As is tradition, Eater closes out the year by surveying local food writers on various restaurant-related topics. Here, the experts weigh in on this question: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2019? (Here are the top standbys of the year, the standout newcomers, the best dining neighborhoods, and the biggest surprises.)
Allecia Vermillion, editor-in-chief, Seattle Met: Grocery stores turning into restaurants; restaurants turning into delivery app kitchens.
Chelsea Lin, editor-in-chief, Seattle Magazine: As much as I love Mike Easton’s pastas, I still haven’t made it to Il Nido because of the reservation situation. If I’m up at midnight, that’s the last thing I’m going to do. By Tae, too, I lucked into once, but I don’t think I’ll ever get to go back, since it’s so damn difficult to get a seat.
Providence Cicero, food writer, former restaurant critic for the Seattle Times: I will keep griping about the noise in restaurants until I go deaf, but I’m also annoyed by restaurants that provide only one beverage list to be shared by everyone at the table.
Frank Guanco, food and wine writer, Seattle Refined: I suppose the Instagram lens that some restaurants have make for a less than ideal eating experience, but that makes me sound old. I guess I have a grievance to myself in that I haven’t made my way to Mean Sandwich for its burger yet. Heck, I’m still holding on to a dining grievance from 2016.
Rosin Saez, former associate editor, Seattle Met: Less of a grievance and more of grieving: that La Isla in Ballard was severely damaged in a fire a few months ago. It was one of the few places to find Puerto Rican food in the city. And when Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, the restaurant rallied the community to send goods to the island.
Jill Lightner, Seattle food writer, author, and person who gets asked, “Is it still safe to eat this?” a lot: Having Dave Meinert buy Mecca Cafe.