In keeping with Eater tradition, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types and bloggers. To kick it off in Charleston, we asked the group eight questions, ranging from the restaurants they frequent most to the biggest surprises of the year. Responses are in no particular order, and readers are encouraged to leave answers in the comments.
Q: What were your top restaurant standbys of 2012?
Nathalie Dupree, author of Southern Biscuits: My standby restaurants are SNOB, Hominy Grill, Cypress on Monday Night and Husk.
Eric Doksa, restaurant critic for City Paper: I eat out a lot, obviously, but I tend to frequent the following: Red Drum, Hall's Chophouse, Mi Xao, Coleman Public House, Two Boroughs Larder, Butcher & Bee, Bon Banh Mi, and Mellow Mushroom.
Angel Postell, Director of Charleston Wine + Food: Well as a mom, the places I am at the most are kid friendly: Home Team BBQ, Mellow Mushroom and Jack Cosmic Dogs. As a food lover, my restaurant I go to probably the most in Charleston is Lucca but have several I love to go to. I have a ton of lunch meetings and love Butcher & Bee, Lana, Fish and Monza for that.
Stephanie Barna, editor at City Paper: The Macintosh, FIG, McCrady's. The Mac is in the middle of the action, and I found myself there many times late into the evening, digging into some of Jeremiah Bacon's great food. I could eat at FIG once a week and never tire of it, but my pocketbook can't handle that sort of loyalty. And McCrady's never fails to blow my mind. From the beautiful plates of food to the hyper creative ways they utilize ingredients and compose dishes, I just can't get enough of that place.
Holly Herrick, food writer/cookbook author: The Glass Onion, Butcher & Bee, Husk, 39 Rue de Jean (old favorite!), Monza (another old favorite!), The Macintosh, FIG, Zen Fusion, Martha Lou's Kitchen.
Erica Jackson Curran, arts and scene editor at City Paper: As a journalist on a tight budget, I find myself returning to restaurants where I can get the most bang for my buck. Five Loaves, Santi's, Closed for Business are all favorites for lunch or dinner. Fish has a great happy hour. And Red Orchids is always a top pick if I'm in West Ashley.
Marion Sullivan, food editor at Charleston Magazine: The Grocery, FIG, Husk, Glass Onion
Robert Moss, author of Going Lardcore and restaurant critic for City Paper: My go-to spot is not for food but for cocktails, and that's the Gin Joint. No matter where my wife and I go for dinner downtown, we either start the evening out at the Gin Joint or finish it up there. Joe Raya and his team ain't fooling around. And, I eat an awful lot of Hop Frog burgers at Poe's on Sullivan's Island.
Kinsey Gidick, assistant editor at Charleston Magazine: Because my husband is a hopeless Francophile, La Fourchette is our go-to for a romantic evening out. It doesn't get much attention, but perhaps that's why I love this jewel of a restaurant that flies quietly under the radar on King. The best nights there are when the accordion player is on duty. The food is consistent and the atmosphere is about as Left Bank as you can get in Charleston.
Annabel Jones, blogger/freelance writer: La Pizzeria, Hall's Chophouse and Bon Banh Mi
Maggie White, editor at The Local Palate: Partially due to proximity to the workplace, my co-editors and I frequent Dellz Deli for lunch. But there are plenty of places near our offices and yet we go back to Dellz ALL THE TIME, so it's more than simple geography. They always have the freshest vegetables and the friendliest service and they do an astounding volume of business in a space the size of storage closet. Most importantly, they consistently seem to really care about every single one of their diverse customers. For dinner, I found myself at The Macintosh a lot. The bone marrow bread pudding is pretty much the most addictive situation ever. And I go to Lucca whenever I can because Vedrinski pasta just makes people happy.
Matt Lee of The Lee Bros., authors of Simple, Fresh, Southern: Dave's Carryout, Heart Woodfire Kitchen
Caroline Nuttall, Publisher CHARLIE: Obviously we all know that we have too many insanely amazing local restaurants in Charleston to count. The spots that had an extra special place in my heart and tummy this year were Trattoria Lucca, Cru Cafe and FIG, hands down! And Lana. And Hucks. And... see, I told you.