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The Biggest Dining Surprises of 2018

Big name closures shocked us all

Shed in Healdsburg

Marcia Gagliardi, founder of Tablehopper and columnist for KQED’s Table Talk: That Charlie Hallowell had the audacity to open a restaurant this year.

Ellen Fort, editor of Eater SF: Some icons closed this year: Terra, Camino, Shed, Fremont Diner. Camino was especially surprising, considering I’d just written a piece about its ten year anniversary. It’s a bitter pill to swallow that restaurants aren’t able to keep the doors open no matter how beloved.

Janelle Bitker, Eater SF reporter: That so many great restaurants can’t seem to survive. Between the Shed, Camino, Brown Sugar Kitchen, and so many others, 2018 was pretty brutal. But I was delighted by the rise in legit barbecue, like Smokin’ Woods BBQ, Horn Barbecue, Native Sons, and Pig in a Pickle.

Caleb Pershan, senior editor at Eater SF: The closure of the Fremont Diner! What! How?! Why?! I still don’t get it.

Greg Morabito, pop culture editor for Eater National: The tragic collapse of Theorita, the lack of fanfare surrounding the end of Michael Bauer’s tenure, and the shrug emoji reception to The Angler, which, I think, will possibly point to the future of non-tasting menu, techie-favored thirst trap dining, whether we like it or not.

Peter Kane, editor-in-chief of SF Weekly: I was sad to see Theorita close after such a short time. As a happier surprise, several queer spaces opened this year. Also, people are apparently willing to pay $30 for perfectly ordinary entrees now.

Paolo Lucchesi, food editor at SF Chronicle: In the year 2018, restaurants are still designing menus that require servers to explain said menu.

Esther Mobley, wine and spirits critic at SF Chronicle: Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by closures anymore, but a few this year still shocked. Shed, Terra, Camino, Navi Kitchen, La Victoria, Theorita.

Jonathan Kauffman, food reporter at SF Chronicle: International Smoke, which if I think about it should probably not have been a surprise.

Virginia Miller, founder of The Perfect Spot, freelance food/drink writer and editor: That the modern Italian, CalItalian, “New School Italian,” whatever you want to call it, craze has new legs and even made waves nationally, especially with all the buzz around Che Fico (David Nayfeld’s pastas and unique pizzas rock). But also the exquisite pastas of Alex Hong at Sorrel and different concepts at Prairie and Pearl 6101.