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The Best and Worst Seattle Food Trends of 2023

Tired: Quince. Wired: Pop-ups becoming full restaurants.

A smiling woman poses outside a restaurant.
Pancita was one of many pop-ups that became a permanent restaurant in 2023.
Suzie Pratt

As 2023 is flushed down the toilet of time and 2024 comes to take its place, Eater Seattle is once again surveying a panel of food writers and industry insiders about the year that was and the future of Seattle dining.

For our fist post, we asked them to name the food trend of 2023 that excited them — or enraged them — the most. Here are their answers:

Meg van Huygen, food writer at The Stranger, Eater Seattle, and elsewhere

Needlessly fancy pizza with half a foot of frico on there and a crazy-insane price tag has infuriated me all year. Come on, guys. Pizza is peasant food. Pizza is also delicious, and I’m not saying you can’t make it beautiful and artisanal, but I am saying you can’t ask people to put their pizza on layaway and then wait three months to actually eat it. I don’t care if it has crab on it. Get out of my face with this.

Syd Suntha, owner of Kottu and host of the Seattle Restaurant Podcast

I really love seeing people from different backgrounds opening and redefining restaurants. I feel like for a long time there was this gatekeeping attitude where you had to start as a line cook, then become a chef, then open your restaurant. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen a lot of people who didn’t know what they were doing open and close a restaurant really fast. However if you look at new restaurateurs like Lee Kindell from Moto Pizza, he’s figuring out how to make pizzas fasters using robots. I’ve talked to owners on the podcast who are able to keep employees because they treat them differently than they might at any other restaurant, and they base that on their previous work experiences.

I may get in trouble for this, but I personally can’t stand seeing GoFundMes for restaurants. I will eat at your restaurant. I will buy your merch. I will have you on the podcast. I love supporting restaurants, but I’m not going to fund your dream. I sold most of my toy, shoe, and record collections to buy my cart. I’m sure there are ones that come from a place of real need, but most of the ones I’ve seen it seems come from a place of laziness and entitlement.

Gabe Guarente. editor at SEAToday

Simplified menus have been more prevalent since the beginning of the pandemic, but it’s exciting to see more new restaurants lean into it with success (Kilig comes to mind, as does the recently revamped Pho Bac Boat).

Aimee Rizzo, senior editor at the Infatuation Seattle

Have we had enough quince yet?

Naomi Tomky, writer and author of The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook

The most exciting was definitely starting to see some good masa in Mexican (and Mexican-ish) restaurants: Pancita nixtimalizing its own, the short-lived Arc on Phinney Ridge using masa from Milpa Masa. Relatedly, seeing a bunch of the pandemic-era pop-ups set down roots in bricks-and-mortar!

The most infuriating... well, this city now has at least two bagel shops that still use a founder/co-founder’s very Jewish name but are fully owned/run by the non-Jewish co-founder/partner. Is that a trend? Maybe. Is it infuriating? For sure.