Restaurant-wise, a lot happened this year in Bethesda and the environs. And with all the new construction going on around us, there promises to be many more new eating opportunities in 2013.

Here’s a round-up of the trends, openings and closings, and some of the best bites from 2012:

  • With ideal demographics, our area is increasingly attracting big name chefs. The hottest news this year happened just recently, with the December 18 opening of RANGE, celebrity chef Bryan Voltaggio’s new restaurant in the Chevy Chase Pavilion. Chef Robert Wiedmaier, owner of Bethesda’s Mussel Bar & Grille and downtown’s Marcel’s and Brasserie Beck, opened another Bethesda restaurant in November, Wildwood Kitchen.
  • Some significant longtime restaurants closed, including Green Papaya, Tragara, Haandi, Sweet Basil and Foong Lin. The latter three were the casualty of an impending wrecker’s ball, although so far, Haandi will be reopening in the old Uptown Deli space on Woodmont Avenue. The construction is an early sign of the future transformation of Woodmont Triangle, in which the “old Bethesda” will at some point be “new.” And that will be sure to include an even livelier dining scene.   
  • Lots more food trucks took to the roads in Montgomery County; my favorites include Mesob on Wheels, Slider Baron and Curley’s-Q BBQ.
  • Two new upscale supermarkets opened in Rockville: The Fresh Market and Dawson’s Market, offering shoppers a smaller, more specialized alternative to the mainstream chains.
  • Speaking of Rockville, Geoff Tracy finally got his dream location, opening a Chef Geoff’s in the former Houston’s spot on Rockville Pike.
  • In keeping with its efforts to snag boutique chains, Bethesda Row welcomed  Luke’s Lobster, Vino Volo and Boloco, and in 2013, 100 Montaditos.
  • A few independently-owned restaurants opened, bringing some great eats and easy parking: The Tavern at River Falls and The Grilled Oyster Company, both in Potomac, plus Haven Pizzeria Napoletana in Bethesda.
  • Craft cocktail offerings continued to seep into the suburbs; i.e. at Quench in Rockville, Co2 Lounge in Bethesda, Sugo Cicchetti, Potomac’s Founding Farmers and RANGE. Plus, other restaurants have increasingly active eating-at-the-bar scenes.

Lots to look forward to in 2013:

The re-opening of Damian Salvatore’s popular Persimmon restaurant, with new décor and a more informal menu; Brickside Food & Drink, which replaces the former Bubby’s Deli; Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club on Wisconsin Avenue; Mi Cocina in the Collection at Chevy Chase; an enormous, as-of-yet unnamed restaurant at the corner of Norfolk and Cordell Avenues from Tommy’s Joe’s owner Alan Poho; 4935 Bar & Kitchen, which replaces Tragara; a Bobby’s Burger Palace in Montgomery Mall, and more. I’ll be following them all, so keep reading and keep eating! Best of everything for a delicious 2013.