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The Most Innovative LA Restaurant Trends of 2022

From backyard restaurants to high-tech pizzas and everything in between

A man behind a fence taking a customer’s order at the Narwal pop-up.
Backyard cooking at the Nawal pop-up.
Wonho Frank Lee

Welcome to the Year in Eater 2022 an annual tradition that looks back at the highs, lows, and in-betweens of Los Angeles’s restaurant scene. Today, LA’s finest food writers, editors, reporters, and a few select others with strong opinions share innovative ideas they hope will continue into the next year.

Farley Elliott, Senior Editor, Eater LA

I hope to see takeout and delivery cocktails re-emerge, assuming it’s feasible for the restaurants and bars to do so.

Kristie Hang, Freelance Writer, Eater LA

Collabs between restaurants and chefs.

Oren Peleg, Freelance Writer

There are rumblings of a backlash to delivery apps. Restaurants are trying to come up with solutions for how to counter Silicon Valley’s enormous stake in the industry. I would love to see this grow and potentially have the industry create a sustainable solution for itself that still benefits the customer.

Sharon Lee, Content Creator, @helloimsharon (Tiktok)

Children of Korean immigrants (or any Korean really) creating concepts that celebrate the multifaceted forms of Korean excellence.

Matthew Kang, Lead Editor, Eater LA

I love when technology and dining becomes seamless. I’m all for more automation in restaurants if the human feel and connection we get continue to matter. People looked over the pizza robot, but that machine makes very good pizza that doubles as high-quality, affordable food. It empowers great thinking and still employs a lot of people who need to design and maintain the robot.

Baxter Holmes, Senior Writer, ESPN

I hope more restaurants are up front about built-in gratuity service charges for staff.

Jenn Tanaka, Contributor, Eater LA

I loved the way Yangban Society in the Arts District and Breezy (San Juan Capistrano) mixed their respective heritages (Korean and Filipino) with classic American deli/diner food.

Kuya Lord, SmokeQueen BBQ, and Moo’s Craft Barbecue are also great examples of how L.A.’s diverse Asian and Latin American cultures blend seamlessly with Americana comfort food in innovative and exciting ways that aren’t being replicated elsewhere.

Dave Holmes, Editor-at-Large, Esquire

Paper menus.

Gary Baum, Senior Writer, The Hollywood Reporter

The elimination or renovation of rickety, unkempt streetscape dining structures that were hastily built at the onset of the pandemic and have since become hazardous.

Cathy Chaplin, Senior Reporter/Editor, Eater LA

More chaos cooking, please.

A hand holds a piece of layer cake through a porthole window.
A slice of cake from Quarter Sheets.
Wonho Frank Lee.

Alison Herman, Staff Writer, The Ringer

Flexible models like Quarter Sheets and Pearl River Deli — restaurants that constantly update their menus and opening hours, always changing and never feeling confined to any one identity. The casual, improvisational vibe feels extremely LA, allowing for old favorites and new discoveries to live in the same space.

Hadley Tomicki, Deputy Editor, L.A. TACO

Robot servers with cat-shaped heads seem good at getting children interested in their surroundings for a few seconds when eating out. I also liked seeing Starbucks abandon six locations locally and only hope that trend can continue.

Josh Lurie, Founder, FoodGPS.com

I’m interested to see what’s possible with Too Good To Go, which sells leftover food that would otherwise go to waste to customers at a discount, often just before restaurants and coffee bars close for the day. So far, options are limited, but if the app catches on — it has in other cities — then it could be a win-win. I’ve been a longtime supporter of Food Forward, which has rescued millions of pounds of fruits and vegetables that have fed people in need. This is a very different model that primarily focuses on prepared foods, but still mitigates food waste.

Alissa Walker, Senior Writer, Curbed

More night markets illuminating sidewalks, alleys, plazas, and parking lots (and not getting shut down or raided). LA needs more night markets!

Esther Tseng, Freelance Writer

I loved that chefs and restaurateurs created concepts that use the technique they’ve learned in the world’s top kitchens to express their own unique upbringings and backgrounds. It’s a real risk to do this, but I would love to see more of it — along with an open-minded dining public that is willing to support them. This is what I love most about LA’s potential, given all the cultural riches we have in this city. We’ve got Yangban Society, which fuses Jewish deli and Korean flavors and ingredients. There’s Camphor, which has trace levels of Indian influence in its predominantly French menu — while maintaining the lightness of Californian cuisine. Reinvention is what it’s all about, and bringing the unexpected to the table is what keeps dining interesting here.

Mona Holmes, Reporter, Eater LA

Watching Crudo e Nudo develop and maintain a sustainable business model that reaps a significant profit was more than encouraging. I hope that restaurants can navigate their own path that makes operating a food business a more successful venture.

Three plates with slices of raw fish on them, covered in olive oil and pickled onions.
Plates of food from Crudo e Nudo
Wonho Frank Lee

Lesley Suter, Special Projects Editor, Eater

I’m not sure how entirely innovative it is, but the whole idea of “chaos cooking” — no rules, no culinary canons to follow, just flavor — is, if nothing else, a lot of fun.

Nicole Adlman, Eater Cities Manager

I think some of the best, most fearless, most honest cooking has come from the stellar home restaurants Eater LA gave light to in its coverage in 2022. (The idea of a home or backyard restaurant is more timeless than “innovative,” but the ways in which these restaurants are reaching their communities are nothing short of the latter.) From Eater Awards winner Comedor Tenchita in Mid-City to Syrian backyard pop-up Nawal in Solano Canyon, home restaurants ruled. Long may they reign.

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