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 Restaurant Breakups; so far, we've looked at top restaurant standbys, top newcomers , had the writers sum up the year in one word, pick the dining neighborhoods, name their biggest dining surprises and single best meals of 2013. 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: Which restaurants, if any, did you break up with this year?
Erin Jackson, San Diego city editor, DiningOut Magazine: It's not a restaurant per se, but Donut Bar. Their initial vision (artisanal, from-scratch doughnuts with no shortcuts taken) was admirable, but they've gone about 500 miles in the opposite direction since then. You can keep your "Brad Fritter", I'll be getting my deep-fried dough fix in Hillcrest at Donut Star.
Marcie Rothman, FoodbuzzSD: Gabardine, have been there numerous times since it opened and the menu constantly changes so you might have something one time and it's gone the next. They still haven't figured out the demographic of Pt. Loma... My last visit in June at 6:30pm at the bar: an $11 Campari to go with $10 ceviche tacos, music so loud one could barely hear...what are they thinking?
Michael Gardiner, restaurant reviewer, San Diego CityBeat: Pho King on El Cajon Boulevard. It used to be one of the best local Pho joints, my family's "go to" Saturday brunch. Of late, though, its become another victim of Monosodium Glutamatitis. It will still get on some "best of lists," somewhere, if only because of the punny name.
Michele Parente, features editor, U-T San Diego: Herringbone, La Jolla. When Amanda Baumgarten left, it lost some its soul. True Food. Being beckoned by buzzer and text due to its non-reservation policy is annoying for such a crowded spot.
Amy T. Granite, freelance writer, @saysgranite: This is my last ditch effort to salvage my relationship with Mama's Bakery. As much as it breaks my heart, I'm close to ending it all. I've had a multi-year love affair with North Park's Lebanese haunt, but recently, the food hasn't been consistent. Nothing in the food world is more of a let down than knowing what your favorite dish tastes like only to get a mere rendition of it when you really have a craving to satisfy. I usually order the Manakeesh Ultimate, which is a homemade flatbread smeared with a bouquet of dried herbs, creamy yogurt cheese, olives and tomatoes. Lately, Mama's has shorted me on the once abundant cheese—the main event of the dish. The letdown is akin to ordering your favorite juicy burger only to get something meager and dry in between its buns. Really, Mama's, when you see me coming, squirt that heavenly white substance extra hard, otherwise, we're through...
Ian Pike, food writer, San Diego Reader: Bird Rock Coffee. I tire of waiting in line for espresso that has only gone downhill in terms of quality. I like the coffee, but I'll get it at Art of Espresso or Young Hickory and it'll be faster and better.
Troy Johnson, dining critic, San Diego Magazine: Olive Garden. Overhyped. Chef is a media whore. Doubt sustainability of bread sticks.