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Friends of Eater Pick Their Single Best Meals of 2014

Houston's food experts dish on their best dining experiences of the year.

Pax Americana
Pax Americana
Pax Americana/Facebook

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends and food writers. This year, we asked the group eight questions, from meal of the year to top restaurant newcomers. We'll be posting their answers each day until we ring in the new year. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and unedited herein. Readers, please add your survey answers in the comments.

Mai Pham, food critic for Houston Press and freelance writer for My Table magazine, 002 Houston and Forbes Travel Guide
: Outside of Houston, I had phenomenal meals in Lima this year, the most notable being at a new restaurant called IK where young chef Monica Kisic (she's only 26) is doing whimsical, beautifully plated, delicious modern Peruvian cuisine that leaves a lasting impression. Locally, I would have to cite my last meal at the Inn at Dos Brisas in Washington, Texas, this past September, while Zachary Ladwig helmed the kitchen, with sous chef Eric Fullem, and sommelier Thomas Perez. From top to bottom, the experience was superlative -- just one wow after the next -- course after course of incredibly fresh, creative, delicious food that made you want to scrape the plate.

Ellie Sharp, Eater Houston contributor and freelance writer for Bayou City magazine: Mole at Hugo's capped off with the best cappuccino I have ever had in my life. And I have drunk at lot of cappuccinos.

Jodie Eisenhardt, Eater Houston contributor, freelance writer and marketing consultant at Two Chicks Communications: The rib eye steak, braised/fried chicken, carrots confit and the warm pistachio/sesame cake with the grapefruit creameux at Pax Americana. Adam Dorris is a genius.

Dutch Small, proprietor of Forma Revivo and marketing consultant/publicist at Immersioncy Public Relations: Pax Americana nailed it. Six courses with flawless pairings: Beef tartare, Carrots confit in sorghum and Banyuls vinegar, Gulf Swordfish, 90 day dry aged Wagyu strip, Sanguinaccio Zeppole, Guanaja chocolate custard. I remember every bite.

Hank Lewis, food blogger at Hank on Food: A wonderful weekend dinner at No. 13 Prime Steak and Seafood off of the Pelican's Rest Marina. Chef Chris Loftis served up a Dry aged steak and a smoked Octopus A La Plancha that was simply heavenly. I especially rave about the octopus because it was so well plated--it was on a slate with smoked confit potatoes, Spanish Chorizio that was more like andouille and pureed peas all laid out much like a treasure map. The octopus itself was tender, juicy and not at all rubbery. The staff definitely knows how to prepare food well and the experience was wonderful.

Anthony Calleo, proprietor and chef of Pi Pizza Truck: Pax Americana, hands down. Ended up there on my birthday and it blew me away. The food was exceptionally excuted. It was creative and different but still approachable and shockingly affordable for what you get. That 9 spice brisket changed my life. It was so good it made me mad.

Eric Sandler, former Eater Houston editor, food writer for CultureMap, monthly contributor to Houston Matters and The Cleverley Show: Hugo's in Portland, ME

Shepard Ross, restauranteur (Glass Wall, Brooklyn Athletic Club, Pax Americana and forthcoming The Dell): After not eating solid food for a month due to illness, Chef Adam Dorris knocked it out of the park with course after course of his signature dishes at Pax Americana. I cannot remember having a better meal from start to finish...

Marcy de Luna, editor of Zagat Houston and freelance writer for CultureMap: That's a tough question, but the 30-day dry-aged Texas Wagyu ribeye steak at Pax Americana definitely ranks.