Welcome to Year in Eater 2022, Eater’s annual ritual of eulogizing the past 12 months through input from the city’s top food writers and New York figures. For 2022’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: What pivots or innovative ideas have you seen emerge that you hope will continue into 2023?
Mohamed Attia, managing director, the Street Vendor Project: We’ve been seeing an exciting trend that food trucks, carts, and restaurants have been expanding halal options to cuisines you couldn’t previously find halal. Food trucks like Terry & Yaki in Long Island City and My Teriyaki in Bay Ridge, are making teriyaki dishes with fresh, flavorful halal ingredients. And this year, an Italian halal restaurant named Fatta Mano opened in Bay Ridge. We love to see that it’s becoming normal to find halal options, in recognition of Muslim culture and presence in NYC.
Mike Diago, writer, the Bittman Project: I like going to restaurants that feel like you are going to their house. I think a lot of people have been going for this, but a model seems to be emerging that really works — though it depends entirely on the owner’s charisma. In Newburgh, there is Lodger. South African artist Leon Johnson opens the doors of his studio and kitchen for fragrant soups, stews, and home-baked manoush bread every Saturday night. By the time diners leave, they often have made tentative agreements with Johnson to collaborate on some project. In Brooklyn, there is Dept of Culture. I haven’t been there yet, but everyone I talk to says it is similarly personal and soulful.
Caroline Shin, contributor, Eater NY: Restaurants as places to shop for ingredients. Emma [Orlow] and I commented on this in front of Nabila’s retail pantry wall during a group dinner date. Masalawala and Meju/Little Banchan Shop also sell curated ingredients. I love to dine out and cook so I appreciate this convergence.
Robert Sietsema, senior food critic, Eater NY: That the children of immigrants continue to embroider on the culinary traditions of their parents, not only carrying dishes forth but innovating on the cuisines with international and American elements.
Ryan Sutton, chief food critic, Eater NY: I’m not sure I’d call them innovative ideas but I was energized to see two high-profile Korean and Southeast Asian bakeries take up some space, and there’s a new Colombian bakery — and a Chilean empanada spot too — that I’m hoping to check out in Hell’s Kitchen. In general, I’d love to see more non-European bakeries, as much as I love Italian and French baked goods!
Tae Yoon, senior editor, Thrillist: This pre-dates 2022, but I just have to say that I love how single-stall restrooms became more of a standard this year, and hope it stays this way.
Christopher Robbins, editor, Hell Gate: I don’t know if this is “new” or not but Gouie, the sushi counter in the basement of the Essex Market, sells small tastings of sake for a few bucks, so you can try a few different kinds with your meal and walk away feeling pretty good. I like that.
Stephanie Wu, editor-in-chief, Eater: I am loving the incredible new spate of bakeries and dessert-only places that have opened this year, including Librae, Otway Bakery, Smor, and Lady Wong. More creative pastries and desserts, please!
Jaeki Cho, host, Righteous Eats: Creator-led collaborations, and restaurateurs themselves becoming creators, is going to be very interesting. Whereas before, a brick-and-mortar restaurant would open up, and then over time, the community would form. Now, the creator-driven restaurant model already has a built-in community. It’s interesting to see this manifest, and the potential difference between digital feedback and IRL feedback we’ll witness.
Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, photographer: Thai restaurants are starting to come into Manhattan more and more. I always thought Thai food in the city wasn’t as authentic as those in Jackson Heights or Elmhurst. That has changed now, which is great!