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Restaurant Experts Name Top Newcomers of 2013

Waypoint Public/Zotova

As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, food writers, reviewers and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions, from Meal of the Year to Best Dining Neighborhood; earlier today, we looked at top restaurant standbys of the year. All will be answered by the time we pop open the bubbly on New Year's Eve. Readers, please do add your own answers in the comments.

Q: What were the top newcomers this year?

Michele Parente, features editor, U-T San Diego: I'm happy to report the competition this year for top new comer was very tough (The Hake, Queenstown Public, Great Maple, BO-beau La Mesa all rock.) But the edge goes to Waypoint Public. Loud, yes. And the kids' play area, must we? But Amanda Baumgarten's command of her new kitchen was impressive in a way that few chefs achieved. And even this wine lover wants a beer there.

Michael Gardiner, restaurant reviewer, San Diego CityBeat: American Voodoo. It was not an opening that was seriously on my radar but it's a place I can see going back to repeatedly.

Ian Pike, food writer, San Diego Reader: What real "newcomers" were there? We mostly had variations on themes from already-successful empires.

Troy Johnson, dining critic, San Diego Magazine: Buona Forchetta. That pizza, that patio.

Kirk K, mmm-yoso blogger: Tough one; The Original Sab E Lee in Rancho Penasquitos opened last December, close but no cigar; I'd say El Charco, but they've been closed for "renovation" the last couple of months. I'd have to say Tu Thanh, which I think makes the best Bun Mang Vit in the city.

Caron Golden, San Diego Foodstuff blogger: Because I just ate there and loved the fresh dim sum to order: French Concession in Hillcrest.

Amy T. Granite, freelance writer, @saysgranite: Undoubtedly Polite Provisions/Soda & Swine. What I appreciate more than anything else is the accessibility of quality food and drink here; its prices are appropriate for the neighborhood, which is so important and all too often overlooked (see North Park in general). If you have the pleasure of sitting in front of bartender Erick Castro, put yourself at his mercy and ask him to make you a drink of his choosing.

Marcie Rothman, FoodbuzzSD: Sundara--a tiny place with terrific samosas and a very small but good menu.  And if I lived closer to Flower Hill Mall, Sea & Smoke would be my Cheers, beautiful quiet patio, large and inviting bar, and of course, good food from chef Matt Gordon.

Erin Jackson, San Diego city editor, DiningOut Magazine: Puesto's second location at The Headquarters. The vastly expanded menu, including lots of new tacos and awesome drinks by the Queen-Conner-Ward Collective, is a huge win for the downtown dining scene.

Kristin Díaz de Sandi, Life & Food blog: The top newcomer of 2013 is Chef Jair Tellez' Verde y Crema in Tijuana. The most recent urban spot to grace Tijuana with its presence is represented by its Cocina de Baja California inspired menu, and wood fire run kitchen. The restaurant also carries an array of craft beers, that can be enjoyed at their beautiful bar, as well as alongside dishes such as their signature Oriental style carne asada tacos or ramped up version of Esquites (grilled corn).