The Times’ “undersung restaurants” column Hungry City is undergoing some changes: Longtime critic and the column’s founding writer Ligaya Mishan will now only be writing two a month — and other critics will be filling in on remaining weeks.
Mishan started Hungry City about seven years ago, a pivot from the paper’s previous $25 and under column. Since then, she has built a reputation for writing about New York’s lower-priced restaurants, stalls, and food trucks, most recently with a focus on the background of the chefs and owners.
Now, she will be writing more about food, restaurants, and culture outside of the column, according to food section editor Sam Sifton. Already, Mishan has been penning more pieces outside of Hungry City, including a widely circulated T magazine feature on Asian-American cuisine.
In an email, Mishan says that it’s “an exciting development” for her. She’s been in talks to make the change for a few months now, and her other pieces will be “longer reported pieces” for both the food section and T magazine.
“I’m grateful to my editors for the opportunity to write more widely, and happy that at the same time I can continue exploring the city, advocating for lesser-known restaurants and celebrating immigrant cuisines,” she writes.
This week, former GQ editor Marian Bull filed her first piece for the Times food section on the tamales with “supercharged corny sweetness” at City Tamale in the Bronx, a restaurant run by 29-year-old Israel Veliz. It’s already gaining some attention for comparing the tamale texture to Beanie Babies. Sifton says other critics will likely be filling in for the column as well.
One marked difference: Bull hasn’t been a formal restaurant critic in the past, and her photo is available on her website. Though Mishan’s reviews aren’t starred, she and the Times have noted that anonymity is important. “[We’ll] continue to follow the guidelines we’ve used forever, and we’ll do so even in those cases when there are photographs of the writer on the internet,” Sifton writes.
Still, it might not as matter that much for the column anyway. Mishan has said before that the restaurants she covers “are so low-profile, they’re not on the lookout for a food critic.”