As is tradition since the end of 2016 is near, Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past culinary year in Austin. The annual survey spans eight questions, from dining surprises, saddest closures, to disappointing meals. All answers will be revealed as the week rolls on — cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Readers, add your answers in the comments below. Second up:
What were your top restaurant standbys of 2016?
Jane Ko, blogger at A Taste of Koko
Charm Korean BBQ, La Condesa, Justine's, El Tacorrido, Snooze, Cow Tipping Creamery, Thai Kun, Fresa's Chicken al Carbon, and brunch at Italic.
Brandon Watson, food editor of Austin Chronicle
A good third of my local restaurant expenditures this year went to Dee Dee's om gai. If I had a bad day at work, I Favored om gai. When I was excited about a really good first date, I celebrated with a friend over om gai. I had it for lunch on my birthday and the day after surviving another Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. Everyone I know wishes I would just shut up about it already.
Jolène M. Bouchon, critic for Austin Monthly
Dai Due remains unseated. And I seriously love Dee Dee.
Melody Fury, freelance food writer, blogger at Gourmet Fury, and contributor at Eater Austin
Fukumoto: happy hour izakaya specials, excellent sashimi and yakitori, open on Mondays, yay.
Dee Dee: homestyle Thai cooking with heart. The wait can be long, so come prepared (with a book or a six-pack).
Daito: still my go-to for handmade udon, fine sakes, and well-priced sashimi.
Quickie Pickie on Cesar Chavez: made-from-scratch breakfast, lunch, and dinner for under $10, plus only $5 corkage fee for any bottle in house.
Emmer & Rye: hyper-seasonal cuisine with everything milled, fermented, and prepared in-house. It’s rare to see the same menu twice so I go back often.
Forthright: hearty brunch on the patio with my pup after a stroll around Town Lake.
Bufalina and Pieous: the consistently-stunning pizzas that always hit the spot.
Patricia Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
When out-of-towners ask me where to go, my standby answer is always Olamaie (order the biscuits immediately). And Launderette has the best duck confit in the city (though it’s not always on the menu).
Anastacia Uriegas, contributor at Thrillist and Time Out Austin
I absolutely loathe adventurers and I particularly hate this old pseudo-adventurism where the mountain climb becomes about confronting the extremes of humanity: Second Bar + Kitchen.
Veronica Meewes, editor of Zagat Austin
Between travel and making the rounds to see new spots, I don’t go to any restaurants nearly as regularly as I’d like. But some standbys include Bufalina for incredible Neapolitan pies, Odd Duck for everything, Cow Tipping Creamery for amazing ice cream creations, King Bee for creative pizza and cocktails, Mi Tradicion for legit Mexican street food, Deckhand Oyster Bar for Gulf seafood with a Thai twist (and now with a new location much closer to home!), and Fukumoto for a tasty triumvirate of sushi, tempura, and yakitori.
Frani Chung, contributor at Eater Austin
I’ll always love Jeffrey’s — it’s a nod to the good old times and the food is constantly yummy without being fussy, Fresa’s for a quick weeknight meal, and Wu Chow for a dreamy soup dumpling.
Tom Thornton, freelance food writer and contributor at Eater Austin
Olamaie, Second Bar + Kitchen, Noble Sandwich, Veracruz All Natural, Tamale House East, Uchi, Valentina's Tex-Mex BBQ, El Alma, Josephine House, and Poke Poke.
Elizabeth Leader Smith, associate editor of Eater Austin
Uchi and Uchiko never fail to impress me.
Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
My reliable go-tos are always Odd Duck, Veracruz All Natural, Ramen Tatsu-ya (I am very excited about the upcoming izakaya), Sichuan River, and Patika for the best vanilla latte in Austin. Now that I’ve lived on South Congress for over a year, Home Slice’s last night hours usually save the day, as do Manana’s pastries and coffee in the morning. Another new addition to my lineup is Dee Dee: that larb moo is so spicy and so good and I just can’t stop eating it. For out-of-towners looking for something different and new, I find myself recommending Emmer & Rye often. For drinks, I still stand by my downtown trio: The Townsend, Small Victory, and Roosevelt Room, with Backbeat becoming my go-to South Austin spot.