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. Final question:
What is your biggest hope for the restaurant industry in 2024?
Eric Webb, freelance writer and Eater contributing writer
I’d love to see a cozier and more affordable kind of Austin restaurant scene. The fine-dining boom and nationally recognized openings are great and all, but in this economy? We need more small, local, casual operations to thrive — and get their flowers.
Jane Ko, blogger, A Taste of Koko
Continue supporting our local farmers and purveyors.
Darcie Duttweiler, freelance writer and Eater contributing writer
Inflation and cost-of-living increases have hurt pretty much every industry this year, but restaurants have definitely taken the biggest hit. I hope that it eventually stabilizes, helping out the restaurants exorbitantly — as well as the diner’s pocketbook.
Chris Hughes, features editor, Texas Highways
That there are solutions found for the problems of high food costs and labor shortages. It’s killing far too many great small businesses.
Madeline Hollern, editor-in-chief, Austin Monthly
More reasonable dining prices — and quality over flash.
Erin Russell, associate editor, Eater Austin
Like Eric, I miss the days of a more casual Austin, and although I do love the occasional small plate experience, I’m hoping more restaurants will serve plates of food you can be satisfied with.
The Austin dining scene has diversified so much since I started as associate editor. I’ve loved experiencing the Caribbean through Tavel Bristol-Joseph at Canje, learning the joys of border cooking from Joseph Gomez at Con Todo, seeing what fine-dining looks like in taco-form from Edgar Rico at Nixta, trying madeleines from French Hmong immigrants Phay and Maly Ly at Paris 13, and whatever sweet cat-related madness comes out of Kendall Melton of Lick and Vivian’s Boulangerie. I’m excited to see what new stories chefs have to tell!
Nadia Chaudhury, editor, Eater Austin
I’d love to see more general diversity in terms of cuisines. I’d love to see more independent cooks get the support to be able to open their own restaurants if they want. I’d love to see more support for already-existing independent restaurants.