Detroit’s restaurant writers dish on their biggest surprises of 2022 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.
Melody Baetens, restaurant critic/reporter, The Detroit News: Exciting: More variety! More empanadas! More Detroit-style pizza! Infuriating: QR codes. I get it. I use them. I don’t have to like them.
Courtney Burk, contributor, Eater Detroit: Non-alcoholic options becoming more readily available (and in delicious fashions) is one of the most exciting trends and that will only continue into 2023. The focus of beverages being centered around flavor rather than abv made the end of the night a much nicer experience. And it extended the number of places we could venture to with friends, without really thinking if there were options included for everyone.
Serena Maria Daniels, Detroit City Editor, Eater: Most exciting to me this year is the influx of food trucks in the city. During the pandemic, one of the owners of Mariscos el Salpicon launched Salpicon Food Trucks, which manufactures custom-made food trucks. Its impact is quite visible, with trucks featuring tacos, birria, döner kabobs, hibachi, Burundian street food, and more. Most infuriating: Those made-for-Instagram milkshake bars have hit downtown and they’re not pretty. I get the inclination to go all out once restaurants in-person dining resumed, but really more care should have been taken to select chains that, at the very least, aren’t harmful to Detroiters. The health disparities here — heart disease, diabetes, obesity — cannot be ignored. If we need to catch up on Instagram food trends, there are plenty of other options that don’t involve gulping down a day’s worth of calories in one sitting.
Lyndsay Green, restaurant and dining critic, Detroit Free Press: I’ve been happy to see more suburban restaurants leveraging TikTok as a marketing tactic! I’m not on TikTok, but I do enjoy the fun clips that get circulated to spread the word about local restaurants we might otherwise miss.
Mark Kurlyandchik, editorial director, Frame: I really can’t stand this whole over-the-top dessert bar-restaurant trend. Huge milkshakes jammed with cookies and candy slathered in caramel and whipped cream. What is that? Why are the hamburger buns purple? Does the city of Detroit really need another mainline pumping diabetes into the community? At least the Heart Attack Grill doesn’t hide its intentions. These are the kinds of places that my family in Europe think of as quintessentially “American,” and that should make us all sad.
Mickey Lyons, contributor, Eater Detroit: I appreciated seeing full transparency from restaurants and bars. Inflation hit the industry hard, sending prices for staples like meat and lettuce through the roof. The most successful restaurant owners were up front about the cost increases. They also weren’t afraid to call out entitled or unruly customers, which makes all of our dining experience better in the long run. Infuriating: I don’t know if it’s because we all got used to having old standy wines, but I’m seeing more and more grocery store label wines at bars and restaurants. I understand the need for markup, but if I’m going to be paying for most of the bottle with one glass, I at least want to try something new and lean on the expertise of the sommelier or beverage manager.
Carlos Parisi, founder, host, Aunt Nee’s, Sandwich Talk podcast: A trend I hope we will see go away will be the restaurants all opening up with similar menus (new American with a cultural flare). If the best thing on the menu is the burger, and it’s still not the best burger in the city, then let’s focus on some other dishes that can highlight the chef and theme better.
John Reyes, contributor, Eater Detroit: Exciting, it finally feels like Filipino food is starting to gain traction in Southeast Michigan. Infuriating, Filipino food has not gained traction in the Ann Arbor area.