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Austin Dining Experts’ Biggest Restaurant Grievances of 2018

There is such a thing as too Instagrammable

Native Hostel
Native Hostel
Native Hostel/Facebook

As is the tradition as we near the end of 2018, Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past culinary year in Austin. The annual survey spans eight questions, from dining surprises to best food neighborhoods and disappointing meals. All answers will be revealed as the week rolls on — cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Question number six:

What was your biggest dining grievance of 2018?

Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
Noise, noise, and noise again. I’d rather lie on an airport runway than try to have a conversation in a restaurant at 8 o’clock at night.

Veronica Mewes, freelance food writer
We can now get decent bagels, but our city still doesn’t know how to appreciate a good deli for some reason. This year we lost Lox Box & Barrel and, though less of a classic deli, Noble Sandwich Co. Before that, we lost Republic of Sandwich, Romanouska’s and Melvin’s Deli Comfort. Luckily, we still have Otherside, Little Deli, Tucci’s Southside Subs, Wholy Bagel and Fricano’s. But in my humble opinion, every neighborhood should have a good old-fashioned, blue-collar deli.

Brandon Watson, food editor, CultureMap Austin
It’s perfectly fine to make a restaurant photogenic, but now it seems entire restaurants — menu included — are entirely designed for Instagram. Food and drink should engage all the senses, not just look good in a perfectly manicured hand. Nothing has been more boring than this year’s fatuous gloss.

Tom Thornton, freelance food writer and contributor at Eater Austin
The perennial: the service component not living up to the restaurant’s design and menu.

Jimmy Ho, blogger and Eater contributor, The Smoking Ho
For such a big city, Austin’s food scene is not that diverse.

Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
Native is added to my list of restaurants in Austin that broke my heart. Why did you take the burger and waffle fry nachos off the menu? Why did you take off all the delicious unhealthy food and replace it with a healthy, fancy menu? And it didn’t help that your waiter told me, “They’re gone bro, stop crying about it.”

Jolène M. Bouchon, critic at Austin Monthly
It’s the same one probably every Austinite has: the rising cost of living. It’s the reason why so many restaurants close before they even have a chance to get started. It’s tough out there.

Dan Gentile, freelance food writer
Fast-casual hosts, baristas, and bartenders who don’t say hello or ask you what you’d like, but just stare at you silently expecting you to tell them your order as if you’re talking to a robot instead of a human being whose livelihood depends on you giving them a tip.

Rachel Holtin, blogger, AustinFoodstagram
There was a poke place that served me bad fish, but it was a one-off experience and I don’t want to mention any names. A hazard of trusting fast-casual chains with your fish.

Erin Russell, associate editor, Eater Austin
I’ve had a lot of problems with inconsistent service this year, which seems new and unfortunate. It also makes me sad that wonderful, family-run places like The Frisco had to close while Unbarlievable remains open (and the group is adding more bars).

Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
What seems to be an emphasis on style and looks over food and service.

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