My Minnesota Monthly co-editor Joy Summers also runs the Minneapolis Eater website, and like every year she asked my thoughts for her annual round-up of year in review posts. I thought I’d share all my answers here, so you can see my favorites from 2016 and predictions for 2017.
What were the top restaurant newcomers of 2016?
Mucci’s, The Dirty Bird, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, Q Fanatic’s Minneapolis location, Alma’s Cafe: the big wins of 2016 were all about casual dining with big flavors and big heart.
What were your top restaurant standbys of 2016?
The Strip Club Meats & Fish, Punch Pizza in Maple Grove, Borough.
What was the biggest dining surprise of 2016?
The utter failure of restaurants with a lot of seats. Scena in Uptown (which I really liked) opened and closed; Parella didn’t last long; Salt Cellar in St. Paul also bombed.
What was the saddest closure of 2016?
Saffron. Saffron had an incredible run, but knowing I won’t see Saed Wadi’s giant smile when I walked in, the great drinks at the bar, and the incredibly richness and depth of spice in Sameh Wadi’s food makes me sad.
What was your most disappointing meal of 2016?
Hoban Uptown. I ended up behind the bar looking at their wine selection because the server couldn’t tell me what was they had.
What was your best restaurant meal of 2016?
Tie: Corner Table’s French menu tasting was absolutely stellar, as was a Saint Dinette meal I had inside Xcel Energy Center. Both restaurants are run by incredibly talented, and incredibly kind people.
What are your headline predictions for 2017?
The Lexington finally opens! Bagels are the new donuts: expect several local bagel shops to open next year.
Sum up the 2016 restaurant world in one word.
Generous: It’s been an amazing year of chefs helping other chefs as they open (providing staff meals for each other, talking through challenges with getting approvals and licenses, coaching through troubles) as well as restaurants donating their time and business to charities.