As is the tradition as we near the end of 2022, Eater asked a trusted group of friends, industry types, and local bloggers for their takes on the past culinary year in Austin. All answers will be revealed before the year ends — cut, pasted, (mostly) unedited, and in no particular order. Question number four:
What was the most exciting — or most infuriating — local restaurant trend of 2022?
Darcie Duttweiler, freelance writer and Eater contributing writer
I LOVE that wine bars are exploding all over Austin – except I HATE that they don’t come to Central or North Austin.
Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
Reservations — when did Austin become a reservation city where local restaurants won’t even sit you if you don’t have a reservation?
Chris Hughes, editor-in-chief, Austin Monthly
Exorbitantly priced restaurant “experiences:” largely just overpriced prix fixe menus that are extremely hit-or-miss. I think we’ve also reached peak natty wine. It feels like every wine list and retail shop is starting to mirror one another.
Pat Sharpe, executive editor and food writer for Texas Monthly
I’m totally over proliferating $120 per person, 12-seat, 8- to 12-course omakase restaurants. By the time you add in wine/drinks, tax, and tip, you’re looking at $200 each or more. It’s a great deal for the restaurant — the customer gets virtually no choice, sits at a counter staring at the same 11 other people all evening, and has to clear out at a set time. By the way, this trend is happening in all the big Texas cities, by the way, not just here. What a rip-off.
Melanie Haupt, food editor, the Austin Chronicle
I’m loving the mismatched vintage dishes I’m seeing at a few restaurants here and there. It’s so charming!
Infuriating: Why does everything have to be served family-style and small plates for sharing these days? Why do all the utensils come in a box plopped on the table?
Lenny Dewi, @eats_n_noods and Eater contributing writer
I don’t know if I have any particular one. I don’t usually follow trends — just always looking for good food.
Erin Russell, associate editor of Eater Austin
A trend I’m excited about is restaurants with a very specific sense of place — Rio Grande Valley-inspired tacos from Con Todo, Vietnamese-Southern home cooking from Bisous, and Laotian food from Ahhan Lao Kitchen. On the other hand, I know Oaxaca has great food but not everyone needs to open an Oaxacan restaurant.
Nadia Chaudhury, editor of Eater Austin
Something I love: people opening true-to-their-hearts restaurants and food businesses because that genuineness comes across in the food and hospitality.
And I’m also happy more and more places are opening in South Austin. See: Golden Hour, Lulu’s, Kelly’s Irish Pub, Bisous, Casper Fermentables (Sunset Valley counts), etc., etc., and the forthcoming Ling Wu Asian Restaurant, a second Radio Coffee, Underdog, etc., etc.
Something I am annoyed by: Echoing Erin’s sentiment, I’m sick of restaurants opening with really generic descriptors and menus. No. More. New. American. No. More. Catch-All. Restaurants. Please. Austin is ready for restaurants with really specific points of views because what is dining out if not learning and sharing with others?