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 nine:
What new innovative ideas have you seen emerge this year that you hope continue into 2024?
Raphael Brion, Texas senior editor, the Infatuation
So happy to see restaurants go beyond a couple of “mocktails” and commit to broader nonalcoholic beverage programs, particularly Birdie’s, Pecan Square Cafe, Bufalina, Uptown Sports, Ezov, Holiday, Cosmic, Elementary, Nixta, and Uchiba, just to name a few. Lots of great innovative things are happening in the nonalcoholic space in Austin, especially with the bottle shop Dear Dry Drinkery and brands like Slow Luck, Tenneyson, and Rick’s Near Beer.
Darcie Duttweiler, freelance writer and Eater contributing writer
Restaurants and chefs embracing the humble mushroom! From the ample kinoko options at Uchiba to plant-based Fabrik, there are so many delicious and fun(ghi) ways to eat mushrooms. You read it first: Mushrooms are to 2024 and pork belly was to 2010.
Chris Hughes, features editor, Texas Highways
Wee’s Cozy Kitchen inside a Shell gas station on West Campus really showed what can be accomplished in a small space inside an already existing business. I hope more partnerships like that can happen — especially for diverse (and much-needed) concepts like Wee’s. It was so rewarding to see chef Wee Fong Ehlers written about in the New York Times.
Madeline Hollern, editor-in-chief, Austin Monthly
Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
Erin Russell, associate editor, Eater Austin
Nadia Chaudhury, editor, Eater Austin
Bosses and businesses taking care of all workers in actual meaningful ways; more unionization of restaurants and companies; more independent restaurant openings not backed by larger groups.