The list is curated by Bill Addison, Eater’s national critic who travelled to 36 cities in
34 weeks to prepare the list. Released on Tuesday in the 5th edition
of Eater’s series, 17 restaurants made it to the list for the first time.
Restaurants that make it to the essential list become
indispensable to their neighborhoods, according to Addison. The list notes Tom
Cunanan’s peerless Filipino cuisine at the Bad Saint restaurant as a “payoff”
for customers. The restaurant has a no-reservations policy, and 24 available
“Inspirations like piniritong alimasag (fried
soft-shell crab in spicy crab-fat sauce) also brilliantly signal the Chesapeake
region in which he cooks,” the list notes.
“This annual guide, compiled after 34 weeks of
travel and almost 600 meals in 36 cities, aims to accomplish something else,”
wrote Addison. “It’s a distillation of the foods and the communities to which
I’ve borne witness. The undertaking has defined my work — my life, really — for
nearly the last five years as Eater’s national critic.”
In total, 38 restaurants from all across the country
made it to the list, including 17 newcomers. “They’re the places where I had
especially meaningful aha moments,” adds Addison.