Slideshow: Staff Picks: The Best Things We Ate All Year, 2013 Edition

Roast Goose Leg from Yat Lok in Hong Kong
Roast Goose Leg from Yat Lok in Hong Kong

Sometimes I think about how if I lived in Hong Kong I could eat this dish whenever I wanted. That thought is soon followed by dizziness and perhaps a trail of drool dripping out of the corner of my mouth, for my brain is unable to handle the prospect of a life that indulgent. Roast goose, what have you done to me?Robyn Lee, AHT Editor and Photographer

Yat Lok review »

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Whitefish Donburi at Ivan Ramen in NYC
Whitefish Donburi at Ivan Ramen in NYC

The Whitefish Donburi from Ivan Ramen's Slurp Shop was the most surprisingly delicious thing I've tasted all year. Warm rice mixed with homemade furikake and topped with flaked white fish, cucumber, scallion, and salmon roe. Stir it all up and each bite brings you a crazy burst of flavors and textures: sweet bonito flakes and crunchy fried onions coat bits of crisp cucumber. Hints of smoke come through from the whitefish, which melts into the rice. Salty salmon eggs burst against your tongue. It reminds me of the simple breakfast my Japanese grandmother used to serve us of white rice with jarred furikake and grilled cod roe, but with better balance, more excitement. (Sorry grandma.)—Kenji Lopez-Alt, Chief Creative Officer

[Photograph: Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Rabbit Three Ways at Glasserie, Brooklyn
Rabbit Three Ways at Glasserie, Brooklyn

Normally I'd agonize about a decision like this, but this year, the hands-down winner was easily Glasserie's epic rabbit three ways. At $72, it's not cheap, but though the menu calls it "for two," it's really for four. Tender rabbit legs are confit in duck fat, thick roulades of rabbit are grilled and sliced into meaty coins, and chunks of meat are stewed down in a sweet oniony stew, all served with a veritable smorgasboard of side dishes including flaky flatbread, pickled veggies, creamy chickpea mash, and sauces galore. It's a sumptuous spread topped only by the restaurant's gorgeous design.—Jamie Feldmar, Managing Editor

[Photograph: Gabi Porter]

Bagels and Bialys at Fred's in NYC
Bagels and Bialys at Fred's in NYC

I know this is going to sound weird, but the best bite I had in 2013 were the historically accurate, proper-sized bagels and bialys Mark Strausman is making at Fred's at Barney's department store. These bagels and bialys are everything you want them to be: the right size, the right amount of crunch on the exterior, and the right amount of chew on the inside. They're both feathery light. The bialys are so good they don't need to be toasted. In the mini-bialy revival we are witnessing in NY (Hot Bread Kitchen and the new owner of Kossar's are now making excellent bialys), Strausman's lead the pack. Their availability is kind of strange as well. Strausman only makes them on Sunday, so you can only get them by having brunch at Fred's or ordering a dozen by Friday for Sunday pick-up after 11.— Ed Levine, SE Founder and Overlord

[Photograph: Ben Jay]

Banh Chev in Ithaca, NY
Banh Chev in Ithaca, NY

The best thing I ate all year was a Banh Chev! It's a Khmer pancake that I found at a vendor stand called Khmer Angkor at the Ithaca Farmers Market. It's basically a fluffy pancake made from egg, rice flour and coconut milk, and it's filled with ground pork, bean sprouts, basil and other delicious things. The smoky chili paste that accompanied it was not joking around. It was so good that I went back the next day and got the same exact thing. Spicy, sweet, savory—it's all there. I fantasize about driving up to Ithaca just to have another one.—Tracie Lee, Designer

[Photograph: Tracie Lee]

Dumplings at Tianjin in Flushing
Dumplings at Tianjin in Flushing

I could pretend that the best thing I ate this year was some fancy dish at some "restaurant" with "chairs" and "waiters," but no, screw that. These dumplings were the best damn dumplings I've ever eaten—abundantly juicy "lamb and green squash" dumplings in a basement stall of a Flushing food court. Oh-so-delicate skins, a filling as sweet and juicy as soup dumplings—they don't get better than this. —Max Falkowitz, NY Editor

Caption. [Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Italian Beef at Bari in Chicago
Italian Beef at Bari in Chicago

You know it's an important bite when changes the way you think of a specific dish. That's definitely the case with the Italian beef at Bari, which was easily the best version of the sandwich I had all year, and also one of the best I've ever had. It actually inspired me to travel around the city and suburbs to see if other Italian delis like Bari had great beefs. But while I found some great options, none were quite as impressive as this one. In short, beefs don't get much beefier than this. —Nick Kindelsperger, Chicago Editor

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Doner Box at The Kebab Shop in San Diego
Doner Box at The Kebab Shop in San Diego

I'm a longtime fan of The Kebab Shop, but this year, I finally cracked the code on the best possible combinations of meat, veggies, and sauces with a custom-made doner box (essentially, all the same fillings you'd find in a wrap or sandwich, served in a take-out box with rice or fries). I start with a base of saffron rice and chicken, nix the onion, swap the garlic sauce for creamy dill, and add spicy hummus and feta. The flavor impact is huge, and all the veggies (mixed greens, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, along with a few sprigs of fresh mint), introduce several different textures. It's even better the next day, but I only have a 50% success rating of not crushing the entire box in one sitting.—Erin Jackson, A Hamburger Today contributing editor and San Diego Correspondent

[Photograph: Erin Jackson]

Fish Feast in Vis, Croatia
Fish Feast in Vis, Croatia

The most amazing bite I had this year really can't be taken out of context. We visited the island of Vis in Croatia for a friend's wedding, and were lucky to be included in a slow-food meal at a cottage restaurant close enough to the cove that the chef walked down to the turquoise water to gut and wash the fish in the sea in front of us. There were fresh, silky anchovies and pungent salted sardines, a smoked fish soup and roasted artichokes and an octopus salad...on and on, with lots of homemade wine. One huge fish was grilled in a brick fireplace, and the other simply chopped up raw into a rough tartare, tossed with lemon, homemade olive oil, and fat local capers. "All that is good is simple," said the chef as we gathered around the platter, piling the fish onto smoky grilled bread. After the meal, he joined our group for a midnight swim. —Maggie Hoffman, Drinks Editor

[Photographs: Maggie Hoffman]

Orecchiette in Lecce, Italy
Orecchiette in Lecce, Italy

So many great choices, and I'm talking just about the two weeks I spent in the south of Italy for my honeymoon. But the best may have been a plate of orecchiette with turnip green pesto and bread crumbs that I had in Otranto (a tiny seaside town near Lecce). Orecchiette is a speciality of the region. The handmade "ears" were a little thick and chewy (in a good way) and the perfect catch-alls for the slightly bitter pesto and crunchy breadcrumbs. —Carrie Vasios Mullins, Sweets Editor.

[Photograph: Carrie Vasios Mullins]