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 were the top restaurant newcomers of 2016?
Nancy Vienneau, food writer and critic for The Tennessean:
Bastion, Butcher & Bee, etc. (An aside--I've only been to Nicky's Coal Fired once-- a media event, so I can't add it to the list, but I have high hopes that it would make my best for 2017.)
Collin Czarnecki, founder and writer for NOBLE Nashville:
Vui's Kitchen, Nicky's Coal Fired, Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge and Bastion, in no particular order.
Barcelona [Wine Bar] is currently rocking my world, and I'm really excited about Nicky's Coal Fired! Etc. continues to impress in its hotbed of suburban rest in Green Hills.
Lizzy Alfs, retail reporter for The Tennessean:
Nicky’s! I am so excited about this. It’s on the west side near me and the food is amazing. Fancy pizza is my jam. The pizza combinations are unique, there’s wine on tap and it has a great vibe. I think I’ll be a regular. Barcelona Wine Bar is based in Connecticut but I’m into it. I really like being able to try 5+ dishes for one meal. But admittedly, I still need to try Etc. and Bastion.
Lesley Lassiter, food writer for Nashville Scene’s Bites Blog and Lesley Eats:
My favorite new restaurant is Vui's Kitchen. etc in Green Hills is also a very welcome addition.
Matt Rogers, editor Eater Nashville:
Bastion, Nicky’s Coal Fired, Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge and, even though it opened just before Christmas in 2015, Butcher & Bee were my top new restaurants of 2016.
Vivek Surti, founder of VEA Supper Club and Sabrage Society:
Bastion and Nicky’s Coal Fired.
Beth Wallace Sachan, founder and food writer at Eat. Drink. Smile.:
For me, Bastion is the most exciting new concept that opened in Nashville this year. I'm also thrilled that my own neighborhood of Green Hills got such an awesome new addition with Deb Paquette's etc.
Nashville's long had a dearth of seafood restaurants, and I think Fin & Pearl fills that void. It brings one of my favorite chefs, Dale Levitski, back into the kitchen, and he complements executive chef Matt Farley's style well. I recently had an epic dinner of grilled calamari salad, tuna poke and coral cod, with a number of delicious bourbon cocktails to accompany each course. And while the service in the bar at Bastion can be iffy, there's no denying that Josh Habiger is a ninja in the kitchen on the restaurant side of this Wedgewood-Houston hotspot. His food is, hands down, some of my favorite in Nashville.