There are dishes that make you close your eyes with satisfaction. Or open them in amazement. And a few that do both.
Food critics Joan Reminick, Peter M. Gianotti and Erica Marcus have selected the dishes, bites and eats that opened all their senses in 2014. Here are 19 to try.
Lemon poppy flapjacks, Morning Rose Cafe
The tender, fluffy lemon poppy flapjacks at Morning Rose Cafe in Bellmore are topped with a mixed berry compote and vanilla whipped cream. You'd think it would be too sweet, but chef Roberto Baez makes it work. –JR
Dirty ribs, Dirty Burger
Chef-owner Ian Russo's "sweet and salty" dirty ribs are hoisin-lacquered and topped with crumbled feta at Dirty Burger in Plainview. –JR
Crawfish baguette, Mara's Too
The crawfish-stuffed baguette oozes an opulent, deftly spiced meld of crawfish tails and cheese at Mara's Too in Wantagh. –JR
Steamed Asian buns, Magic Taco Corp.
Steamed Asian buns are topped with carne asada (grilled flank steak), pickled red onions, cabbage and hoisin barbecue sauce (or with pork belly, pictured) at Magic Taco Corp. in Islip Terrace. –JR
Tokyo Drift sliders, Joe's Garage & Grill
Chef Brian Burner's Tokyo Drift sliders at Joe's Garage & Grill in Riverhead: steamed Asian buns enfolding succulent house-smoked pork belly, kimchee and cucumber salsa. –JR
Octopus salad, Manka Peruvian Kitchen
An entree-sized octopus salad is punctuated by bursts of spice, plus an occasional sweet crunch at Manka Peruvian Kitchen in Glen Cove. –JR
Cumin tofu, Green Tea Restaurant
At Green Tea Restaurant in Stony Brook, cumin tofu is Sichuan spice-coated fried cubes of soy that are startling in their vibrancy. –JR
Pulled pork, Stella Blue
Pulled pork is imbued with a smoky campfire flavor and lightly glazed with barbecue sauce at Stella Blue Bistro in Huntington. –JR
Utthapam, Chennai Dosas
An utthapam, or thick, baked South Indian pancake, with onions, chili and peas, is a riot of flavors at Chennai Dosas in Hicksville. –JR
Lobster BLT, Red Hook Lobster Pound
Several lobster rolls (including the Tuscan, with a a basil vinaigrette) at Red Hook Lobster Pound in Montauk are terrific, but the ringer is the ridiculously good lobster BLT. –PG
Strawberry sundae, Snowflake
It's the reason strawberries exist: the fresh, in-season strawberry sundae made with French vanilla ice cream at Snowflake, the ice-cream star in Riverhead.
Cheddar biscuits, Kerber's Farm
The homemade cheddar biscuits (pictured as egg sandwiches with bacon and avocado, right, and ham and American cheese) from Kerber's Farm in Huntington. –PG
Choucroute garnie, Forest Pork Store
The choucroute garnie, or assorted wursts and braised sauerkraut, with provisions from Forest Pork Store in Huntington Station. –PG
Crumb cake, Hahn's Old Fashioned Cake Co.
Crumb cake from Hahn's Old Fashioned Cake Co. in Farmingdale. –PG
Kunefe, Bosphorus Cafe Grill
You'll fall hard for the kunefe at Bosphorus Cafe Grill in Port Washington. One of the world's great pastries, kunefe is a golden disk of shredded phyllo enclosing melted cheese and topped with chopped pistachios and aromatic syrup. –EM
Turkish cuisine, Pasha Kebab and Grill
Kebabs, homemade bread, salads, rice, desserts — everything is excellent at modest, family-run Turkish grocery-grill Pasha Kebab and Grill in North Lindenhurst. –EM
Bread, Duck Island Bread Company
The future of bread on Long Island is Duck Island Bread Company (duckislandbreadcompany.com). By day, Robert Biancavilla is deputy chief of homicide for the Suffolk County district attorney. By night he bakes artisanal baguettes, seeded ryes, durum wheat loaves, pretzels, fougasses and Danish (among other breads). Thus far, his only retail outlet has been the Northport farmers market (closed for the season), but he's taken a lease on a storefront in Huntington, so stay tuned. EM
Spicy lamb sandwiches, Tao's Bakery & Dim Sum
Long Islanders are familiar with the Cantonese tradition of dim sum, but buns and dumplings are made in every region of China. At Tao's Bakery & Dim Sum in Stony Brook, 631-675-6492), you can sample such Northern Chinese exotica as spicy lamb sandwiches on flatbread and hearty, boiled pork-and-chive dumplings. –EM
Smoked and cured fish, Max's Appetizing
Step back in time at Max's Appetizing in Hewlett. Bob Leshansky pickles his own salmon and herring and carries an unparalleled selection of bagel-friendly fish including Nova Scotia salmon and the richer, saltier belly lox; smoked sturgeon, sable, chubbs and brook trout; and clean, bright whitefish salad. –EM