Best Of 2003

Best Soul Food: Del Monico's Diner

It's almost not right to categorize the cafeteria-style offerings at Del Monico's as "food." That word tends to imply something in solid form, whereas everything at Del Monico's goes down the gullet like heavenly mush. Of course that's how it should be with soul staples such as mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, peach cobbler and mac-'n'-cheese -- just four of the items on the menu that could bring world peace if given the chance -- but the meat loaf, for example, may as well be meat loaf pudding. Sucking the oxtail off its bone is like slurping ice cream off its cone, and the bread pudding would pass for custard in a blind taste test. The fried chicken -- the only call of duty for your incisors and bicuspids -- pulls a trompe la bouche of its own; every time you bite into it anticipating gristle or bone, your teeth bear down on (wuzzat?) more perfect white meat and impeccable crust. This place is down-home magic, pure and simple.

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