From custom matchbooks perfect for dinner parties to exciting restaurant collaborations to delicious ice cream, 2023’s dining trends ranged from the fun to the baffling to perhaps just plain bad. As always, Eater spent the year documenting the trends hitting restaurant menus, TikTok, and culture at large (Pasta Girl Fall, anyone?), and here we highlight the worst of them all. Let’s look back, says the Eater expert.
What was the worst food and dining trend of the year?
As Eater pointed out in October, maximalism was all the rage in 2023. And while I’m all for loosening up my tie and relaxing in a slightly quirky dining room, that impulse toward maximalism has often resulted in spaces and menus that feel like they were designed for literal babies. Would I as an adult want to eat dinner sitting in a giant neon green hand? No, but if I were a baby I would love it. Would I be better off with a 3 foot tall pepper grinder instead of a regular pepper grinder? Again, no, but if I were a little baby, yes. Would I like my shots delivered to me in a cup attached to my Hot Wheels? Since I’m of legal drinking age, the answer is still no. If I were somewhere between a newborn and a preschooler, I would sign up. These and many other gimmicks actually appeared in restaurants in 2023. If you want to make your restaurant more fun next year, make it a restaurant that adults can enjoy. — Jonathan Smith, Interim Senior Editor
TikTok has spawned many unfortunate food trends, but chief among them are videos of “sexy” food men – men with abs doing unspeakable things to food. I think so. The peak (or nadir) of this trend is: this video In this piece, a muscular man in a deep V fucks the dough while making a set of festive Halloween donuts. It doesn’t make sense. — Monica Barton, Associate Editor
It’s not the worst trend, but it feels like we’re on the precipice of having too many olives. While we’re enjoying martinis, they’re showing up on cakes and Jell-O shots, they’re being thrown into everything by careful, uncreative chefs, and then everyone gets sick of them, and then there’s the backlash. I’m worried that I’m progressing. . That would be foolish, because olives are wonderful and we should all be able to enjoy them. What can we do to save olives from this future? — Correspondent Jaya Saxena
I thought it would end with Stanley. We’d agree, hey, this is a really nice, unbreakable drinking water cup, and we’ll buy one or two and give some away, because water isn’t really that complicated Because you don’t need it or it’s very expensive, right? Well, that was me being naive. As if having cups in literally every color wasn’t enough, the Stanley collectors on my feed are now constantly recommending “better” alternative bottles that feature Owara spouts. It is being Let us all face the fact that what we have is enough, and that no one cares if your Stanley matches your seasonal color scheme, etc. — Bettina Macalintal, Senior Reporter
Watertoku. There shouldn’t be a “recipe” for water, especially when he uses 14 different sugar-free syrups. — Amy McCarthy, Staff Writer
Paying for restaurant reservations ranks pretty high: Make eating out even more stressful and inaccessible! That said, this is a problem that only tends to affect people who are trying to go to a busy restaurant. So in this year, the hottest year in recorded history, I’ll reserve my real anger for bad food trends of a more global nature. The continued inability of countries in the Global North to reduce meat consumption and the concomitant growth of the livestock industry’s influence on policy decisions. While the world is literally on fire, the average American continues to eat 264 pounds of meat a year, which puts things like the battle for restaurant reservations into perspective. —Rebecca Flint Marx, Home Editor