As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends and food writers. This year, we asked the group eight questions, from Meal of the Year to Top Headline Predictions for 2014. We'll be posting their answers each day until we ring in the new year. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted and unedited herein. Readers, please add your survey answers in the comments.
More openings coming to West Ave.? [Photo: Facebook]
Q: What are your headline predictions for 2014?
Alison Cook, restaurant critic at the Houston Chronicle: "High-profile restaurant goes out of business" Several times.
Greg Morago, food editor at the Houston Chronicle: More, more, more. Someone told me that something like 75 new restaurants – probably more – are on the books for 2014. Can't wait. Bring it, Houston.
Teresa Byrne-Dodge, editor & publisher at My Table Magazine: My headline prediction last year -- "Randy Rucker Finally Opens Houston Restaurant" -- came up empty. Maybe I should just recycle this one.
Mai Pham, Forbes Travel Guide correspondent and freelance writer: Ramen will be put on HISD menus.
Robb Walsh, food editor at Houstonia: More Top New York and California Chefs Move to Houston.
Phaedra Cook, My Table Magazine contributor: "'Not Bobby Heugel' Opens Bar; Wears Bag Over Head To Protect Identity"
Chris Frankel, food enthusiast and bar manager at RDG + Bar Annie:
1. "After Expansion-Crazy 2013, Houston Restaurant Market Hits Saturation Point and Begins to Correct."
I get the vibe that the local dining public has finally grown weary of the restaurant celebrity culture and the relentless hype attached to it. Houston diners are a knowledgeable bunch, and at the end of the day, the restaurants with good food and active ownership are the ones that will stick around and succeed.
2. "Suburban Restaurant Scene Continues to Diversify and Grow: Mom and Pop Restaurateurs Open Up Shop in Katy, Spring, and Sugar Land to Avoid Frothy Inner Loop Real Estate Market."
Think more places like La Balance in Katy.
3. "Regional American Diner Specialties from Outside Texas Keep Popping Up on Local Menus."
2013 saw things like a mini-Maine lobster roll trend and the lowcountry South Carolina dishes at Heights General Store. Here's to hoping that we see a really good Philadelphia roast pork sandwich or a Midwest-style fish fry platter show up on a Houston area menu in 2014.
Amber Ambrose, former Eater Houston editor & current Zagat Houston writer:
17 Ramen Restaurants to Open This Summer
Area Man Tries Authentic Ramen For the First Time; Thinks It's Just 'OK'
Lamb's Heart is the new Pork Belly
People Are Actually Rich Enough to Afford $200 Burgers
Kata Robata Serves Fugu For Three Months and No One Dies
Big Name Chefs From Around the Country Flock to Houston to Open Restaurants (oh wait...)
Katharine Shilcutt, features editor at Houstonia Magazine: It's still "Bobby Heugel for mayor." I'm keeping the dream alive.
Upcoming Foreign Correspondents
Misha Govshteyn, food enthusiast:
Houston is Snubbed by a Major Restaurant Critic! We whine.
Foreign Correspondents Is Named One of the Best New Restaurants in the Country.
Kaitlin Steinberg, restaurant critic at Houston Press: I don't have a local headline prediction, but I imagine we'll be seeing Houston in more and more national culinary headlines in the future.
Dutch Small, freelance writer at PaperCity:
Houston Chef Takes James Beard Award, America Cowers Before Our Culinary Might.
All Eyes On Houston As We Take Center Stage On National Scene
Austin's New Favorite St Philip Wows Houstonians With Dutch Crunch Bread, Austin Cheers Because Houston Approves
Eric Sandler, former Eater Houston editor & current CultureMap staff writer: Philippe Schmit makes triumphant return with Katy steakhouse "Johnny Cowboy's."
Carla Soriano, freelance writer at Houston Press: Restaurant-wise, I think that Caracol, Trenza, 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, and Punk's Simple Southern Food will be making big headlines, as will upcoming bakery Common Bond. The later part of 2013 indicates that 2014 will be the year of the ramen. I believe that pop-up dinners and chef collaborations will be stronger than ever in the coming year. I hope for Houston to continue to appear in national headlines as a food destination because it is one!
Shanna Jones & Felice Simmons Sloan, bloggers at Urban Swank: The city will be overtaken by Ramen shops! If we are doing a headline then we would say, "The invasion of the Ramen shops!"
Katherine Whaley, KHOU anchor & reporter: More hybrid foods – the cronut was such a hit, why not more food mash-ups?
Farrah Akhtar, marketing director at Yelp: "Mo' Ramen, Mo' Problems." We all know Houston has pho locked down, and being the soup-oholic that I am, I'm excited to see the ramen craze finally make its way to Houston. That demand has raised the bar, and I'm curious to see which top contenders will be the center of the great debate. The competition is gonna get fierce!
Jodie Eisenhardt, freelance writer: Houston finally gets its In-N-Out - in The Woodlands.