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Industry Experts Name the Top Restaurant Newcomers of 2014

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. Before we flip the switch on 2014, we asked the group eight questions running the gamut from meal of the year to top restaurant newcomers, and we'll be rolling out their expert opinions all week long.

Brimmer & Heeltap
Brimmer & Heeltap
Suzi Pratt

Q: What were this year's top restaurant newcomers?

Julien Perry, co-founder, One Night Only Project

EOY Small

Pizzeria Gabbiano, Damn the Weather, Stateside, Trove, Red Cow, Brimmer & Heeltap.

Nicole Sprinkle, food editor, Seattle Weekly

Brunswick & Hunt, Brimmer & Heeltap

Jonathan Zwickel, senior editor, City Arts

Damn the Weather, an instant classic. Food and cocktails are superb but the service really sells the place; Trove, a risky, fun-forward venture in a dining scene where "fun" can be a four-letter word. Fortunately, they nail it with the food; Mezcaleria de Oaxaca, a visit early in the year—and a deep conversation with a knowledgeable bartender—launched a yearlong (lifelong?) exploration into mezcal.

Allison Scheff, food & dining editor, Seattle Magazine

The Top Newcomers are hard to keep up with this year; a record number of good restaurants have opened. At this point, though, the best new restaurant in my mind is Damn the Weather. The cooking is creative, they take chances and the chances work. But even more than that, they've clearly been adding dishes to  cater to more mainstream eaters, and even those dishes—like a knockout-good spaghetti with meat sauce—show equal care. And the cocktail program deserves serious attention, too.

Leslie Kelly, editor, Zagat Seattle; project manager, Tastemade Seattle

Trove's pretty spectacular, and I'm really impressed with Bitter/Raw, the lovely space and the simple, inventive menu. I am in love with the new brunch at Tray Kitchen (congee bar!) and I'm rooting for the fabulous Hommage and Crazy Pho Cajun to find the appreciative audience they deserve. Single Shot is so adorable, I want to give it a big hug, but I'll be happy with a seat at the bar and a well-made cocktail. Finally, I need to get back in to Jack's BBQ to see if it's as damn good as it was that first time I tried it, but the parking lot's always jam-packed.

Jameson Fink, wine blogger, Wine Without Worry podcast host

Jack's BBQ, Single Shot, Pizzeria Gabbiano

Surly Gourmand, "world's greatest food writer"

Fuck, I don't know, dude. I'm so out of the loop because I'm old, but Vespolina and Westward are quite nice.

Allecia Vermillion, food & drink editor, Seattle Met

It was a sublimely casual year: I loved Damn the Weather, Single Shot, Bourbon and Bones, Cochon, and Pizzeria Gabbiano. My first quickie visit to Stateside made me eager to return and I cannot wait to get to Manolin.

Nancy Leson, food writer, KPLU food commentator

I'm way behind on dining out at the newbies to fairly answer this one, but I will use this opportunity to say: I can't believe I waited so long to go to Ballard's Brimmer & Heeltap (open since last December); I can't believe John Sundstrom and Kelly Ronan relocated and re-envisioned Lark (where I won't soon forget the uni I had upstairs at Bitter/Raw); and after dinner at Trove (move over free banchan, hello trotter tots!) I can't believe it's taken so long for Korean barbecue to go upscale in Seattle.