Another year, another set of restaurant openings, closings, trends, and happenings in the ever-evolving New York food world. What made you hungry and what left you cold? What do you want to see more (or less) of in the year to come? Here's our list of resolutions that eaters and restaurant owners could stand to keep in mind in 2013.
Less Meat, More Vegetables
Whether it's for environmental, health, or ethical reasons, most of us could probably get along fine while eating less meat. On the flipside, there's never been a better time to be a vegetable eater in New York than now, whether you're seeking vegetarian main dishes in fine dining restaurants or a couple awesome smaller plates to turn into a meal.
Enough With the Bacon Already
Can we mark 2013 as the year we stopped baconizing everything? Don't get me wrong, bacon's great, but an over-reliance on it hampers creativity and gets pretty boring. We think New York's dining culture is mature enough to move past this crutch and on to even bigger and better things.
Fewer Artisan Cookies, More Artisan Bagels
If you're looking to start a small food business in New York right now, consider your competitors. It's safe to say that the market on items like cookies, brownies, and salsas is pretty much covered. But you know what's not? Really good bagels. If you want to make a real difference in the city's food culture, start making some awesome bagels we can rally around. I'll even take weird hipster flavors if it means you're also putting out a deliciously crisp and chewy, malty-yeasty plain bagel that's good enough to eat unshmeared and untoasted.
If we as a community of eaters don't act fast, our bagel culture may be irreparably damaged. So let's skip the artisan candy and inject some new life into one of New York's most essential foodstuffs. If we did it for pickles, we can do it for this. Bialys too!
No More Winter Tomatoes
Every winter I hope the humanitarian politics of eating out of season tomatoes will enter public discourse with greater force. And on a more hedonistic level than worker's rights abuses, winter tomatoes just suck. We all know it, so why do we put up with it? Restaurants and cooks: stop garnishing your sandwiches, burgers, and $5 chicken and rice plates with pink cottony tomatoes that you know taste terrible. And eaters: don't be afraid to ask for no tomato. If it's going to be picked off our sandwiches and thrown out anyway, we may as well stop ordering them.
More Smart Asian Food
2012 was an amazing year for smart, delicious Asian and Asian-inflected food in this city (exhibits A, B, C, D, E, F). This couldn't make us happier; not just because we love Asian food at Serious Eats, but because it's exciting to see an ethnic cuisine being celebrated in the mainstream culinary consciousness as something independent of its ethnic otherness. We've absorbed Italian cuisine so much into our edible culture that it's as much ours as the Italians'. 2012 has shown us that we may soon do the same for Asian food—without, most importantly, dumbing it down or robbing it of what makes it so delicious in the first place.
So here's hoping that we see more smart, uncompromised Asian cooking in the year to come. It'd be especially nice to see more Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean cuisine done right; New York is certainly ready for proper char kway teow and pepper crab.
More Savory Cocktails
Salty cocktails are on the rise, and really good savory ones, with flavors like mushroom, seaweed, or Sichuan peppercorns, can be game changingly delicious. So as more and more restaurants add cocktail lists to their menus, let's encourage more savory drinks—the good ones, of course.
Fewer Cash-Only Payment Schemes
In an era when more people are carrying around less cash, we've seen a substantial growth in cash-only restaurants. I don't mean cheap places where you're paying $7 to $10 for your meal; I'm talking about fancy grown-up restaurants where you can easily end up spending $40 to $60 a head. Splitting the check in a group becomes a more onerous hassle at cash-only restaurants, and at the end of a wine-soaked, food-stuffed evening, it's the last thing you want to figure out. We're not asking severs to do separate checks for tables of six, but really, if a vendor manning a small table at a market can swipe my credit card on a phone, does it damage your business so much that you can't at least take a debit card?
More Inexpensive Burgers
It's hardly news for 2012, but we've reached a point in this city where $15 burgers are just an accepted fact—even if they're not that good. Actually-worth-it cheffy burgers have become so well embraced that more and more restaurants feel comfortable charging comparable sums for mediocre beef and poorly arranged toppings. In response, let's make 2013 the year of the cheap burger done well. Look to Shake Shack and Bill's Bar & Burger, two spots where you can get a damn tasty burger for under ten bucks—and that's with Pat LaFreida beef! More of those, please!
Hit Up More Old School Street Vendors
There's a new mobile food business born every minute in this city, and public enthusiasm for them is still high. But at the same time, lines at the Red Hook Ball Fields have dwindled for the past several summers, and old school giants of the city's street food scene get celebrated less and less. Think of it this way: there are people in this city paying $10 to $12 for mediocre nouveau truck food who've never tried halal chicken over rice. We owe it to ourselves and our immune-to-fashion mobile food veterans to keep eating—and talking about—the food they cook so well.
How About You?
What food and drink resolutions are you setting for next year?