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The Top Complaints About NYC Dining in 2019

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Please just include the price of fries with the burger — and other grievances from the year

A shot of the mall at Hudson Yards, which has bright lights, multiple floors, balconies, and people walking throughout
The mall at Hudson Yards
Alex Staniloff/Eater

Welcome to Year in Eater 2019, Eater’s annual ritual of eulogizing the past 12 months through input from the city’s top food writers. For 2019’s final week, Eater NY will be posting questions daily about New York City’s restaurant scene in the past year, with answers from those who know it best: Eater editors and friends of Eater. Now we ask: What was your biggest dining grievance of 2019?

Steve Cuozzo, New York Post columnist: Restaurants described by publicists as:
elegant yet casual
casual yet sophisticated
sophisticated yet welcoming
welcoming yet refined
refined yet affordable
affordable yet agita

Amanda Mull, staff writer at The Atlantic: Please, I’m begging you, sell your fancy $17 burgers with fries included and just price it accordingly. Don’t make me spend another $7 for the big order of fries from the “sides” section. Put a half order on the burger plate and charge me $20. For the love of god.

Rachel Wharton, food writer and author of American Food: A Not-So-Serious History: If there was a way for a host to tell you that you have no chance of dining here tonight in a way that didn’t always make you feel like an asshole, that would be awesome.

Ryan Sutton, Eater NY’s chief critic: Walking into a casual (but ambitious) restaurant and learning that either a) every single table is booked up a month out (like, for a burger?) or b) every single bar seat is booked up for the next three hours because they’ve all been reserved online. I realize that culinary establishments need to lock in income whenever they can, but if you’re a super popular neighborhood spot in a high foot traffic area, maybe give just a little more deference to walk-ins?

Cathy Erway, food writer: That you can’t bring dogs inside restaurants still, even for a hot minute to pick up your bagel, but you can bring screaming children into a restaurant for a long tasting menu dinner.

Stefanie Tuder, senior editor of Eater NY: Hudson Yards

Joseph Hernandez, food and drinks writer: Hard to decide on anything in particular, except maybe that diners really need to understand the economics of dining out and stop complaining about tipping! Yes, tipped wages are a fundamentally unfair and unsustainable system, but if you’re dining out, be prepared to tip, and not weaponize them punishment against overworked staff.

Matt Rodbard, founding editor of TASTE: Honestly, just stop trying so hard. We can feel you straining. Relax. We’ll be cool. Also, restaurant coffee still SUCKS. Particularly in fine dining. You don’t need a fancy machine. Filtered is really okay. Just think about it a little more please. Give us options. Give coffee some love and care, like your precious amaros.

Korsha Wilson, writer: See my answers on dining surprises. Also frustrating is the fact that most of the interesting food I had this year was in informal, pop-up dining experiences and not in brick-and-mortar restaurants. There were lots of ‘meh’ or ‘bad’ experiences at restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn this year. What happened to the energetic New York dining scene of the 2000’s?!

Sonia Chopra, Eater director of editorial strategy: Honestly why do restaurants still not seat full parties? We will start ordering drinks the minute you give us menus, and we will stop taking up precious standing-room space.

Chris Crowley, staff writer at Grub Street: That it continues to feel like most new places are either a) an extremely expensive omakase spot for oligarchs or b) fast casual.

Tanay Warerkar, reporter at Eater NY: How inaccessible some of the best food in the city be — best in terms of their critical acclaim mostly.

Robert Sietsema, Eater NY senior critic: The crazy proliferation of bowl based fast-casual restaurants with cookie cutter kale menus and prices that are high considering total lack of service and paucity of proteins.

Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief: Hudson Yards

Anna Hezel, senior editor at TASTE: Chefs flexing about their fruity olive oils by soaking everything in them.

Serena Dai, editor of Eater NY: I love love love all the wine service in the city where bartenders and servers are warm and unpretentious about helping with a pick, but please tell me when you’re suggesting a glass that’s more than $20.

Alex Staniloff, Eater NY photographer: The line at Prince Street Pizza just keeps getting longer.

Charlotte Druckman, food writer and editor of Women on Food: The closures. The hype. The continued (growing?) impact of influencer and Instagram culture on everything from “concepts” or menus to lighting or wallpaper. The fact that most restaurant workers still can’t seem to earn a fair living wage. The ongoing fraudulence that is most of “fast casual.” I remain terrified and depressed by the existence of Hudson Yards. Seeing pastry chefs struggle to find restaurant jobs worthy of their skill level, experience and talent, or else, to secure enough seed money to open their own places. #SelfCare #Wellness

Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor at Eater: It gets harder and harder to go anywhere without a reservation thanks to restaurants making the bar reservable, and even if you are someone who plans ahead, getting a reservation at the hot new restaurant also seems to be increasingly difficult.