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How Seattle Restaurants Innovated in 2023

Food writers share their thoughts on new ideas that they hope will stick around

A plate of pancakes covered in bright purple ube sauce under a neon sign that says “Ludi’s.”
Let’s follow in Ludi’s footsteps and continue the diner revival, please!
Suzi 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.

Today we’re asking them to pick what new ideas in the restaurant industry they’re hoping stick around. Their answers are below. For previous entries in this series, go here.

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

Food halls. I love the Asean Streat food hall. It’s a vibe to be able to go with a group and try a bunch of stuff from different place and make everyone happy. I would love to see these all over the city. It’s a great way for smaller businesses to team up and work together to make something awesome. It just seems like a no-brainer.

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

Maybe not an innovative idea as much as just an incredible one, but it seems like 2023 was the year of reanimating a bunch of the iconic old Seattle diners that we thought were dead forever! Beth’s, Ludi’s, Glo’s, Wayward Vegan, Costas Opa, Bush Garden (technically a diner, with a bar!). More of this, please. Seattle lost so many dope-ass diners in the aughts, and they’re a crucial part of our city’s blue-collar culinary history, especially Ludi’s, so I’ve been over the moon about it. I’m still praying for the descendents of Randy from Randy’s Diner to put all the model airplanes back up inside some abandoned vape shop and reopen.

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

This isn’t brand-new, but I’ve seen a lot more leadership in avoiding burnout, whether that means limiting operating hours or menu sizes, taking week-long breaks, or even arranging service (via counter service or self-serve) to put less pressure on staff. The struggle to hire enough staff forced it to happen, but I’d love to see people continue to understand that everyone is human.

Gabe Guarente. editor at SEAToday

Several local cafes have joined the Reuse Seattle program, which attempts to cut down on single-use plastic — hopefully more will hop onboard.

Aimee Rizzo, senior editor at the Infatuation Seattle

It’s not new, and it’s not innovative, but I’d like more smashburgers, please. When Smash That Burger Co. (and their magnificent burgers) burst onto the scene, it illuminated the fact that Seattle at large doesn’t have too many true smashpatties, lacy edges and all. No need to reinvent the wheel here — just smear it onto a hot griddle and slap on a slice of cheese.