Soul Azteka (11 Freshwater Road) 

This Mexican restaurant, with all family behind the counter, and real heat in the salsa, is already a staple after one season. With the fun, colourful interior, authentic food, and weekly party-sized take-away specials, town would be bereft without it. Lucky for us, all we get in the new year is more of a good thing.

After a small planned hiatus in January to add a second bathroom, increase seating, and apply for a liquor license (insert fist-pump here), they will re-open with a new menu and hours. Look for “Tuesday Twoonie Tacos” (Yes, that is tacos for 2 dollars. Real tacos, for two dollars), a rotating Saturday evening featured dish exclusive to Mexico, like pozole, cochinita pibil, or tortas ahogadas, and, most excitingly, a Sunday brunch menu.

According to Chef/owner, Mike Wozney, brunch will have “the classics like huevos rancheros and huevos con chorizo, but will feature some fun takes on items. For example, pancakes tres leches and churro waffles.”

Also in the new year, they begin bottling their salsas and doing more casual catering for all occasions. They are “contemplating” serving late night tacos too, but let’s be content with the promised twoonie Tuesdays for now.

Mallard Cottage (8 Barrows Road) 

No longer just a cottage, they’ve added an Inn across the street, and demolition on the former Flake House, now owned by Mallard, happened in November. There will be a new building on that site with a restaurant and catering space and more parking.

The back gardens at Mallard Cottage grew this past year too, so look for even more in-house ingredients in each meal when the growing season begins. Mallard Cottage has a well-established ethos, and though the menu changes daily, it remains rock steady in its commitment to an original vision of rough hewn comforts and hearty, local, tail-to-pelt gourmet.

While the whole new cluster rising down in Quidi Vidi Village is an innovation in itself, this is a spot where it will please us to go look for “more of the same.”

Seto Kitchen + Bar (281 Duckworth Street) 

This tiny restaurant, that serves not only a regular dinner crowd, but stays open to serve the servers (and other night owls) gorgeously fun cocktails, cheap beer, and hot fancy-plain snacks after the other restaurants have closed (10:30 – 1:30 Fri/Sat), was nominated for En Route magazine’s Best New Restaurants in Canada 2016.

Not that we need Air Canada to tell us what we already know, but, any reason to re-visit this beauty spot is a good one.

In addition to their established evening and late night services, according to chef/co-owner Ken Pittman, in 2017 they will also be “promoting a bit of an ‘industry’ Sunday with $5 dollar pints, 25% off select bottles of wine, and food specials – sharing dishes, similar to the late night menu.” They are also adding a monthly themed late night (i.e Chinese New Year) in case we even think of getting bored.