clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Biggest Surprises of 2016 Include the Poke Craze and the ‘Sheer Volume of Openings’

Local experts discuss this year’s most unexpected developments

Many varieties of the Hawaiian raw fish salad, poke.
Gopoké.
Suzi Pratt for Eater

As is tradition, Eater closes out the year by surveying local food writers on various restaurant-related topics. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comments section below.

Today’s first question: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2016?

Jackie Varriano, editor, Zagat Seattle:

I think what I was blown away the most by was the trends that seemed to take over the city. We saw pizza places blanket Capitol Hill, we saw chickens being fried with abandon in every neighborhood, and poke, oh the poke! At times it felt like we were drowning in perfect little cubes of tuna and salmon. Except for poke, they all just felt a little stale to me, like we were the last ones to get in on some of these scenes. I feel like Seattle should be a bit more cutting edge, whereas this year we felt a little behind.

Chelsea Lin, food and dining editor, Seattle magazine:

So much poke! So. Much. Poke. Now why isn't there anywhere to get a decent musubi/onigiri around here yet?!

Angela Garbes, food writer, formerly The Stranger:

The audacity of Tarsan i Jane to serve entirely prix fixe menus of unfamiliar (to most Seattleites) Valencian cuisine (and serve its most well-known dish, paella, only during a five-course Sunday brunch) out of a wood-fired kitchen. Props for that.

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

All the intensity around Sisters and Brothers when it opened — there’s a lot to be gleaned about human nature there. The Spur-Tavern Law-Old Sage mass topple. And my dinner at Vestal; I walked in expecting perfectly competent, crowd-pleasing food; instead it was all these inventive dishes with texture and loads of umami (god, sorry, I loathe that word).

Nicole Sprinkle, food writer and critic, Seattle Weekly:

In hindsight it shouldn't have been a surprise, but the blowing up of the restaurant scene in South Lake Union and the Denny Regrade area.

Julien Perry, consume editor, The Fresh Toast:

Great bars opening with incredible food: No Anchor, New Luck Toy, Foreign National, Corvus and Co.

Bethany Jean Clement, food writer, The Seattle Times:

The opening of one million new pizza places on Capitol Hill? The opening of one million new poke places citywide? The closure of Bar Sajor in Pioneer Square? Though really, the city and its restaurant scene are so bananas, it’s hard to feel surprised by much anymore.

Leslie Kelly, senior food editor, Allrecipes:

The sheer volume of openings was staggering, especially on Capitol Hill and in South Lake Union. A seemingly endless stream of new places makes me worry about the future of the old faves, though. Get out there and support your hard-working restaurant community!!

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

Nothing surprises me anymore because I'm too old now.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Seattle newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world