Despite rising rents and rising costs and more big closures, it’s managed to be a fun year for dining in NYC. A Malaysian coffee shop returned and was embraced by a bigger, more eager audience. New York not only welcomed but swarmed a version of Vietnamese fare that the city hadn’t previously seen. And the tired French brasserie genre felt exciting again.
Through it all, Eater NY has aimed both to inform and guide dining obsessives on both the biggest news happening in the industry and the little, joyful ones that keep this crazy city so interesting. Here are some of the stories that captured readers’ interest this year.
Manhattan Now Has a $40 All-You-Can-Eat Korean Barbecue Restaurant
Unfortunately, critic Ryan Sutton found that it’s not that good.
Hudson Yards Development Will Be the Worst Thing to Happen to NYC Dining in a Decade
Critic Ryan Sutton’s argument against the restaurant selection at Hudson Yards.
Mario Batali Groped Fans While Posing for Photos, Several Women Allege
Women accused the celebrity chef of inappropriately touching them after they asked for photos, while additional former employees alleged behavior like crotch grazing
Jared Kushner Played a Role in Guy Fieri’s Restaurant Closure
Turned out, the landlord of Fieri’s shuttered Times Square restaurant was none other than a company owned by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
What It’s Like to Dine at Salt Bae’s NYC Restaurant
Critic Robert Sietsema went to social media sensation Salt Bae’s steakhouse so that you wouldn’t have to.
Cafe Loup, a Lasting Fixture in NYC’s Literary Scene, Has Been Seized by the Tax Department
It owed nearly $250,000. Book Twitter freaked out, but thankfully, it reopened.
Mission Chinese Is a ‘Hotbed of Racial Discrimination,’ New Suit Alleges
The wage part of the lawsuit was ultimately settled for under $13,000, while the allegations of racial discrimination was resolved out of court.
Big Eataly-Like Japanese Food Hall Opens in Brooklyn This Weekend
Japan Village, located in Sunset Park’s Industry City, already has plans to expand.
Hillary Clinton Got a Standing Ovation While Dining at Upland
People took lots of pics with her.
How Hudson Yards Chose Its 25 Restaurants
RSE’s Related Companies dished on how they picked the restaurants for the huge far development on Manhattan’s far west side.
Instagram Is Ruining Sushi in NYC
How obsession over photographing sushi has led to mediocre stunt sushi and tepid, pricey bites
On Mario Batali and an industry grappling with #MeToo
Throughout the year, the restaurant industry has been dealing with what to do after the explosive allegations against several of New York’s star chefs in late December. The account of four women who accused Mario Batali of sexual misconduct and his subsequent apology and leave remained one of the most read stories of 2018. Follow up stories, too, were highly read, including news of an NYPD criminal investigation of Batali, the shuttering of La Sirena, plans to change the name of Batali and Bastianich Hospitality Group, and how a longtime Batali staffer felt about the allegations.
Then in May, an Eater investigation found that the celebrity chef also allegedly inappropriately touched fans, who accused him of groping them when they approached him for a selfie, while additional former staffers accused him of being “a serial crotch grazer.” In light of word that Batali might be plotting a comeback, more and more women put their name on the record in hopes of keeping momentum going.
But the conversation around misconduct in restaurants continued in other ways, beyond the alleged physical indiscretions of individual men. In March, an investigation about how hospitality king Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group — a company renowned for its “employees first” mantra — allegedly failed to appropriately address misconduct came out. Many former and current staffers reached out to Eater after the piece published, noting that they too had found that the experience of working for USHG did not always match up to its reputation.
Misconduct can be non-physical, too. In an Eater investigation in August, more than 30 women and men accused Thomas Carter of Matter House of creating “a culture of fear” for allegedly making comments referencing his penis and insults like “fucking retard.” Shortly after, he stepped away from popular restaurants like Estela and Flora Bar, and last week, chef and partner Ignacio Mattos bought Carter out of the company, making Carter the first restaurateur in the #MeToo movement to no longer financially profit from his businesses.
And finally, the question of who should be doing the work of fixing systemic issues was raised with news surrounding the Spotted Pig, the famed gastropub where restaurateur Ken Friedman is accused of serial sexual misconduct. It shocked the industry when the celebrated chef Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune announced that she and her partner Ashley Merriman would be taking it over with Friedman as a partner — comparing it to humanitarian work. Many people consider Hamilton, a recent James Beard Award winner, a role model for women in the industry, and some considered it a betrayal. But in September, Hamilton and Merriman said that they nixed the deal, news that similarly attracted interest. In an email to Spotted Pig staff, Hamilton said they couldn’t reach a deal.
Anthony Bourdain’s death
The death of globe-trotting celebrity Anthony Bourdain was international news, but New Yorkers felt like they lost one of their own. People were eager to learn about his thoughts on the city, and interested in seeing how locals reacted, including Xi’an Famous Foods’ CEO Jason Wang’s memorial to Bourdain. Fans flocked to the shuttered outposts of Les Halles, where he kicked off his cooking career. Photographer Gary He captured the scene at the Park Avenue location, where notes, flowers, beer, and even a box of Popeye’s was set up in Bourdain’s memory.
And some staff favorites
Meet Miguel Gonzalez, the Man Behind Picture-Perfect Avocados in NYC Restaurants
He supplies to more than 120 restaurants, from Michelin-starred places like the Modern to popular cafes like Butcher’s Daughter
How the East Village Turned Into NYC’s Hippest Chinese Dining Destination
A surge of stylish new restaurants are serving everything from Yunnan-style rice noodles to Hong Kong-style clay pots
In Defense of the Smith, NYC’s Most Unfairly Maligned Restaurant
It’s leading the charge in redefining what it means to be a chain restaurant in New York City, senior editor Stefanie Tuder argues
The Ultimate Guide to NYC’s Cheap Eats
Everything to know about exploring the city’s more affordable restaurants
Why Some of Queens’ Best Restaurants Are Leaving for Pricier Boroughs
Rising rents combined with a “cheap eats” reputation makes it hard to stay, restaurants say
NYC’s K-Town Isn’t What It Used to Be
Most mom-and-pops are gone, and 32nd Street is now dominated by chains due to high rents and policies in Korea itself
Why Momofuku’s Billionaire Investor Is Aggressively Funding NYC’s Top Restaurants
RSE Ventures, an offshoot from the founder of real estate behemoth Related, is throwing its weight behind companies like Milk Bar and Bluestone Lane
Former Black Tap Social Media Manager Claims She’s True Creator of Viral Shakes
The origin story of those crazy milkshakes continues to muddy.
One Perfect Night in NYC With ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Actor Ronny Chieng
A guide on how to do one night right.
Devouring St. Mark’s After Dark: A Food Crawl Down the Crowded, Delicious Street
How to eat your way down St. Mark’s, according to Robert Sietsema