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Experts Share their Best Restaurant Standbys of 2012

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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 eight questions, from Meal of the Year to Top Newcomers. All will be answered by the time we turn off the lights at the end of the week. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and unedited herein. Readers, please do add your survey answers in the comments.

corner%20table.jpg[Photo: Corner Table website]

Q: What were your top standbys of 2012?

Andrew Zimmern, columnist Mpls.St.Paul Magazine; host, Bizarre Foods; owner, AZ Canteen: Piccolo, La Belle Vie, Punch, Lola, Tilia, Que Nha, Pho 79, Parma 8200.

Stephanie Meyer, columnist, Minnesota Monthly TC Taste; blogger, Fresh Tart: Butcher & the Boar, Corner Table, Vincent, La Belle Vie, Piccolo, Alma, Victory 44, Pizzeria Lola, Marvel Bar/Bachelor Farmer, Birchwood Cafe, Sonora Grill, The Strip Club, and Meritage are among the spots I find myself at most often.

Emily Weiss, writer, City Pages: The places I kept going back to this year weren't necessarily fine dining restaurants. I had good experiences
at plenty of the high profile places, but when I'm not eating "for work" I'm usually looking for something more
casual that will still always feel like money well spent.

For me those places included The Left-Handed Cook—such a strong addition to the Global Market and I love their Korean soul food concept; the Gray House—because I wanted to see what Chef Ian Gray would come up with next and the bar was always considerably quieter than others in the area but still had an interesting beer selection; and Fika. Sometimes I would go to Fika in the mornings to work and have coffee in the courtyard and then linger until lunch. The food is carefully executed but still tastes homey and it's inexpensive for the quality.

Joy Summers, food editor, Lavender Magazine; columnist, City Pages: I live in St. Paul and always seem to find my way back to the Strip Club Meat & Fish. From the cocktails to the changing menu to the wink and nod of innuendo, dining here just makes me happy.

Stephanie March, food editor/writer, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine: Butcher & Boar after events, LBV Lounge with the Ladies League, Lion's Tap with the Fam, Brasa or Be'Wiched solo before my radio show.

Jay Gabler, writer/editor, The Tangential, writer/editor, TC Daily Planet: I've lived in LynLake since November 2011, and in 2012 the Lyndale Tap House became my go-to spot for food. It's satisfying, it's not too pricey—especially at happy hour—and it's rarely hard to find a table. I also got hooked on the wings at the Country Bar. For late-night snacks, there's no beating the Anchor Fish & Chips and the Uptown Diner—a.k.a. the Cheers where everyone gets drunk before they walk in.

Claire Stanford, editor, Eater MPLS: Los Ocampo for pozole and alambres, Quang for pho, Szechuan Spice for the beef big bowl, the Anchor Fish & Chips (and the truck) for a casual dinner, Fika for lunch, Brasa for a reliably-delicious meal for a group, Korea Restaurant for the lunch specials (particularly the soups), and Grand Café for brunch.

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