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. 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 was the most exciting (or infuriating) 2022 restaurant trend?
Moonlynn Tsai, co-founder, Heart of Dinner: The butter board — leave it to the TikTokers (but please, stop there, too) and off restaurant menus! And NFT-based restaurants.
Mahira Rivers, food journalist: The most confounding trend has been the nonstop opening of high-end sushi counters. I simultaneously love and hate it. The abundance of top-tier fish is great if you love top-tier fish (I do), but also prohibitively expensive for anyone who doesn’t work in finance or tech and/or live off generational wealth (also me). Not to mention, there are literally not enough wild fish in the ocean to sustain our appetites!
I am also tired of shareable plates. I get the economics of it all, really I do, but I like to dine out solo and it’s increasingly difficult when my order looks something like: a platter of shaved mortadella, a quarter loaf of bread/focaccia/parker house rolls, six pieces of raw fish for $40, an 8-oz pork chop, plus that cake for two...but for one.
Christopher Robbins, editor, Hell Gate: NYC has a lot of food courts and cafeterias now, but none of them have a centralized system for using trays and plates when you’re eating at them. The result is that you are given a mountain of plastic take-out containers. Depressing! Wasteful!
Caroline Shin, contributor, Eater NY: I deeply appreciate the increasing granularity of cuisine. Restaurants like Ariapita, Masalawala, Naro, and Eggholic are intentionally presenting new, non-mainstream dimensions of their cuisines, and expanding on the ones most palatable to those outside their culture. Also, I drive a lot and don’t drink much so I love this boom of intricate non-alcoholic cocktails.
Korsha Wilson, food journalist: Reading about restaurateurs abandoning the no-tipping model was pretty infuriating since the last couple of years have made it extra clear there’s no safety net for restaurant workers.
Ryan Sutton, chief food critic, Eater NY: I really liked the vibe at Pecking House, and that’s something I’d like to see more of: an affordable-ish fast-casual restaurant that feels less like a place where people queue up to get an assembly line lunch. What infuriated me, by contrast, me is how the new Moynihan station feels built more for Facebook employees upstairs looking for a place to grab a bowl of ramen and a beer, rather than being a functional, affordable space for commuters.
Scott Lynch, contributor, Hell Gate and Brooklyn Magazine: The story I heard most often this year — and by that I mean, like, at least 30 times — was “I was on one path in my life, then Covid hit, and now I’m doing this instead.” And this usually meant running some rad new casual neighborhood restaurant.
Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet, photographer: Ha’s Đặc Biệt pop-ups. They are doing really great so that is really exciting. Also because they’re doing so great, now they’re doing a pop-up in Paris which is so infuriating for a New Yorker like me. Come back to New York.
Stephanie Wu, editor-in-chief, Eater: I’ll admit this may not be a new trend because I truly only started paying attention this year, but I’m embracing family-friendly dining, aka places that won’t give you a dirty look if you show up with a toddler in tow. My two favorites this year include Patti Ann’s, where they truly roll out the red carpet for diners of all ages, and Sona, where the garlic naan is truly a crowd-pleaser.
Sara, Madison, and Carly Shapiro, Sister Snacking: Affordable omakase is both exciting yet infuriating. We are all for omakase and sushi but with so many openings it’s really hard to pick which ones to prioritize and go to. We try to hit as many as we can but after a while it gets redundant. Matsunori and Takumi have been our sub-$100 favorites this year.
Robert Sietsema, senior food critic, Eater NY: The mosaic of weird and fussy apps that make it difficult to land a reservation, and then pester you with questions after you’ve eaten.
Tae Yoon, senior editor, Thrillist: I loved that more spots were offering cooked oyster dishes to enjoy, beyond a raw slurp. The Oysters Manhatta at the reopened Manhatta, Oysters Kilpatrick at Lord’s, Oysters Rockefeller at Madame George, or, even the simple ones at the Commerce Inn were just a few of my favorites.
Jaeki Cho, host, Righteous Eats: I’m not infuriated by it, but the prevalence and popularity of “reviews.” Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but I do find it — not irritating, but —intriguing when I see certain creators critique a particular dish as bad without nuance, experience, or research.