As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. This year, we asked the group seven questions, from Meal of the Year to Top Standbys. Meals of the Year and Biggest Dining Surprises both dropped earlier, and all will be answered by the time we turn off the lights on Wednesday. The answers here are in no particular order; all responses cut, pasted and unedited:
Commerce, a West Village restaurant that left its mark on LS this year. Photo by Mr. Krieger, 2/19/08.
Q: What was the best dining neighborhood in 2008?
Kate Krader, Food & Wine: As a new hood, Smith Street, because Clover Club and Jake Walk have surprisingly good things to eat with their terrific drinks, Char #4 has enough decent food (i'm thinking fried cheese curds) to make it worthwhile, and Frankie's is just a few blocks down, on Court Street.
Danyelle Freeman, Restaurant Girl: Anywhere along Smith Street in Cobble Hill. I love that neighborhood.
Ed Levine, Missionary of the Delicious: Upper West Side (who would have thunk it?)
Ryan Sutton, Bloomberg: Murray Hill/Kipps Bay/Tudor City: Okay, I'm biased here. The right call is Upper West Side with Bar Boulud, 81, Dovetail, and Tom Valenti's awesome West Branch (try the duck hearts). But I live on 39th and 1st and I have to represent for my nabe, which is historically bereft of good dining options. Now we have Convivio, which is cheaper and has better food than did L'Impero. And of course Bar Milano (RIP, soon to be an 'inoteca) in South Murray Hill gave the city something very rare: excellent, high-end, classically-influenced cocktails, measured with jiggers, amid an ambitious (if somewhat inconsistent) regional Italian menu.
Zach Brooks, Midtown Lunch: The past two years I've said EV, and you'd think with Ko and the Milk Bar the streak would continue... but I think I may have to go with the UWS this year. If sheer improvement is the criteria, the UWS takes it hands down. Grandaisy, Shake Shake, Salumeria Rosi, West Branch, Bar Boulud, Jacques Torres, Grom, the new Kefi, and a Fatty Crab on the way. I remember when finding a place to eat lunch up there was damn near impossible.
Ken Friedman, The John Dory: East village
Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appetit: East Village
William Tigertt, Freemans: East Village. Lots of great small rooms and causal Asian restaurants.
Adam Kuban, Serious Eats: East Village
Kludt: I know the UWS has been getting it's fair share of new restaurants, but the EVill still dominated this year.
Staff, Blondie and Brownie: The East Village is still tops with all its Momofukus, nice date spots, and cheap eats, but Williamsburg with Fette Sau, Motorino, Marlow and Sons and Daughters, Brooklyn Kitchen, and DuMont is looking to take the crown.
Steve Shaw, eGullet: I think you should stop asking this question every year and just declare that it's the East Village (back in the day we called it the Lower East Side, but whatever) until such time as four Momofukus open somewhere else. I mean, I know you ask the question because it's always interesting to read the weak arguments of the people who choose other neighborhoods, but can't you just spare them the embarrassment. I live uptown and even I know the answer is East Village.
Gabriella Gershenson, TONY: The East Village. It seems as though all of the adventuresome niche eateries—Ippudo, Kyo Ya, Porchetta—find a home, and a loyal following, there.
Matt Rodbard, Metromix: Carroll Gardens raised the bar with openings JakeWalk, Eton, Char No. 4 and Buttermilk Channel.
Oliver Schwaner-Albright, New York Times: Every time I think Williamsburg is over it surprises me.
Steve Kamali, Kamali Brands, Inc.: West Village
Mary Rambin, NonSociety: West Village
Noa Taffet, Stilettos on Cobblestone: West Village
LS: The West Village. Even as something sat wrong from dinner as I left Commerce earlier this year, there couldn't have been a more charming place in the city to puke on the curb.
Bret Thorn, Nation's Restaurant News: Chinatown
Robert Sietsema, Village Voice: Flushing, Queens
Steve Plotnicki, Opinionated About Dining: Flushing, Queens is my go to dining neighborhood.
Brooks of Sheffield, Lost City: Midtown, I guess. I lot of places I'd LIKE to eat at regularly are in the 50s from 7th Avenue to 3rd Avenue.
The Cutty, The Dash Feedbag: Midtown: specifically 51st street to 53rd st, between Park and Seventh Avenue. A stunning concentration of great restaurants: Insieme, Le Bernardin, Anthos, Gilt, Lever House, Alto, and The Modern. Any city in the world would sell bonds to have this group, and we have them a few hundred feet from each other.
BL: 80 Spring Street is a neighborhood, no?
Do feel free to add your own answers to the comments.