As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. We already covered this year's restaurant standbys; now we're talking best newcomers on the scene. Responses are related in no particular order. Readers, please add your survey answers in the comments.
Cheu Noodle Bar [Photo: Allison Stadd]
Q: What was the top newcomer of 2013?
Danya Henninger, editor of Zagat Philly:
Cheu Noodle Bar. Nicest guys, bangin' food. Every single person I know loves the friendly-but-frenetic vibe and fantastic apps and noodles (except my husband — but you have to love people despite their flaws).
Holly Moore, industry all-rounder behind HollyEats.com:
Joy Manning, editor of Edible Philly:
This is a really close one for me with Noord, Fitler Dining Room, and Serpico all being such great additions to Philly. I went to Noord most, though, partially because it's down the street from my house and partially because chef Joncarl Lachman has perhaps the best personality of any restaurant professional in the whole city. I feel compelled to say I haven't been to Laurel or Le Cheri yet — I can't wait to try those too!
Did CHeU open this year? It did, right? I love what they're doing there. And the cheap beer is their best kept secret.
Serpico. It's dramatic, idiosyncratic, fun, compelling, light-hearted and mind-blowingly delicious, with very smart servers and a bar I love because it feels like a coffee table.
Serpico. [Photo: Eater Philly]
Michael Klein, editor/producer/columnist/blogger for Philly.com:
Jamie Shanker, editor of Midtown Lunch Philly:
Xi'an Sizzling Woks. They get my vote, though I don't know if many others were as excited for real liang pi.
The handsome dudes at Cheu probably take the cak..err..noodles?
Arthur Etchells, founder of Foobooz:
Tough call. Serpico, Fitler Dining Room and Cheu Noodle Bar are my top three. But that might only be because I still have to get to Avance, Le Cheri or Laurel. I'm going with Fitler.
Brian Freedman, critic at Philadelphia Weekly and wine writer/educator:
Too many to choose.
Caroline Russock, food editor at Philadelphia City Paper:
There were so many, Cheu for sure. Pizzeria Vetri, High Street. But I think that if I had to pick one, it would be Cheu for bringing their creative, playful and affordable take on white dude Asian fare to Philadelphia.
Kevin McKenzie of Amusing My Bouche:
Serpico. Anyone who actually pays attention to the bigger culinary picture knew of Peter Serpico and the work he was doing in David Chang's network of restaurants. With the influx of Starr-bucks (get it? Anyone? No one is laughing, huh?), his spot on South could lead to more and more chefs seeing Philadelphia as a destination city (and maybe even help build up South Street as another dining-centric avenue).
Kristina Jenkins, editor of Uwishunu:
Again, Cheu. I love the simplicity of the concept, the killer menu execution and super-friendly service.
So many incredible places opened up this year, but if I can pick just one, I'm going with Serpico. I think it's an exciting and important addition to Philly based on the space, location, overall mentality and the style of cooking in general.