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What Surprised D.C. Food Writers the Most in 2019

Seven Reasons becomes a polarizing hit, pizza has a moment, and more

Seven Reasons chef Enrique Limardo at the stove.
Chef Enrique Limardo made a splash in D.C. this year by opening Seven Reasons and Immigrant Food
Jen Chase/Jennifer Chase Photography

Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers to the annual “Year in Eater” survey will be revealed in several posts. Next up, the dining experts share the restaurant stories that surprised them the most.

Tom Sietsema, Washington Post food critic: Local edition: Former Baltimore chef Enrique Limardo took D.C. by storm with Seven Reasons. National: The warm welcome extended to plant-based “meat.”

Lenore Adkins, food writer: I was shocked to see chef Enrique Limardo open two restaurants within several months of each other — Seven Reasons on the U Street Corridor and Immigrant Food kitty corner from the White House. I don’t know where he finds the energy!

Laura Hayes, Washington City Paper food editor: National press crushing so hard on Seven Reasons. I don’t get it.

Also, I didn’t think I’d ugly cry watching José Andrés throw out the first pitch at the World Series.

Lori McCue, DCist food and arts editor: From its unassuming subterranean setting in the West End, I never expected the bustling, summery paradise inside Casta’s Rum Bar. Nor did I expect I’d get caught up dancing there so late into the night at a pal’s recent birthday party. The killer playlist--plus a few of the refreshingly simple cocktails--probably helped.

Tim Carman, Washington Post food writer: The state of pizza in Washington improved dramatically this year. Don’t get me wrong: D.C. has had good pizza for more than a decade, but it’s been heavy on Neapolitan pies. This year, we had many more styles to enjoy: the Detroit pizza at Red Light DC, the Chicago deep-dish at Della Barba, the New York slices at Andy’s, Sicilian-style slabs at Sonny’s and chef-driven pies (sort of based on Neapolitan) at Tino’s Pizzeria and Stellina Pizzeria.

Lori Gardner, Been There, Eaten That blogger: Komi, one of D.C.’s most respected fine-dining restaurants, shifted gears for two months this year to offer a moderately priced vegetarian tasting menu featuring Greek-inspired diner food. Brilliant!

Ann Limpert, Washingtonian food editor and critic: When restaurateur Hakan Ilhan sued the beloved veteran chef Frank Ruta (whom he fired from Mirabelle!) for signing onto Ashok Bajaj’s Annabelle.

Jessica Sidman, Washingtonian food editor: People going wild and lining up for Popeye’s fried chicken sandwiches. Really? I still don’t get it.

Rick Chessen, Rick Eats DC blogger: How much I miss DGS Deli.

Rebecca Cooper, Washington Business Journal digital editor: Probably the turnover. I’m the first to act like I’m not surprised when a restaurant closes, but the list seems long this year. I think the shutdown starting off the year just created a situation that many couldn’t work their way out of.

More in the Year in Eater 2019