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Remembering the Biggest Dining Surprises of 2014

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. We've already covered the restaurant standbys, top newcomers, 2014 in one word, best dining neighborhood, and the single best meal of the year. Now it's time for the year's best dining surprises. Readers, please leave your thoughts in the comments.

The Nickel
The Nickel
Adam Larkey

Q: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2014?

William Porter, Denver Post restaurant critic

Maybe the influx of inventive hotel dining, such as the Nickel at Hotel Teatro and Range at Renaissance Denver City Center Hotel, which join excellent existing rooms such as Panzano in the Hotel Monaco. I suppose you might also include Stoic and Genuine and Mercantile in Union Station as semi-adjuncts to The Crawford Hotel.

Stacey Brugeman, 5280 Magazine restaurant critic

The East Side Explosion! There has been so much attention on LoHi, RiNo, and LoDo in recent years, but several great restaurants have quietly opened on Denver's sleepier East Side. I recommend checking out To The Wind, Bistro Barb[e]s, and The Plimoth- easily one of my favorite restaurants in town.

Andra Zeppelin, Eater Denver editor

The renaissance of Tennyson Street. I am pretty sure that the stretch from 38th to 44th has the most restaurants that recently opened or that will soon open per square foot in the Mile High City.

Maya Silver, Dining Out Magazine writer

The saga of Glaze. Its tragic closing announcement and the triumphant partnership with Sushi Sasa soon after.

Grace Boyle, Eater Denver contributor

The amount of inventive, interesting restaurants and breweries opening outside of city centers in the 'burbs and in unassuming locations. If you build it, they will come really seems to keep happening with some of the areas best chefs.

Megan Barber, Curbed Ski editor

Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli. Finally a legit NYC bagel shop.

Jess Hunter, Eater Denver contributor

Work & Class killing it. No one doubted that culinary brain child of Dana Rodriguez, Delores Tronco, and Tony Macaig would be delicious. But, I just don't think anyone thought they would absolutely kill it, filling a much, needed niche in Denver.

Adam Larkey, Eater Denver photographer

Given the big price increases in real estate, labor shortages and increased competition, I'm surprised more places didn't close.

Carri Wilbanks, USA Today video producer and host

To finally have a dynamite lobster roll in the Mile High at Stoic and Genuine.

Jeremy Kossler, founder of the Denver Burger Battle

Chop Shop. Came out of nowhere, weird location, and yet everything on their menu is good to excellent.

Penny Parker, Blacktie Colorado writer

That Frank Bonanno and his partner closed Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria.

Lori Midson, Zagat Denver editor

I love the upscale fast-casual trend. Restaurants like Chop Shop, Pizzeria Locale, Biju's Little Curry Shop and Cart-Driver have taken fast-casual dining to a whole new level, and I love where it's heading.

Ashley Hughes, Eater Denver writer

I was pleasantly surprised to see such a shift toward more casual experiences.

Rebecca Caro, Denver Post contributing writer

This year's biggest surprise is the success of everything in and around Union Station, which has revived the area and introduced a vibrant, sophisticated new dining scene to Denver. And I was also very pleasantly surprised when my dear friend, Adrian Miller, won the James Beard award for his book, Soul Food. It's not dining, but I was very proud of him because I know how hard he worked for many years on the project.

Katy Hume, Eater Denver contributor


Pat Miller, the Gabby Gourmet

How many restaurants keep opening.

Laura Saffioti, Eater Denver contributor

How good the huevos rancheros at El Taco de Mexico are.