Sorry, guys, when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, celebrities will not become immortal, bad people will still do suitably bad things and "Hamilton" won't be at the Hobby Center until next season. But as much as my buddies on social media seemed to think it sucked to be alive in 2016, I had a year of damn fine eating.

Admittedly, I don't have much data to which I can compare—2016 was my first full year in Houston. What I do know is how difficult it was to comb through the hundreds of restaurant meals I ate this year, then cull my initial list of 20 to a mere 10 plates. And that's just dishes that were entirely new (not just new to me, which is still pretty much everything I eat), and not consumed at a special event or at a restaurant that has since closed or lost its chef responsible for a notable meal. In fact, all of the dishes in this slide show are currently available for you to graze on at will.

What separated from the chaff surprised me. In a year when seemingly everything that opened was part of a chain originating from outside Houston, the top 10 all came from local businesses. Some are new items at old favorites, but most are exceptional eats from restaurants that opened in 2016. I didn't make a conscious effort to choose dishes of great ethnic diversity, but as you'll see, that's just Houston's magic. So as we embark on 2017, let's reflect on how perhaps the one we're leaving wasn't such a bad year after all.

In that spirit, I also want to give credit to my 10 runners up:

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