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Dreaming Up a Better Restaurant World

From the Editor: Everything you missed in food news last week

Illustrator: Simone Noronha

This post originally appeared on September 12, 2020 in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.

In the late spring, we started thinking about what kind of organized reporting effort we wanted to publish to lead into the fall. At one point, we naively thought we could focus on the recovery but quickly changed course.

Instead we decided to focus on a more speculative future of what restaurants could and should be in a collection of pieces called ”Now What?” It examines where the movement to end tipping went wrong and why it’s not a dead end. It looks at how (and if) restaurateurs can be ethical gentrifiers and what they owe to the communities they enter. There’s a wonderful piece about how cooperative restaurant ownership can actually work. And one about whether or not plant-based meat is the magic bullet many think it is. The cherry on top is Meghan McCarron’s speculative fiction about a world with only chain restaurants.

If you read just one part of this collection I suggest the anchor piece, in which we’ve collected thoughts from 23 leading activists, chefs, critics, and academics on what needs to be done — in terms of culture, economics, politics, environment, regulations — to get to a better industry and world.

And if you want to hear excerpts from a few of those interviews, we have them on the Eater’s Digest podcast this week. So give a listen.

On Eater

Closures: Dominique Ansel, Beverly Soon Tofu, and Playground in LA; Upland in Miami; Poca Madre in D.C; Ronny’s Original Steakhouse and Passerotto in Chicago; West-bourne in New York; and Silence Heart Nest in Seattle.

Openings: Mélange, a burger shop mixing Ethiopian flavors with French technique, in D.C.; Le Petite Bleu, a takeout-only restaurant from the owners of famed Commander’s Palace, in New Orleans; CocoBreeze, Oakland’s only Trinidadian place; Huda, an exciting sandwich shop in Philly; Cozy Royale, a proper restaurant from the team behind a beloved butcher shop (and Eater show), and Veeray Da Dhaba, a casual Punjabi restaurant, in New York; Picnic Society, a new place in the Grove mall from Curtis Stone, and Mitsuwa’s sleek new food court, in LA; and Oak and Reel, a high-end Italian restaurant, in Detroit.

Hazardous air is the latest 2020 obstacle for restaurants reliant on outdoor dining.

— Indoor dining is back in Orange County and Philadelphia and will return on September 30 in New York. Meanwhile, “transportainment” is back in Nashville.

— People can now legally open restaurants out of their homes in one county in Southern California.

— Vegas’ giant and influential culinary union finally got a new contract with two of the city’s largest casinos.

— Diners are eating out again, but they’re keeping it off instagram.

A tray of barbecued meats — sliced brisket, ribs, links, and an on-the-bone beef rib — with a small pile of pink pickled onions to the side
A spread from Horn BBQ, opening soon in Oakland
Horn BBQ

— The brand new cookbooks you need to buy this season + an appreciation of community cookbooks and their secret family recipes.

— Night + Market is expanding to Vegas.

— A pit master in Oakland, who has been hosting popular pop-ups for the last four years, is finally opening his Central Texas-inspired barbecue restaurant after nine months of delays, and it looks incredibly good.

— New York’s iconic Peking Duck House is still good, even after all these years, even when the ostentatious table-side carving is done outside behind a screen.

— Yelpers in San Francisco are posting negative reviews because of mask enforcement.

— Third party delivery companies are still flagrantly ignoring commission caps on their services.

— Maybe you’ve heard of quesabirria tacos but have you heard of quesadobo tacos?

Off Eater