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Tacos took off in D.C. in 2009

Good God, I can even begin to wrap my mind around all the things that happened on the D.C. dining scene during the past 12 months. Fortunately, not all of them were as apocalyptic as the closing of your favorite restaurant or the passing of Ben Ali.

For starters, we had a ton of above-average to good restaurants open in 2009. Last week, in fact, I listed my 10 favorite newbies.

We also had a President and First Lady who actually enjoyed eating out on the town, both on the high and low ends. And let’s not forget about the First Family’s love for burgers, burgers, and more burgers. The Obamas even made a strong statement about local/seasonal foods, which was heard all the way to Ireland.

Outside the White House, we discovered that gourmet and organic hamburger outlets were sprouting up all around us. These burger joints were practically fighting for space with all the new fro-yo, pizza, taco, and cupcake shops.

D.C. took tentative steps toward becoming a better street food city, including the addition of a cupcake truck and a stand across the river that serves up a killer breakfast taco. Far more aggressive strides were made on the local cocktail circuit, where you could find some of the most creative drinks in the country, not to mention a cool place to imbibe them.

Of course, 2009 was not all wine and Rose’s grenadine. Michel Richard planned to high-tail it out of the District for a spot in McLean. Andy Shallal bankrolled a disastrous Top Chef-like contest to hire his kitchen leader at Eatonville. The “dean” of alcohol beverage control lawyers died. Esquire magazine’s selection of Barton Seaver as chef of the year caused a small shitstorm among locals. Spike Mendelsohn was evicted from his Capitol Hill rental house.  The RAMMY Awards was a heated mess. And the District of Columbia showed, yet again, why it’s so hard to open a restaurant within its borders.

By the way, if you’d like to hear more about the Year in Food 2009, check out my conversation with David Furst on Metro Connection.