As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. We've already covered Best Standbys and Top Newcomers. Now it's time for Best Dining Neighborhood. Readers, please add your thoughts to the comments.
[The Beatrice Inn in the West Village by Krieger]
Q: What was the best dining neighborhood in 2012?
Mimi Sheraton, former Times critic: Hard to pinpoint but: Greenwich Village and East Village-Lower East Side.
Levi Dalton, I'll Drink to That: It wasn't Midtown. Midtown has been hollowed out from the inside. You know how developers of places nobody wants to go offer cheap restaurant rents to jump start a neighborhood? Midtown is now a place nobody wants to go. But there is no cheap rent.
Jay Cheshes, Time Out New York critic: Flatiron.
Lockhart Steele: Red Hook and the Columbia Street Waterfront. Andy Ricker defined its micronabe earlier in the year (don't sleep on the dive bar South Brooklyn Local just up the block from Pok Pok), but Sandy defined its end. The good news: no neighborhood restaurant community in New York City drew together more closely or inspirationally following the storm. All Hands on Deck, indeed.
Darin Bresnitz, Snacky Tunes/Finger on the Pulse: Carroll Gardens.
Jordana Rothman: For its sheer scrappy ingenuity, maybe Gowanus: the new brick-and-mortar from proto-picklers Brooklyn Brine, neighborhood bars such as Lavender Lake, upstarts like Fletcher's Brooklyn BBQ, Runner & Stone, The Pines and Littleneck. In Manhattan, the area around Madison Square Park is still ascendent. And for its will to survive, rebuild and thrive: Red Hook.
Kat Kinsman, Eatocracy managing editor: I can't be objective here — it thrills me that in a 10-minute walking or public transit radius of my South Slope home, I can get food created under the imprimatur of Marco Canora, Dale Talde and Josh Grinker, the supremely talented taco artisans at Tacos Nuevo Mexico or young upstarts like Anthony Marzuillo and JoAnne Braganza at Soigne. I came for the reasonable rent (well, it was when I moved here), and stayed for the increasingly delightful and varied grub. And if I stayed on the train just a little longer, there's all the splendor of Sunset Park — including the wondrous Fei Long Grocery (thank you, Eddie Huang for the tip) where I can get pork uterus, durian and more amaranth greens than I can use in ten lifetimes, or the mindbending Italian sandwiches at A.L. Coluccio in Bay Ridge (thank you, Allison Robicelli).
Gabriella Gershenson, senior editor at Saveur: Between Kyo Ya, Ippudo, Northern Spy, the Momofukus, etc., you can't beat the East Village.
Josh Ozersky, TIME columnist: Tribeca is coming on pretty strong, I have to say. Marc Forgione, Locanda, Atera, a Jimmy Bradley-controlled Harrison, and now Kutsher's — not to mention the whole Bouley / Gutenbrunner / City Hall / Bubby's cluster.
Robert Sietsema, Village Voice critic: Low end: East Village. High end: West Village.
Andrew Friedman, author and Toqueland editor: Can you top the West Village for sheer concentration of places that exemplify how people like to eat right now? Tertulia, Kin Shop, Red Farm, the Gabe Stulman empire, etc.? Plus classics such as Babbo, Gotham, et. al.
Danyelle Freeman, Restaurant Girl: For the first time in years, I don't think there was one. Eaters seemed to chase down restaurants everywhere from Dumbo to Bushwick to the Lower East Side and even the Upper East Side.
Scott Solish, Eater nightlife editor: Chinatown.
Bret Thorn, senior food editor, Nation's Restaurant News: Williamsburg.
Josh Beckerman, blogger and foodie magician: West Village. From Perla to Red Farm, all of West 10th Street, and Hudson St...the West Village was truly magical in 2012.
Andrew Steinthal, Immaculate Infatuation: Williamsburg.
Kim Davis, the Pink Pig: Hard to deny it was Williamsburg again, but really the dining scene is becoming geographically random. Gowanus next?
Kate Krader, Food & Wine restaurant editor: Smith Street environs (my hood): Battersby, La Vara, Mile End, Bien Cuit, and if you walk for a minute more, Seersucker, Frankies empire, Lucali. Honorable mention to Great Jones St: Il Buco Alimentari, Bohemian, The Wren, Acme, all in two-block radius. Plus shopping at Future Perfect. And award for best dining in middle of nowhere goes to Brooklyn's Third Ave/Gowanus with The Pines, Littleneck, Two Toms, Four & Twenty Blackbirds.
Alexander Hancock, Eater associate editor: Gowanus FTW. The little post-industrial neighborhood on the Superfund site obviously can't keep up with the rest of the city in terms of fine dining, but it has a leading example in every little niche that's been hot this year. The seafood shack Littleneck, its turf side counterpart The Pines, the cutesy baking at Four and Twenty Blackbirds, "Brooklyn barbecue" at Fletcher's, surprisingly good bar food at Lavender Lake, and now fine dining vets going more casual at Runner & Stone as well. It's a small neighborhood ? or, more accurately, a narrow one ? but there's a lot of good stuff squeezed in there.
Marc Shepherd, NY Journal: I can't pick one, except that practically all of the action was in Brooklyn and south of 14th Street, as it always is.
Ben Leventhal: Pass.
Foster Kamer, senior editor at Complex: I know I'm supposed to answer "West Village" or go contrived-contrarian and be like, "Brownsville," but it's actually Williamsburg. Not because of the new restaurants (Frej, Reynard, Gwynnett Street, Blanca, etc) that spawned the absurd Styles pieces and whatnot—if anything, this made it a shittier dining neighborhood, for me—but because most of the onetime standbys that became shitshow tourist traps continue to attract shitshow tourists (see: Dumont) while the actual standbys (Marlow & Sons/Diner, St. Anslem, La Superior) got so much better, so much more reliable, and so much more refined. It defies logic that this would be the case, but it is. If anything, though, Williamsburg wins for standing tall through Sandy, and becoming such a vibrant place in the face of such (very relative) shittiness for so many people I know during that week. For once, the influx of bumbling Manhattanites so often too good for Williamsburg became an oddly joyous occasion, and not just because so many of them had to walk over the bridge to get there.
Amanda Kludt, Eater editorial director: Looking back at the end of the year, I'm usually vaguely disappointed with what Williamsburg has put out and often choose a fallback like the East or West Village, but this year with Gwynnett St., Reynard, Aska (nee Frej), the evolution of Maison Premiere, the continued success of The Brooklyn Star, the exciting but ultimately failed attempts at progressive cooking at Masten Lake and Isa, and the uber-Euro newcomer Antica Pesa, I think it had the strongest showing. I have yet to try BrisketTown but in the very least it added to the neighborhood's narrative.
Chris Stang, Immaculate Infatuation: Williamsburg.
Robert Simonson, Times cocktail writer: This, for me, has long been a draw between the East Village and Williamsburg. No other neighborhoods comes close to their standard of quality, quantity and variety. In each, there are a dozen not just good, but excellent, exciting and invaluable bars. World class standard bearers.
Adam Kuban, Slice founder: East Village.
Ryan Sutton, Bloomberg critic: You know, in my seven years as a professional eater, this was the first that I spent as much (if not more) time dining in Brooklyn as in Manhattan. And I live in Manhattan. That's no small matter. As for best neighborhood, I've said Carroll Gardens in years past and I'll say it again, but keep in mind that I lump it together with Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and The Waterfront because they're all within a 10 minute walk of one another. We have Pok Pok (meat salads!), Frankies 457 (pork brazhool!), Prime Meats (snausages!), Dassara (lamb ramen!), La Vara (bacon sandwhiches!), Seersucker (fried chicken!) and even Battersby, which sometimes kind of gets the job done if you order correctly (fried pork belly parmigiana!). And if it's Wednesday night, you'll probably find me drinking something brown, something strong and something stirred at the Clover Club as a live 1920s jazz band plays up front; Wednesday at The Clover is as quintessential a New York experience as a Vesper at Bemelmans or a plate prime rib hash at Keens.
Greg Morabito, Eater editor: Noho. That little patch of Lower Manhattan has a cluster of very good (and very hip) new restaurants, plus modern classics like Indochine, Il Buco, and Bohemian. Andrew Carmellini's all-day French restaurant sounds amazing, and I keep hearing rumors that Sir Keith McNally is looking at spaces in the neighborhood. He denies this, of course.
· All Coverage of Year In Eater [~ENY~]