled beauty of this setting.
I also want to take a moment to say that my aunt and cousin always plan the most incredible adventures for me when I visit. I have been lucky enough to go to Israel five times in the past 10 years, and as soon as I land, they are ready with the itinerary - shops, craft fairs, museums, dinners out, and of course, dessert. They are the ultimate tour guides and I am so grateful for them.
That brings us to the end of the list! I hope this post got you in the mood for all the al fresco dining that's to come once the warmer weather arrives (no more rain, please!).
I have several themes in mind for future Top 10 lists, but if there's one you'd really like to see, please leave your request in the comments below or shoot me an email at molly(at)popbopshopblog(dot)com. I love hearing from you!