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There's apparently a decent-sized group of food fans who enjoy looking at cooked animal flesh: The art department's even put together a slideshow of images

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The Best Dishes (Animal) of 2012

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There's apparently a decent-sized group of food fans who enjoy looking at cooked animal flesh: The art department's even put together a slideshow of images for them. But if you'd rather eat than gape, there's no shortage of great local options. Here, my favorite meat dishes of the year (and, to be fair, they're pretty photogenic too.)

Pork chop, La Boucherie

Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon has long been a farmers market favorite, but George and Kristin Page's meats are never treated better than in the kitchen of the Pages' own restaurant. The standout's the remarkably juicy pork chop, embroidered with gorgeous yellow fat and thick with the flavors which come from months spent roaming the island, as the Page's pigs do.

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Gumbo, Serious Soul

Eaters are accustomed to getting soul food cheap, so Serious Soul's slightly higher prices have a tendency to rankle. But economics aren't arbitrary: The restaurant charges more because it uses better-quality meats and seafood, a decision showcased by a stupendous gumbo that's also helped by wise seasoning and time.

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Pad see ew, May Kitchen + Bar

Restaurants sometimes distinguish themselves not with a dish that's fabulously unique, but an impeccable rendition of a common dish that most restaurants bungle. Such is the case with May Kitchen's pad see ew, a gorgeous, saucy weave of tender rice noodles, scrambled egg, crisp broccoli and perfectly-cooked beef that brims with wok hay.

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Island beef, Saimin Says

Saimin Says' island beef would be sold anywhere else as teriyaki, but another strip mall tenant who makes his living as a teriyaki vendor objected. The name's irrelevant: What you get is thin slices of beef, marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic that's achieved a magical tropical equilibrium.

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Steak, Pimienta Bistro

The simplest dishes sometimes give restaurant kitchens the most trouble, but Pimienta's mastered the art of grilling a steak. Juicy and flavorful, the steak has a thin crust of salty seasoning that beautifully complements the red meat.

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Red enchiladas, The New Mexicans

Cooked up with homespun country flavors that are hard to find beyond the Land of Enchantment's borders, the red enchiladas at The New Mexicans are beefy, smoky and rife with plainspoken chile flavor.

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Pastrami sandwich, Barney's Pastrami Dip

My candidate for sandwich of the year, the extraordinary pastrami sandwich at Barney's is distinguished by expertly-seasoned and steamed beef. Served on a crusty hoagie roll, the meat's garnished with spicy mustard and however many pickled peppers you fish out of the jar on the table.

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