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Dining Authorities Weigh In on the Year's Biggest Surprises

Some were blown away by Palena's closing and Momofuku's impending arrival.

David Chang
David Chang
Official

As per tradition, we've asked a group of journalists, bloggers and friends of Eater to weigh in on the year in food. Here's what they've said so far. Next up, friends of Eater share the biggest dining surprises of 2014.

Nevin Martell, freelance food writer: That DBGB was a letdown.

Holley Simmons, Washington Post Express Dining Editor: I'd say it was a three-way tie: news of Momofuku coming to D.C.; Bon Appetit naming Rose's Luxury the best new restaurant in America; and Palena closing, which was a real bummer. That roasted chicken was worth every minute you had to wait for it.

Jeff Dufour, editor of UrbanDaddy: The ascendance of 7th Street as a dininkg/drinking destination from Derek Brown's places down to Ivy & Coney to Dacha to Compass Coffee.

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic: The abrupt shuttering of Palena in Cleveland Park this spring.

Alicia Mazzara, DCist dining editor: Menu MBK's abrupt closing was pretty unexpected. On a more pleasant note, I was really impressed by my meal at Crane and Turtle. It's a really exciting addition to Petworth.

Stefanie Gans, food critic for Northern Virginia Magazine: RJ Cooper's Gypsy Soul finally opened in Mosaic District. Damn those fried chicken skins are good. RIP Tallula and EatBar.

Maura Judkis, Going Out Guide: I was pretty pleasantly surprised by Soi 38, because my impression of the owners came from Thai Place, their other restaurant near GW's campus. When I was a student there, it was the "fancy" place on our meal plan, and my roommates and I would all order the pad thai. When I walked into the new place, I was impressed by the Gaia murals, the decor, the bottled cocktails, and the spicy, way-more-interesting-than-pad-thai menu.

Rina Rapuano, Zagat DC: DAVID CHANG, OMG, OMG, OMG. And then Palena and CityZen closing.

Carole Sugarman, food critic for Bethesda Magazine: The disappointing debut of Bryan Voltaggio's Lunchbox in the Chevy Chase Pavilion.

David Nellis, "Foodie & the Beast": That my wife, Nycci, could attend so many events, tastings, media dinners etc. and not gain a goddamned pound (also the biggest surprise of Calendar Years  1991 - 2013!)

Rebecca Cooper, hospitality reporter for The Washington Business Journal: Ian and Eric Hilton opening a restaurant in Georgetown. I'm so glad they did. Also District Taco shutting down the taco carts. Maybe it wasn't so much surprising as disappointing: I miss my Rosslyn and Courthouse taco fix.

Michael Martinez, producer, The Kojo Nnamdi Show: I was positively surprised by the blowback to this year's attempts by certain parties to charge extra for artisanal ice cubes.

Kate Gibbs, Destination DC: That I could relish a meal without a vegetable-thanks Pop's Sea Bar.

Laura Hayes, Thrillist and Dining Bisnow: The number of out-of-town chefs who dropped off restaurants in DC this year. Some, like Michael Schlow, did it better than others by renting a pad and getting to know the city.

Jessica Sidman, food editor, Washington City Paper: I am really surprised how popular biscuits have been. Don't get me wrong, biscuits are really delicious. But trendy? It's been crazy to see the kind of lines and frenzy around Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.'s pop-ups. And who would have thought there would then be a second biscuit pop-up with Biscuit Lab Baking Co.? But hey, good for them!

Tim Carman, Washington Post food writer and The $20 Diner columnist:That R.J. Cooper has managed to keep Rogue 24's doors open. Oh, and that Filipino food is the new "it cuisine." Who would have guessed that one?

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