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Restaurant Insiders on the Single Best Meals of 2013

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 Restaurant Breakups; so far, we've looked at top restaurant standbys, top newcomers , had the writers sum up the year in one word, pick the dining neighborhoods and biggest dining surprises of 2013. All will be answered by the time we pop open the bubbly on New Year's Eve.

Readers, please do add your own answers in the comments.

Q: What was the single best meal of 2013?

Troy Johnson, dining critic, San Diego Magazine: Addison Grand Tasting Menu. I don't own enough islands to dine there often. But it changed me.

Erin Jackson, San Diego city editor, DiningOut Magazine: Donald Lockhart wowed me with an enviable spread of composed comfort food at Cusp, from the always tasty pepperoni rolls, to flatbread pizzas, candy cane beet salad with sliced pear, marmalade, and deep-fried, peppercorn-studded, goat cheese fritters, plus mixed berry pie topped with an oatmeal raisin cookie crust for dessert. Bartender Nate Howell's "Office With a View" and "Ron Burgundy" cocktails were equally delicious. If I could re-live one meal from 2013 in an infinite loop, it would be that one.

[Photo: Addison]

Michael Gardiner, restaurant reviewer, San Diego CityBeat: Misión 19 in Tijuana. Thinking of it as "Baja Med" misses the point. Misión 19 proved to me that it is the best restaurant in our region, either side of the border. Full stop.

Michele Parente, features editor, U-T San Diego: Not to name drop, OK, I'm going to name drop: In the spring, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the inaugural Krug Champagne Tasting dinner in the private Krug dining room inside the kitchen of Guy Savoy in Las Vegas. The pairing was spectacular, obviously, and at that point, topped my "best of 2013" list. Until, that is, I attended the Krug dinner at Addison in the fall. Chef William Bradley's pairing was nothing short of genius, with masterful selections of seafoods and sauces that made the champagne come to life on your palate. Who expected our local kitchen icon to best – course for course – Guy Savoy himself? Bradley's Krug pairing catapulted to my meal-of-a-lifetime list. (Full disclosure: The U-T is owned by the owner of Addison.)

Amy T. Granite, freelance writer, @saysgranite: My food writing buddy Ian Pike and I were taco hunting one night and struck out, so we pulled a 180 and wound up at Pizzeria Mozza clad in jeans and hoodies like a couple of bums. But it didn't matter, we were treated like family, and from start to finish, the meal was exquisite. The chicken liver bruschetta was the single best dish I've eaten all year: livers were sauteed in brandy and finely chopped with the addition of parsley, garlic, capers and anchovies—topped off with a slice of guanciale. The pate came piled high, several inches off the olive-oiled toasts, which was, admittedly, an intimidating first impression. But the concoction was light and fluffy, undoubtedly bound together with lard, and what fell off the toast we gobbled up with our spoons all the while fantasizing about being served an additional bowl of the stuff. It was disgustingly good and might as well have been laced with PCP, because when the server asked how we liked it, I lost control of an arm and slapped him across the belly in a fit of jubilation! He didn't even flinch—I bet it happens on a nightly basis. I could go on and on about the lentils, pizza pies—and OMG the butterscotch budino with salted Spanish peanuts for dessert!—but I'll let everyone go and enjoy for themselves. Take my word for it, the food quality and preparations are top notch. San Diego is beyond lucky to have its own Mozza outpost.

Kristin Díaz de Sandi, Life & Food blog: A meal that has continued to linger in my mind throughout the entire year, was actually one of the first meals of 2013. My husband and I visited Corazón de Tierra in Valle de Guadalupe for his birthday in February, and each and every dish we were served left us in awe. The picturesque scenery of the hillside in the Valle, as well as their beautiful garden just ties in the whole experience. A couple of highlights from our six course meal were the roasted beets with green sauce, and foie gras dust, as well as the seared tuna with dried celery powder, greens, and fennel. Who am I kidding, all six courses were highlights, and that is why this meal continues to remain a lasting memory.

Ian Pike, food writer, San Diego Reader: Ceviche made from fish that I caught in La Jolla with my own hands. How's that for sustainable?


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