Here are a few—OK, a lot—of our favorite things about 2011.

Food critic Mike Sula was among the privileged few to score a seat at all three iterations of Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas’s genre-shifting Next—and ventured off the beaten track for more modest (but no less delectable) fare, such as the humble pies of Bridgeport’s Pleasant House Bakery.

Culture editor Tony Adler, in determining the year’s top ten plays, reached the realization that 2011 left him “overwhelmed by actors and acting” (that’s a good thing) and delivered a comedy “exceptional enough to qualify as a masterpiece.” And we have not one but two top-ten movie lists, one from film critic Ben Sachs (who chose an “urgent work of art” as his favorite film of 2011) and one from film editor J.R. Jones (we think you’ll be more than a little surprised by his number-two pick).

Over on the B Side, music critic Peter Margasak overcomes his skepticism of supergroups and honors a 63-year-old former James Brown impersonator on his top-10 albums of 2011 list, while music critic Miles Raymer uses the occasion to highlight some of his favorite things to happen in the music world in 2011, from the birth of Spotify to R&B getting weird. Staff writer Kevin Warwick picks his favorite instrumental rock albums, songs, and moments of 2011 (including a show literally on the road), and music editor Philip Montoro picks his five favorite live metal experiences—happily suffering his first mosh-pit welt in 15 years.

You’ve got a lot to live up to, 2012. —Mara Shalhoup