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Restaurant Experts Share 2012's Best Newcomers

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 Standbys. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights at the end of the week. Here, we ask folks, "What Were The Best Restaurant Newcomers of 2012?" Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut and pasted herein.
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Erin Hartigan, Senior National Editor, CityEats: My three new favorites span three continents over three neighborhoods. Fuego took me by happy surprise. I love the unrepentant spice, especially on goat tacos. I've also been really pleased with Izakaya Seki's focused excellence. And I could dine daily at Mintwood Place for those ruby deviled eggs and the Bolognese. 

Jessica Sidman, columnist, Young & Hungry: Izakaya Seki, Rasika West End, DGS Delicatessen, Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Union Market, and Mintwood Place

Tim Carman, food writer, The Washington Post: Fuego Cocina, Union Market (I know, I know, it's not a restaurant, but you can wander from stall to stall, putting together a meal from various vendors), ChefDriven food truck, Rasika West End, Society Fair, Boqueria and Mintwood Place.

Jamie Liu, AskMen writer and Eater contributor: It may be just getting started, but Range is a serious contender and is really upping the game in a chain-saturated neighborhood.

Michael Martinez, producer, The Kojo Nnamdi Show: Rappahannock Oyster Bar at Union Market – I'm sure the rest of their menu is great, but they had me at beer and oysters. The next time I go to Union Market, I've promised myself that I'll also bring home some lamb from Border Springs Farm.

Svetlana Legetic, publisher, Brightest Young Things: Mintwood Place, Rasika West End and the whole of Union Market

Michael Birchenall, Founder, FoodService Monthly: Mintwood Place, and PABU in the Four Seasons Baltimore are my two favorites.

Eun Yang, NBC 4: Mintwood Place, Rasika West End

Jeff Dufour, Editor, UrbanDaddy: DGS Deli, Rappahannock Oyster Bar, Izakaya Seki, The Green Pig, Rasika West End, Mintwood Place

Leo Schmid, Thrillist: Mintwood Place, Izakaya Seki, Boqueria, DGS

Jessica Voelker, online food editor, Washingtonian: Rasika West End
Izakaya Seki: the one nobody saw coming. Great food and zero fanfare.
I give Boqueria big points for consistency and tapas that make me nostalgic for Spain. It's really hard to find a perfect tortilla...unless you are at Boqueria.
Mintwood Place—love weekend brunch there (though they need to pay some more attention to the coffee.)
TNT Bar's cocktail list is insane. Thrasher needs to open a DC bar.

Tom Sietsema, food critic, The Washington Post: There are delicious reasons for the nightly lines outside Little Serow, the clamor at Mintwood Place and the bustle at Rasika West End. Rogue 24 reminds us there's room for luxury and avant garde cooking. Isakaya Seki is a little Japanese dream.

Nycci Nellis, founder, TheListAreYouOnIt: Union Market, Union Market, Union Market! I've become a little obsessed with this new food Mecca that opened up in NorthEast DC. I am so impressed with the many dedicated locals providing a real food experience in DC. The offerings are so varied and delicious. I am absolutely delighted to eat, drink and shop my way through the spacious layout. You can find me snacking on Gina Chersevani's (Buffalo & Bergen) knishes, diving into Rappahannock Oyster Co's Lamb & Clams (with Craig Rogers of Border Springs, lamb!), trying a variety of Carolyn Stromberg's cheese flights or picking up more gifts at Amanda McClement's fabulous table-top store, Salt & Sundry.

Stefanie Gans, food critic, Northern Virginia Magazine: In Virginia, I like Curious Grape in Shirlington and Alexandria's Society Fair demo kitchen (but I think the novelty of live cooking might not be so cool in 2013, plus I haven't been since the original MC Trey Massey left).

Mary Kong-DeVito, Girl Meets Food: Hanoi House, Trademark, Izakaya Seki are all standouts for me.

Missy Frederick, editor, Eater DC: Mintwood Place, Izakaya Seki

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