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Friends of Eater Discuss the Biggest Dining Surprises of 2014

On the restaurants that exceeded expectations, those that didn't, and everything else people just didn't see coming.

Ricardo Zarate Inside Paiche, Marina del Rey
Ricardo Zarate Inside Paiche, Marina del Rey
Elizabeth Daniels
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Kat Odell, Eater Editorial Producer: Kris Tominaga's rabbit meatballs at Cadet. Mind. Blowing.

Gary Baum, Senior Writer, The Hollywood Reporter: Omelets have never been on my radar. Then I had the paradigm-shifter at Petit Trois.

Brigham Yen, Editor, Gentaro's amazing soba noodles at FIGat7th. It's in a food court, but don't let that fool you.

Nicole Iizuka, Producer, POPSUGAR: Cadet... for sure. While I've liked his food in the past, I didn't expect to enjoy the meal nearly as much as I did.

Esther Tseng, e*starLA: Grand Central Market. More and more gems keep moving in. Also, that Bon Appetit actually considers the entire market is a restaurant, much less collectively a "best new restaurant." Here's a bone, any ol' bone, L.A.!

People previously dedicated to bars and the cocktail scene started opening up restaurants, and good for them.

Euno Lee, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Trojan; Eater LA Contributor: Whatever's happening with Ricardo Zarate. Paiche and Mo-Chica shuttering and he didn't show up to Picca? Hope he's alright.

Caroline on Crack, LA Magazine Contributor: So many restaurant closures. And not just any restaurants, actual stalwarts like Rivera and Hatfield's. And don't get me started on all of Chef Ricardo Zarate's restaurants.

Stacey Sun, dineLA Director: I was surprised that Dunkin' Donuts had such long lines. I don't get it.

Garrett Snyder, LA Magazine Contributor: I don't think anyone expected Maude to be as wonderfully overachieving as it is. Mad respect, Curtis Stone.

Zach Brooks, Midtown Lunch and Food is the New Rock Founder: Uh, Ricardo Zarate. WTF.

Jeff Miller, Thrillist LA Senior Editor: Ricardo Zarate leaving his restaurants. I've always been a fan, and he's always been a friend of Thrillist, and I just hope everything's OK.

Crystal Coser, Eater LA Contributor: Butchers & Barbers. The Houston Brothers' first foray into the restaurant world ended up being quite impressive. Even though it is so much more than a trendy watering hole, the cocktails are also on point.

Tony Chen, Eater LA Contributor: Lacha Somtum

Joshua Lurie, Founder, FoodGPS: I'm surprised L.A. doesn't have a fried chicken and donut restaurant yet. Even San Diego has one.

Matthew Kang, Eater LA Editor: The precipitous fall of Ricardo Zarate, and the radio silence from the talented chef that came along with it. I know he'll bounce back though, he's too good of a chef to stay on the sidelines.

But I was probably most surprised by the overall sense that outside media (especially from New York) is finally giving Los Angeles the respect it deserves as a dining destination. There are still plenty of ways that the scene can improve, but the overall quality seems to be as good as it's ever been. It was only five years ago when everyone was trying to do a gastropub and now tasting menus are all the rage. The only question now will be if consumers/diners will play their part and frequent these restaurants.


3655 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90007