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Seattle’s Top Restaurant Newcomers of 2016: New Luck Toy, L’Oursin, Xi’an Noodles, and More

Restaurant experts share their picks

Suzi Pratt for Eater

As is tradition, Eater closes out the year by surveying local food writers on various restaurant-related topics. Their answers will be published throughout the final week of 2016. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments section below.

Today’s first question: What were the top restaurant newcomers of 2016?

Leslie Kelly, senior food editor, Allrecipes:

It was a great year for seafood fans with Bar Harbor, 100-Pound Clam, and White Swan Pub joining the city's vibrant fishing party. I’m excited about Gravy on Vashon Island, too. I can't believe I still haven't yet been to Copine, New Luck Toy, and so many others.

Bethany Jean Clement, food writer, The Seattle Times:

I didn’t get to as many fancier new places this past year as I’d have liked to, since I was working on a big best cheap eats story (and also am not personally made of money). But I absolutely loved Bateau and Wataru. I’d be extremely happy go to all the other places on Providence Cicero’s top-10 newcomers list, and I really want to try Mbar and No Anchor. In terms of new, less-pricey greatness, I’d eat at Saboteur Bakery in Bremerton, Little Uncle, Xi’an Noodles, and Ooink every day if I could!

Jackie Varriano, editor, Zagat Seattle:

Thinking back to 2016, I realized that more than once I exclaimed to friends that I felt like I would go to sleep at night, and the next morning when I awoke five new restaurants would’ve sprung up, like mushrooms in the forest. There were just SO many openings, but for this I’m taking the question as true newcomers, meaning people who opened their first restaurant this past year — may that mean first brick-and-mortar or first in this city. For that I would say the folks at Peloton, Big Island Poke, Stock, Nirmal’s, Phorale, and Tarsan i Jane. I was wowed at each one of these spots this past year.

Angela Garbes, food writer, formerly The Stranger:

They're not newcomers, but I'm celebrating the return of Chili's South Indian to the U District and Jackson's Catfish Corner to the CD. Also: L'Oursin, Mean Sandwich (full disclosure: the owners are friends), New Luck Toy, Xi'an Noodles.

Allecia Vermillion, senior food and drink editor, Seattle Met:

Man, this year has some great ones. Restaurants skewed higher-end this year than last; among them Copine stands out for me as the finest of dining, but also truly hospitable. Dinner here is a special occasion, but you put yourself in the hands of total pros. On the more casual end of things, Mean Sandwich and Xi’an Noodles are in my permanent rotation.

Nicole Sprinkle, food writer and critic, Seattle Weekly:

Vestal, Tarsan i Jane, Copine, Wataru, Bok a Bok, Ciudad.

Surly Gourmand, "world’s greatest food writer":

As far as I'm concerned, the ONLY entrant in this category is New Luck Toy. At first I thought Ma'One chef/owner Mark Fuller would be doing some sort of sarcastic take on Chinese food, like dumplings filled with foie gras or some other pointless flatulent upgrade, but no: New Luck Toy offers straight ahead standby, prepared without a trace of irony or condescension. If anything, it's not trashy ENOUGH: the General Tso's Chicken wasn't sweet enough for my taste, but the chicken was perfectly fried, which I suppose should be unsurprising coming from the chef who fries the best chicken in all of Seattle.

Julien Perry, consume editor, The Fresh Toast:

Copine, L'Oursin, No Anchor, Flintcreek, San Fermo.

Chelsea Lin, food and dining editor, Seattle magazine:

I have a terrible memory, so forgive me if I've forgotten a few, but these are personal favorites opened in 2016 (in no particular order): San Fermo, Sea Wolf (if we use the term "restaurant" loosely), Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches, Raccolto, New Luck Toy, L'Oursin, White Swan/100-Pound Clam, Dot's, Sisters and Brothers, Nirmal's. I feel obligated to mention Copine for obvious reasons, though I embarrassingly haven't been yet.