As is the tradition as we near the end of 2019, 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 2019?
Jolène M. Bouchon, critic at Austin Monthly
That the cost of operating a regular old restaurant is so damned high. So high, that only high-dollar, high-concept concepts make sense. Fine dining has its place, but I want to see more spots that suit everyday life — but with, you know, with amazing food. We’ve got some serious contenders in this category, but not nearly enough.
Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
Always and forever, NOISE. Honestly, it has almost ruined eating out. Why does this never change? Follow the money, honey. If restaurants started losing business because of noise, it would stop in a heartbeat.
Raphael Brion, former Eater editor and Texas Editor of The Infatuation
Texas wine still sort of has a bad reputation — yes, some of it does in fact taste like melted candy corn and gummy bears — but there are some excellent wine producers in Texas, and I want to see more of it in restaurants and bars.
Robert Jacob Lerma, photographer for Eater Austin and others
The same as 2018, 2017, 2016: all hat, no cattle for many places. If you’re going to look, act and charge the part, the food, atmosphere, service and execution better be congruent.
Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
Fried chicken from Popeyes — there was so much hype on it and then they created a shortage to the point where violence happened. I finally had it and it was meh and gave me a stomach ache.
Erin Russell, associate editor of Eater Austin
Restaurants/shops/events that exist solely for Instagram. When people ignore, don’t look into, or don’t care who owns the bars/restaurants they patronize. $15 margaritas. The ubiquity of CBD. Get off my lawn.
Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
Overall, the cost of opening a restaurant in Austin is so high that it often doesn’t leave room for new blood and experimentation unless you’re loaded or backed by investors.