As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, writers, and experts. This year, we asked the group eight questions running the gamut from meal of the year to top restaurant newcomers. Their answers will appear throughout the week. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. We've heard about the top standbys and the hot newcomers. Now it's time for the hottest dining neighborhoods. Please add your answers in the comments.
What is the best dining neighborhood of 2016?
Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief: In the eight years I've filled out this survey, my neighborhood has never had restaurants that felt all that exciting. Even with the Tarlow empire, with the Luger standby, with Saltie and St. Anselm and The Commodore and my ever-favorite Bamonte's, they never seemed to stack up to what was happening elsewhere in any given year. But now we have all of those AND Lilia AND Barano AND Carms' perfectly whimsical Mister Dips and Leuca and Llama Inn and The Four Horseman and Emmy Squared. I'm interested to see how the scene fares when its main artery — the L train — is cut off in two years.
Nick Solares, Eater NY restaurant editor: West Village, FiDi had a strong year too, and Flatiron continues its steady growth.The East Village, my usual winner, had a flat year.
Daniela Galarza, Eater news editor: Everything below 23rd Street.
Jordana Rothman, restaurant editor at Food & Wine: Downtown Manhattan, and, seriously, not only because my new gig at Food & Wine has me spending lots of time there.
Foster Kamer, Mashable managing editor: Between the William Vale opening, the Barano vs. Lilia debate, Rider, Llama Inn, Sauvage, et al, hard to argue with Williamsburg (again) being the big winner, besides that time Lilia sat Jared and Ivanka. Don't normalize, and don't feed the normalizers, either.
Bret Thorn, NRN senior food & beverage editor: Williamsburg.
Joe DiStefano, Chopsticks + Marrow blogger/food tour guide: I have to say it remains Elmhurst Queens, which now in addition to being home to the best Thai in New York City now has a Cheesecake Factory and plays host to a monthly Indonesian food festival.
Serena Dai, Eater NY news editor: East Village
Robert Sietsema, Eater senior critic: Lower East Side
Kat Odell, author of Day Drinking: Chinatown, and predicting Chinatown to explode even more in 2017.
Melissa McCart, Eater NY editor: In Manhattan, the East Village. Otherwise, Flushing.
Matt Rodbard, TASTE editor-in-chief/Koreatown co-author: In this order: 1. East Village 2. Everything else 3. The blocks surrounding my office at 56/Broadway. The dire situation almost got me to eat at Chipotle. Sweetgreen, Culture Espresso, Dizengoff….help!
Helen Rosner, Eater executive editor: Prospect Heights/Crown Heights.
Ryan Sutton, Eater critic/data lead: The ever improving FiDi gets a consolation prize, and Brooklyn as a whole is the borough of the year, but for the best neighborhood, the correct answer is Midtown. I’m slightly biased because Midtown is where I live. And I should also note that I extend the boundaries of Midtown down to 23rd street (Google agrees with me). So now that we have the parameters and disclosures established for this somewhat expansive "neighborhood," let’s take a look at all the solid-ish openings in Midtown this year: the fancy Indian Accent and Italienne, the enjoyably junk food-y Salvation Burger, the Cannibal/Resto reboot, the highly underrated Tacuba, Great Nordic Food Hall, the Bryant Park Winter Food Market, the Turnstyle subway food hall, and even the uptown outpost of La Esquina, which was decent-ish enough on my first visit. Combine this with what’s already there and you have a stunningly diverse culinary center where you can eat well from 6 in the morning until well into the after hours.
Matt Buchanan, Eater features editor: Maybe one day a neighborhood will be better for dining than the combined East Village / Lower East Side, but I doubt it.
Laurie Woolever, food writer/Appetites co-author: Elmhurst, Queens.
Charlotte Druckman, food writer/cookbook author: I've come to realize I don't believe there's a single best dining neighborhood in NYC. The city's become one giant dining neighborhood; the restaurant landscape gets more homogenous with each passing year. God save our Queens, where I should be making it a point to go.
Greg Morabito, Eater Upsell co-host: For years, I thought Williamsburg was New York's most maddening dining neighborhood, because it was full of hip places that couldn't quite pull it together in terms of kitchen consistency and service. Looking back at things, I think 2016 was the year that Williamsburg professionalized itself. I wholeheartedly agree with several of my colleagues above that newcomers like Lilia, Leuca, Barano, Aska, and Emmy Squared — along with the Tarlow empire and sleeper of the century The Four Horsemen — nail the Big City Hospitality thing, while offering something that's still cool and interesting.