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What Was the Biggest Dining Surprise of 2019?

Local food writers share their thoughts on the year

Shrimp and grits at Hominy Grill
Erin Perkins is the editor of Eater Carolinas, covering the food and restaurant scene across North and South Carolina.

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, Eater 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 was the biggest dining surprise of 2019?

Marion Sullivan, Food editor Charleston Magazine:
Big Bad Breakfast finally opened!

Hanna Raskin, Food writer and critic for the Post & Courier:
McCrady’s Tavern closing (also, the fact that anyone in the restaurant business wouldn’t be familiar with the expression “stoner food.”)

Parker Milner, Eater Charleston contributor:
The closure of Hominy Grill.

Vanessa Wolf, Charleston City Paper critic:
Eating in the (veritable) dark at Tu and discovering that what I had anticipated were avocados were chunks of green apple in a color-matched sauce. “Equally so, some of the food. In the darkness, I assumed the green-cloaked squares in the gobi ($13) were chunks of avocado, but nope. It’s tart green apple, which results in a dish that’s at once piquant, fresh, and unusual.”

Erin Perkins, editor Eater Charleston:
The closing of Hominy Grill — as well as my ridiculous face in the New York Times article about it.

Jenn Rice, Eater Charleston contributor:
Celebrity chefs like Katsuji Tanabe, Fry Ford and Kenny Gilbert opening restaurants in Raleigh. Also the announcement of multiple bbq spots opening in the triangle in 2020.

Kenneth Andrews, Eater Charleston contributor and pop-up enthusiast:
We all knew the Wangs and the Prados were going to have great restaurants when they opened, but out of nowhere Nikko Cagalanan started his popups and opened in Workshop finally elevating Filipino food to a place in the hearts and minds of mainstream Charleston.

Barbara Skidmore, Eater Charleston contributor:
Food truck turned restaurant openings