Welcome to the Year in Eater 2023 — our 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 discuss trends they’d like to see in 2024.
Farley Elliott, SoCal Bureau, Chief/SFGate
Suá Superette is a great model for many more casual places, and I’m hoping that people continue to embrace alternative revenue streams and smaller spaces as a way to deliver the most interest for consumers while still meeting cost demands.
Kristie Hang, contributor, Eater LA
Not innovative per se, but I’ve really been enjoying the creations of talented home bakers and chefs who pivoted to working and selling goods from their homes. It’s been a pleasure supporting them with their seasonal menus that vary week to week and being able to truly know the person behind your food. Personally, I’ve loved supporting SoySweet LA, Lucy Wang, Malayasian Foodlovers LA, and Los Boludos.
Alison Herman, TV Critic, Variety
The pop-up (or Smorgasburg booth) to brick-and-mortar pipeline continues to bear fruit. Budonoki feels fully formed right out the gate, and I’m thrilled for Saucy Chick Rotisserie’s partnership with the Goat Mafia getting a more permanent home in Pasadena. More, please!
Mona Holmes, Reporter, Eater LA
Am grateful for the recent efforts by LA Mayor Karen Bass and the City of Los Angeles, who recently made it easier for restaurant owners to expand outdoor dining. Also love seeing collaborations front and center at various restaurants. Operators like Saucy Chick Goat Mafia and Lei’d Cookies sell each other’s food products/dishes in their stores. At the Lei’d storefront, they sell products from Smorgasburg vendors, making it possible for them to spread the word and availability about other LA businesses.
Matthew Kang, Lead Editor, Eater LA
I’m curious to see if reimagined service situations, from online or phone ordering and technology, can actually improve the customer experience. I’ve already accepted order kiosks and QR codes, but I hope that we can preserve human interactions and see the value added from that. I recently went to a boba shop with digital kiosks, which most places offer in San Gabriel Valley, but that system coupled with delightful servers who give advice on their favorite flavors makes me see and experience value that a machine could never provide.
Evan Lovett, founder, L.A. in a Minute
The continuation of al fresco dining. I am gobsmacked that this wasn’t an ingrained part of Los Angeles culture before COVID, and I love seeing neighborhoods become vibrant & alive due to the proliferation of more restaurants offering the option of al fresco dining.
Joshua Lurie, founder, FoodGPS.com
Boxy slow-rolling robots delivering food is not the answer. An army of double-parking delivery drivers that inevitably get stuck in traffic isn’t ideal either. Hopefully, a truly innovative food delivery company can find a better solution for restaurants and customers that strikes the right balance. Is the world ready for dogfighting food delivery drones?
Jean Trinh, freelance reporter
I went to a Regarding: Her panel at the LA Chef Conference in October that discussed ways folks in the restaurant industry could balance work and family. I found it enlightening and hope to see more restaurant owners build infrastructure into their businesses to allow for flexibility and a work-life balance.