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Experts Name the Top Restaurant Standbys of 2011

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. This year, we asked the group eight questions, from Meal of the Year to Top Newcomers. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights at the end of the week. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut and pasted herein.
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Rasika [Photo: A.H./Yelp]

Q: What were your top restaurant standbys in 2011?

Tom Sietsema, food critic, The Washington Post: I don’t like to play favorites, but sometimes after a bad review visit, or for an all-too-rare date night, I’ve been known to pop into Bibiana, Jaleo, Palena Café, Rasika and the drive-through at Popeye’s.

Amanda McClements, editor, Metrocurean: I'm on a steady diet of pickled garlic and Old Raj gin and tonics at Estadio, cheeseburgers at Standard, pho delivery from Pho 14, egg-topped pizza at Graffiato and oysters and Pearl cups at Pearl Dive.

Svetlana Legetic, editor, Brightest Young Things: Room 11, Café Saint-Ex, Blackbyrd, Bar Pilar.

Missy Frederick, reporter, Washington Business Journal: I spent a good chunk of time at Dino, Estadio, and Four Sisters. Though I’m not sure I would call this a standby, I was reminded that Bombay Club should be back in the rotation when returning there with my family this year. We also got a lot of beer (mainly in growlers) from Mad Fox Brewery and Port City Brewing Company. For happy hour, Café Assorti in Rosslyn (shoutout to bartender Ben).

Anna Spiegel, assistant food and wine editor, The Washingtonian: For dining out: Estadio, Bibiana, Bar Pilar, and PS 7's. For eating in: Masala Art delivery.The combo of a cold Hendrick's martini, murgh makani, and Law&Order:SVU is a winning combo of booze, curry, and sexually-based offenses (unlike Heritage India). 

Mike and Elizabeth Bober, editors, Capital Spice: We're suckers for good sushi, and our favorite is definitely Old Town's Momo Sushi & Cafe. The fish is consistently fresh and the rolls offer some great flavor combinations. We positively stalked some of the newer food trucks — the Fojol Brothers' Benethiopia makes for a great lunch. And the "Lickity Split" lunch at Restaurant Eve meant that we could eat there much more often than our budget would otherwise allow.

Tommy McFly, Morning Show Host, 94.7 FreshFM: Peacock Cafe, Carmine's, Lincoln, Tackle Box, Bourbon Steak, Chef Geoff's New Mexico, Daily Dish.

Dan Silverman, editor, Prince of Petworth: Mandu, Room 11, Liberty Tree.

Alejandra Owens, freelance writer: Evening Star Café (under Will Artley’s direction), Cashions, Dino, Fiola, Bistro du Coin, Zorba’s, Afterwords Café, Hanks Oyster Bar. Not a restaurant but I do coffee daily at Dolcezza Gelato in Dupont Circle.

Mary Kong, editor, Girl Meets Food: I find myself returning time and again to Kushi, Honey Pig and Dukem.  All very different, all very satisfying.

Rachel Tepper, assistant editor, The Huffington Post: Bistrot du Coin, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace, Brasserie Beck, Medium Rare, Comet Ping Pong, BlackSalt, Hank's Oyster Bar.

Jessica Sidman, dining editor, Bisnow Media: Toki Underground, Standard, Hank's Oyster Bar, Bar Pilar, Mr. Yogato.

Jeff DuFour, editor, UrbanDaddy: Fiola, ChurchKey, Café Saint-Ex, American Ice Co. (But I can get to it through the back alley of my building, so I'm biased.)

Kelly DiNardo, freelance writer: In an effort to try new places, I don't get to return to as many as my favorites as I would like. Rasika, The Source, Sushi Taro are a few of my faves. The happy hour at Sushi Taro is a hidden gem. I will never turn down oysters and champagne at Old Ebbitt. And my go-to neighborhood joint is Radius; their brussel sprouts are delish.

Nycci Nellis, publisher, The List Are You On It: In 2011 you could find me at dining & imbibing at the good ol' reliables and some of the newbies.  The places I was probably eating and drinking at the most this year include: Birch & Barley, Bibiana, Bourbon Steak, Estadio, Graffiato, Medium Rare, Pearl Dive, Proof, Rasika and The Source.

Chris Shott, food editor, Washington City Paper: Toki Underground has me acting like a boomerang. For all its opening hype and massive wait list, the place is surprisingly unpretentious. The fare is filling, hearty and, best of all, cheap. It's just plain fun to eat there. If you can stand the wait, of course — or even manage the stairs after an hour or so twiddling your thumbs and bending your elbow down at The Pug.

Do feel free to add your own answers in the comments.

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