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Nashville Restaurant Experts Name the Biggest Dining Surprises of 2016

From hotel restaurants to a few under-the-radar spots

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Marsh House at the Thompson Hotel
Sam Angel

In keeping with Eater tradition, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types and bloggers. To kick it off in Nashville, 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 2016?

Nancy Vienneau, food writer and critic for The Tennessean:

The discovery of Dosa Hut Indian Grill.

Collin Czarnecki, founder and writer for NOBLE Nashville:

There have been a ton of newcomers to the Nashville dining scene this year, so it's been pretty incredible to see other restaurants continue to thrive even when their newness wears off. I think that's a testament to the quality of menus as well as the city's big appetite.

Chris Chamberlain, food writer for Nashville Scene’s Bites Blog, Food Republic and author of The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat Before You Die:

Eastern Peak on Thompson Lane just through the railroad tunnel has been a fortuitous find for great Thai food, sushi and cocktails. Their happy hour rocks!

Lizzy Alfs, retail reporter for The Tennessean:

I think I’ll steal one from my colleague Jim Myers here – hotel restaurants have become true dining destinations. Think Marsh House and the new rooftop bar at the Thompson Hotel, 404 Kitchen and Capitol Grille.

Lesley Lassiter, food writer for Nashville Scene’s Bites Blog and Lesley Eats:

Bastion. Every time I think I'm not cool enough for any of the Strategic properties, their dedication to service excellence proves me wrong. I also visited Pinewood Social for the first time in 2016 and was utterly charmed after resisting it for a long time.

Matt Rogers, editor Eater Nashville:

Honestly, it’s hard to believe how many new restaurants and bars are opening and how few spots, established or otherwise, are closing. Over three years into the boom and we still have not seen much of an uptick in the overall attrition rate. I expect that to start to change in 2017.

Beth Wallace Sachan, founder and food writer at Eat. Drink. Smile.:

Virago. That's a place that had kind of fallen off my radar, but over the last few months, I've had some crazy good dishes from there. From the launch of their fall brunch to the standout Carp Crudo at Music City Food & Wine, Chef Andrew is doing great things.

Kristin Luna, travel and food writer and founder of travel blog Camels & Chocolate:

That Vivek Surti still doesn't have his own restaurant! More than ever this year, the founder of VEA Supper Club has been popping up in restaurants all over town—2016 collaborations and takeovers alone included Le Sel, 404 Kitchen, Hattie B's, Butcher & Bee, the Family Wash and Bloomsbury Farm—and I think the people are ready for him to have his own permanent home where they can feast on his masterpieces daily.

Kristy Lucero, associate editor Eater Nashville:

Bastion was a pleasant addition to the Wedgewood-Houston dining scene. Both the bar and the 24-seat restaurant have helped add options for fine dining and drinking to the up-and-coming neighborhood.

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