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 the year’s most exciting — or infuriating — trends in the local restaurant scene. Have thoughts to share? Feel free to add them in the comments.
Stephanie March, food and dining editor of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine
How much to tip over the service charge, who’s getting what, and all that tomfoolery. Over it.
Mecca Bos, food writer, chef, and Hidden BIPOC Foodways founder
Traveling around the country, I’m saddened to see the homogenization of restaurant menus everywhere. We’ve taken to calling it “Keyword Cafe”: caesar salads, the ubiquitous $20 burger, a chicken sandwich, flatbreads, buffalo wings, etc. You can almost predict the menu before walking in. The American demand for choice means that we’re all eating the same thing, everywhere, all of the time. I hope things will eventually start trending towards more curiosity and respect for specialization.
Em Cassel, editor and co-owner of Racket
I feel like every time I talk or write about this I end up with the worst people in the world jumping into my mentions, so I’ll keep it brief: Can’t stand businesses blaming “crime” for their closures, which I’ve seen more of this year than ever before. The argument just doesn’t hold up when restaurants mere blocks away from you are packed night after night.
Natalia Mendez, Eater Twin Cities contributor
More of a national than local thing, but espresso martinis. I don’t handle caffeine well, so I’m sad I can’t enjoy these, ha!
Trish Gavin, bar maven and Eat Street Crossing beverage director
It makes me sad that most of the cocktails on the scene are between $14 and $18. It doesn’t need to be that expensive. They shouldn’t be as much as an entree was five years ago. It’s not hard to cost items out and tweak numbers until they work.
James Norton, editor and co-founder of Heavy Table newsletter
It’s exciting — and maybe also infuriating, but definitely exciting — to see so many A-list chefs jump into downtown Minneapolis hotels all at once. From Vincent Francoual to Gavin Kaysen to Daniel del Prado, it’s just been an onslaught of talent. Results are all over the map so far, but there are some really promising pieces of food and hospitality in the mix.
Ali Elabaddy, Eater Twin Cities contributor
The most exciting trend is seeing places like Pizza Karma and Bombay Pizza Kitchen step on the scene in the suburbs to a burgeoning and growing South Asian community seeking to try new takes on staple dishes, and giving curious and skeptical patrons an excuse to get outside their comfort zones using pizza as a vehicle.
Justine Jones, editor of Eater Twin Cities
I’m very jazzed about the rise of the nonalcoholic cocktail list. I love wine and cocktails but am not a huge drinker, so having nonalcoholic and even low-proof drinks that aren’t just, like, remixed Shirley Temples is awesome. (That said, I do love a good Shirley Temple.) Owamni in particular has an excellent zero-proof menu, and the scene just keeps getting better: Marigold has a beautifully curated selection of nonalcoholic elixirs and wines and mixers, and Trish Gavin has exciting things up her sleeve for Eat Street Crossing.