In honor of 10 years of Pop.Bop.Shop., each month this year I have been sharing a Top 10 list of my best discoveries of the past decade. In case you missed any of the earlier round ups, you can check them out here:
- Top 10: Brunch Spots
- Top 10: Viewing Party Moments
- Top 10: Favorite Books
- Top 10: Outdoor Dining Spots
- Top 10: Dog-Friendly Spots
- Top 10: Cape Cod Spots
- Top 10: Martha's Vineyard Musts
- Top 10: Ice Cream Favorites
Today, September 29, is my 35th birthday, so it seemed only right to share my favorite birthday meals!
It's no secret that I am very into my birthday. I would make it an internationally recognized holiday if I could. My family and friends are amazing at indulging me in this obsession. Over the years, I have had some epic meals, so it was incredibly tough to narrow this down to just ten.
We'll do this David Letterman-style, starting with #10 and working our way up to #1.
10. Spillover (Miami, FL)
I celebrated my 33rd birthday at the Spillover in Miami, FL with my mom and cousin (who was visiting from Israel).
My favorite dish at Spillover is the buffalo cauliflower, drenched in blue cheese dressing.
They also make dozens of great burgers and sandwiches.
A major bonus: they let you order half regular fries, half sweet potato fries!
If you find yourself in Miami, Spillover is in the heart of Coconut Grove, near great shops, a movie theater and Bianco Gelato, a Galler family go-to.
9. Eataly (Boston, MA)
In 2017, I celebrated my birthday with some of my best friends from college at Eataly. The Boston location had recently opened and we couldn't wait to explore (and eat our faces off).
We had a cheese-tastic meal at La Pizza & La Pasta.
To this day, the cacio e pepe at Eataly is still my favorite.
After dinner, we wandered over to the gelato counter for dessert. I went with half salted caramel, half dark chocolate.
It's a good thing I don't live in this neighborhood, because if I did, I'd be ordering gelato every night!
8. Fi'lia (Miami, FL)
My mother is the ultimate Miami concierge and she couldn't wait to take me to Fi'lia when it opened. She organized an evening for me, her, my sister and two of my cousins. The hostess walked us to a big round booth, perfect for chatting and sharing plates.
Fi'lia makes wonderful veggie dishes and they toss their Caesar salad tableside, just like the guacamole at Rosa Mexicano.
We loved the savory dishes and were equally thrilled with dessert - two kinds of ice cream sandwiches, cut up to share. I didn't mind the sparklers either!
This is such a happy memory.
7. Barcelona Wine Bar (Brookline, MA)
Back in 2015, one of my New Year's resolutions was to experience the Bloody Mary bar at Barcelona Wine Bar. Though I had been many times for dinner, I'd never gone for brunch. So, I decided to rally my girls and make that the location of my b-day celebration.
The Bloody bar was even more impressive than I was expecting. Tons of options.
We had eggs, patatas bravas, frosting-topped muffins and more.
Even though it was only 11:00am, it's never too early for cake! Our server brought a molten chocolate cake with a candle.
Here's a shot of all the ladies just as we were finishing the meal.
6. Blue Dragon (Boston, MA)
Last year, I toasted to 34 with one of my best friends from college at Chef Ming Tsai's Blue Dragon. She has a stunning garden at home and brought a vase of fresh flowers to decorate our table.
We had tiki drinks and shared a cornucopia of appetizers.
To finish, we ordered the signature dessert, the skillet chocolate chip cookie.
I was definitely feeling the birthday glow.
5. Myers + Chang (Boston, MA)
Myers + Chang is just one of those special occasion places. I have gone there to celebrate so many things - engagements, promotions, kicking a bad illness - you name it. Last year, I went with one of of my oldest and dearest friends to share a meal in honor of my 34th.
She had arranged for the hostess to bring me a special menu that shouted "Happy birthday!" right on the top.
We had cocktails, including my favorite there, the Bloodlust. It's a blood orange margarita was a sriracha salt rim.
We feasted on a half a dozen savory dishes (it's impossible not to over-order there).
The grand finale was a slice of birthday cake, topped with rainbow sprinkles and two candles.
I was one happy girl.
4. Doc B's Fresh Kitchen (Miami, FL)
My cousin went to college with the owner of Doc B's, so before it even opened, she was hyping us up. The day we decided to check it out, I shot her a quick text to let her know, and I had no idea what magic she was working behind the scenes.
We had the most delicious lunch - sweet potato chips and guacamole, salads and sandwiches.
As we were getting ready to leave, the manager came over and said, "I heard we're celebrating a birthday today." Before I had time to verbally respond, a fleet of servers appeared, each carrying a different dessert. My jaw was on the floor!
3. Alden & Harlow (Cambridge, MA)
Chef Michael Scelfo's Alden & Harlow has become one of my favorite spots in Harvard Square. Whenever someone suggests meeting up in that neighborhood, this is always my first suggestion.
I've actually celebrated my birthday here several years in a row! I love to sit in the section with the plant wall.
My must-have veggie dishes are the charred broccoli with butternut squash hummus and the Verrill Farm corn pancakes.
Though I don't eat meat, the Alden burger is legendary.
Of all the b-day meals I've had here, the most special memory was when my parents and sister came to town. We sat at a high top table right in front of the open kitchen. As we were wrapping the meal, Chef Scelfo surprised us with two beautiful desserts.
And yes, I am wearing a sequin sweatshirt.
2. Cuchi Cuchi (Cambridge, MA)
In 2010, 12 of my closest girlfriends joined me at Cuchi Cuchi in Central Square in Cambridge, MA to celebrate. The restaurant doesn't take reservations (not even for large parties), so we started the evening with cocktails at the bar.
Once our table was ready, we ordered nearly every small plate on the menu! I don't remember most of what we ate, but I do remember laughing the entire meal.
At dessert, our server brought out an enormous candle and placed it right in front of me. Behind him, the rest of the dining room staff was singing and waving tambourines. It was amazing.
There was a chocolate cake for dessert (are you sensing a theme here?) for a sugar rush just before we headed across the street to dance the night away at the Phoenix Landing.
1. Giulia (Cambridge, MA)
When I started drafting this list, I already knew my meal at the Giulia pasta table was going to be #1.
Over the summer of 2016, my parents asked me to think about what I wanted to do for my birthday, their treat. I had heard that Giulia offered reservations at their pasta table, which is directly in front of the open kitchen.
I researched it, and they only take reservations two months in advance. You can select the five-course of seven-course menu, and you have the option to pair with wine.
We booked the table, and my parents and sister flew up from Miami. We were also joined by several of my best friends.
Every single course was divine.
For dessert, they brought not one, not two, not three, but four cakes!
I was radiating joy that entire night.
Many of the friends who were at that dinner still say it was the best meal they've ever had.
And there you have it! My Top 10 birthday meals.
Do you have a go-to special occasion place? I'd love to hear where you celebrate.