The rules were simple: the venue had to have opened in 2018 and the dish or drink had to be one our writers or photographers couldn’t stop thinking about.

Sho, CBD: Beef sando
Daniela Frangos, Adelaide editor
It’s not hyperbole to say a good sandwich is one of life’s great pleasures. And Adelaide isn’t lacking for fine examples. But Sho’s no-frills beef sando is a standout. The simple line-up of plump skewered meatball, karashi mustard, pickled onion and lunchbox white bread takes me back to primary-school sausage sizzles (if a star chef had been behind the grill). Add some first-class yakitori and sake on tap and you’re set.

Maison Clement, CBD: Custard tart slice
Tomas Telegramma, acting Adelaide editor
The sign reads “custard tart slice”. I like custard tarts. But I was not prepared for this. Clement Labaere’s flan pâtissier is criminally good. The pastry: faultlessly flaky. The custard: creamy as all hell. And the caramelisation keeps on humming in the back of your throat for many heavenly minutes afterwards. I’ve never asked if this “slice” can be purchased as a whole, uninterrupted disc because – frankly – I’m scared what would become of it.

Metta Sol, Goodwood: Dumplings
Morgan Sette, photographer
The dumplings were made fresh, in front of me, and melted in my mouth. This place is run by two of the nicest humans I’ve come across, serving up the best vegan food I’ve had in a long time.

My Grandma Ben, Bowden: Hash browns
Tomas Telegramma, acting Adelaide editor
The Macca’s hash browns of your shamefully hungover Sunday mornings, these are not. Trade up. Jessie Spiby’s deep-fried shredded-potato cubes are impossibly crisp, salty AF, and a sure-fire distraction from every single other item on your plate. I think about them often. Perhaps they should be yanked from the “sides” section and earn a spot on the menu proper.

Little Khmer Kitchen, CBD: Coconut-water caramelised-pork stew
Sarah Lawrie, photographer
Sreymom “Mom” Lund’s kor saik chrouk needs to be devoured. It’s a hearty dish that encompasses the best flavours of Khmer cooking – including Kampot pepper straight from Cambodia. It takes me straight back to the streets of Phnom Penh.

Sho, CBD: Ramen
Josie Withers, photographer
I’ve spent a lot of time in Tokyo so I’m a sucker for good ramen. Sho’s miso-chicken version packs a punch. The chicken is so tender and the broth is on point. Oh, and the egg. I love the chilled, intimate vibe here, too.

Orso, Rose Park: Market fish with Ciao XO
Tomas Telegramma, acting Adelaide editor
When Andre Ursini first described this dish to me ahead of Orso’s opening, I was sold. Instantly. Actually eating it became a mere formality. A whole fish arrives at the table, slathered in Ciao XO (Ursini: “It’s like an XO sauce, but made with Italian ingredients”, such as air-dried tuna, anchovy and pancetta). In the moment I wonder if there’s a better seasoning for fish than this somehow-subtle fishy-salty-meaty threesome? I think not. First make sure your dining companions are pro-double dipping. Then wield your forks and go absolutely nuts.

Bistro Blackwood, CBD: Fire-pit smoked pumpkin
Daniela Frangos, Adelaide editor
If 2017 was the year of whole-roasted cauliflower then 2018 is all about pumpkin. You’ll find some version of it on every second menu around town. But Jock Zonfrillo’s sweet-and-smoky rendition is a knockout. So much so it’s earned Bistro Blackwood a rule-breaking mention – it opened in late 2017. Backed by a line-up of crisp fried saltbush, macadamia and rainbow chard, Zonfrillo’s iteration is a deeply satisfying and flavourful all-veg dish for even the hardiest meat-eater.

Acacia, Henley Beach: Adult “Crunchy Nut cornflakes”
Alyssa Fletcher, writer
This seaside cafe produces elegant, experimental dishes, with the occasional brunch degustation. Earlier this year I trialled the adult version of Crunchy Nut cornflakes: honey ice-cream, fresh mango, freeze-dried corn kernels, honeycomb and cornflakes, served with a refreshing cocktail of Amaro Nonino and chamomile.

Charlotte Dalton’s 2017 Love Me Love You Shiraz
Daniela Frangos, Adelaide editor
Shiraz isn’t my go-to red but this little number from Basket Range winemaker Charlotte Hardy (who bottles under the name Charlotte Dalton) resists the grape’s big, bold reputation for a seriously smashable drop. I downed the whole bottle myself over dinner at Botanic Gardens Restaurant. The fruity nectar tastes of summery red berries – more shiraz like this, please.

Hellbound, CBD: Mystery pour
Alyssa Fletcher, writer
If, like me, you’re an adventurous but indecisive drinker, Hellbound’s $13 mystery pour takes the agony out of choosing a glass of wine. This past winter I took a lucky dip and ended up with a juicy glass of Ochota Barrels pinot noir.

Travis Tausend's Joy Riesling
Nick Connellan, publications director
Travis Tausend is a young, self-taught winemaker based in the Adelaide Hills, where he benefits from a likeminded community of zero-sulphur rockstars, including Gareth Belton of Gentle Folk, Anton van Klopper of Lucy Margaux and James Erskine of Jauma. This wine is a big departure from the searing, laser-like acidity found in many Australian rieslings. To me, it tastes like nothing less than a mouthful of fizzy liquid sherbet.

West, Henley Beach: The Capitano
Josie Withers, photographer
The cocktails here are the best. Right now I love the Capitano (Campari, Aperol, watermelon, mezcal honey and soda). I hope it stays on all summer long. Wine-wise, my favourite is the Delinquente bianco pét-nat. It’s fun, quirky and refreshing.

Prohibition Tasting Room, CBD
Meaghan Coles, photographer
One of my favourite industrial warehouse bars specialising in my favourite spirit – gin. They do a great tasting paddle so you can sip on and compare the Prohibition range.