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Austin Food Writers Reflect on the Hottest (and Dumbest) Restaurant Trends of 2023

No more smash burgers, please

A pizza with meats and vegetables.
A pie from Side Eye.
Side Eye Pizza
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 2023, 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 2023?

Raphael Brion, Texas senior editor, the Infatuation

We’re living in the golden age of pizza, what with the recent debuts of Palm Pizza, Feral Pizza, Allday, Side Eye Slice, and the forthcoming Bambino from the L’Oca d’Oro team.

But it’s rough out there, it seems like everything is destined to either be a $300 per person omakase sushi counter or a $15+ smash burger concept, with not a lot in between. Could we see a $300 per person smash burger omakase concept in 2024?

Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko

When did cocktails start costing more than a meal? $25 for a cocktail?!

Darcie Duttweiler, freelance writer and Eater contributing writer

I am so over “speakeasies.” If it’s remotely difficult or inconvenient for me to get into a place, I’m out — unless it’s the coolest bar ever where I’m, like, showered in diamonds while I pet cats and make out with Ryan Gosling.

Pat Sharpe, restaurant critic, Texas Monthly

I’m slightly exhausted by all the expensive omakases out there, to tell you the truth. Enough is enough. And, as I’ve said before, with every passing year, more and more restaurants are turning into clubs — loud music, loud talking, and lots of booze. I completely understand that many places wouldn’t be in business without liquor sales, but it’s ruining the experience for a lot of us.

Nicolai McCrary, Austin staff writer, the Infatuation

It’s been exciting to see restaurants open up in small or unexpected places. And it’s probably due, in no small part, to rent prices going through the f*cking roof. I had Malaysian food in the back of a gas station, Mexican Japanese ramen in a grocery store food court, and khao man gai inside an actual grocery store.

As for trends that are starting to hit their peak? We’ve started to hit critical mass with smash burgers, and it’s only a matter of time until the city implodes into some griddled mess of paper-thin beef, pickles, and onions. Don’t get me wrong — I love them, too — but there’s a whole spectrum of patty density to explore out there!

Chris Hughes, features editor, Texas Highways

Austin has officially become a good pizza town. Between Allday, Side Eye Pie, Favorite Pizza, Pedroso’s, Baldinucci, Palm Pizza, and the return of Bufalina on the East Side — there are almost too many great options to choose from. And we have Bambino from L’Oca d’Oro’s Fiore Tedesco opening next year. I can’t wait for that one!

Madeline Hollern, editor-in-chief, Austin Monthly

Most infuriating: Insane menu prices and an emphasis on flash and Instagram-worthy decor instead of actual quality.

Erin Russell, associate editor, Eater Austin

Not everything has to be called an omakase!

Nadia Chaudhury, editor, Eater Austin

Echoing most of the ugh trends as shared by people above: please don’t open another smash burger restaurant, please don’t open another very generic-menu-ed restaurant, please don’t open another place with very convoluted hours and methods of entry. Give me perspectives, give me fun, give me something new and exciting.

I’ve personally been enjoying people choosing to open restaurants and bars in South Austin because hey, we need more dining and drinking spots down here.

Favorite Pizza

801 West 6th Street, , TX 78703 (512) 478-4136 Visit Website

Allday Pizza

3111 West 35th Street, , TX 78703 Visit Website

Bufalina

2215 East Cesar Chavez Street, , TX 78702 (512) 394-5337 Visit Website

Feral Pizza

500 East 51st Street, Austin, Texas 78751 Visit Website

Bambino

979 Springdale Road, Suite 153, Austin, Texas 78702

Baldinucci Pizza Romana [Westlake]

3300 Bee Caves Road, Suite 110, Austin, TX 78746 Visit Website

Pedroso's Pizza

8315 Burnet Road, , TX 78757 (737) 600-1107 Visit Website

Palm Pizza

1701 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, Texas 78702 Visit Website

P. Thai Khao Man Gai

8557 Research Boulevard Suite 130, Austin, TX 78758 Visit Website

Side Eye Pie

3901 Promontory Point Drive, , TX 78744 (737) 270-5794 Visit Website

Wee's Cozy Kitchen

2400 Rio Grande Street, , TX 78705 (512) 577-8626 Visit Website

Ramen del Barrio

1700 Farm to Market Road 734, , TX 78754 Visit Website