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Restaurant Authorities Share the Biggest Dining Surprise of 2016

Big shockers

RPM Italian
Missy Frederick is the Cities Director for Eater.

As per tradition, Eater asked a group of journalists, bloggers and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Here, they discuss 2016’s big reveals.

Tom Sietsema, food critic, The Washington Post: “Given its pedigree and the enormous hype preceding its launch, Momofuku settled into Just Another Restaurant.”

Nevin Martell, freelance food critic and cookbook author: “Haidar Karoum's abrupt departure from Proof. I'm not sure anyone saw that coming. I'm interested to see what he does next, because I already know it will be a contender for my favorite new restaurant of 2017.”

Svetlana Legetic, founder, Brightest Young Things: “I am ongoingly amazed how people don't really discuss service anymore, even when talking about very expensive meals.”

Ann Limpert, food critic and editor, Washingtonian: “That perhaps the most Vegas-like, scene-iest dining room to open— RPM Italian —actually puts out really good pasta (and garlic bread!)”

Cori Sue Morris, co-founder, Bitches Who Brunch: “How many boring restaurants made the Michelin Guide.”

Jessica Strelitz, freelance food writer: “The continuation of so many spots opening with no-reservations policies. I understand it from a business perspective, I truly do, but for those of us with tight schedules and expensive sitters to pay, it's a massive deterrent. I still haven't been to Rose's Luxury or Bad Saint, and it kills me, but I can't risk not being able to get a table or scrambling for a back-up when I just want to relax and eat some pancit, dammit.”

Laura Hayes, food editor, Washington City Paper: “Little Serow not landing on Michelin's Bib Gourmand list and Komi not receiving any Michelin stars thus invalidating the guide for many.”

Dan Silverman, PoPville (i.e. the Prince of Petworth): Bad Saint.

Jessica Sidman, food editor, Washingtonian: Komi and Little Serow didn't get Michelin stars!

Stefanie Gans, food editor and critic, Northern Virginia Magazine: Though it opened in 2015, every critic seemed to get in on the secret of Springfield: Afghan Bistro. It's utterly delicious. Also: Marshall, Virginia is a thing with the opening of The Whole Ox's Butcher Bar, Field & Main (and Riccordino's), Red Truck Bakery and Gentle Harvest.

Jody Fellows, Burger Days/Falls Church News-Press: The death of Michel Richard.

Tim Carman, The $20 Diner Columnist, The Washington Post: I had few expectations for El Sol Restaurante. I went there mostly because the chef (Alfredo Solis) was friends with author and TV host Pati Jinich, who introduced me to the place. Many visits later, I was convinced that Alfredo and his sister, Jessica, had created the best taqueria in town.

Maura Judkis, The Washington Post: I wish I could say the biggest surprise was that people actually believed the false internet rumors that a neighborhood pizzeria was involved in a Clinton-led child trafficking ring. But after this year — ugh. It horrified me, but it didn't surprise me. And that makes me sad.

So, instead, I'll go with the lack of Michelin recognition for Rasika. I thought they were going to get a star.

Eun Yang, NBC: It was exciting to see so many well-deserving DC restaurants recognized by the Michelin Guide for the first time. I know I’m not the only one who thought there were some glaring omissions.

Rebecca Cooper, reporter and columnist, The Washington Business Journal: Overall? Maybe the fact that we all had to write about sex toys thanks to a certain lawsuit. Personally, that Vola's in Old Town landed in the "pleasant surprise" category.

Becky Krystal, reporter, The Washington Post: I was pretty shocked by some of the restaurants that didn’t get Michelin stars in our first D.C. guide, especially Komi and Rasika.

Anna Spiegel, food editor, Washingtonian: This doesn’t have much shock value, but I’m continuously surprised—and impressed—by the supportive nature of Washington’s restaurant/bar community. It’s not just folks playing “nice.” Individuals and businesses genuinely help each other out, rally together when they need to (i.e. Stand with Comet), and pay respect to one another. The dynamic could have gone a more competitive, cutthroat way, given the spotlight on DC’s dining scene, and competition for dollars. Instead we grew together. The public sees it in small gestures—all the chef/bartender collaborations, well-attended charity events—but its cool to witness on a wider scale.