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Industry Experts on LA’s Biggest Dining Grievances in 2018

Friends of Eater talk about the biggest issues they had with the local restaurant world

Tsuta Ramen
Tsuta Ramen from Japan
Tsuta Ramen
Matthew Kang is the Lead Editor of Eater LA. He has covered dining, restaurants, food culture, and nightlife in Los Angeles since 2008. He's the host of K-Town, a YouTube series covering Korean food in America, and has been featured in Netflix's Street Food show.

Welcome to Year in Eater, an annual review of some of the best and notable openings and restaurant news that took place in Los Angeles over the past year. Eater LA asks writers, editors, and food luminaries to pitch in to help summary the incredible year in dining that was 2018. Here now, LA food writers and editors discuss their biggest complaints and dining grievances of the past year.

Andrea Chang, Food Writer, LA Times

The loss of Jonathan.

Joshua Lurie, Food GPS Founder

Fast casual restaurants and coffee bars that don’t provide a tip option on their POS are doing a major disservice to their employees. Most people don’t carry cash anymore. Yes, the existing restaurant tipping model is a mess, but as long as the model’s in place, at least let your employees receive tips when customers pay with cards.

Danny Chau, Writer/Editor, The Ringer

I would’ve sold my soul for a new ramen shop that specializes in shoyu broth. Tsujita’s hegemony has lasted for the better part of a decade. It’s time for some change.

Andy Wang, writer, Food & Wine

Hiring is impossible, I know, but understaffed restaurants make me sad. A restaurant is buzzing, it’s clear that everyone there is working really hard, but there’s just one waiter dealing with a huge section of the dining room and he’s getting destroyed.

Katherine Spiers, host of Smart Mouth and co-author of Rogue 99

Restaurants that don’t take cash. Get lost with your classism.

Euno Lee, Eater LA Contributor

Somehow, it only took one tone-deaf chef/TV personality to make me rush to the defense of one of the people responsible for PF Chang’s.

Hadley Tomicki, Food Writer

Restroom sinks that only dispense warm water. They’re nearly as odious as sub-par pita bread and taquerias with doormen.

Garrett Snyder, Food Editor at LA Magazine

Interesting/exciting openings west of the 405 were few and far between this year. The insane rents around Santa Monica and Venice are taking a toll.

Esther Tseng, Food Writer

The expectation that New York restaurateurs and chefs expanding or moving to Los Angeles is necessarily something we all want or need.

Jeff Miller, freelance writer and founding editor, Thrillist LA

There’s no bigger grievance, literally, than the fact that Jonathan Gold isn’t around anymore. When I think of the city grieving, this is it: he was truly our biggest culinary voice, and to lose him at such a key moment in the city’s dining history only makes it more profoundly sad.

Bill Esparza, Eater LA Contributor

Plastic straws—please get rid of them.

Kristie Hang, Food Writer

The straw ban. Yeah, I get it we shouldn’t use straws. But what about boba shops and other Asian dessert drink places and restaurants with tapioca, aloe, sago, grass jelly, and other toppings you need to sip out of? Looking forward to sugarcane straws and $12 drinks. NOT.

Gary Baum, Senior Writer at The Hollywood Reporter

Same as last year. Likely same as next year. Enough with the communal tables.

Stephanie Breijo, Food & Drink Editor at Time Out

Too many restaurants? Can it be too many new restaurants?

Cathy Chaplin, Eater LA Associate Editor

The impossibility of running an economically viable restaurant while paying workers well and sourcing ingredients ethically. The closing of Good Girl Dinette will break my heart for a long time, and Locol too.

Mona Holmes, Eater LA Reporter

So many restaurants have so much hype, names, money, and/or clout. But the food winds up being pretty average and really expensive. I often find that the marketing is better than the reality. Of course this isn’t always true, but many complain (myself included) that the hype overwhelms the experience.

Farley Elliott, Eater LA Senior Editor

The missing first step. For some reason, Los Angeles restaurants forgot how to answer the phone, say hello at the front door, or otherwise offer the small details that make crucial interactions feel like more than just a business transaction. These things are small but can be frustrating, and in a city that has more options than ever before, they matter.

Matthew Kang, Eater LA Editor

I’m tired of people complaining about not getting enough coverage in their neighborhood. If someone has logged more miles and time traveling around LA than me or any of the other staffers at Eater who are trying to do their best covering the dining scene, then I would love for them to tell us. I also object to hostile drink lists where every cocktail costs over $18 and all the wines by the glass approach or go beyond $20. Restaurants should offer some kind of value on beverages or else I’ll just drink water and fix myself a cocktail when I go home. Bars and lounges are different since they don’t make money other than on drinks and often provide a particular vibe, so it’s understandable, but I still think they should offer a few more reasonable options below the $15 mark (the price of booze hasn’t changed dramatically).

Year in Eater