A look ahead at the next year in the dining scene
It’s an Eater tradition to round out the year with a survey of local food experts — editors, writers, reporters, and a select few others — on the highs, lows, and surprises of the past 365 days in dining. Today, our panel looks at our biggest hopes for restaurants in 2023. Have thoughts to share? Feel free to add them in the comments.
My hope for them is that staffing levels even out or they find a way to make restaurant life attractive again to the next generation of cooks and servers.
I wish we could remove barriers to entry for BIPOC communities in general but in particular for Black and Indigenous people, specifically women. We are missing out on vast swaths of culinary knowledge, wisdom, and technique when women of color are ignored and marginalized in this industry.
I’ve been so happy to see what I can only describe as a return to fun in 2022. You’ve got the opening of kitschy-themed supper clubs like Creekside and The Apostle, and new restaurant-bars like Arts + Rec Uptown that offer indoor mini golf. TILT Pinball Bar moving into a bigger space — that kind of thing gives me hope. It reminds me of how squiggles and blobs took over home decor in 2020 and 2021, when we were all trapped at home and needed something that felt soft and silly. Life is hard — the last few years have been especially so — and our restaurants don’t have to be serious and severe. They can be joyful. I’d like to have more of that in 2023.
I always want to see more BIPOC and immigrant-owned restaurants in the Twin Cities.
This sounds petty, but my biggest hope for restaurants in 2023 is that the clientele improves. Since restaurants opened up again in 2020 I have witnessed some of the most entitled and downright mean treatment of my staff by guests. I’ve had staff crying, quitting, and damn near flipping tables over things the guests have said or done. In 20 years in hospitality I’ve never seen anything like it. I just hope that diners just start being compassionate and humane.
Shorter menus, shorter menus, and shorter menus. A menu featuring a few things done excellently will always trump a three-page minefield of varying quality. I think too many places try to do it all, when they could succeed in a more meaningful and sustainable way by paring down their focus. I think this is the way the trend is going, but I am still very cheered every time a new spot opens with the ambition of mastering a few things. Doing anything — including so-called “casual” food like burgers and pizza — in a consistent and excellent way is such a gift to the world.
Allow staff to unionize, and pay livable wages to said staff, instead of ducking and dodging their concerns for current day working conditions. Provide them with equity to be equal partners with owners and managers alike to help drive restaurants forward into a changing and uncertain environment for restaurants and workers alike.
I hope restaurants keep their creative juices flowing and continue to have fun with their menus. The pandemic heavily impacted the restaurant industry from labor shortages to supply chain issues, and I hope 2023 marks a renaissance for both the dining experience and culinary excellence.
More veggie-forward places. Many restaurants say they are, but still rely heavily on meat as the star of the plate. Also, let’s normalize eggs for dinner, k?
I’m hoping that Midtown Global Market has a better year than the last few. Sahan Journal has a great account of some of the market’s challenges. It’s up against some tricky odds, but the exciting new tenants — Indigenous Food Lab, Slice’s second location, Soul to Soul, Momo Dosa, etc. — give me hope, as do the vendors who’ve been holding it down in that space for years.