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 restaurant newcomers. 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.
What were the top restaurant newcomers of 2014?
Mai Pham, food critic for Houston Press and freelance writer for My Table magazine, 002 Houston and Forbes Travel Guide: Pax Americana is definitely a bright, shiny new star on the Houston restaurant scene. So, too, is BCN Taste & Tradition for authentic Spanish, Dosi for its take on small Korean plates, Killen's BBQ for sure, because the meat is so magnificent, and Bistro Menil, something I think the city was really missing. You go to San Francisco and you have that fantastic cafe at the de Young Museum. Los Angeles has the wonderful space at the Getty, New York has the Modern at MoMA, and until Bistro Menil, we didn't have a bona fide museum cafe. Now we do
Ellie Sharp, Eater Houston contributor and freelance writer for Bayou City magazine: Jessica Lusk of RED Dessert Dive, Giancarlo Ferrara of Amalfi Ristorante and Bar, Rusty Delk of Wooster's Garden, and Megan Adams of Big Eyed Fish. These guys and gals really stood out to me for their excitement, passion, and thoughtful approach to their businesses.
Jodie Eisenhardt, Eater Houston contributor, freelance writer and marketing consultant at Two Chicks Communications: Pax Americana, Coltivare, Killen’s BBQ.
Dutch Small, proprietor of Forma Revivo and marketing consultant/publicist at Immersioncy Public Relations: Pax Americana is a slam dunk. I think about Chef Adam's beef at least thirty times a day.
Hank Lewis, food blogger at Hank on Food: Tough call because we've had so many great places come to Houston this year.
Common Bond is the best bakery/breakfast place that has opened in the past year. I've brought out of town guests there for coffee and a croissant or other pastry, and despite the wait, those guests have had high praise for them. I especially love how well layered the croissants are, that all the desserts are very flavourful and sweet but not over-sweetened.
The best new bar/pub to open this year to me is Revelry on Richmond. I was able to visit there not long after they opened for the release of Saint Arnold's Bishops Barrel 7 and got to try their Regular Burger. Later on I came back and had their Poutine. This pub has great snacks, great craft beer and great cocktails. It caters to a number of different clientele and folks in jeans fit in just as well as Hipsters and Yuppies. It's many things to many folks and I hope their success continues.
Best New Bistro would have to go to Coltivare Pizza & Garden in the Heights. I had their Duck Pizza within the first few weeks they were open and simply loved it. It is a small, crowded place, but the food is colourful, flavourful and not your ordinary Pizzeria or Bistro by a long shot. They're a great fit for the neighborhood and they will do well.
Best outside the loop would have to be Black's Market Table on Louetta near Jones Road. It's a stone's throw away from where I teach at Lone Star College University Park and they do nice takes on great American classics, providing comfort with a twist. They're helping that area around 249 and Louetta become an Outside the Loop Culinary Hub thanks to Chefs Bart Black along with others like Drew Rogers (of Drew's Pastry Place) and Paul Friedmann (of Peli Peli), and higher end chains like the Alamo Drafthouse.
Anthony Calleo, proprietor and chef of Pi Pizza Truck: Pax Americana ,Ninja Ramen, The Bird House.
Chris Frankel, food enthusiast and bartender at Captain Foxheart's Bad News Bar: I liked Hunan Bistro in Chinatown's Dun Huang Plaza (not to be confused with Spicy Hunan in the same shopping center), and the off-menu chicken saltah at House of Mandi on Almeda is one of my new favorite dishes. I'm glad to see Hunan and Yemeni restaurants opening up in Houston.
Eric Sandler, food writer for CultureMap, monthly contributor to Houston Matters and The Cleverley Show: Coltivare, Pax Americana, Common Bond, Killen's Barbecue.