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2019 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, 2019 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:

1. The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
2. The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
3. Most underrated restaurant in DC right now?
4. The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? The one you wish you hadn’t?
5. What do you think was the food story of the year? Why?
6. What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
7. What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time?
8. Favorite thing you covered in 2019 and why?
9. Best cookbook release this year?
10. What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
BONUS QUESTION: Looking back on the 2010s, did any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?

Tim Carman
Food Writer at the The Washington Post

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
The fast-food fried chicken sandwich war. This trend encapsulated the best and worst of 2019. It produced a really good sandwich (the one at Popeyes, which everyone raved about as if it were the Boulud DB burger, back in the aughts.) It also generated greed and violence, as people (literally) fought for access to the item and started hoarding sandwiches at home. Cold greasy Popeyes chicken sammies were selling on Facebook’s marketplace for $50 a pop.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
I think a lot of people will single out chef Kevin Tien and Emile’s or Amy Brandwein’s Piccolina, Peter Prime’s Cane or Enrique Limardo’s Seven Reasons. But I think the most important opening of the year was Busboys and Poets in Anacostia. Say what you will about the quality of the food of B&P, but owner Andy Shallal did what no other major restaurateur in Washington was willing to do: He invested in Anacostia, a neighborhood with a long history of neglect by the dining community. The space is gorgeous and the vibe sweet.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Mi Cuba Cafe in Columbia Heights. I had not been there in months before a visit earlier this year. At a time when higher-profile D.C. chefs and restaurateurs have taken a stab at Cuban cuisine, Mi Cuba owners Jacqueline Castro-Lopez and Ariel Valladares continue doing what they do best: producing home-style dishes with an obsessive attention to detail. They have now expanded to a second level so that more Washingtonians can take advantage of their hospitality.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
No one makes pizza like Tony Conte at Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana in Gaithersburg. Conte is endlessly tinkering with his doughs, his fermentations, even the type of wood he burns in his brick oven. The last time I sank my teeth into his rounds it was like eating pizza for the first time. The flavor, chew and char on his crusts are unlike anything out there, at once complex and ephemeral: This is destination worthy pizza in the suburbs.

The best drink I had was the rum and tonic at Tiki TNT on the Wharf. Todd Thrasher not only created the cocktail, he produced the rum that goes into it.

I try to never regret a meal. They all tell me something, even the bad ones.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
The sudden acceptance of mock meats in mainstream America. Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have created plant-based patties that make people actually crave veggie burgers, not just choke them down in a sign of solidarity to the animals.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
I am eagerly awaiting the return of Frank Ruta with Annabelle. I think Ruta has much to prove after his unceremonious exit from Mirabelle. But mostly, I can NOT wait for Makan, the Malaysian restaurant by former Maketto chef James Wozniuk.

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

Okay, my wife (Post Spirits writer M. Carrie Allan) and I love to plop down at the bar at Momo Yakitori on Rhode Island Avenue NE, a friendly neighborhood spot with good cocktails and good food. Which is why we were devastated to learn that it will be closing this month.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
I published my first ever dining guide for The Post. It was my chance to feature some current favorites while also spotlighting some old standbys that get overlooked in the pursuit of the latest shiny object.

Best cookbook release this year?
I wish I cooked more than I do, but I did make the Coloradito mole from the Oaxaca cookbook. I made it twice, in fact. It is SO delicious, perfect on eggs or just wrapped in a freshly griddled tortilla. The dish required more effort (and more pots and pans) than the typical 30-minute meal so popular among busy home cooks. But it is worth the effort. The cookbook is also worth reading for the backstory on Guelaguetza, the most famous Oaxacan restaurant in Los Angeles.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
I am sort of obsessed with The Washington Post TikTok account. It is part sketch comedy, part absurdist philosophy. Dave Jorgenson, the man behind the account, is a mad genius.

END OF DECADE BONUS: Looking back on the 2010s – any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?
The decade began with The New York Times dissing the food on Capitol Hill.

It ended with Pete Wells naming a José Andrés project as the best new restaurant in New York.

I guess you could say Washington is finally big in New York.

Stephanie Williams
Freelance journalist at the Washington Post

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Best: More vegan and vegetarian options

Worst: The amount of food festivals that ended up being busts or never materializing (NOVA Mac & Cheese Meltdown Festival, Blagden Alley African Food Tasting, Breakfast Festival of Maryland, and too many others to list).

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019
I loved La Betty in Mount Vernon Triangle. They serve comfort food classics (think corn dogs and ribs) and put their own modernized, distinct touch to it. The portions are generous, but the food is cooked in such a way that you don’t get that weighed down, greasy feeling after you’ve eaten. I had the Not Yo’ Mama’s Chicken Schnitzel, and it was honestly the best (and biggest) schnitzel I think I’ve ever eaten. And the hospitality there is top notch — a fantastic experience overall.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Flip it LJ Diner — I will champion this place until the end of time. It’s in Columbia Heights, tucked on Park Road. The struggle is real in D.C. for a good diner, and this place definitely fills that void. Their menu is a mix of American, Mexican and Salvadoran breakfast and lunch dishes. The pancakes, omelettes and meats are all cooked to perfection, and best of all, you can get a ton of food at a very reasonable price. The service is always super quick and very attentive. It’s especially a good place if you’re looking for a quiet breakfast spot.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019?
There are two places that I have to give a shout out to. First, the Paella de Pescado y Mariscos at Del Mar is still on my mind almost a year later. The lobster, prawns, calamari and mussels were so fresh and flavorful. It’s pricey but it’s a worthy splurge. Dos Mamis is killing it with their cocktails, and I’m happy to have them right around the corner from me in Petworth. The Mamijito, which has mint, Mezcal and lime, is refreshing while not being too cloying.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
I appreciated Laura Hayes’ story that brought attention to the lack of diversity in local food writing. It is the elephant in the room that doesn’t get talked about at length, but it’s true. I know myself, and many other writers of color, were thankful that someone took the time to point this issue out and hold these offending publications accountable.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
I’m particularly thrilled at how much the 800th block of Upshur Street in Petworth continues to grow. There’s Timber, Dos Mamis, and then there will soon be another ramen place, Ramen Ya Hosaki, earlier next year. They will apparently have fresh noodles, broth and toppings made onsite daily, so I’m looking forward to trying it out in this blistering D.C. winter.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Sonny’s Pizza is a great addition to Park View and I found myself spending a lot of time there this year, especially over the summer. The slices are filling, their crust is some of the best I’ve had in the city, and they’ve got a solid beer selection. The vibe there is also super chill — it’s just a cozy neighborhood pizza joint where you can go with a group, or be just as comfortable going alone with a book in hand.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
Most of my food coverage is focused on the people behind the scenes, rather than criticism of food. I really loved speaking to chefs behind some of D.C.’s most expensive, swanky restaurants and hearing what their cheap guilty pleasures foods were. A lot of fun, unexpected answers came up — apparently 7-Eleven hot dogs are pretty damn good. Who knew?

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
A few that I follow on Twitter that have been very resourceful to me:

@LauraHayesDC — Laura Hayes at Washington City Paper is one of the most insightful food writers out there. She tackles subjects within the food space, such as mental health and diversity, that don’t get a whole lot of coverage elsewhere, and I really respect her reporting.

@barredindc — Their polls are always entertaining!

@eater_DC — How I try to attempt to keep up with the millions of restaurant openings here.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor at Washingtonian

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Best: Pizza! There are so many new pizzerias, and I love that they’re not all serving Neapolitan-style pies (though Neapolitan-style is still great!).
Worst: Whole cauliflower. I’m glad restaurants are doing more with vegetables and all, but no one wants to eat a whole freaking cauliflower.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
The best restaurant opening was short-lived: the Happy Gyro pop-up at Komi. For several weeks this summer and again this fall, the fine-dining restaurant transformed into a vegetarian riff on a Greek-American carryout joint. The prix-fixe menu culminated in a tofu-skin gyro or chicory cheesesteak, which—my god—tasted better than most meat versions I’ve had.

An early meal at Zeppelin was just a comedy of errors. I’ve never been to a restaurant that brought us the wrong dishes so many times (seriously, must have been four or five times). It was actually kind of amusing the first few times, but then we waited an hour for the sushi portion of our order… and again it was wrong. (I have a hunch the server lost our order but was too embarrassed to ask what we had?) Sadly, the quality didn’t make up for the service mishaps. At least the drinks were good, though, and the space is cool, so I’d like to go back to see if they’ve figured things out.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Tsehay opened this year on Georgia Ave., and it’s serving some of the best Ethopian food around. I love the super-rich shiro (chickpea flour stew), the vividly spiced red lentils, and juicy beef tibs with tomatoes and onions.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Some faves: mentaiko agnolotti at Reverie, beef mantu at Bistro Aracosia, chili-soy-caramel katsu pork ribs at Sushiko, fried papaya salad at Elephant Jumps, focaccia at Green Almond Pantry, matcha snow ice at Magnolia Dessert Bar, “hot & sweet” pizza at Union Pie, pineapple buns at Rooster & Owl

One dish I wish I hadn’t had: Estuary’s masa and potato starch-crusted calamari dyed black with squid ink. It looked like lumps of coal and had a strange off-taste.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
José Andrés’s beard… Santa, is that you?

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Revelers Hour. More pasta and wine from the Tail Up Goat team—what’s not to like?

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Well, I had a baby this summer, so I was all about the stroller-friendly restaurants, particularly the back patio at Sonny’s Pizza. While I was on leave, I also rediscovered my love of 2Amys. Even though it’s not convenient to anything in my life, I made many treks for one of their anchovy pies.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
I loved writing about how restaurants treat DC’s VIP diners, including the likes of Ivanka Trump and Stephen Miller.

Best cookbook release this year?
Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy! I have such a crush on her and completely agree that cheese is the most important thing at any dinner party.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
I like to live vicariously through Minibar GM Jhonatan Cano, who travels to the world’s best restaurants on his weekends and documents every spectacular bite at @memoriesofagourmand on Instagram.

END OF DECADE BONUS: Looking back on the 2010s – any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?
Little Serow is not only one of my all-time personal favorites, but I think it embodies a lot of the trends of the last decade. The spicy/sour/funky flavors. The casual-yet-super-finessed style of service. The affordable family-style tasting menu format. And, oh yeah, the lines.

Laura Hayes
Food Editor at Washington City Paper

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Best: Affordable tasting menus. You still get the feeling you’re along for the ride with the chef, but without the triple digit check per person. Some relative newcomers include Rooster & Owl ($65), Nina May ($39), Hazel ($60), and Little Pearl ($49).

Worst: Gimmicks have jumped the shark. At El Cielo inside La Cosecha, a server poured hot melted chocolate over our cupped hands at the start of the meal. Then we were told to lick our hands and fingers while they watched—mind you, we were not told to wash our hands in advance and had just come from the Metro. I kept thinking about germs and food waste and whether I’d get chocolate out of my wedding ring. The meal included other tropes like liquid nitrogen and rose petals covered in lotion I was supposed to rub on my hands.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
Best D.C. restaurant opening: Republic Cantina. A restaurant doesn’t have to be fancy to be transportive. Everything from the decor to the drinks to the food screams Tex-Mex. I have a feeling this restaurant is only going to get better. I love spending time there eating fajitas and spicy mezcal margaritas. Anju is way up there too.

Didn’t quite live up: Estuary. Has anyone had a good meal there? Think dry chicken breast topped with room temperature “sunflower seed risotto” that had the look and consistency of spit-up and puffer fish tails that were gelatinous instead of light and crispy like the sugar toads at The Dabney.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Stable. H Street NE’s Swiss restaurant is the best place to dine in the winter. The cocktails are great, it’s cozy, and splitting a pot of fondue with your girlfriends or a date is memorable and the ultimate comfort food. If you just want an entree, get the venison with spaetzli, braised red cabbage, and caramelized chestnuts.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Best dish: The Japanese wagyu beef sukiyaki dinner for two at Sushi Taro.

Best cocktail: Because Dram & Grain is back so is the “Stealing Tomatoes from the Garden of Eden.” I’m not a vodka drinker but this is the most refreshing drink in the city with Absolut Elyx, strawberry toasted mustard seed gomme, fresh tomato water, white port, lime juice, and Himalayan pink sea salt.

Worst dish: A lunch bento box from Tokyo Pearl. Photo attached. It says it all.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
Women rising! It was encouraging to see so many women take charge this year and rise to the top including Johanna Hellrigl (Mercy Me), Daniella Moreira (Mercy Me), Marcelle Afram (Maydan), Amy Brandwein (Centrolina and Piccolina), Jocelyn Law-Yone and Simone Jacobson (Thamee), Amanda Moll and Carlie Steiner (Pom Pom), Carlie Steiner and Anna Bran-Leis (Dos Mamis) and more.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Cranes—Chef Pepe Moncayo’s Spanish/Japanese Penn Quarter restaurant that will offer a la carte dishes and a tasting menu under $100. He works with the best ingredients from Spain and Japan and weaves them together in ways I never even considered.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Comedor y Pupuseria San Alejo in Hyattsville. (Thanks Tim Carman!) The Salvadoran restaurant, which also has a few Honduran specialties, is affordable, friendly, and serves outstanding food. My order is the carne deshilada consisting of a mound of shredded beef, onions, and peppers mixed with scrambled eggs served alongside rice, beans, and thick tortillas. Also: Sushi Taro, Izakaya Seki, Rakuya, Mari Vanna, Primrose, Tail Up Goat, District Fishwife, and Stellina.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
While I tackled more serious, nuanced topics like the lack of diversity in food criticism and accessibility for diners with disabilities, covering failed food festivals was the most fun. It stunned me how people were willing to fork over $45 or so to attend a festival to try samples of a dish after waiting in long lines that they could get a better version of for less at a restaurant. Especially because very rarely do these festivals live up to expectations. It’s a tough industry, sure, but there are also scammers out there who throw bogus events and have to be pressured into giving refunds.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
Food journalist titans Soleil Ho and Helen Rosner on Twitter.

END OF DECADE BONUS: Looking back on the 2010s – any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?
The Happy Gyro tasting menu pop-up inside Komi was one of the most technically impressive, supremely satisfying, and beautiful meals I’ve had since moving to D.C. 10 years ago. Though it took place at the end of the decade, it’s indicative of where we’re headed. Diners are looking for more plant-based meals (save the planet! Thanks Greta!) that don’t skimp on creativity. More casual fine dining experiences are also becoming sought after. Happy Gyro was both. I hope it becomes a standalone concept from Chef Johnny Monis and his wife, Anne Marler.

Ann Limpert
Executive food editor / critic at Washingtonian

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
The best: The rise of non-Neapolitan pizza. I love a prettily blistered, basil-strewn pie as much as anybody, but I was thrilled to see other styles elbow their way onto the scene: the brawny Detroit pies at Red Light (and soon, Emmy Squared), the NYC slices from Della Barba, and the Sicilian squares from Sonny’s. Plus, I’m excited to see Frank Pepe’s happen, even if it is in a mall.

The worst: The ridiculously priced single vegetable—the $30 squash or whole cauliflower or whatever. I recently paid $26 for a one solitary sweet potato. A sweet potato! It was delicious, sure, but I still felt like I was being punked.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
My two personal favorites were Anju, for boundary-busting Korean cooking (and the city’s absolute best fried chicken), and Cane, for joy-inducing Trinidadian food. And as someone who is always nostalgic for the heyday of the Austin Grill (the Cashion years), I’m so glad Republic Cantina now exists.

I’m in the minority on this one (even among our staff), but my meals at Seven Reasons just haven’t lived up to the hype.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
It feels strange to say this about a restaurant that has consistently landed near the top of our 100 Best Restaurants list, but I feel like Komi (at 17 years old!) often gets overlooked. It’s still such a magical place.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
The champon noodles from Emilie’s—basically a cheese-less cacio e pepe with miso butter and celery—had me returning a second night in a row to order them again (and that never happens). That said, the same restaurant’s teriyaki radicchio is not something I ever need to eat again.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
The relentless parade of closures—from well-regarded neighborhood spots like Sally’s Middle Name, Momo Yakitori, and Ray’s the Steaks to newcomers (Frenchy’s Naturel, Dylan’s) to longtimers like Rosemary’s Thyme, Woodside Deli, and Meiwah.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
A lot of the ones I was looking forward to in 2019! Chiefly, Albi, Reveler’s Hour, Jont, Pennyroyal Station, and Oyster Oyster. Also excited to see what Danny Meyer brings to Navy Yard.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Estadio. Up until this summer, I lived down the street from it. But it wasn’t just the convenience factor. The kitchen is remarkably consistent, the staff is tolerant of my toddler dining companion, and the bartenders make a killer G&T. Also, I made an embarrassing number of detours for second breakfasts or lunches at Elle and Hot Lola’s.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
Not a story per se, but I’ve really enjoyed doing my Friday chat. One downside to being a critic is how hidden you have to keep yourself, so it’s nice to have some opportunity to connect with folks.

Best cookbook release this year?
Nothing Fancy. I don’t do a ton of home cooking anymore. And if I do cook, it’s usually because I’m entertaining. And if I’m entertaining, I’m usually STRESSY (it’s in my genes, I think). So I like a good dose of Alison Roman to remind me to just chill the eff out.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
On Insta: Scott Suchman (our food photographer); Esquire food editor Jeff Gordinier (so I can vicariously keep up with what’s going on around the country); and pastry chef Pichet Ong, who eats out as often as any food critic.

Looking back on the 2010s – any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite?
My first dinner at Pineapple and Pearls was about the most fun fine dining experience I’ve ever had. Everything—the many cocktail pairings, the plating, the actual plates, and of course, the food—was so ambitious, so elaborate, so surprising, and so damn delightful. I loved the push-pull between creativity and comfort (I still think about that chocolate souffle with buckwheat ice cream), and sophistication and breeziness. It’s still the only four star review I’ve ever given.

Something that defined DC this decade?
The bowl: From breakfast to lunch to Instagram to both high and low-end dinners, the bowl reigned supreme. I miss plates. And sandwiches.

Ruth Tam and Patrick Fort
Hosts of Dish City

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Patrick: Watching the rise of Impossible and Beyond meat has been the best and worst. On one hand, I’m glad meat alternatives are becoming popular, but it feels a little weird that the push is coming from “big burger.”

Ruth: As someone that’s lactose intolerant, I’m grateful to oat milk for making it possible for me to drink rich-not-watery hot chocolate again. I’m a little bitter about local Wawa takeovers because even though I have warm feelings toward the chain, I less thrilled about them displacing local and independently owned shops.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Ruth: The most underrated restaurants in D.C. are the ones on your block that would crush you if they closed, but you only go to twice a year. For me, this past year, that’s Maiwand Grill in Adams Morgan and Afghan Grill in Woodley Park!

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Ruth: The cold noodle soup at CB Chinese Grill in College Park! I walked there from University of Maryland’s quad on what felt like the hottest day of the year and it was so refreshing. Favorite drink: It’s priced like a cocktail, but the non-boozy coconut spritz at Emilie’s is tasty as hell.

Patrick: I think about the sour soup dumplings at Northwest Chinese Food pretty much all the time. I’m also going to change the rules for best cocktail and go off-list. I loved the Limoncello Gose from Commonwealth Brewing Company (out of Virginia Beach). The tastiest liquid Lemonhead you’ve ever tasted.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
Our favorite food stories from 2019 include:

John Paul Brammer’s Washington Post essay on “authentic” Mexican food.

Lucas Kwan Peterson’s column in the LA Times on New York’s “expanding dining scene.”

Hilary Cadigan’s feature on Chef BJ Dennis and Gullah Geechee culture in Bon Appetit.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Ruth: Puppatella in D.C.

Patrick: Also pizza. Love Puppatella, but I’m excited about Emmy Squared.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Patrick: I usually ended up at Brookland Pint. Most importantly, it’s close to where I live. Great beer list and solid food.

Ruth: If dinner is up to me, I’m likely eating hot pot, particularly Little Sheep at Eden Center in Falls Church, or Uncle Liu’s, also in Falls Church.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
Patrick: Ruth and I were lucky enough to release our podcast Dish City this year. We’ve been working on it for almost two years and we got to cover our favorite foods that help define our area’s food scene.

Ruth: If I had to pick one episode, I’d highlight our second episode on Ethiopian cuisine. I really loved digging into the complicated issues surrounding immigrant food. Plus, I got to sneak in a clip from Netflix’s “Always Be My Maybe.”

Best cookbook release this year?
Ruth: I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet, but I’m excited to read Fuschia Dunlop’s The Food Of Sichuan, which is an update of her 2003 cookbook Land of Plenty.

Patrick: I’m not gonna lie, I’m not a big cookbook person. But I do love finding new recipes online. I was a big fan of this crispy broccoli and gnocchi recipe from Ali Slagle in The New York Times. Frying gnocchi in butter? Yes. Please.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
Patrick: It has to be all the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen Youtube account doesn’t it?

Ruth: Stephanie H. Shih’s Instagram account (@stephaniehshih). Bonus: Tastemade Japan (@tastemade_japan) is always a wild ride.

Looking back on the 2010s, did any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?
Ruth: One of my neighborhood favorites is Bistrot DuCoin in Dupont Circle, specifically their annual Beaujolais Nouveau party they throw every November. To celebrate the uncorking of the year’s beaujolais nouveau, they throw a midnight party on the third Thursday of November. I’ve been for the past 7 years and don’t plan on stopping, despite it getting increasingly difficult for me to stay up past 11.

Priya Konings
Food Writer at BYT

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Best: Donuts. Everywhere had a donut. Piccolina. Emilie’s. Blue Duck Tavern. Birch and Barley. From chicory flavored ones (BDT) to huckleberry stuffed ones (B&B) they were all delicious.

Worst: Anything catering to the keto diet. Or gluten-free diet. I am also sick of cauliflower.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
Emilie’s! And it did. Anju is also super fabulous and Piccolina.

Queen’s English – there’s literally one vegetarian option. I am so desperate for good Asian food in DC and so many like Queen’s English and Tiger Fork and Astoria are so lacking in vegetarian options it’s depressing.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Nina May – I am not sure if people have heard of it but its pretty awesome.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Best: That’s easy – the Source’s impossible dumplings!

Worst: Mexicue’s impossible taco. You can’t call it impossible if you aren’t using Impossible meat!

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
I love Laura Hayes piece on diversity amongst food writers. But also it was kind of shocking when Chef Massimo Fabbri got arrested.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Oyster Oyster!!! I went to the pop-up on November 29th and it was super awesome.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
The reality is, I go to Centrolina a lot. I love Amy’s pasta. I also eat a lot of ramen, especially at Haikan. Peter Chang is another favorite.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
I loved the piece in wrote in January 2019 on best dishes in the city using Impossible meat! Impossible has taken over the world and I for one could not be happier. I am hoping for more exciting uses of it in 2019.

Best cookbook release this year?
Ottolenghi’s Simple came out at the end of last year and I love it!

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
Kristen Hartke, hands down. I want to eat everything she makes.

END OF DECADE BONUS: Looking back on the 2010s – any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?
Himitsu changed D.C. and put us on a national culinary map! It will be my forever favorite. DC has now become a city that is friendly to plant based dining – from Shouk to Pow Pow to the Fancy Radish to Oyster Oyster we are finally getting there.

Tierney Plumb
Senior Associate Editor at Eater DC

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Brussels sprouts are very much still in vogue, thankfully now without all that honey balsamic glaze (recently had tasty takes at Toki Underground, Coconut Club, and Stable). The worst was confusing fusion food, ubiquitous “plant-based” branding, and “Popeyes chicken sandwich replicas for everybody!”

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
Was awesome to see chef Kevin Tien’s Emilie’s rise and immediately kill it on Capitol Hill just as his Himitsu got a new life in Petworth as Pom Pom under badass boss Carlie Steiner.

And these opened in 2018, but the fast closures of Dyllan’s Raw Bar, Meatball Shop, and Scotts this year were big “d’ohs”!

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
I think Punjab Grill is still trying to carve out its place in the neighborhood with Rasika right there. People already know the design is amazing, but chef’s dishes are just as gorgeous (and delicious).

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019?
In recent memory it was a tostada at Georgetown’s L’Annexe that came with squeezable, fun Australian finger limes (would love to see more of those here!).

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
See part 2 of answer #2. The rash of recent restaurant closures is real. High rents are partially to blame, but I think outside operators/chains sometimes don’t gauge their market well before they enter D.C.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
There are plenty, but I’m especially excited for Oyster Oyster and Albi to finally get here and La Cosecha to fully come to life.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Streets bar in NoMa, because I don’t even have to leave my damn building to get there and they have a solid happy hour, hard-to-find beers, and strong WiFi.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
The spiked seltzer phenomenon. Clearly it’s here to stay, with OG brewer DC Brau getting in on the action too. Also loved telling the story of a Venezuelan immigrant who’s now running one of the top-rated restaurants in the country (Seven Reasons).

Best cookbook release this year?
It’s more a compilation of inspirational chef bios, but A Wealth of Insight — the whole book was inspired by a meal at minibar years ago.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
Too many to name one. But when I’m missing California, I immediately go stalk what my Eater LA colleague @mattatoullie is eating and drinking.

END OF DECADE BONUS: Looking back on the 2010s – any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?
I have mad respect for Old Ebbitt and other D.C. mainstays that are stronger than ever, despite the crazy competition we have here.

Aparna Krishnamoorthy
Founder of The Hungry Travelist

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Best: I spent 6 months of 2019 pregnant so I’m all for the non-alcoholic drinks/zero proof libations 😀

Worst: Meat mimicking plant based burgers. I can’t get behind this one.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
Best: Anju/Emilie’s/Punjab Grill/Cane

Didn’t live up: Gogi Yogi

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Karma Modern Indian – Delicious and creative Indian food, but they fly under the radar.

Cane – Chef Peter Prime’s food is fabulous, and the drinks are fun, and everyone is just super friendly – I do love #IslandCulture

Dio wine bar – Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t hear much about it. Great natural wine list!

Nina May – It’s pretty new so I wouldn’t say it’s underrated yet, but that space has had a few turnarounds so I’m hoping this one sticks!

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Some of my favorites: The La-Zi chicken at Astoria is the perfect drinking snack! Also, marrow fat beans and carrot cavatelli at Nina May, dry fried cauliflower and the fish with chilis at Mama Chang, whole fish at Emilie’s.

Wish I hadn’t: I have tried SO many dosas in hope of finding ONE good one. Did not succeed in 2019. (Can someone open a South Indian restaurant in DC, please????)

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
I think I read something about a fried chicken sandwich?

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Albi: Michael Rafidi + Brent Kroll= YES!!! Also, Reveler’s hour ..’cos pasta!

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
The Dabney Cellar. Cozy space, great wine list, tasty snacks – everything I love!

Osteria Morini anytime a pasta craving hits and I need a reservation stat – always consistently solid!

Oh, also Lucky Buns.

And The Royal – the perfect spot for anytime of day!

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
I did try a number of thalis for this.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
Dogs in Food

BONUS QUESTION: Looking back on the 2010s, did any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?
It’s probably Little Serow for me – I’ll always remember my first experience there!

Daikaya, Estadio, Le Diplomate, Thip khao, Doi Moi, Red Hen, Maketto, Minibar – they’ve all had some impact in DC’s restaurant evolution. Maybe Union Market too.

Rina Rapuano
Freelance Food Writer

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Best: A rise in Latin American restaurants / Worst: Zero-proof cocktails. Not that there shouldn’t be interesting non alcoholic options, but do we have to lose our shit over it? And can we call them something else?! It ain’t a cocktail.

The best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
Best: Anju / Most disappointing: Estuary

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Kaz Sushi Bistro. It’s been around 20 years, which is proof enough that it’s awesome, but sometimes people forget about it while chasing the newest, hottest thing.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019?
Best dish: The biscuits from St. Anselm / Best cocktail: I had many, many great cocktails in 2019, but two of my most recent favorites were Aaron Franklin on Vacay (smoked pineapple juice, rye, egg white, citrus, bitters) at Republic Cantina and the Yerbatero at Serenata, made bright green from spirulina but also packing ginger and tumeric. Oh, and the Sage cocktail at Trummer’s.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
Aside from José Andrés feeding the world, probably the rise in awareness of how our cooking and dining choices—such as single-use plastics and food waste—affect the earth.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Mike Rafidi and Brent Kroll’s Albi — same answer as last year!

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Taqueria Habanero for the chilaquiles (#teamverde) and shrimp tacos; The Girl and the Vine because I love their turkey sandwich; and Comet Ping-Pong because they still serve some of my favorite pizza in town, despite the fact that the pies keep getting smaller and smaller

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
A story I wrote for Food Network on becoming a more mindful diner, because it’s a goal of mine to align my writing with my values. I also loved interviewing chef Frank Ruta for Arlington Magazine about how he makes his own wine, because he’s just a super nice and interesting guy.

Best cookbook release this year?
It was released last fall, but the book I most cooked out of this year was Ottolenghi’s Simple.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
On Insta: @thejenchase for her gorgeous photos of local food and far-flung corners of the earth; @gansie because she is next-level with her Instagram stories, and I love to see what she’s cooking

END OF DECADE BONUS: Looking back on the 2010s – is there something that defined DC this decade?
I think the amplification of more voices and culinary perspectives has defined DC dining this decade—and we’re all much, much better for it. We no longer think in terms of “Asian food,” African food” or “Latin American food,” but can now speak fluently about the differences between Lao and Thai food, Mexican and Peruvian food, Ethiopian and Ghanaian food. It’s a welcome (and delicious) movement forward.

Nevin Martell
Food / travel writer and cookbook author

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
The best food trend was the proliferation of amazing fried chicken (and I am definitely not talking about Popeyes). I ate so much of it that was clucking awesome, like the peppercorn pepped fried chicken sando at ChiKo, the glossy-with-gochujang Korean style wings at Anju, the satisfyingly spicy Sichuan x Nashville fried chicken sandwich at Hot Lola’s, and the epic fried chicken platter with dilly ranch, house-made hot sauce, and generously over-buttered Texas toast at Emilie’s (Kevin Tien and the Fried Rice Collective have definitely mastered the art of frying chicken). On the flip side, CBD laced everything was the worst trend. It was kind of novel at first, but it has quickly snowballed into an annoying craze that definitely isn’t as life-changing as the marketing would lead you to believe.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
It was a bumper year for restaurant openings. Favorites included Emilie’s for ridiculously delicious heartfelt fare, Stellina for spot-on pizzas, Piccolina for scacce (think of them as a calzone’s cousins), and Cane for Trini bites. Punjab Grill takes the top spot though. It delivered on every level: interesting interpretations of Indian classics, often suffused with global influence, presented in the most beautifully designed and decorated space of recent memory. My most disappointing meal was at Sonny’s Pizza, which promises killer Detroit-style rectangular zas, but delivers overpriced, meh renditions and complements them with unforgivably leaden garlic knots. Womp, womp.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
A&J in Rockville puts out the area’s best dim sum at a great price and it’s unfailingly consistent. If I ate their peanutty, spicy dan dan noodles once a week, I would be an even happier man.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
I’m still thinking about the crispy lechon belly over garlic rice I ate at Kuya Ja’s. Also, I repeatedly ordered the slow braised lamb leg blinged out with edible gold leaf at Punjab Grill.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
That kitchens are being lead by chefs who are more diverse on a variety of levels. Finally. Because representation matters.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
There’s so much to be excited for in 2020. I’m 112% confident that Huevos from Victor Albisu (Taco Bamba, Poca Madre) is going to provide my belly and Instagram with an endless supply of #yolkporn. I’m really interested to see what David Deshaies (Unconventional Diner) does with the Ardent. And Minibar vet Joshua Hermias is kicking around a concept I hope he gets opened sooner rather than later, so I can enjoy his fantastically creative cooking on the regular.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
I eat at Cielo Rojo in Takoma Park whenever possible. Chef David Perez crafts the kind of Mexican food I love: authentic, heartfelt, and ridiculously flavorful. If you haven’t been yet, you really are missing out on one of the area’s best restaurants.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
I wrote a piece for Washington City Paper on Instagram influencers, which sent me down so many rabbit holes as I learned about the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly. It was an enlightening investigation.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
My Instagram feed is powered by pastry pros. Some of my faves are locals, including @thesweetfeminist @killacakes and @brittanie.bakes.

Jessica van Dop DeJesus
Founder of The Dining Traveler

Photo by Nikky Richardson Photography

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
The best food trend of 2019 for me was the importance of addressing food waste in our restaurants and supermarkets. It’s great to see restaurateurs addressing this topic.
The worst trend for me is the “impossible/beyond burger everything”. I am not vegan, but I love my veggies and want them to taste like veggies-not meat.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
Most anticipated for me was Anju. I love Mandu and was happy to see that they were able to reinvent themselves after the tragic fire.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Are you taking broader DC-area? I recently went to Wang Dynasty in Bethesda and fell in love with the food. The romance was so hard that I returned within two weeks. Their Taiwanese food transports me back to one of my favorite cities, Taipei.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Best Food: The roasted duck wrapped in banana leaves stuffed with glutinous rice at Wang Dynasty in Bethesda. Epic. A close second is the hot chicken sandwich at Hot Lola’s.
Best Cocktail: the spicy guava pisco at High Street Cafe in Georgetown

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
I think Laura Hayes’ story on Washington City Paper about diversity in the food writing industry shook the food media community. It provoked an ongoing conversation on who is considered a judge of good taste in Washington, DC, and how those opportunities are usually reserved for a very select, non-diverse few.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
I love everything that Daikaya does, so I am looking forward to seeing what they are going to do with the former Graffiato space.
I am Puerto Rican and very much looking forward to the opening of La Famosa at Navy Yard.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
I’ve been traveling a lot this year. When I am home, I try to stay close to home. Try to entice people to come to Brookland for Primrose and Brookland’s Finest. I also love going to Blue Duck Tavern for breakfast during the week.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019, and why?
This year I started to create more video content, interviewing a diverse pool of chefs and restaurateurs. My two favorite interviews were with Daniela Senior, the co-owner of Colada Shop and with Chef Jameeale Arzeno, the culinary director at The James Beard House in NYC. Pretty much everything we eat in this country is touched by a Latino, however, I feel that we’re still invisible from the food stories. I’ve pledged to continue to tell the stories of the Latinos behind the food we eat. Also, I am very proud of my book The Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico.

Best cookbook release this year?
I didn’t buy any cookbooks this year. However, I am looking forward to digging into The Cooking Gene by Michael Twitty.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
On Twitter: @LauraHayesDC She keeps us abreast of everything-the good and ugly of the DC Food Scene.
On Instagram: @CiaoSamin, Samin Nostrat of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
@eatdrinkdc: Lanna Nguyen keeps me abreast of everything that is going on in DC, especially after this year of nonstop travel
On TikTok: Love what NoVA-based food and travel blogger Nicole Sunderland is doing in @eatlivetraveldrink

BONUS QUESTION: Looking back on the 2010s, did any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?
My forever favorites are Bantam King, Tigerfork, Oyamel, Blue Duck Tavern, Rasika, Red Hen, and The Royal.

Something that defined DC this year has been evolution. I recall living in the area in the early 2000’s and the dining choices were so limited. The dining has become more diverse in every sense of the world. Also, it’s refreshing to see world cuisine getting the respect it deserves.

Lani Furbank
Freelance Food Writer

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
The best: Sustainability! Plant-based, zero-waste—I’m here for it!
The worst: Hard seltzer. Sorry, but it just tastes like what I imagine paint thinner tastes like.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
The best: Mama Chang or Rooster & Owl

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Kinship—this spot had fallen off my radar, but a recent visit reminded me that Eric Ziebold is still putting out superb food, with special touches from his garden at RdV.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
The best: Jamón Iberico in Jabugo, loaded poutine at Poutini in Toronto, Mom Duke’s shrimp at Kith & Kin, manchego cheesecake at Chloe, vegan tacos at Chase’s Daily in Belfast, Maine, doubles at Cane, squash blossom quesadilla at Cielo Rojo, olive oil cake at Thompson Italian, panchan at Anju, branzino at Emilie’s, croissants at Sunday Morning Bakehouse, spicy red miso ramen at Hatoba.
The worst: a deconstructed key lime pie, rock-hard garlic knots, a leaden chicken pot pie, a lukewarm hopper, and a curdled sweet potato gratin, at places that shall not be named.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
Greater attention being paid to equity in restaurants—employees’ rights, pay, benefits, and workplace environments. This matters so much and I’m grateful to my colleagues who are digging in and exposing wrongdoing to help create a better industry.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Oyster Oyster!!

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Honestly, I try to mix things up as much as possible, so I’m not a “regular” anywhere. I guess I’d say the Mosaic District? I’m always shopping at Mom’s Organic Market, scarfing a burger at B Side, or sweating at Spark Yoga.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
Chefs fighting food waste (for Eater DC).

Best cookbook release this year?
Vegetables Unleashed by José Andrés.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
I love @thehungryhutch on Instagram!

BONUS QUESTION: Maybe the real treasure was the friends we made along the way…

Marcus K. Dowling
Freelance Food Writer

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Traditionally marginalized American voices/cultures having a dominant voice/hand in the shaping of the conversations regarding the best of DC cuisine.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
From my end, Thamee. The Northern end of Southeast Asian cuisine is something I’ve known about and appreciated since high school/college. To see that presented with such honest and true conceptualization is wonderful. The flavors are rich, the colors bold, and the vibe, as far as Thamee, is familial. Metaphorically, it’s the coziest hug with most disarming charm.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Gosh. I’ll answer this question in probably the most unexpected way. City Lights of China in Dupont. For as many of us are being gourmands, there’s equally as many of us who just want “the most dependably exquisite meal using known ingredients” available on a delivery app. Trust me. I eat both more takeout Chinese AND “foodie” means than you do, lol. Seriously. Braggadocio aside, City Lights has been a defining industry leader in Chinese in DC for well over three decades. There’s a solid reason why that’s the case. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Best cocktail I had in the city this year? Crimson Whiskey Bar is a favorite haunt of mine, and the Space Cake there has amaretto, moonshine, lemon, and sugar. I’ve been a moonshine drinker since college. Though this pales in comparison to anything in a mason jar that I contrabanded to Providence from Virginia, it takes all of the edges off of rough days and leaves a smile on my face.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
The redevelopment of consistency and standards. To use a baseball analogy, the top half of the lineup of what I consider top DC restaurants? All consistently batting .300 or belting long bombs. Expecting more of the same in the future.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
I won’t make it to Erik Bruner-Yang’s ABC Pony until 2020. Looking forward to that. Also, the idea that Sign of the Whale in Golden Triangle is re-opening as a sushi and new Southern cuisine concept feels like the most entertaining Williamsburg, Brooklyn meets Charlottesville, VA thing ever. It’s kinda the epitome of a part of #newDC that we hate for the (oftentimes untrue) stereotypes of the people, but love for the tax-base they provide.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
God. I could eat my weight in Brothers and Sisters’ appetizers and desserts. You could, too. Also, Coconut Club’s spam fried rice. I didn’t put my face in that enough this year.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
My new monthly food column, Course of Action, for the Washington City Paper. Sitting down with chefs, and discussing wild flavor profiles, those profiles’ unique personal histories, and ultimately what about the dish reflects as a story that connects the chef to the diner, is worthwhile.

Best cookbook release this year?
Aesthetically, Fuschia Dunlop’s The Food of Sichuan looks like (then) 40-year old books my mother used to teach both her and me how to prepare simple Chinese recipes when I was a child. It’s 200 recipes and 500 pages long, and every time I see it, I get warm nostalgia for my mother, who passed away this year. Will buy, and keep it heirloom-level close.

BONUS QUESTION: Looking back on the 2010s, did any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC this decade?
There are two establishments with stellar half-smokes on U Street. Have you ever eaten at both Ben’s Chili Bowl and Half-Smoke in the same day? Maybe ventured down even further to D-City Smokehouse for brussels sprouts later in the day? No. Stop reading this, and do that. Do just that. Then report back. Thank me later. It’s the most modern DC thing EVER for all of the reasons.

Tim Ebner
Freelance Food Writer

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Best: We have more pizza options than ever before. (Detroit-, Neopolitan-, Sicilian-style!)
Worst: Too many holday-themed pop-up bars. Enough already. Another trend I hate: Every new hotel and food hall needs a podcast studio inside it.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
Hype is real: Last year, I was excited for Anju, and it definitely lives up to the hype. Didn’t live up to the hype: La Cosecha. It’s like a half-open food hall. Maybe it will hit its stride next year.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Napoli Pasta Bar. It’s a trip to Italy minus the jetlag, and it has a cozy neighborhood vibe. I wish I lived closer to there. I would be a regular!

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Best dish: Mogok Meeshay at Thamee. This udon noodle dish for president! Best cocktail: Spanish-style Gin & Tonic at The Imperial. The one you wish you hadn’t: Stellina (I love you) but your Cesar salad was way too heavy on the blue cheese and anchovy dressing.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
People absolutely lost their freaking minds (and a Maryland man was killed) because of rampant consumerism and a fried-chicken sandwich that went viral.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
NRG’s The Roost. I live near it and Nate Anda always has a few tricks up his sleeve.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Easy. Stellina. It is the best pizza in DC, and the fried artichokes are the sleeper pick on the menu. But maybe skip the Cesar salad.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
This Carlie Steiner profile for Edible DC. She’s a force for good behind the bar! And I loved how this photo shoot turned out (hat tip to: Jen Chase)

Best cookbook release this year?
Currently obsessed with Adeena Sussman’s Isreali cookbook Sababa.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
Instagram: @meats.and.foods (the #biscuitsunday videos are hilarious. Keep doing it!)
Twitter: @BarredinDC (aka the king of happy hour/bar/travel deals)
TikTok: @delectablydelicious (because of his cooking at home with Ariana Grande impression)

BONUS QUESTION: Looking back on the 2010s, did any meal or restaurant stand out as a forever favorite? Something that defined DC to this decade?
Great question! In 2010, I lived across the street from Mangialardo’s on Capitol Hill. To this day, I will go out of my way to order a G Man. I think it’s ones of the best sandwiches/Italian delis in Washington, DC.

AJ Dronkers
Freelance Foodie

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Okay I’m just going to say it I don’t “stan” the entire vegetarian burger rage, e.g. the “Impossible Burger”. I love my veggies; I fully support vegan/vegetarian movements; balance is important; I just don’t get the obsessions with faux meats. Somewhere in the process the food seems less wholesome to me. To each their own.

A trend I love is food experiences. Where you get more interaction with your dining out. Take the pre-Y2K craze of kitschy, group outings, and then make it fashion… and funky. Pig Roasts at Coconut Club; grilled raclette and fondue at Stable DC; Korean BBQ at Gogi Yogi.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
I’m very excited about Hanumanh—from Chef Seng and her son, Bobby—a much needed addition to Shaw. Their wildly popular Laotian restaurant, Thip Khao (Columbia Heights), has been a go-to for me. Plus, they worked with Minibar alumni, Al Thompson on the beverage program. So you know it’s good.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Kaz Sushi & Bistro just celebrated 20 years of excellent Japanese cooking downtown. Their omakase and sake menu will blow you away.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Here’s a love. I’m a sucker for a slushie and the original Strawberry Lime Daiquiri at Coconut Club (near Union Market) is forever sloshing around in my memory. A recent impressive dish was the confit Yellowfin Tuna at Kinship. Omg.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
Natural wines had meteoric attendance across the wine lists. There was even a big natural wine festival, at Old Westminster Winery in MD, that got national press. I’m eager to see this trend continue. Also, I’ve noticed the low-intervention approach to natural fermentation is trickling over to the beer industry. It tastes better to me.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Mercy Me by Chef Joahnna Hellrigl (previously Doi Moi) in collaboration with faves: Chef Dani and Andrew Dana (Timber; Call Your Mother Deli). I already know the flavors will be outstanding, but I’m excited to see the relaxed vibe they cultivate over in West End.

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time? Why?
Honestly, Duke’s Grocery is right around the corner from me, and I’m all about being a regular to at least one bar or restaurant near you. The burger and bottomless brunch are just perfection.

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
I happened upon this cook on Instagram, Patrice Cunningham, and loved her stories. She was hosting weekly Korean dinner parties in her home and I was dying to try. I went and just loved the experience. I got to cover her story in the EdibleDC Magazine Spring issue. She had just launched a pop-up on H street, and now is leading things at Gogi Yogi (in Shaw) full-time. I love finding home cooks following their passion and getting to use our platform to develop local, small businesses.

Best cookbook release this year?
I have to warn you; I LOVE COOKBOOKS. Carla Lalli Music’s Where Cooking Begins from Bon Appétit is fabulous! I love how she breaks down the ingredient list for each recipe—explaining which things should be pantry staples, and where to best source the other elements. Also there’s an insurgence of flexibility in cookbooks (Salt Fat Acid Heat is a great example), with the author furnishing tons of options and alternatives for mixing up recipes—empowering home cooks to play and learn. Can’t make this list without mentioning Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy, which she recently signed in person for me. I like her recipes for being approachable, and not demanding tons of kitchen gadgets. She lives in a small apartment in Brooklyn and I feel like she’s my studio soul-sister when it comes to everyday cooking. I also like to pick cookbooks outside my comfort zone. Two beloved mentions: Indian-ish by Priya Krishna—the perfect addition this year; and When Pies Fly by local cookbook author, Cathy Barrow. It offers a plethora of fun pastry recipes including the very versatile (and my new weekly favorite) galette.

Travis Mitchell
Freelance Food Writer

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
I’d say the best food trend of the year is that we’re seeing even more local ingredients and regional cooking showing up on menus. It used to be just a handful of places, like The Dabney or A Rake’s Progress for example, that were focused on mid-Atlantic cuisine. Now there’s Nina May, sourcing from within 150 miles of D.C., Estuary, and lots of spots for crab and local produce.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
The Imperial and the relaunched Dram & Grain was definitely the most anticipated.

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Prathers on the Alley in Mt. Vernon Square. Tim Ma (who also oversees American Son) recently came on as executive chef. It’s a neighborhood spot for a meal with lots of options for vegetarians, seafood fans and meat eaters looking for some hearty fare. Get the crab linguine and the mushrooms for sharing. Don’t miss the cocktails, either.

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Frozen rum and coke at Tiki TNT (hey, it was winter); Thai Street noodles at Junction Bakery and Bistro in Alexandria.

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
All of the closings we’ve had – rents and property values are making it a huge challenge for small and local restaurants to stay in business and in their neighborhoods.

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
Oyster Oyster

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
The push for hotel bars to try and be more than just a generic and convenient destination for travelers.

Ariel Pasternak
Co-founder of Pineapple Collaborative

Photo by Kate Warren

The best food trend of 2019 / The worst?
Best: Food from regenerative agriculture.
Worst: single-use plastic.

The most anticipated or best DC restaurant opening in 2019 / The one that didn’t quite live up?
Best DC opening: Dent Place Market in Georgetown (not quite a restaurant but great specialty shop with natural wine, locally made snacks and baller ice cream selection).

Most underrated restaurant in DC right now? Why?
Teaism is my fave spot for breakfast/lunch/dinner because it’s healthy-ish, locally sourced and organic where possible and always delicious. Given it’s been around for 20+ years, it doesn’t get the limelight it deserves!

The best dish / cocktail you had in 2019? / The one you wish you hadn’t?
Best cocktail was a white negroni with mezcal, luxardo bianco and vermouth. Not sure what the best dish was…

What do you think was THE food story of the year? Why?
Washington Post’s story on the cocoa industry’s child labor workforce and the unjust conditions in which children work. It’s an important story to tell because we eat chocolate so much without even thinking about where it comes from or the people–children–who make our consumption possible. As a quote in the story articulates so well: “Nobody needs chocolate…It’s a gift to yourself or someone else. We think it’s absolute madness that for a gift that no one really needs, so many people suffer.”

What opening are you most looking forward to in 2020?
None to be perfectly honest…

What is the place you ended up at the most in your own spare time?
In terms of a restaurant, definitely 2Amys. Or Domestique wine & spirit shop!

Favorite thing YOU covered in 2019 and why?
The launch of Pineapple Collaborative’s new pantry staples, made by women: The Olive Oil & The ACV.

Best cookbook release this year?
Amy Chaplin’s Whole Food Cooking Everyday.

What’s the best social media (Instagram / Twitter / TikTok / whatever) food account you follow?
@thecollectress

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