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Food Experts Share Top Restaurant Standbys of 2013

Prepkitchen Little Italy

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, food writers, reviewers and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions, from Meal of the Year to Top Newcomers. All will be answered by the time we pop open the bubbly on New Year's Eve. Responses are listed in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and unedited herein. Readers, please do add your own answers in the comments.

Q: What was your restaurant standby this year?

Troy Johnson, dining critic, San Diego Magazine: Prepkitchen Little Italy. Feels like you started drinking at a garage sale and your most talented friend said screw it and stuffed some Cotechino sausage in a squid and a dinner party broke out.

Kirk K, mmm-yoso blogger: The Original Sab E Lee (Linda Vista) for take-out, Santouka for ramen, Izakaya Sakura for Japanese, Sushi Tadokoro for sushi/sashimi, Mien Trung, Pho Lucky.

Michele Parente, features editor, U-T San Diego: Bice. Let me count the times -- When I wanted a guaranteed excellent meal. When I wanted cheese. When I wanted to impress out-of-town guests. When I wanted to feel like I was back in Italy. When I wanted to get intoxicated on Chef Francesca's homemade tomato jam. When I craved the molten pistachio cake. Just because.

Michael Gardiner, restaurant reviewer, San Diego CityBeat: Shino Sushi + Kappo. Their lunch specials offer high quality, top tier sushi at reasonable prices. The salmon, in particular, is to die for.

Erin Jackson, San Diego city editor, DiningOut Magazine: Things got very serious between me and Hodad's this year. The food is killer, the price is right, the service is friendly, and you can roll in wearing a hoodie covered in cat hair and still be the best-dressed person there. What's not to love?

Ian Pike, food writer, San Diego Reader: The guys at Pomegranate always treat me with neighborly kindness, and I probably ate at Pizzeria Luigi more than any other single spot.

Kristin Díaz de Sandi, Life & Food blog: Tacos, Tacos, Tacos. They are a true staple of mine. When not visiting my favorite spots in Baja, I frequent Tacos El Poblano in Chula Vista, probably more often than I should admit. It's the only taco spot in the Southbay that fires up their carne asada on charcoal grills, which makes all the difference. I dare you to walk in there and not inhale at least three tacos yourself. Their tortas and adobada pork tacos are a must try as well.

Amy T. Granite, freelance writer, @saysgranite: Looking back, it's like I was at a party every other night in 2013, making mornings a real bummer unless I was destined for the 19th Hole Café at the Balboa Park Golf Course. The back patio has killer views of the water, Downtown and Point Loma—not your every day, greasy-spoon atmosphere, though that's what it is. The chicken fried steak and eggs or biscuits and gravy is the way to roll (with perfectly crisp and greasy hash browns) and their homemade salsa verde is top notch—I bought some to take home with me once! No frills bloody marys are savory and spot-on every time, and a deal for $5. Food is consistent, prices seemingly haven't changed since the 80s and the waitresses are a real hoot, too—all Chatty Kathy's with a treasure trove of stories to share. One time I overheard my very favorite waitress, sweetly reminiscing about her son and how they'd used to smoke cigars on their front porch together. "When he was 12," she added at the end of the story. It's definitely my favorite place to nurse a hangover and giggle into the afternoon with friends.

Caron Golden, San Diego Foodstuff blogger: t's not trendy, but when I'm not dining "professionally" I am at either Spicy City or Dumpling Inn on Convoy. For me, Chinese food is comfort food and both restaurants are flavor kings!

Marcie Rothman, FoodbuzzSD: Supannee House of Thai for authentic food, including miang kam wraps and Thai sausage, and The 3rd Corner, Ocean Beach where the Prince Edward Island mussels are swell and the wine selections awesome.