As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, bloggers, and readers. We've already covered Best Standbys, Top Newcomers, 2012 in One Word and Best Dining Neighborhood. Now it's time for Biggest Dining Surprises. Readers, please add your thoughts to the comments.
The former home to Campanile on La Brea.
Q: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2012?
Lesley Barger Suter, dine editor, LAmag: The loss of places like Campanile, Angeli Caffe, and Mezze. Sorry, I still can't really talk about it.
Maggie Nemser, founder, Blackboard Eats: The very pleasant surprise of Walter taking over the Campanile space to launch Republique in 2013.
Jeff Miller, LA editor, Thrillist: I started cooking a lot more this year, thanks to subscribing to the CSA Farm Fresh To You. It's seriously great. If anyone reads this wants to subscribe for regular great produce delivery use the code 6164 and tell them I sent you for a discount. I don't get anything from them free, we never wrote about them, but damn if it hasn't changed the way I use my kitchen in a way I never thought I would, to the point where I regularly share recipes on their facebook page like a crazy person.
Brigham Yen, DTLA RISING with Brigham Yen: Cheap and amazing Italian at Maccheroni Republic, can't beat that!
Zach Brooks, Midtown Lunch: How much gourmet food trucks became a total non-entity in L.A. by the end of 2012. Oh wait, did you say "biggest surprise"? I thought you said 'thing that surprised nobody'.
Eddie Lin, Deep End Dining: 626 Night Market. 30,000 hungry foodies mobbed one Pasadena block for Asian street food. It was the first ever food rave.
Josh Lurie, Food GPS: Seeing Walter and Margarita Manzke replace Campanile was surprising, since it sure seemed like they'd settle in the Arts District, and Campanile was such an institution. In sports, they say it's always better to be the person that replaces the person that replaces the legend, but in this case, I'm sure the Manzkes will be just fine.
Katherine Kims, associate editor, Time Out Los Angeles: LA's dining scene have really stepped up its game. While we've always had our amazing ethnic hole in the walls, now LA's become a dining destination where, say, our Italian restaurants can rival those of other cities. LA's the place to be with chefs earning serious food cred, artists creating something new and food trucks and pop-ups becoming brick-and-mortars.
Jason Kessler, Bon Appetit contributor: The closing of Mezze. I knew construction was crushing them, but Micah Wexler and his team were just starting to hit their stride. I can't wait to see what they do next.
Esther Tseng, e*starLA: MessHall.
Tony Chen, contributor, Eater LA: Wok Coco, Anaheim.
Matthew Kang, contributor, Eater LA: The amazing meal I had at Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (the original). The staying power and influence of 800 Degrees.
Daniela Galarza, contributor, Eater LA: When Campanile closed, and then Walter Manzke took over the space for Republique.
Kat Odell, editor, Eater LA: The LA Times' loss of a star rating system for restaurant reviews and the Campanile shutter. Oh, and an impressive dinner cooked by a 13-year-old.