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2018 tasted good. We ate amazing food, drank amazing cocktails and dined in amazing spaces. But what about the other food writers? How was their year? Based on the following responses, 2018 tasted good for everyone else as well. Some things more than others tho. Obviously.

So, we asked some of our favorite food writers in the area (read: people whose taste buds we TRULY trust) the following questions:

  • Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
  • The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
  • The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/The one that didn’t quite live up?
  • Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
  • The best dish you ate in 2018?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?
  • Favorite cocktail of 2018?
  • Best food event of 2018?
  • What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
  • What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
  • What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
  • Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
  • What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
  • Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
  • Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
  • Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
  • Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
  • Favorite instagram accounts and why?
  • Favorite twitter accounts and why?
  • A question you wish we asked here (and your answer)

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor at Washingtonian

The best food trend of 2018?
Fancy soft-serve ice cream. It’s far superior to fro-yo.

The worst?
Edible glitter. Ew.

The best DC restaurant opening in 2018?
Sushi Nakazawa. Sorry haters, but it’s amazing. Also, Elle.

The one that didn’t quite live up?
The Meatball Shop. Maybe when it launched in New York in 2010, the genital humor (“balls dropping soon”) was funny. But now it just seems juvenile and tone deaf to the moment. Oh yeah, and the meatballs are meh.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
I’m going to go with most underrated bar: Reliable Tavern. It’s super chill, and you can easily enjoy a game of pool with a can of Tecate. But the cocktails! Really, this place is on par with any of the city’s top cocktail bars but is often overlooked.

There are also a lot of amazing restaurants in the burbs that aren’t really on a lot of DC people’s radars, such as Beteseb in Silver Spring for Ethiopian, Marib in Springfield, Va., for Yemeni, or Meokja Meokja in Fairfax for Korean barbecue.

The best dish you ate in 2018?
I can’t pick one: Inferno Pizzeria’s roasted cauliflower “carbonara” with pecorino egg sauce; To Sok Jip’s bossam; Elle’s marinated feta; Taqueria La Placita’s mixed pork taco; Maydan’s whole chicken; Pineapple and Pearls’ roasted duck; Estadio’s shrimp with garlic and lemon; Kaliwa’s red curry with blue crab; Bon Matcha’s matcha soft-serve

The one you wish you hadn’t?
I went to O-Ku early on, and the server was really talking up this Hawaiian sweet prawn nigiri. It was $12—for a single piece—but I decided to live it up and go for it. The prawn, though, looked like a gray grocery store shrimp, and it hadn’t been deveined! I couldn’t get past the giant “poop vein.”

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
Barmini has this cocktail called “2 Stops to Montilla” with genever, sherry, hojicha roasted tea, sesame oil, and lavender bitters. It’s got this big gorgeous ice cube with gold leaf and lavender on top. It looks and tastes spectacular.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
The legacy of Anthony Bourdain. His death really rippled through the entire food world and beyond. Everyone—even those of us who didn’t know him personally—has a story about how he impacted our lives or made us see the world differently.

What openings are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Emilie’s from Himitsu chef Kevin Tien, Reveler’s Hour from the Tail Up Goat crew, Albi from former Arroz chef Michael Rafidi.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?
Still waiting for an udon shop.

What you hope stays away?
Sexual harassment.

Favorite Restaurant?
It’s constantly changing, but I’m really loving Inferno Pizzeria, Little Serow, and Tail Up Goat right now.

Favorite Bar?
Barmini for cocktails. Bar Pilar or Reliable Tavern for just hanging out.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Sadly, my job isn’t really conducive to being a regular anywhere. The real answer to this question is probably Sweetgreen, because I’m constantly trying to counterbalance my terrible diet with healthy lunches. But I have a bit of Sweetgreen fatigue at the moment.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
I’m really crushing on New York magazine’s food features this year. I loved this profile of New York chef prodigee Flynn McGarry headlined “What Happens When ‘the Justin Bieber of Food’ Grows Up?” and a more recent story about Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman and their complicated roles in the #MeToo movement.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
I wrote an essay about how people keep telling me to stay out of politics and “stick to food.”

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
Like everyone else and their mom, I now have an Instant Pot, so I’ve been using Melissa Clark’s Dinner in an Instant when I can. Beyond that I don’t use many cookbooks, but I am obsessed with Bon Appetit recipes. Love this marinated goat cheese recipe for parties this crunchy baked saffron rice for dinner.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
It’s less stressful to look at Instagram, but the food conversation is happening on Twitter.

Favorite twitter accounts and why?
Does it make me basic if I say Chrissy Teigen? Chrissy Teigen.

Tim Carman
Food Writer at the The Washington Post

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Shock and yawn.

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
Food halls/food halls.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/The one that didn’t quite live up?
Best: I don’t know if it was the best or the most anticipated, but I don’t care: I am so glad the Quarry House Tavern is back in business and that Jackie Greenbaum went to such extraordinary lengths to preserve its original divey-ness.
Worst: The Meatball Shop: The balls on those New Yorkers.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
I say this often, but I think Menomale in Brookland is one of most consistently impressive pizzerias. I don’t understand why they aren’t mentioned in the same breath as 2Amys.

The best dish you ate in 2018?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?
My single favorite dish was the sorrel pesto rice with pork sausage at Sqirl in Los Angeles. Simple, yes, but executed with a painter’s eye for balance and detail and a 20th-century French chef’s unrelenting demand for technique. It’s also just damn delicious.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
The Jungle Bird from Archipelago. A drink that proves, once again, that the 1970s were an underrated decade.

Best food event of 2018?
The acoustics were terrible, but I loved the vibe and the symbolism of this year’s Chefs for Equality at the Washington National Cathedral.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
The collapse of the Mike Isabella empire. The thing that makes the collapse so sad — aside from the loss of some good restaurants and many good jobs — is that Mike never seemed to grasp the problem (or problems). He often said the right words, but he never sounded convinced of their truth, as if he never really understood why his female employees were troubled and angered by the alleged behaviors or why he might need a CEO to run his company.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Hanumanh, the casual Laotian spot from chef Seng Luangrath and her son Bobby Pradachith.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
I loved seeing the rise of bakery/cafes such as Seylou and Elle. They remind me of my favorites spots in LA, like Gjusta. I’d like to see more of these type of places downtown, where the lunch options are terrible. Way, way too many corporate eateries and fast-casuals.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
Sorry, not going to play along.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
I lost my favorite neighborhood hangout this year when the Classics died. I think Momo Yakitori may take its place.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
Laura Hayes’ coverage of mental health issues in the DC restaurant industry:  Laura has carved out a nice niche: covering the health and well-being of the people who feed us. I salute her.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
Lab-grown meat and fish. The budding industry basically acknowledges that, as a species, humans are too short-sighted to cut down our meat consumption to save the planet, so we’ve created an apparently less harmful way to get our our pound of animal flesh.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
You’re kidding right? When do I have time to cook?

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Everyone should follow Tamar Haspel. You’ll learn a lot.

Favorite instagram accounts and why?
Okay, I’ve officially hit the wall with your survey. No more answers.

Favorite twitter accounts and why?
Twitter took down all my favorite Russian bots.

A question you wish we asked here (and your answer)
God no. You already ask too many questions.

Laura Hayes
Food Editor at Washington City Paper

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
Indian food! Newcomers Masala Story, Karma Modern Indian, RASA, Pappe, Bindaas in Foggy Bottom, Spice 6 in Chinatown, and Bombay Street Food are spicing things up in D.C. and there are even more Indian restaurants on the way. Seeing the cuisine succeed in the fast casual sector has been especially exciting.
Worst: Small, homegrown businesses being replaced by out-of-town chains because they’re the only ones who can afford the rent after landlords jack up the rent after five- and ten-year leases expire.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/The one that didn’t quite live up?
Best 2018 restaurant opening: Ellē. Its creative cuisine and warm hospitality are reminiscent of a young Rose’s Luxury. It’s lovely and the total package. I especially enjoyed when my server was wearing a hippo costume on Halloween.
One that didn’t live up: Officina. This Wharf restaurant was supposed to be Nick Stefanelli’s more casual cousin to Masseria. But choices at the second-floor trattoria include a $38 branzino sans sides and a $35 veal cheek parmesan the size of a school milk carton. This is no neighborhood red sauce joint. The only thing that’s casual about it is you need to punch in a code to use the restroom.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Rakuya. The Dupont Circle Japanese restaurant combines both an izakaya-style menu with an extensive sushi selection. Pop in for lunch and order the chirashi lunch set that comes with a generous portion of chirashi-style sushi, a mini udon noodle soup, tempura, and salad. Also turn to the daily specials menu. For a mid-range sushi place to be flying in interesting fish from Japan is impressive, and sometimes they have a mini donburi topped with chopped toro.

The best dish you ate in 2018?
Chicken parm florentine at Unconventional Diner. I could eat it every night, but mostly reserved it for the darkest days of 2018.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
“If The Phone Don’t Ring It’s Me” at Archipelago with bourbon, passion fruit, Aperol, and lime.

Best food event of 2018?
Chef’s for Equality, but shout out to the Chesapeake Food Summit.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
The battle over Initiative 77 was high stakes and highly emotional given that hospitality is the second largest industry in D.C. after the government.  The robust conversation about whether to eliminate the tip credit in D.C., regardless of your position, was illuminating. It opened up deep discussions about some of the industry’s biggest challenges such as sexual harassment and wage theft and politicized a segment of the D.C. population that hadn’t traditionally been involved in local politics (servers and bartenders).

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Coconut Club. We need something fun that feels like an escape and doesn’t take itself too seriously. I look forward to zoning out over some Hawaiian food and a cocktail in a disco ball vessel. Plus, Chef/Owner Adam Greenberg sounds like he’s implementing some forward-thinking benefits for his staff, which I always like to see.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
Wish for: More unabashed funk from chefs digging deep into their heritage and exposing D.C. to new levels of heat and tang.
Stay away: Placing too much priority on how dishes and drinks look rather than taste for the purpose of garnering more free advertising on Instagram. That’s how you end up with things like cocktails in Capri Sun-like juice pouches that can’t be recycled. I said this last year too. It’s only gotten worse.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar? 
Chef: Three-way tie between Amy Brandwein (Centrolina), Tony Chittum (Iron Gate), and Kwame Onwuachi (Philly Wing Fry is BOMB).
Restaurant: Three-way tie between Sushi Taro, Lucky Buns, and ChiKo.
Bar: Three-way tie between The Green Zone, Archipelago, and Jackie Lee’s.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Izakaya Seki, Pappe, ANXO, Bandit Taco, District Fishwife, Espita, Doi Moi, Bun DC, Charcoal Town, Little Pearl, and Himitsu. Why? Flavor, consistency, and fun.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
My senpai, Jessica Sidman, wrote an essay in response to trolls that were telling her to stay out of politics and stick to food as she deftly covered Trump administration officials being interrupted at their meals. The lesson? There’s nothing more political than food.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
I spent a day “working” at Jessie Taylor Seafood at the Maine Avenue Fish Market. The juxtaposition of a D.C. institution next to a $2 billion development that feels like Epcot for incoming Amazon worker bees became even more palpable when I got to know the characters that work seven days on, seven days off, sleeping in the barges above where they sell seafood. We did a podcast episode to coincide with the column and I didn’t know my colleague Will Warren asked Jessie Taylor employees for a report on my (lack of) skills.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen? 
Released this year: The Red Truck Bakery Cookbook. Author Nevin Martell did an excellent job capturing the nostalgia that accompanies baking.
Evergreen: Hugh Acheson’s The Broad Fork. It’s organized by vegetable category, so you always know what to do with whatever shows up in your CSA.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why? 
Twitter. My beat is a bit more tied to hard news versus food criticism/food recommendations. I need to keep tabs on what the D.C. Council is doing, for example, and Twitter is best for that.

Favorite twitter accounts and why? 
@barredindc for interesting food and drink related polls
@theadvoc8te for happenings in Ward 8 and east-of-the-river in general
@Curious_Kurz especially when she calls out trolls
@KosherSoul because Michael Twitty was made for Twitter, just look at his name
@hels because Helen Rosner will make sure you’re as woke about food as you need to be

A question you wish we asked here (and your answer):
What restaurant do you wish you lived closer to? Chloe.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor at Washingtonian

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Scrumptious! Kidding, that word is worse than “moist.” It was fickle—a lot of wonderful things have happened, but the food world has gone through turbulent times as well.

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
Best:
Restaurants switching from whole, fancy roast chickens to whole duck presentations. It doesn’t even have to be Peking duck, though I love Erik Bruner-Yang’s riff at Spoken English. I also adore the duck press at Bresca, and the duck al pastor taco platter at Poca Madre.
Worst: Restaurants serving whole heads of cauliflower. No one wants that much cauliflower. And no one’s stomach can handle that much cauliflower without blowback.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
I’m not sure if these count as “underrated,” because they’re not off the media’s radar. But there’s a tendency to obsess over the newest, hottest thing (i.e. places like Maydan or Officina) and forget about the great restaurants like Estadio, Etto, 2 Amys, or Izakaya Seki that have been consistently wonderful for years—a hard accomplishment to achieve in this industry. That’s not to say I’m not guilty of the hype. But on my own time/dollar, I’d rather sit at the bar at one of these places rather than explore somewhere new.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
Fancy: A perfect Manhattan at Quill (gotta love a swanky hotel bar). Not fancy: the “martini service” at Hank’s Cocktail Bar, which is essentially a half sheet pan set with all the accoutrements for a perfect drink (including pickles, olives, AND lemon twist to garnish).

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
I really hope the trend of smaller, ambitious, independent neighborhood restaurants can continue to thrive given rising rents, increased labor costs, and all the other issues that make it hard to operate places like Himitsu or Bad Saint.
Stays away: Raindrop cakes. Nothing against them, but do we really need another unicorn brownie-esque Insta-food?

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Rakuya in Dupont. Can I give a big shout out to Rakuya? It’s one of those great neighborhood sushi joints that DC generally lacks—not as fancy/expensive as a Sushi Taro, but far superior to the places that also serve pad Thai. They have great little finds on their specials menu like grilled hamachi collar, and their chirashi lunch set is one of the best deals in town (I know @LauraHayesDC will back me here).

Also, I’m not home all that often for dinner these days, but my go-to/completely indulgent delivery is the peking duck from City Lights of China.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Instagram! Sure, pretty food photos aren’t always a mark of quality. But it’s a great way to track where and what people are eating (helpful if you’re doing a lot of restaurant reviews). Also a whole range of industry folks (chefs, bartenders, line cooks etc.) are on the gram, so you get great behind the scenes intel (or just stalk where they’re eating). On Twitter it’s mainly other food writers and corporate restaurant accounts.

Maura Judkis
Food Writer at The Washington Post

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Messy.

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
I loved seeing cacio e pepe on menus everywhere because, let’s be real, it’s fancy mac and cheese. I also liked the trend towards more feminine restaurant design – lots of pink and floral and antique china, and a turn away from all the heavy furniture and fixtures. As for the worst: Starbucks has pulled back on the over-the-top Frappuccinos, but they continue to haunt me (I love writing about them, though). I’m glad edible glitter didn’t really take off locally.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018?
Personally: Elle! Those breakfast sandwiches! The toasts! The duck confit biscuit! The grumpy cat painting, the bunny wallpaper! The perfect addition to Mt. Pleasant.

The best dish you ate in 2018?
Ooh, I loved the chicken skin dumpling at Spoken English. The coconut and caviar at Rose’s Luxury. The hot pot at Dorjee Momo (RIP). And I just tried the beautiful (and giant) thali at Bombay Street Food.

Best food event of 2018?
It was really nice to see Patrick O’Connell beaming as he accepted his third Michelin star at the guide’s annual debut party in September.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
Sexual harassment – in particular, Mike Isabella’s swift decline. All of the reporters who covered this story, including Anna Spiegel, Jessica Sidman and Rebecca Cooper, did such an excellent job. Tim Carman and I were grateful for the chance to give workers who were made to feel uncomfortable by the MIC culture, or who had experienced unwanted physical contact, an opportunity to share their stories throughout the year.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
I’m interested in all the restaurants coming to Midtown Center, the development where the old Post building was. It’s kind of a restaurant dead zone! Soon enough, there will be sushi and Greek and coffee, and more to come.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?
I recently wrote a story about all of the 2019 food trend predictions across the country, and one that caught my eye was “Food from the ‘stans” – Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan. We already have Samovar in Rockville, which is Tajik and Russian, but I’d love to see a restaurant like this open in D.C.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
See above: Elle. I live only a few blocks away. It’s an anytime place.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
A zero-star Tom Sietsema review is like a solar eclipse: awe-inspiring and fleeting. Describing a restaurant as “Just waiting for ‘The Real Housewives of Potomac’ to alight” is such a withering burn.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
My two favorite stories from 2018 were pretty different: The first was about how old German restaurants are becoming an endangered species. Changing culture and tastes mean that people are turning away from these restaurants, which are often more than 100 years old. They’re struggling to reinvent themselves, and modern German restaurants like Metzger in Richmond are few and far between.

The second one was a #MeToo story about the Mindful Restaurant Group, and a pattern of alleged sexual harassment at the hands of one manager. He was friends with the owner, Ari Gejdenson, who continued to employ him after complaints were made by multiple women. It was a complicated story to write, because one of the women had been in a relationship with the manager. It was a restaurant story, but it was also about how the women struggled to come forward, and how the #MeToo movement can be messy and unsatisfying for victims. Plus, it has a twist ending.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
I’ve stopped looking at the “screen time” notification on iPhone because it shows me how much of my life I waste on Twitter, and I’m ashamed. But I do get more stories from Twitter than from Instagram, so it’s justifiable.

Favorite twitter accounts and why?
My Twitter follows are all either writers (food or otherwise, at the Post or otherwise), or cute animals. Follow all the people who are participating in this questionnaire for good journalism, obviously! And then, when you’re having a bad day, follow @tatuya01 and @catcontents to cheer yourself up.

Tierney Plumb
Associate Editor at Eater DC

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)

Nonstop openings.

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?

Best: Fermented everything.
Worst: I think many of us are over kale (or what Eric Ripert calls “rabbit food”).

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/The one that didn’t quite live up?

So many goodies, but one that sticks out was Nick Stefanelli’s tri-level Officina. The one that didn’t live up to hype was La Vie. Tom Sietsema’s zero-star review was rough, but I have high hopes for the sushi spot they’re putting below it.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Bar Charley is super underrated (not just because it’s underground). It’s been around a minute but their cocktails are pretty consistent and their steak deals are a steal.

The best dish you ate in 2018?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?

Best was kimchi toast at Elle. And an anonymous sandwich with slimy, raw red onion hiding inside was the worst.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
The frothy “Mint Lemonade & More” at Green Zone in Adams Morgan (with gin or vodka). It was a crazy hit, with 1,000 made just weeks after opening.

Best food event of 2018?

Capital Food Fight had a cool new venue at the Anthem this year. José and Andrew Zimmern toasted to their friend Anthony Bourdain at the beginning — very moving.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?

Isabella, for obvious reasons.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?

Can’t wait for Coconut Club to warm up Union Market during the dead of winter.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?

When in doubt, Service Bar. I love that whole strip with 600T and El Techo’s jungle vibe.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?

NYT’s Pete Wells has beef with the ice cream sundae, and his piece was fun and informative.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?

The important I-77 issue. And following the edible flower craze.

Go to cookbook?
Christina Tosi’s All About Cake made our holiday gift guide. Booze and Vinyl is genius, pairing cocktail recipes with music genres.

Laura Wainman
Editor at DC Refined

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Ethical

The best food trend on 2018?
The best: 
Natural wines, concentrated efforts to reduce food waste and house-made condiments
The worst: Edible glitter. It’s the herpes of craft supplies after all.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018?
Based on lines alone, I’d say Call Your Mother was a hot one this fall. Don’t worry, one bite of the Craig D will make all your line woes dissipate. St. Anselm, of Stephen Starr fame, also started off strong this year, and after a three-star review from Sietsema, it will likely be one of the hottest reservations in early 2019.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Chloe. The versatile menu fits the bill for so many occasions and I haven’t even come close to working my way through everything yet.

The best dish you ate in 2018?
The Tofu Gnocchi at American Son, Sea Urchin Linguine at Bresca, a sous-vide carrot at  Cuisine Solutions and Leek Stew with Hushpuppies at Plume.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
The Sundress Season at Whiskey Charlie

Best food event of 2018?
Chefs for Equality. I’ve always wanted to attend this event and 2018 was finally the year I made it happen. Following a tense week (post Kavanaugh-hearings), it was truly moving to be in a room full of acceptance, joy and love, not to mention some of the most talented chefs in the city. And the fact that it was held under the arches of the National Cathedral made it all the more special.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
The fall of Mike Isabella. While at times it felt like we were beating a dead horse with every little update on his saga, this marked the first time a celebrity chef was ultimately taken down in the #MeToo era, and I think it sets a precedent for what we will and won’t tolerate here in D.C.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
I’m excited for Mama Chang and to see what effect the “feminine influences” have had on Peter Chang’s life. I am cautiously optimistic for the Quarter Market Food Hall in Ballston.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?
Is it a cop out if I repeat my wish for 2018 that didn’t come true? A Philly-like BYOB scene.

What you hope stays away?
Riots over mediocre cheesecake.

Favorite Chef?
Ryan Ratino. His energy and excitement for the industry is infectious and I’ve never been happier for anyone to get a Michelin star. I am also anxious to see what Michael Rafidi does next.

Favorite Restaurant?
Tie between Bresca and Tail Up Goat.

Favorite Bar?
Whiskey Charlie. The views are unbeatable and the staff are very interested in sharing their cocktail/spirit knowledge with their patrons if you know to tap into their interests. Yes, whiskey is in the name but don’t sleep on their tequila/mezcal knowledge my friends!

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Compass Rose will forever hold a special place in my heart. And it’s a fantastic date spot. 

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
Laura Hayes’ coverage of Initiative 77. She struck a perfect balance between detailed, in-depth coverage for those intimately familiar with the issue and the industry, while being accessible/providing on-going coverage to those who might have only heard about it for the first time when they showed up to the polls.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
It was really a story executed by our photographer, Amanda, but I loved helping her prep for the “18 essential restaurants to try in 2018” story. It’s great fun to brainstorm what we consider the best restaurants in the city, balancing new openings with the tried and true classics. And I love seeing what each restaurant presents for her to photograph, as it gives insight into what they feel are the most noteworthy dishes at that moment. The story winds up feeling like a mini time capsule of D.C. dining that I can look back and reflect on annually.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
I’m not much of a cookbook user (Pinterest all the way) but since its release in October, I’ve been very drawn to using the Red Truck Bakery Cookbook from Brian Noyes and Nevin Martell. The photography is incredible and so far, everything I’ve made has gotten rave reviews. 10/10 would make the cornbread again and again and again!

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
I said Instagram last year, but I’m changing my mind and going with Twitter. I still think Insta is the best platform to share your food experiences with an audience, particularly if you utilize Instagram stories in real time, but I pretty much clicked any link Jessica Sidman, Laura Hayes, Tim Carman and Maura Judkis tweeted out this year, so I found a renewed interest in Twitter this year. I’ll say Insta for quick, real time glimpses at food experiences and Twitter for real food news/deeper reads.

Nycci Nellis
Publisher of The List Are You On It?

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)? Shit storm
The best food trend on 2018 Hotpots … they’ve moved out of the suburbs and into the city.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/?
The North End of the Wharf — Todd Thrasher’s new Potomac Distilling, Nick Stefanelli’s Officina & Rappahannock Oyster Bar in the gorgeous glass enclosed space looking over the water. I am also partial to Johnny Spero’s Reverie.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Buck’s Fishing & Camping. Exactly what a neighborhood restaurant is supposed to be. Great wine list, superb cocktails, you can have a hamburger and fries or a perfectly cooked piece of fish.

The best dish you ate in 2018?
So many incredible tastes this year. Where to begin?
1) The smashed salmon at Chiko — and every dumpling on the menu
2) The chicken at Maydan — me and everyone else
3) I totally satisfy my sweet tooth on the regular at Buttercream Bakeshop
4) Smoked fish, all day every day from Ivy City
5) The Tigelles at The Partisan — try them you’ll like them
6) The Phakelli at Supra — I could become a vegetarian easily with these treats
7) The fish of the day at Salt Line — I put my trust in Kyle Bailey

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
Spritz’s by Sam Nellis (shameless nepotism) at All Purpose and quite frankly anything on his cocktail list at Red Hen #ProudMama

Best food event of 2018?
Chefs For Equality, duh?

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
#MeToo … for all the obvious reasons.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Jury is out.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?
What I wish for the DC Dining scene is a continuing of the trend of inclusivity. DC truly has one of the best chef communities that constantly gives and grows in its generosity.

What would I like to stay away?
The Trumps — another duh.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
Too many to name ~

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
The lobby of The Line Hotel. I am there every Monday afternoon with my husband for our radio show, Industry Night on Full Service Radio. But, it has really become my go to place during the week for meetings. Fortunately, Erik Bruner-Yang and his team serve up a fabulous offering of breakfasts and lunches. My personal favorite is their afternoon tea.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
Nevin Martell, Red Truck Bakery — bake all of it
Najmieh Batmanglij, Cooking in Iran  — the photos
Michael Solomonov, Israeli Soul — incorporate it into your weeknight dinners

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Instagram for food, twitter for politics.

Atara Bernstein + Ariel Pasternak
Co-founders of Pineapple Collaborative

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
“Food is our most intimate and powerful connection to each other, to our cultures and to Earth.” – Heal Food Alliance

The best food trend on 2018?
Atara: Pink chicory & grazing tables / worst: raclette cheese
Ariel: Grass fed-and-finished meat & natural wine

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018?
Atara: Call your mother & Elle
Ariel: 2Amy’s reopening.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Atara: Teaism
Ariel: Also Teaism! They’ve been around for almost 25 years and have the most delicious and nutritious food (with sustainable and transparent sourcing) that tastes like the best home cooking. I’m particularly a fan of the salmon bento box.

The best dish you ate in 2018?
Atara: Burnt coconut and radishes from Bad Saint.
Ariel: Seylou almond croissant.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
Atara: We’re more focused on natural wine! Dio is the best place for a glass and Domestique’s the best for a bottle

Best food event of 2018?
Atara: Lasseiz Faire- DC’s first natural wine fair with pineapple x Please Bring Chips

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
Atara: All reporting on the intersection between climate change and food–at the farm level, as it pertains to plastic use, and food waste.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Atara: More women-owned/powered restaurants!

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
Atara: A focus on reducing plastic in grocery stores, and restaurants.
Ariel: More locally grown heritage grains in breads, pastas and baked goods!

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Ariel: The Dupont Circle Farmers Market because it’s where I buy the bulk of my groceries and I love the community that gathers there every Sunday
Atara: SAME answer as Ariel

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
Atara: All of our pine for pantry features (where we peek into the kitchens of women we admire) from Alison Roman to Amy Chaplin, Sana Javeri Kadri, Natasha Pickowicz, Carla Hall and more.
Ariel: What Atara said. And our pineapple radio episode all about the importance of soil to our food system.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
Atara: Dining In by Alison Roman, all time: Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day
Ariel: This year: Wine Food; All Time: At Home In The Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Atara: Instagram!
Ariel: Instagram! Better vibes.

Favorite instagram accounts and why?
Atara: Claire Saffitz @csaffitz because she tries to make homemade junk food (see oreos) and it’s very fun
Ariel: @samlovesthemarket because I love peeping what’s in season in the California farmers markets

Favorite twitter accounts and why?
Atara: @turshen – she highlights marginalized voices in food, and covers important issues ranging from racial justice to representation in food
Ariel: I don’t use Twitter.

Nevin Martell
Dining Editor of DC Modern Luxury

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Time’s Up.

The best DC restaurant opening in 2018?
Spoken English. It’s fun, vibey, and creative. And every plate is a home run.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
You need to check out Little Beast up in Chevy Chase. Pastry chef-turned-exec-chef Naomi Gallego – you may remember her pastry work at Blue Duck Tavern and Neighborhood Restaurant Group – is putting out thoughtful comfort food that will appeal to everyone in the family. Think pizzas, braised shortrib on polenta, and honey drizzled whipped ricotta topped with cracked hazelnuts. Of course there are amazing desserts, so make sure to save room.

The best dish you ate in 2018?
The spreads and bread at Maydan; Iron Gate’s ricotta gnocchi; the charred cabbage with ginger garlic crispies at Hazel; and the mini banh mi at Minibar.

Best food event of 2018?
Chef’s for Equality at the National Cathedral was a great night for a great cause. Kudos to David Hagedorn and his co-organizers for taking the event to the next-next level.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
I can’t wait for Ryan Ratino’s Jônt, Rob Rubba’s Oyster Oyster, Peter Prime’s Cane, Emilie’s from Kevin Tien, and whatever Ashok Bajaj has planned for the Nora’s space.

Favorite Chef?
A few chefs really wowed me: Drew Adams at Bourbon Steak, Ryan Ratino at Bresca, Robert Curtis at Hazel, Russell Smith at the Source, and Ben Plyraharn and Ish Mendez, who own Qui Qui Catering, which specializes in deeply flavorful, utterly soulful Asian-Caribbean-Mexican fare.

Favorite Restaurant?
When I’m just in the mood for feel good food, I head to A&J dim sum in Rockville, Lucky Buns by Alex McCoy, or Federalist Pig.

Favorite Bar?
Barmini. Because if I’m going to spend a night drinking, I want to be decadent about it.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Starbucks. Tolerable coffee, reliable internet, and they don’t mind if I work there all day.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
Jessica Sidman and Anna Spiegel’s story on Mike Isabella’s downfall was meticulously researched, perfectly paced, and painfully insightful.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
Foraging for morels with the Inn at Little Washington’s Patrick O’Connell, and then lunching on our finds, was more fun than anyone deserves to have on the job.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
The Red Truck Bakery Cookbook which I co-authored, of course. Now that I’ve gotten that plug out of the way, my actual go-to this year was Ottolenghi Simple.

Rina Rapuano
Freelance Food Writer

Sum up 2018 in food in a word?
#metoo

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
More vegan options; whole-wheat croissants

Best DC restaurant opening in 2018?
Elle. Also love Nama, St. Anselm and Poca Madre.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
The Source, perhaps because it’s been around so long. Also, Spark on North Capitol.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
Anything made by Carlie Steiner at Himitsu, and The King of Beets at Gravitas.

Best food event of 2018?
Human Rights Campaign’s Chefs for Equality in a rainbow-lit National Cathedral. Just breathtaking.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
José Andrés feeding the masses. It definitely showed that being a celebrity chef takes more than being camera-ready—and that DC chefs have so much heart. Runners up: Mike Isabella’s downfall (smartly chronicled by The Washington Post and Washingtonian) and Initiative 77 (deftly tackled by Laura Hayes at Washington City Paper).

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?

Mike Rafidi and Brent Kroll’s Albi, plus Cane from Spark chef Peter Prime; ChiKo Dupont, because I can’t wait to have one closer to me!

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
More restaurants focusing on reducing waste; zoodles

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
Scott Drewno of ChiKo; Elle; Copycat Co.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Unconventional Diner because it’s the rare place that pleases both parents and my kids; Taqueria Habanero because it’s close to my house and I LOVE their shrimp tacos and chilaquiles; and Brothers and Sisters because I feel 10% cooler whenever I’m in there.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
I haven’t cooked from it yet, but I can’t wait to bake my way through Nevin Martell and Brian Noyes’ Red Truck Bakery Cookbook. Cathy Barrow’s Pie Squared also looks really fun. My evergreen is wildly unsexy yet crinkle-paged from so much use—The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Instagram … because photos. Also, I hate Twitter.

Favorite instagram accounts and why?
@edible_dc for gorgeous local deliciousness; @oliveandartisan for rustic food beauty; @bttrcrmbakeshop for the fun cake pix; and not food-related, but @ocasio2018 for dropping some truth.

AJ Dronkers
Associate Publisher & Digital Editor at EdibleDC

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
BIG CLOSURES. Think MIC and Taylor Gourmet.

The worst food trend on 2018?
The worst for me was the over use of uni and sea urchin. I feel like it was the new truffle oil… A little goes a long way, but people were going smothering dishes with it.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018?
St. Anselm for sure. Chef Marjie is such a DC favorite and we were waiting what felt like forever for her return. Her team is killing it drinks, dinner, brunch, it’s a smash hit.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
CORK CORK CORK. It’s one of the OGs on 14th street and post-renovation it’s such a delightful space, whether you are downstairs having a glass of wine or sitting in the upstairs dinning room.

The best dish you ate in 2018?
I have such a soft spot for foie gras and when I had the foie gras mousse at Opaline, the newly launched restaurant inside the Sofitel, I literally almost shed a tear. It was one of those preparations where it reminded me how good it can be and how so many people do it wrong. They served it at room temperature, it was light and airy, with a concord grape jam, crispy pepita seeds and perfectly toasted bread.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
The Frozen French 75 Slushie at The Smith on U St (the Chinatown location doesn’t have it). The best part is they run a brunch special where it’s FREE with purchase of brunch entree.

Best food event of 2018?
HRC Chefs for Equality this year at the National Cathedral was really EXTRA and continues to be top of my list. So great to see all our top chefs and mixologist turning out for a good cause, I always joke I should be husband shopping here, but then every year I also show up in drag…

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
Definitely, seeing how the #METOO movement gained momentum among the food + beverage community. Seeing women supported and believed across the country and the resulting closures and changes in leadership.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Hanumanh from Chef Seng and son Chef Bobby behind Thip Khao. They create tasty Laotian food at an approachable price point and vibe. Also Amparo Fondito by Chef Christian Irabien – his two month long pop up last year was incredible and I’m looking forward to a full time brick and mortar from him. Oh, and Coconut Club from Chef Adam Greenberg – watching the progress of the build out on his instagram feed makes me feel like I’m part of his team.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
More female leadership across the industry and conversations about food access for all DC communities. There are only three service grocery stores serving 150k residents in Wards 7 and 8. How can we make sure we are talking about access, affordability of grocery stores and restaurants across our entire city?

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
Chef Tom Cunanan from Bad Saint he always makes me smile — it’s the only restaurant I will sit alone staring at a wall between two couples and still walk away jubilant. Go to bar for me is gay bar Trade, they have indoor and outdoor space, welcoming energy, fun music and creative drag performances. Full disclosure, my go to gay bar drink is Deep Eddy Ruby Red Grapefruit and soda water… Between Doi Moi by Chef Johanna Hellrigl and Birds Eye Eatery, I found myself popping into their two concepts a lot this year. Coconut poached chicken salad, mussels, Thai beef jerky and the wok tossed mussels with basil infused coconut broth are a few of my addictions. Then to boot, mixologist Lukas Smith opened Destination Wedding one floor below and they’re serving up fabulous cocktails.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Commissary for breakfast! I got tired of spending $12 for one cup of coffee and a non-filling pastry at coffee shops. I keep a list of places where you can sit down with wifi do work, get endless refills, good service and have a suitable breakfast for about the same amount.

Favorite thing from someone else: A River Runs Through It, Harpers Ferry with Tarver King by Susan Able.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
EdibleDC Magazine has “Department of Homefood Security” where we write about farming, agriculture, nutrition, access etc… Local Food Champion Wins James Beard AwardGarden for Victory Smithsonian Secret GardenA Perfect Day Raising Grass Fed Beef. Re-Thinking School Lunch.  Preserving the Piedmont by Putting it to Work for Local Food.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
I bought the new Ottolenghi cookbook Simple. All of his books are in regular rotation in my kitchen, Jerusalem, Plenty, Plenty More, NOPI, and Ottolenghi.

Priya Konings
Food Writer at BYT

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Impossible! (yes this is a shout out to the Impossible Burger)

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
The best:
Plant based protein! I love it that restaurants, even high-end restaurants, are using items like the beyond meat and impossible meat to develop creative dishes like veggie meatloaf and impossible dumplings.
The worst: Orange wine. No, I don’t want it. Leave me alone.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/The one that didn’t quite live up?
Best: The Fancy Radish! I am obsessed. If only I could get a reservation.
Worst: San Lorenzo, Napoli pasta bar. We already have so much Italian and these really did not do much to add to the scene. Also Kaliwa – ugh. The menu is so unappealing. Some of the new Mexican joints too – Mi Vida and Mayahuel are duds.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Karma Modern Indian – it has really good Indian food, but has fallen in the shadows because of so many new Indian restaurants opening.

The best dish you ate in 2018?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?
Best:
Ok so I wrote about my 18 favorite dishes of the year here! The panisse at Himitsu ruled my world and got the #1 spot.
Worst: I had a terrible panzanella at Napoli Pasta bar.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
I really like the New Cuban at Cuba Libre. Its made of Papa’s Pilar rum, walnut bitters, lime sugar and prosecco

Best food event of 2018?
I love the Celebrating Women Professionals Through the Culinary Arts event hosted every year by K&L Gates. The event includes only female chefs and mixologists, and the food and drinks are always wildly amazing.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
Well, clearly Mike Isabella and the implosion of his empire.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Emilie’s! It is not news that I am a fan of Kevin Tien.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
I would love to see a South Indian restaurant open. I am so over steakhouses.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
I love Kevin Tien, Amy Brandwein, Peter Chang, Vikram Sunderam and Russell Smith, which is explains why my favorite restaurants are Himitsu, Centrolina, Q, The Source. I also love Lapis, Thip Khao, and Bindaas. Haikan is awesome too. I love the fancy bars – Harold Black, Minibar, Maxwell Park.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
I am a frequent visitor of Thip Khao, Fare Well, and Q by Peter Chang because the cuisine at all three is exceptional.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
I loved Kristen Harke’s “9 vegan-friendly restaurants where everyone can eat well– no matter what their diet.”

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
I love my end of the year Best Vegetarian Dishes of 2018 piece.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Definitely Instagram – I don’t have time to read I just want pictures!

Favorite instagram accounts and why?
I love the @plantbasedartist @sixvegansisters

A question you wish we asked here (and your answer)
What is your culinary travel dream? Vietnam!

Stefanie Gans
Restaurant Critic + Dining Editor at Northern Virginia Magazine

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)
Straws.

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?

Best: Finding Vietnamese-style iced coffee at places other than Vietnamese restaurants. I especially love the nitro version at Republik Coffee Bar.
Worst: Enough with cauliflower.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/The one that didn’t quite live up?

There wasn’t a ton of splashy openings in Virginia this year, but finding out a bunch of bad-ass women (Nicole Jones, Seng Luangrath) are taking over the former Isabella Eatery space in Tysons Corner is pretty satisfying.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?

Nasime and La Fromagerie in Old Town Alexandria. The first, while getting on city lists, isn’t given nearly enough credit for being this strange, otherworldly little slice of Japanese eating, and La Fromagerie is a lovely neighborhood restaurant marrying French and modern American and producing casually beautiful dishes.

The best dish you ate in 2018?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?

Best: Barsotto: barley cooked like risotto, but tasting kind of like oatmeal, topped with mushrooms and caraway seeds and kastinys, a Lithuanian butter-sour cream situation and it’s just amazing. Find it at Maple Ave in Vienna.
Worst: Why can’t I find a decent fettuccine Alfredo? (send tips!) And no, cacio e pepe isn’t going to cut it. I ate a lot of terrible versions this year for a feature on comfort food, and I never found one good enough to put in the January issue.

Favorite cocktail of 2018

I gave birth this year so there wasn’t a lot of bar hopping, so whatever my husband concocted with various amari (Don Ciccio), vermouth (Mt. Defiance) and other booze from our bar cart, plus a few Luxardo cherries, is just what I needed.

Best food event of 2018

I didn’t get to attend – I was in Ashburn eating subpar Vietnamese – but I wanted to soak up Julia Kramer from Bon Appetit at The Lemon Collective.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
The fall of Mike Isabella and his company, and the continued conversation of treating all humans with respect. I hope this message is now very clear.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Mama Chang, by Peter Chang’s family, in Fairfax and the to-be-named French bistro by the Hilton Brothers in Mosaic District.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
Great bagels and smoked fish in every neighborhood, more vegetable-focused restaurants, and apparently there are so many Japanese cocktail bars in New York there are now faux Tokyo-style bars, enough to piss off Adam Platt, so just send them this way.

No more poke.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
Nicole Jones from Stomping Ground // I haven’t been in years, and I know it hasn’t changed, so I’ll just say Little Serow because I still remember how magical it felt to be in that basement and eating wildly fun food. Shit I need to get back there. // I wish I had a favorite bar.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Streets in Del Ray. It’s up the street, has great beer, a classic seaweed salad and the best fries.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner in The New Yorker. Sentimental food writing often leads to cliches and the same cooked-with-granny tropes, but this essay finds humor in the grieving process. It’s a gorgeous read.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
This year I gave birth, took more than three months “off” and still managed to write (with the help of Rina Rapuano) the 50 Best Restaurants list for Northern Virginia Magazine. Because I work anonymously I don’t write too much about my personal life, but this year I tried to bring more attention to how fucking hard it is to be a working mom, and especially a working mom who has to take a toddler and an infant to dinner and is expected to get anything done. Also, does a Twitter thread count?

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
New: Nightcap by Kara Newman. It’s a slim, beautifully photographed (Antonis Achilleos) book filled with easy, amaro-based recipes which is perfect for my amaro-filled bar cart.
Evergreen: Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison. I rarely cook out of it, but I use it as a primer on produce. Her writing is sparse and poetic.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why.
Twitter, I need easy links

Favorite instagram accounts and why?
@books.about.food: cookbook porn is the new food porn

Favorite twitter accounts and why?
I have a love-hate relationship with the @hels account, as I’m sure all of her followers do too

A question you wish we asked here (and your answer)
Favorite home-cooked dish: I finally got my act together to play with dried beans (being on maternity leave with months of at-home eating helped). I’m a fan of Rancho Gordo’s cranberry beans and it’s such a comfort to have beans and broth at-the-ready.

Evan Caplan
Freelance Food Writer

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Be(ing) best.

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
The best food trend: Transforming the idea of fine dining. Fancy isn’t French, it’s Filipino, and Afro-Caribbean, too. We can stop saying that Chinese food must be cheap and plentiful and nothing else.
The worst food trend: Insta-food for Insta sake. The influencer role has become hollow, more about follower quantity than content quality. Instagram as a media has been a game-changer for food, in the good way, but when advertising bleeds into the influencer title, it’s gone too far.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018
The entire suite of restaurants at The LINE Hotel. They’re innovative and exciting, “disruptive” in the best sense, keeping us on our toes – and yes, that’s a reference to the standing-only Spoken English, where you’re supposed to make friends with the people next to you, dammit.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Thai X-ing is not underrated, but under the radar. It was the first restaurant I ate at when I moved to DC [redacted] years ago, and I’ve been in love ever since. The warmth, passion, love, and mismatched furnishings put into the space I have yet to encounter anywhere else. Plus, pumpkin curry.

The best dish you ate in 2018?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?
The best dish: Maydan’s slow-roasted seven-spice lamb shoulder is a sight to behold, a hulking David-esque piece of art-meat on a plate. It shimmers and dazzles, and comes with a couple sprigs of herbs that almost apologize for being there and blocking the view. Best shared with the table and eaten with the must-order one-dollar spreads and dips.
The dish I wish I hadn’t: Mumbo sauce? I’ve never heard of it!*

*I have.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
Using amari in cocktails has become increasingly popular, and I’m all aboard the digestivo train. Sweet cocktails are crass and patronizing, like we can’t handle real spirits. I like cocktails bitter and deep. Like my soul.

Best food event of 2018?
Chefs for Equality, the annual fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign, turned the National Cathedral brilliantly rainbow. It was magical in multiple senses. The “Deliciously Defiant” tagline was on point. Food should also have a message, and Chefs for Equality did that. Plus, we got to party in a cathedral. I can’t remember the last time I was allowed in a church, let alone to toss back a cocktail called “Girl on Girl” (thanks Carlie Steiner!).

Also, New Kitchens On The Block is also always the best way to get a peek at restos before they open.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
If my food philosophy wasn’t obvious, the Initiative 77 debate on eliminating the tipped minimum wage was a critical story of 2018. It allowed diners and industry to speak about working conditions for not just waitstaff, but everyone who makes the meals and drinks of our incredible food scene possible.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Allow me two. First is Hanumanh, from the talented mother-son Thip Khao team. The Lao restaurant looks to be all sorts of awesome, as the owners show off their homeland through dishes we don’t see often in the District. Second is The Imperial, Jack Rose’s new paean to whiskey in Adams Morgan.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
Collaboration, creativity, and expression. I love a good disruption, whether bringing new flavors, different spirits, or representing cuisines that we don’t see enough, but doing so with both imagination and respect (see not what to do: Andrew Zimmern, Chinese food). Also, more vegetables. Vegetables are our future.

No more Mike Isabella stories. Let’s talk more about people like José Andrés, utilizing their food platforms to make a difference, and using Twitter as doggedly as his nemesis down Pennsylvania.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
Trite, but I don’t like favorite questions – there are so many stellar places. That being said, I’m still blown away by my first dinner at Maydan, and love anything at a ThinkFoodGroup spot. I’m also excited for Ryan Ratino’s “Food Lab” at Bresca. Chef Ratino has several creative culinary aces up that sleeve. And for creativity, I must hand it to Chantal Tseng at Petworth Citizen’s Reading Room, where she’s a mixologist/alchemist, uniting two of my preferred activities – books and cocktails.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
As far as I know, Los Hermanos is the only Dominican restaurant in Columbia Heights, and it feels like it was lifted right from the streets of Santo Domingo. The brothers (i.e. Los Hermanos) who run it with their family make everyone feel like family. Eating there is a hug for your soul from the Dominican grandma you wish you had. We need more hugs, especially if they involve plantains, rice, and beans.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
A food story that makes me laugh and cry for nostalgia is impressive, so this recent one from the Times hit the mark. But I also make sure to read pretty much everything Laura Hayes and Tom Sietsema write. I respect both of them very much. I love a good take-down sometimes, too.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
If humans are going to make it through this century, we’re going to have to eat insects. I loved writing about two Mexican restaurants in DC that serve grasshopper tacos – chapulines – in dishes, cocktails, and more, because I was able to cite an academic journal in the piece while talking tacos. They’re not necessarily doing it for green reasons, but I’m hoping more restaurants start serving more sustainable food. And bugs.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
Fine, it’s not my go-to cookbook. I’m still voting for The Burn Cookbook: An Unofficial Unauthorized Cookbook for Mean Girls Fans. Full of sass, it actually *is* making fetch happen (see: Fetch-uccine Alfredo). Plus, pink.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Beyond airbrushed Insta-fluencers, Instagram is still a beautiful place to explore, discover, and learn about food… and other themes. I do like to eat with my eyes, too. However, Twitter has more insight and more meaningful content than a drippy burger.

Favorite instagram accounts and why?
I’m sure I follow too many. For a sampling, @thetufftruffle (to see what the kids eat), @edible_dc (a real print magazine!), @brightestyoungthings (obvi).

Favorite twitter accounts and why?
@wapofood (newsy angle); @eater_DC (love those guys); @foodtechconnect (startups, innovation, transformation, all the cool new stuff).

A question you wish we asked here (and your answer)
Favorite food tool: I got a spiralizer for Hanukkah and I want to shove everything in there. I’m going to start a YouTube channel called “Will it Spiralize” after that “Will it Blend” guy a few years ago.

Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Photographer at DC Refined


Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Mixed.

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
The best food trend was the influx of Cuban restaurants, although I still haven’t found anything that holds a candle to my grandma’s black beans and white rice. The worst was how loud restaurants have been lately. Maybe I’m just getting older, but I hate having to yell over drinks.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/The one that didn’t quite live up?
The re-opening of Quarry House is something to be celebrated. The burgers are delicious, the waiters actually listen to your response when they ask you how you’d like your burger cooked and it’s truly a dive, through and through. The one that didn’t live up to the hype was, of course, La Vie. Tom Siestma’s review was so superbly brutal, that I sent it to friends who don’t even live in the area.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Ambar. It was something of a darling when it was brand new and it’s still popular, but I believe it’s the best happy hour spot in D.C., bar none.

The best dish you ate in 2018?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?
I finally tried Pineapple and Pearls and it made me consider my food in a way that I hadn’t before. I’m not going to deny that you’re paying for showmanship – really, I don’t need to watch my ice cubes get carved out of a block – but it helped me expand my sense of how flavors and textures can come together in a ways I didn’t know existed. The one I wish I hadn’t eaten was a lox bagel I purchased late in the afternoon. I wouldn’t wish that food poisoning on my worst enemy.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
The John Dory Brooklynite Cocktail. One of the bartenders at Copycat Co. made it for me off menu and it was heavenly.

Best food event of 2018?
Chefs for Equality. Although I didn’t attend this year, everyone spoke highly about it and the message is especially pertinent in D.C.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
The #MeToo movement has finally come to D.C.’s restaurant industry in a meaningful way. The hospitality industry is due for some soul-searching on how it treats women and the Mike Isabella fiasco brought the issue home for a lot of people.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Mama Chang!

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
I would do anything for a Mission-style burrito. With the rise of Amazon, I’m wary of what will happen to smaller restaurants that aren’t located in a start-up cafeteria.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
Ryan Ratino, Himitsu and All Souls

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
The Big Hunt, it’s cheap, the beer is great and it’s unpretentious.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
The Inside Story of Mike Isabella’s Fallen Empire by Jessica Sidman and Anna Spiegel. It was nuanced, revelatory and it really got to the heart of Mike Isabella as a person; it holds a mirror up to men in power in a way that’s direct and impactful.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
I really enjoy our 18 restaurants to try in 2018 story. I get a taste of what’s on the horizon in D.C. and I get to try food I normally wouldn’t get the chance to eat.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
Cocina Criolla by Nitza Villapol. It’s considered a tome in Cuban cooking and it’s nearly impossible to find online so I’ve been having my grandparents send me copies of recipes. Nevin Martell’s Red Truck Bakery Cookbook is phenomenal; between Red Truck Bakery cookbook and getting inspired by The Great British Bake Off, my oven’s been getting a lot of usage.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Twitter – Instagram makes me too hungry.

Favorite instagram accounts and why?
@corgisinfood is dumb and delightful, I absolutely cannot get enough.

Favorite twitter accounts and why?
Laura Hayes @laurahayesdc always has the latest for what’s going on in D.C., in addition to being a thoughtful reporter.

A question you wish we asked here (and your answer)
WWJAD? (What would José Andrés do?)

Lani Furbank
Freelance Food Writer

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Frenetic.

The best food trend(s) in 2018
Off-cuts of meat. Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. Ridiculously old spirits. Soft serve.

The worst?
Recalls.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018?
Little Sesame & Call Your Mother

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
SER in Arlington is still putting out some incredible Spanish tapas and sandwiches.

The best dish(es) you ate in 2018?
In order of recency: Spicy chicken salad sandwich at Turkey & the Wolf in New Orleans. Takoyaki at Daikaya Izakaya. Cheesesteak at Philly Wing Fry. Brown rice with poached egg yolk, wakame & sweet soy shiso at Gravitas. Amar’e bagel sandwich at Call Your Mother. Peking Duck at Q by Peter Chang. Chicken shawarma bowl at Little Sesame. Porcini gnocchi at Sfoglina. Rabbit fricassee at Blue Duck Tavern. Truffle croissant at Petite Loulou. Squash blossom crab rangoon at Rose’s Luxury. Biscuit & gravy flight at Biscuit head in Asheville. Asparagus clouds at minibar. Bing bread with dipping sauces at Momofuku. Tsukiji sashimi at Uchi in Austin. Chicken pot pie poppers at Unconventional Diner. Beet borani at Maydan.

The one you wish you hadn’t?
An overly greasy, dense, doughy shrimp toast at Huong Viet (an anomaly in an otherwise epic meal).

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
A punch stirred by sound vibrations and served in a mossy terrarium at Columbia Room.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
The continuation of the #MeToo movement taking down giants in the restaurant industry.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Jônt by Ryan Ratino.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?
More restaurants going carbon neutral (like the Zero Foodprint initiative).

What you hope stays away?
Gimmicky Frankenfoods like croissushi.

Favorite Chef?
Tim Ma and his adorable kids.

Favorite Restaurant?
St. Anselm.

Favorite Bar?
The Green Zone.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Ariake just opened a location in Fairfax that’s less than 3 minutes from my house and now I finally have a place where I’m considered a regular.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
Laura Hayes’ story about how zookeepers feed the animals at the National Zoo was so unexpected and a great example of the versatility of food coverage.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
Cryoconcentration as a technique to create intensely flavored liquids and reduce food waste at Cuisine Solutions’ food science lab.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
I got married in May 2018 and we asked guests to contribute family recipes to a cookbook that served as our wedding guest book.

Tim Ebner
Freelance Food Writer

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
The Wharf reeled in a lot of great restaurants.

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
Best food trend: Israeli cuisine on the up and up (Little Sesame, Sababa, Shouk).
Worst: Too many sides of Brussels sprouts, please make it stop.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/The one that didn’t quite live up?
Best: Call Your Mother. Did you see that line?
Didn’t Live Up to the Hype: O-Ku.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
El Rinconcito Cafe in Shaw. I used to live around the corner from here, and I think it’s the best Salvadoran restaurant we have in D.C. proper.

The best dish you ate in 2018?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?
Best: The blue crab curry at Kaliwa (this Marylander approves).
Worst: The saddest and coldest pizza of my life was served to me at Graffiato at the Mike Isabella food hall in Tysons Corner. Good riddance.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
The Koji Nnamdi at Cotton & Reed (kudos Lukas Smith for DC drink puns).

Best food event of 2018?
Pupusa Fest at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Columbia Heights. It’s truly a holy day of obligation.

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
I’d say there were two: Mike Isabella closing down his restaurants and the back-and-forth fight on Initiative 77

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Danny Lee and Scott Drewno’s Korean pub, Anju, coming to the former Mandu space in Dupont Circle.

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
Neighborhood wine bars / “dive” bars that serve cheap PBR but also bottle service.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
Favorite Chef: Marjorie Meek-Bradley.
Favorite Restaurant: Brookland’s Finest.
Favorite Bar: Reliable Tavern

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
I lived across the street from All Purpose, and I’m a loyal member of the Pizza Wizard Club.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
Jessica and Anna’s piece on Mike Isabella.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
Cruising the pupusa highway in Maryland. Can you tell I’m obsessed with this dish?

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings: Hungry for More (and I met her co-author Adeena Sussman this year. It was the ultimate fanboy moment.)

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Twitter because Instagram influencers suck.

Favorite instagram accounts and why?
@turkeyandthewolf @chefalexlevin @inagarten – These people are the real deal when it comes to cooking and baking.

Favorite twitter accounts and why?
All the places I write for, duh: @goingoutguide @Thrillist @Eater_DC @Edible_DC @DCRefined @Washingtonian @wcp

A question you wish we asked here (and your answer)?
Favorite podcast! My one and only favorite is Shift Drink! Bravo Eddie and Mathew!

Travis Mitchell
Freelance Food Writer

Sum up 2018 in food in a word (or, fine, a sentence)?
Contrived. Does everything really need to be Instagrammable?

The best food trend on 2018/The worst?
The best food trend is the movement to ditch plastic straws and reduce senseless waste. The worst – the invasion of so many coffee shops, especially the non-local brands.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2018/The one that didn’t quite live up?
I would have to say Officina was the most hyped opening of 2018, given it’s location and the reputation of its chef. If you’d asked me at the beginning of the year though, I would probably have said A Rake’s Progress. It’s a close race. On the other side, let’s just say that La Vie could have done better.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
I’ll say Mikko in Dupont Circle. It’s one of the only places to get Nordic/Scandinavian food in the city and they also served dinner in addition to snacks and grab-and-go dishes. It’s a cozy place to go for a different type of cuisine (and maybe a shot or two of Aquavit).

The best dish you ate in 2018?/ The one you wish you hadn’t?
The best: Poca Madre’s shrimp and cuttlefish ceviche “noodles” – don’t waste a drop of that broth.
Wish I hadn’t: Grilled abalone at Mirabelle, though I don’t blame this on the restaurant. I’d never tried it and was not a fan.

Favorite cocktail of 2018?
The Saz’Iraq at The Green Zone

What do you think was THE food story of the year in 2018? Why?
The whole Mike Isabella saga. It connected D.C. to the #MeToo movement and shuttered what had once been some of the city’s top restaurants.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Coconut Club

What you wish for DC in 2019 food trend wise?/ What you hope stays away?
I hope we see the continued trend of affordable plant-based options like Shouk, Little Sesame and Chaia.

Favorite Chef? Favorite Restaurant? Favorite Bar?
It’s not a new spot, but Daikaya recently revamped its entire upstairs (izakaya menu) with Japanese-inspired bar snacks and a serious cocktail list. Morris American Bar by the Convention Center has been a great addition. The bartenders are super knowledgeable and are happy to make just about any drink you can name.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
2 Amys, as usual. Yes, I live in the neighborhood but the food and drinks can not be beat anywhere in D.C. If you haven’t been since they re-opened, go back. There have been some subtle but significant changes to the menu.

Favorite food story of the year someone else wrote and why?
Carrie Allan’s defense of the daiquiri.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2018 and why?
A profile of the Lunch Agenda podcast at the Line Hotel.

Go to cookbook – released this year, and evergreen?
Rasika cookbook, even though it’s way too complicated for me to ever use.

Instagram vs twitter for staying in the food loop and why?
Definitely Instagram. Food is visual (but visual does not have to mean staged).

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