Slideshow: Staff Picks: The Best Things We Ate in September

Brisket Sandwich at Pal's Takeaway, San Francisco
Brisket Sandwich at Pal's Takeaway, San Francisco

It's hard to find the same thing twice at Pal's Takeaway in San Francisco's Mission district (we wrote about it before, but now it's got a more permanent location), but if you happen upon a day when he's serving up Dave's House-Smoked Brisket, don't pass it up. Last time, he served it on crusty Firebrand rolls with a spicy herbed slaw, roasted cherry tomato relish, and russian dressing. You probably won't see that particular combination again, but I've never had anything from Pal's that wasn't downright delicious, if not a bit quirky. I ate over 40 sandwiches in San Francisco this month, and this was the best of the best.—Kenji Lopez Alt, Chief Creative Officer

[Photograph: Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Chicken Thigh Flautas at Belly Shack, Chicago
Chicken Thigh Flautas at Belly Shack, Chicago

Though you can never quite predict what Belly Shack will next have on its menu (hot dogs, jibaritos, and chicken wings?), I've learned to just accept whatever the special is and order it. But the general excellence of the food here didn't prepare me for the flautas. Three tortillas are wrapped up with shredded chicken thigh and fried until crisp. While great, it's what they are sitting on they had me most intrigued. The refried beans are mixed with the restaurant's Belly Smoke sauce, a smoky and spicy chipotle hot sauce. It was only a special when I visited, but I called to make sure it would be available this weekend. —Nick Kindelsperger, Chicago Editor

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Shawarma at Souk el Shater, Queens
Shawarma at Souk el Shater, Queens

The shawarma at Souk el Shater is some of the best I've ever eaten: incredibly juicy with deep, caramelized char from its long ride on the spit, and a smart hand taken to the spicing. The white and dark chicken meat gets a more subtle rub, but the beef shawarma is loaded with sweet spices that stand their ground against the shop's garlic and chili sauces, which are mandatory add-ons to this plate of rotisserie meat.—Max Falkowitz, NY Editor

Caption. [Max Falkowitz]

Grilled Ribeye at Ox, Portland, OR
Grilled Ribeye at Ox, Portland, OR

I don't order steak that often, but when you're at a new-wave Argentinian steakhouse with huge hand-cranked grills pulsing over an open flame, it would be a shame to skip the main attraction. And I'm so glad I didn't, because my ribeye at Ox in Portland was beautiful in every sense of the word—the steak, which is basted in its own fat, salt, and herbs, is cooked on an angle to achieve the maximum amount of salty crust, while leaving the inside pink and tender. It came with the restaurant's delicious homemade chimichurri, but the meat spoke for itself. —Jamie Feldmar, Managing Editor

[Photograph: Jamie Feldmar]

Pizza at Roberta's, Brooklyn
Pizza at Roberta's, Brooklyn

I can't imagine a better summer send-off than the Family Jewels from Roberta's. That absurdly vibrant array of heirloom tomatoes are just as tender and sweet as they look, nestled into fresh mozzarella and sprinkled with basil and crisp prosciutto breadcrumbs. I have a feeling I'll be fantasizing about this pie all winter long.—Niki Achitoff-Gray, Associate Editor

[Photograph: Niki Achitoff-Gray]

Grapes from Buzzard Crest Vineyards, New York
Grapes from Buzzard Crest Vineyards, New York

The grapes sold by Buzzard Crest Vineyards at the Greenmarket at 77th and Columbus on Sundays. Seedless varieties I had never heard of before: Marquis, Himrod, Canadice, are sweet as candy with just enough acid to perfectly round out the flavor. They're from the Fingerlakes region in upstate NYC, so I fear the cold weather will bring on frost, which will mean no more grapes from Buzzard until next year. I hope I'm wrong. —Ed Levine, SE Founder & Overlord

[Photograph: Jamie Feldmar]

Eggs Stanley at Stanley, New Orleans
Eggs Stanley at Stanley, New Orleans

I spent a long weekend in New Orleans and, more or less, overdosed on oysters: raw, charbroiled, fried—didn't matter, as long as they made their way into my stomach. I snagged a couple at almost every meal. The most memorable, however, was the Eggs Stanley, at a late brunch at Stanley. Decidedly not the best food of my trip, it may well have been the best meal, encompassing everything a brunch should be: a cocktail to clear the cobwebs of the night before, hearty, restorative food, and conversation with a couple of old friends.—Paul Cline, Developer

[Photograph: Paul Cline]

Lobster Rolls at Red's Eats, Wiscasset, ME
Lobster Rolls at Red's Eats, Wiscasset, ME

In Maine for a friend's wedding last weekend, my boyfriend and I stopped at Red's Eats, a lobster shack on the water in Wiscasset. Their lobster roll is the main event, with each perfectly toasted bun topped with freshly shucked meat from a whole 1 lb. lobster and then some, with butter or mayo on the side. Unable to decide between fried scallops or fried whole clams, we went with both, not something I regret. Red's is one of these places that always has a line, but we found it to be worth the wait and then some. —Ben Fishner, Ad Ops Admin

[Photograph: Ben Fishner]