It’s been a busy 12 months. Not to be outdone by 2016’s wave of new eateries, a bunch of restaurants put down roots across the city this year. Simon Kardachi expanded his empire (with more to come) and we were given a taste of the Iberian Peninsula. Pizza took a back seat after last year’s influx; but one more addition scraped in during the first days of 2017. Here’s the cream of this year’s crop.

Opening Shōbōsho tipped restaurateur Simon Kardachi’s empire to nine venues (his two-in-one Henley Beach project will make 10). With notable Japanese and Korean influences, the refined Leigh Street “fire house” has carved out a class of its own. Head chef Adam Liston, an expert in yakitori (skewered chicken grilled over coals), presides over a sprawling $200,000 fire line. Equally as impressive is Studio –Gram’s fit-out, which (suitably) contrasts fire-blackened and natural-grain timber. In June Liston rolled out a weekend-only yum-cha menu that strays from those of Adelaide’s ritualistic eateries. Four rotating dumpling-rollers slid onto the payroll.

Iberia is as much a bar as it is a restaurant. But it’s clear the Rundle Street spot warrants recognition as the latter. In constructing a modern Spanish and Portuguese menu, the team looks first and foremost to the yield of its Balhannah kitchen garden. It’s not as simple when it comes to seafood. Earlier this year Iberia teamed up with Wildcatch Fisheries SA to shorten its seafood-supply chain, circumventing traditional supply routes and sourcing direct from small fishing businesses. Its record is 12 hours from ocean to plate. That’s what you call ocean fresh.

La Popular Taqueria
It’s been a big year for the Port. The same can be said for La Popular Taqueria, one of its newest residents. When Mexican-born owner Daniella Guevara moved to Australia in 2009 she started out hosting pop-up dinners in her home. Fast forward eight years and the self-taught cook finally has a restaurant of her own. It’s Mexican, but not as you know it: no hats, no sombreros, and no burritos. “House-made” isn’t just a buzzword: Guevara makes everything from soft tortillas to smooth frijoles (black beans) and crunchy pickled vegetables. A guide to taco-eating etiquette is immortalised on the wall. Naturally, tacos reign supreme.

Tuno Izakaya
As evening rolls over Japan, an “izakaya” is where you’d go for a few small plates and an after-work knock-off. Venues such as Yakitori Takumi, Ramen and Izakaya Himeji and En Japanese Restaurant and Bar pioneered the dining style in Adelaide. Tuno Izakaya joined the ranks in March, headed up by first-time restaurateur and noodle master Bin Shen. It’s a snapshot of Osaka’s noodle scene on O’Connell Street. Shen makes six types of noodles by hand every morning. And there’s more variety to come. Ramen enthusiasts can slurp their way through the ever-popular shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce) and tonkotsu (pork) broths. Yakitori is a worthy precursor.

Chicco Palms
It feels like a blissful, carb-loaded lifetime of slightly crispy Roman-style pizzas, colour-popping cocktails, and that signature besser-brick façade. But it’s been (just) under a year since Chicco Palms’ doors flew open in Brooklyn Park. There was never any doubt the team – who, between them, run Pizza e Mozzarella Bar, Borsa Pasta Cucina and Chicken and Pig – had the chops to pull it off. MASH Design’s Cali-cool fit-out was the cherry on top. You don’t import “The God of Pizza Ovens” to focus on anything else. Whatever isn’t pizza is “Italo-American”, such as spaghetti and meatballs. If your places-to-eat list is gathering dust, and Chicco Palms is still on it, don’t leave it another year.

Honourable mentions:

Midnight Spaghetti
Slotting a pasta joint above one of Adelaide’s most-loved pubs – who would’ve thought? No strangers to the Crown and Anchor, the collaborative project involves Superfish alumni Jordan Jeavons and chef John Stamatakis plus The Social Creative’s Stuart Duckworth and Tom Skipper. A glowing neon noodle leads guests up a flight of stairs from the Cranker’s street-level foyer. The kitchen pumps out pub-grub with Italian flair. The star (aka Midnight Spaghetti) is a rustic, red-sauce pasta with anchovies, pangrattato (breadcrumbs) and chili. Wednesday “family night” does a rip-roaring trade. The lure is $15 bowls of spaghetti and cheap jugs.

Zaep: Tastes of Thailand
The second O’Connell Street diner to make the list, Zaep trades on an unapologetic brand of Thai food. No-frills home cooking is head chef Chalit “Ekkie” Peetisirikun’s modus operandi. Dishes haven’t been tweaked for the Western palate – they’re served just how they would be at a family meal, with liberal doses of chilli where appropriate. We’d wager you to find a better non-Italian application of osso bucco than Zaep’s four-hour slow-cooked massaman curry. Meat falls off the bone with almost no encouragement.

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