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Friends of Eater on Top Restaurant Standbys of 2012

Izakaya Den
Izakaya Den
Photo: Courtesy of Den Group

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 Newcomer Restaurants. 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 were your top restaurant standbys of 2012

Amanda Faison, food editor, 5280 Magazine: Il Posto, ChoLon, Saigon Bowl, Cafe Aion, Spuntino.

William Porter, restaurant critic, the Denver Post: The restaurants I visit most often are largely a function of convenience, so places on East. 17th Avenue tend to get a lot of love: Avenue Grill, Olivea, Parallel 17 and, more recently, Ace. Because of my reviewing schedule, I often don't have time for return visits to places I've reviewed, but I've made a point to get back to Lou's Food Bar and The Squeaky Bean. Jax Fish House in Lodo is also a long-time favorite. I practically lived there when I moved to Denver in mid-1997. And Rioja is always great. Ditto for Panzano. OK, this list is getting out of hand.

Elizabeth L. Woessner, executive director, EatDenver:  Fruition - favorite restaurant since it opened, Cholon, Olivea, Table 6.

Tucker Shaw, features editor, the Denver Post: Los Carboncitos, Izakaya Den, Park Burger.

Grace Boyle, contributor, Eater Denver: I live in Boulder so a lot of the standbys happen to be in my downtown neighborhood: Pizzeria Locale, Oak at Fourteenth, Arabesque, Cafe Aion, The Kitchen Upstairs, Zoe Mama & Black Cat. Although I focus on trying new restaurants (which keeps my list ever-growing) on my trips to Denver, I've been loving these repeat favorites: Euclid Hall, Linger and Root Down.

Eric Elkins, owner of social media agency WideFoc.us and the Dating Dad website: Z Cuisine, Uncle, Linger, Masterpiece Deli, Pho 555.

Jessica Hunter, Eater Denver Contributor: Colt & Gray, The Squeaky Bean, Fuel Café, Twelve, Table 6, My Brother's Bar, The Bitter Bar, Beehive.

Natasha Gardner, senior editor/digital editor, 5280 Magazine: Pho 79, Olivea, The Kitchen Denver, Tables, and Pinche Taqueria.

Bill Husted, reporter, writer, interviewer, former columnist for the Denver Post: I live in Cherry Creek, so I in the hood most of the time. I go to Little Ollie's for sunday dinner often, Pasta Pasta Pasta for lunch, Zaidy's for pastrami, Barolo at the bar for risotto, Elway's for steaks and brunch. North good for a date, light apps, lunch, a martini.

Adam Larkey, contributing photographer, Eater Denver: Williams and Graham, Uncle, Sushi Den, Spuntino.

LeVar Battle, contributor, Denver Off The Wagon: Table 6 and Il Posto. For me, they are both from the era when Denver's restaurant and food culture was just hitting my radar and servers served because they enjoyed giving a great dining experience. It was more than being on a scene for them. Also, these restaurants never fail to deliver on consistent food, while still pushing forward and innovating in their own respects. Let's not forget their wine lists. With Aaron Foreman at the helm of Table 6 and its wine program and Max Koepke leading the way with Il Posto's wine program, each wins in every way when it comes to pairing with their unique appetizers and entrees.

Jennifer Olson, food photographer and author of Colorado Organic, Cooking Seasonally- Eating Locally : The Kitchen, Lola, Fuel Café.

Elaine St. Louis, art director, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles:
Gaia Bistro, Sushi Den, KAOS Pizza and Black Pearl, as they are in my 'hood.

Penny Parker, columnist at Black Tie Colorado, formerly of the Denver Post: Racines, Zocalo, The Empress, Wild Eggs, El Diablo.

Ruth Tobias, author of The Food Lover's Guide to Denver & Boulder and the Denveater food blog: My standbys remain Beatrice & Woodsley and Panzano, both of which I get to whenever possible. I guess I just share a palate with both chefs (Pete List and Elise Wiggins, respectively), because there's nothing that doesn't appeal to me on either menu, ever. I'm also a big fan of whatever Ryan Leinonen's doing at Trillium; ditto his neighbor Jeff Osaka at twelve.

Pat Miller, the Gabby Gourmet: Root Down, Shells and Sauce, Shanahan's Steakhouse.

Laura Saffioti, contributor, Eater Denver: Zoe Mama-the duck wonton soup may be my favorite dish anywhere. I'm also addicted to the CPR and cool noodle. The Squeaky Bean-a lot of hard work and thought goes into the food and the flavors are often amazing. I come back because I always have fun there. August, a waiter there is the best. The cheesecart will also bring me back. Others: ChoLon, Pizzeria Basta, Crema Coffeehouse, Caffe at Frasca (best prosciutto bang for your buck in town).

Jeremy Kossler, founder of the Denver Burger Battle: Sushi Sasa, Linger, Osteria Marco, Masterpiece Deli, Pizzeria Locale, Snooze.

Vanessa Barcus, owner of Goldyn: Linger (simply because it's next door), Root Down, The Kitchen, Paxia, Sushi Sasa, Izakaya Den.

Daliah Singer, assistant editor, 5280 Magazine: Steuben's, Sushi Sasa, ChoLon, Root Down, Bones. In terms of more mom-and-pop places: HiRise, Masterpiece, Marg's Taco Bistro, Moe's Bagels, Illegal Pete's, Snarf's. Can you tell I live downtown and am often in a rush?

Heidi McGuire, former Metromix Entertainment Host for 9News and currently the owner of 321 Media Productions: Thai Monkey Club, I survived a 3 on their heat index and have hopes of going hotter! Saigon Bowl: can't get enough of the seafood firepot soup. Crimson Canary: for the cured meat and cheese board and fresh baked bread.

Kris Browning-Blas, food editor, the Denver Post: Because I live in Fort Collins, we have spent many convivial evenings at Jax Fish House in Old town. I love the big table by the open kitchen.

Andra Zeppelin, editor, Eater Denver: The best kept secret in Denver and my ultimate favorite remains Spuntino. Fuel Café not only makes great food, but it is downstairs from my house. The Squeaky Bean reconquered my loyalty with a vengeance this year. Other repeat visits were at Uncle, Curtis Park Deli, Oak at Fourteenth, El Taco de Mexico, Pizzeria Locale and Crema Coffeehouse.