Following an Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Their answers to the annual “Year in Eater” survey will be revealed in several posts. Next up, the dining experts share their top newcomers from 2019.
What were the top restaurant newcomers of 2019?
Jackie Gutierrez-Jones, editor, copywriter, lifestyle journalist for Eater, Nashville Lifestyle, Time Out, Lonely Planet: Without a doubt, it’s Setsun. Sure, it has a smart and cheeky wine list that could potentially invite some snobbery. But everyone checks their pretentiousness at the door. It’s homespun. It’s funky. It’s warm. And it’s churning out dishes that take considerable culinary chops to pull off — without taking itself too seriously. Setsun’s where you want to hunker down with a few good friends and spill some salacious tea over a chilled bottle of Grecanico Dorato and a plate of their addictively perfect ricotta agnolotti... while unabashedly ordering a second round.
Ashley Brantley, food/travel writer for Eater Nashville, Nashville Scene, Frommer’s, and others: Setsun in East Nashville, BokBox, Redheaded Stranger, Tailor
Delia Jo Ramsey, Eater Nashville editor and food writer: I started to name just one, but I’m truly happy with so many newcomers and the consistency they’ve been able to miraculously provide. Raising my glass of French rose to you guys — Setsun, Pelican & Pig, Bar Otaku, Lou, Tailor, and Hathorne.
Chris Chamberlain, food writer at Nashville Scene, Sounds Like Nashville, and other publications: ‘za (because I love to begin sentences with lowercase...), Redheaded Stranger, Superica, O-Ku, Pemrose
Kristin Luna, freelance travel/food writer and founder of travel blog Camels & Chocolate: I really love Redheaded Stranger. There aren’t enough grab-and-go options with elevated food, and I like that you can order and receive your food quickly, sit down, and have a quick bite or take it with you. Though not a restaurant, Vandyke has become one of my midday go-to spots. As someone who works remotely, I’d rather have a cocktail (OK, three...) while I worked than seven cups of coffee, and Vandyke’s cream soda Old Fashioned is one of my favorite cocktails in town.
Alex Hendrickson freelance food and lifestyle writer at Eater Nashville StyleBlueprint, and others : I’ll give my vote to Lou, for the wine list and French cider alone. Plus, the food is entirely interesting and delicious.
Nancy Vienneau, restaurant critic, The Tennessean; food journalist, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine: Tailor, Hathorne, Pelican & Pig.