As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. We've already covered Best Standbys, Top Newcomers, 2012 in One Word, and Best Restohoods. Now, it's time for Biggest Dining Surprise. Readers, please add your thoughts to the comments.
[Photo: King and I Thai's closing came as a surprise this year, We Got Served]
Q: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2012?
Andrew Zimmern, columnist Mpls.St.Paul Magazine; host, Bizarre Foods; owner, AZ Canteen: Locally in Minneapolis, no one opened a decent deli, or a Chinese noodle shop, or an Indian grill?and what the f**k happened to Italian food in this town? Is no one interested in it anymore? Very surprising. Why doesn't someone do what Gjelina or Coppa is doing?Nationally, the exact opposite, the number of new restaurants that nailed it was staggering. This is going to be a tough year when it comes to awards season, best of lists, etc.
Stephanie Meyer, columnist, Minnesota Monthly TC Taste; blogger, Fresh Tart: That there weren't any big surprises? Perhaps a tough economy meant no one took big risks. Hmmm. Andrew Zimmern launching a food truck?
Emily Weiss, writer, City Pages: That Kim Bartmann didn't open any more restaurants, but that's slated to change very soon. Also the closing of King and I Thai. That's one of those restaurants you just assume will be around forever.
Stephanie March, food editor/writer, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine: The stalling of Azia's rebirth. I really thought that was going to be the hot corner of summer.
Joy Summers, food editor, Lavender Magazine; columnist, City Pages: The whole hi and bye business with Jack's and the Chef Kevin Kathmann. They went from casual neighborhood spot, chef driven with dazzling food expectations to poof! Gone. It was a whirlwind.
Claire Stanford, editor, Eater MPLS: For me, my biggest surprise was how great the food is at Fika—it's such an unassuming place, tucked away in the American Swedish Institute. I suppose that is to say, not a lot of surprises this year.