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The Best Pandemic Restaurant Pivots of 2021 in Austin: More Pop-Ups, Livable Wages, Online Ordering

Local food writers share which newer changes should stick around for 2022

A plastic container with slices of salmon, and a large condiment saucer of orange sauce and two smaller ones one with dark soy sauce and the other with a green sauce.
Salmon from Chef Teddy Simon.
Nadia Chaudhury/Eater Austin
Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

As is the tradition as we near the end of 2021, Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past culinary year in Austin. Given the insanity of this year, Eater has adapted the standard survey into one that reflects the new realities of takeout, restaurant shutters, and a shaky industry. All answers will be revealed before the year ends — cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Question number eight:

What new pivots or innovative ideas have you seen emerge from the events of 2020 that you hope continue into 2022?

Lenny Dewi, @eats_n_noods and Eater contributing writer
Chef Teddy Simon started making, selling, and delivering sushi platters and I hope that will continue on because it is great coming home to a delicious dinner from a busy workday. Also hoping that online table reservations will continue, as well as QR code menus.

Raphael Brion, Texas editor, The Infatuation, and former editor of Eater
I’m really into the super immersive experiences, whether it’s Justine’s ultra-luxe chandelier-lit semi-private cabanas, Tiki Tatsu-Ya’s mind-bending cocktail bar, Sammie’s old-school red-sauce joint, or Tsuke Edomae’s tiny sushi bar that feels like you’ve been transported to Tokyo.

Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
I would love to see more restaurant pop-ups.

Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
At so many restaurants I visit, I see “We’re Hiring!” signs on the door or in the window. Workers are leaving the field in droves because it’s hard to make a living wage. On the flip side, restaurants are being forced to pay more just to staff to a minimal level. This is not sustainable. I said this last year, but it’s still true: the whole system of tipping is broken and it’s time to get real about fixing it.

Erin Russell, associate editor of Eater Austin
More socially conscious pop-ups, please!

Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
More “not-big-name/the-same-chefs” starting their own exciting food businesses.

Keep takeout ordering around.

Continue to include thoughtful outdoor dining spaces.

More livable wages and health care for ALL restaurant workers.


807 West 6th Street, Austin, Texas 78703 (512) 474-2054 Visit Website


4710 East 5th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 385-2900 Visit Website

Tiki Tatsu-Ya

1300 South Lamar Boulevard, , TX 78704 (512) 772-3700 Visit Website