As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. For our first questions, friends of Eater weighed in on their top restaurant standbys, favorite newcomers, and the one word that defines 2012. We now turn to the hottest dining neighborhoods. Eater welcomes your thoughts in the comment section.
Amanda Faison, food editor, 5280 Magazine: The influx of restaurants to both LoHi and downtown--particularly the area around 16th and Wazee--has been thrilling to watch.
Andra Zeppelin, editor, Eater Denver: LoHi because of Spuntino, Uncle, and Z Cuisine and LoDo because of the Squeaky Bean.
William Porter, restaurant critic, the Denver Post: That's a tough one. There's a lot going on in the city, but it's hard to get past LoDo and, by extension, the Ballpark neighborhood.
Elizabeth L. Woessner, executive director, EatDenver: South Federal.
Grace Boyle, contributor, Eater Denver: I'm loving what's happening in the Highlands.
Jessica Hunter, Eater Denver Contributor: Last year, I would've said Highlands/LoHi. This year, I'm surprised to say LoDo and Larimer. They've morphed (LaDo?) into a big dining scene. It's easy to cover your culinary journey in one evening — start with happy hour at Euclid, grab a meal any of The Bean/Rioja/Osteria Marco/ChoLon to cover your ground, a nightcap at Green Russell, and now you can get late-night munchies at Tom's Urban 24. Add a movable bed, a lightrail, and a tree with money-leaves, and you would never have to leave.
Natasha Gardner, senior editor/digital editor, 5280 Magazine: LoDo. I used to view downtown dining as predictable: steak houses and chains. That's not the case anymore. Just stop by ChoLon, dip into the Squeaky Bean, or peer in the windows at The Kitchen Denver.
Adam Larkey, contributing photographer, Eater Denver: Quantity: LoDo, Quality: LoHi
LeVar Battle, contributor, Denver Off The Wagon: This is a no-brainer. LoHi takes this honor with a standing ovation. I'm hoping to see another neighborhood stand in the spotlight soon just to keep things interesting and encouraging Denver's restaurateurs and eaters to continually demand more of each other and push the envelope. But until then, bravo LoHi.
Jennifer Olson, food photographer and author of Colorado Organic, Cooking Seasonally- Eating Locally : It's so great to see the new restaurants popping up in lodo. It's nice to see some people and energy moving slowly to the outskirts of downtown.
Kris Browning-Blas, food editor, the Denver Post: The area around Linger -- LoHi -- has a vibrant energy.
Vanessa Barcus, owner of Goldyn: LoHi!
Jeremy Kossler, founder of the Denver Burger Battle: Highlands.
Elaine St. Louis, art director, Colorado Homes & Lifestyles: I know Old South Pearl well...so many great restaurants.
Pat Miller, the Gabby Gourmet: Highlands.
Heidi McGuire, former Metromix Entertainment Host for 9News and currently the owner of 321 Media Productions: South Broadway.
Penny Parker, columnist at Black Tie Colorado, formerly of the Denver Post: The Highland.
Ruth Tobias, author of The Food Lover's Guide to Denver & Boulder and the Denveater food blog: For me there's no better place to go exploring than Aurora. Sichuan, Korean, African, Indian, Thai...If I were going to choose where to live based on food alone, I'd live there. But it's also cool to see the Ballpark neighborhood and its environs rising to the occasion. Yay for everyone who's making it happen over there, from the aforementioned Leinonen and Osaka to Biker Jim and the Crema/Populist crew to Ben Parsons of Infinite Monkey Theorem.