As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. This year, we asked the group several questions, from Meal of the Year to Top Standbys of 2012. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights in 2012. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and unedited herein. Readers, please do add your survey answers in the comments.
Question: *What are the top restaurant newcomers of 2012?
William Porter, restaurant critic, the Denver Post: The Squeaky Bean heads the list. Max MacKissock has been unleashed in a big, new kitchen that is worthy of his considerable skills. Also props to The Kitchen Denver in LoDo and Oak and Fourteenth in Boulder, which rose – and soared – Phoenix-like after they were hit by a fire. I'm also a huge fan of The Universal in the Sunnyside neighborhood. Seth Gray is a genius with grits. Plus, as a fellow North Carolinian, he's my homeboy.
Elaine St. Louis, art director, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles: True Food, al Lado.
Laura Saffioti, contributor, Eater Denver: The Kitchen Denver-love their oysters/pickled sardine from the raw bar. The space is beautiful. Bramble and Hare- I love that they are offering affordable late-night food/drink in a classy/comfortable space. Squeaky Bean. Places I wish I had the chance to check out: The Populist, Uncle, Pinche Tacos, Spuntino.
Elizabeth L. Woessner, executive director, EatDenver: the Squeaky Bean.
Grace Boyle, contributor, Eater Denver: Central Bistro and Bar, Al Lado, Beehive, Bramble & Hare, and the Squeaky Bean.
Jeremy Kossler, founder of the Denver Burger Battle: the Squeaky Bean, TAG Burger Bar, Central Bistro and Bar.
Heidi McGuire, former Metromix Entertainment Host for 9News and currently the owner of 321 Media Productions: The Kitchen Denver.
Ruth Tobias, author of The Food Lover's Guide to Denver & Boulder and the Denveater food blog:
Well, I don't know how you can ignore The Squeaky Bean as top newcomer of the year. It's the rare restaurant that can rise so effortlessly to the occasion of almost overwhelming hype, turning out food that's not only utterly original but just plain fun: to read about, to look at, to eat, to remember. Along with it, I was deeply impressed with meals I had this year at both Bramble & Hare and Central Bistro & Bar; the latter especially seemed to come out of nowhere, yet it's got the polish of a longtimer. I've also been getting a kick out of Ace, whose energy is hard to top.
Pat Miller, the Gabby Gourmet: Oak at Fourteenth.
Kris Browning-Blas, food editor, the Denver Post: the Squeaky Bean.
Jessica Hunter, Eater Denver Contributor: The Squeaky Bean, ACE, Punch Bowl Social.
LeVar Battle, contributor, Denver Off The Wagon: This is a hard question. It's difficult to remember all of the newbies of 2012, so I'll have to defer to recent experiences. Uncle! While we do have vets that have spiced up the ramen-niche in Denver, Uncle came out with a hip, yet sophisticated menu and an atmosphere that assuages
the desires of neighborhood dining. And the Populist - it's a hipster paradise. Their simple menu has solid execution and explosive flavors. The beer, wine, and cocktail menus aren't overly-wrought with choices that oftentimes leave guests struggling to make decisions, either. That's what I like to see.
Adam Larkey, contributing photographer, Eater Denver: ACE, Uncle, True Food Kitchen, new Squeaky Bean.
Penny Parker, columnist at Black Tie Colorado, formerly of the Denver Post: the Populist.
Andra Zeppelin, editor, Eater Denver: While I appreciate the "scene" part of Denver, for me it ultimately comes down to the food. If the food is great, I am there. Uncle has quickly become a favorite; Spuntino has been spectacular, even more so since chef John Broening and pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom assumed full control and ownership; the Squeaky Bean.
Tucker Shaw, features editor, the Denver Post: Does the Squeaky Bean count as a newcomer? To its neighborhood, it does. I also have a crush on Uncle, which is just great.
the Squeaky Bean [Photo: Adam Larkey]