- Fair-wage battles continue to rock the restaurant industry. Raising the minimum wage is making fitful progress in spots, and a few restaurateurs are trying to close the gap with back-of-the-house surcharges and no-tipping experiments. I don’t have the answers here, but I know too many restaurant workers who struggle to make ends meet in a way that seems grossly unfair to me. Until we find some kind of workable solution, I at least hope you tip your servers generously. If you haven’t worked in the industry, I suspect you don’t appreciate how truly difficult and low-paid those jobs, front and back, are.
- Boston’s food truck trend takes a hit. The unforgiving economics of serving food from a mobile kitchen in a city with long winters and few attractive operating locations will start to winnow the ranks of our noble experiment in supporting restaurant entrepreneurship (thanks, Tom Menino). Innovative concepts will continue to take root as viable brick-and-mortars — see Clover, Bon Me, Mei Mei, Stoked Pizza, et. al. — but I suspect that this year’s food truck boomlet will struggle to sustain its momentum in 2016.
- Deep-pocketed national chain restaurants continue to thrive at the expense of worthier, more innovative independent operators. This struggle will become starker and darker if the contraction I expect in the wake of what looks to me like an unsustainable over-expansion in our local restaurant industry occurs. If you genuinely care about excellence in cooking, sustainability in sourcing, and the vitality of small, locally-owned businesses, this is bad news for you. One way you can fight it is to spend more of your precious dining dollars on our local indies. Think global, eat local.
- Formerly-marginalized traditional cuisines earn greater respect. Americans tend to put certain cuisines in a cheap-and-cheerful box, can’t wrap their minds around paying fine-dining prices for Thai, Chinese, Korean, Greek, Mexican, Indian, and many other brilliant, rich culinary traditions. It’s a peculiar and shamefully philistine aspect of our dining-out culture, but I’d like to think that we’re turning a page here. Boston is finally getting a wave of higher-end restaurants that present these traditions with more elevated ingredients, technique, service, and ambiance without editing out their core flavors for the benefit of timid diners. I am hopeful that Boston will catch up to worldlier cities on this score.
- Climate change and sustainability issues start hitting diners where they live. We’re not far from a point where cod, bluefin, and beluga disappear forever. Remember Gulf of Maine shrimp fondly, and notice how they’ve vanished from your table? I’m horrified that a first-world country like the United States can still produce leaders that deny fundamental climate science, but I suspect the citizenry could be turned around by the fact that warming oceans and unsustainable fishing practices are annihilating some of our favorite seafoods. You may not be able to imagine the seas rising to inundate Miami in your lifetime, but maybe you’ll be moved to action when suddenly-scarce Maine lobster gets priced out of your reach. Step up, Millennials, if you don’t want to spend your middle age longing for the amazing local seafood your elders used to enjoy as a commonplace.
Luke O'Neil, drinks writer for Metro and writer of many other things for many other publications:
- Everyone goes bankrupt.
- In-N-Out Burger will continue to not come to Boston.
- Hot pot will become one of the next big trends.
- Braintree, Everett, Chelsea, Wakefield, and Woburn will see their restaurant scenes really pick up.
- Pepe's Pizza will open a shop in my living room.
More event dining, meaning special theme nights or pop-up concepts. As a blogger I have been going to events like this for many years, and it's fun to see it more common to the public now. We all thought pop-ups were a passing trend, but I think having special events at restaurants is sort of the next evolution of this trend. I have even seen some of these events recently sponsored by a brand or product. While this might seem "sell-out-y" to some, I think this trend will continue because it only means more money for the chef or restaurant, more creative food for the dinners, and a cheaper price of admission for everybody.
- Drone Delivery Helps Make Fresher Farm-to-Table Delivery Possible in Less Than 30 Minutes
- The Rise of the Boston Deli
Kerry J. Byrne, food writer for the Boston Herald:
People will say I'm a little biased because it's my hometown, but Quincy will certainly be Boston's next great dining destination. The Asian dining scene is already the Bay State's best outside Chinatown. Barbara Lynch is consulting on the new 16C on Cottage Avenue, owned by her niece Kerri Lynch-Delaney. They're working on recipes together in Lynch's Winchester home. Cottage Avenue will become a cool restaurant row with several new eateries planned. The Townshend opened in May across from Quincy Center T with serious food and cocktails, headed by a team of former Barbara Lynch and Garrett Harker veterans. Owner Devin Adams is already eyeing second and third locations around Quincy. There's a wave of new construction in Quincy Center and at Marina Bay, each with several new eateries planned, including at least one high-profile national steakhouse eyeing a spot. And the city is looking into opening a historic-themed beer garden, within walking distance of the birthplace and burial place of presidents John and John Quincy Adams, the first presidential library and Adams Mansion at Peacefield, the John Hancock birthplace, and other national landmarks. All just 15 minutes from South Station via the Red Line.
Scott Kearnan, writer for Zagat and more:
A Beyonce-style surprise release whereby a local big name emerges from comparative dormancy, announces a new project, and drops it (contextually speaking) within a short time frame. I'm drunk in love with the hope.
Sam Hiersteiner, food writer for Lucky Peach, First We Feast, Art of Eating, and other publications:
- With a little brashness, Boston is elbowing into the top tier of US food cities
- For authentic Asian cuisine, Boston is becoming a beacon
Boston's food scene will continue to burgeon in exciting new ways and those lucky enough to notice will be thoroughly satiated :)
BosGuy, LGBT Blogger (with a lot of South End restaurant coverage):
- Piccini / Coombs Open New Restaurant — Brian Piccini and Chris Coombs (of Deuxave, Boston Chops and dbar fame) announce they will open their fourth restaurant together.
- More Restaurants Offer Late Night Menus — More restaurants offer late night menus to accommodate Millennials who now account for more than 34% of Boston's population and are increasingly flexing their economic muscle.
- Tasty Burger Announces Expansion Plans That Rival Wahlburgers — Not to be outdone by local hamburger chain Wahlburgers, Tasty Burger announces ambitious expansion plans to open restaurants outside of Boston area in 2016.
- Ticketed Dinners.
- Salaried Restaurant Employees.
- The Triumphant Return of Gluten.
- Jewish Delis.
Dana Hatic, Eater Boston associate editor:
- More food trucks set up brick-and-mortars
- More fast-casual places bring locally sourced, fancy food to diners.
- Southeastern Grocery Store Publix Hears Dana's Cry for Help, Opens Store in Boston
I think there’s going to be an even stronger presence of local food but getting away from bragging about how local it is — it will just be a natural thing. I think there’s recently been a trend of menus being driven more by simplicity from great ingredients prepared really well and less fussy dishes. I’ve also really enjoyed seeing more and more chefs embrace international flavors and providing their own take on global flavors whether they have roots from a particular part of the world, have spent time there, or just have a strong interest in a particular cuisine. It’s great getting more global and diverse.
Rachel Leah Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor:
- New Restaurant Daringly Serves Normal-Sized Plates Not Meant to Be Shared
- Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Finally Comes to the Area With an East Somerville Location (or Better Yet, Inside My Apartment)
- Yet Another Wegmans Opens, This Time in Somerville (Seriously, I Think We Can Make Room in My Apartment)
- Not a Single FroYo Shop or Juice Bar Opened This Year
- Chef Literally Slaps Dumb Yelper in the Face and Gets Arrested, But the Judge, Whose Family Owns a Restaurant, Goes Easy on Him
- Amazing Out-of-Town Pizzeria Packs Up and Moves Here, Actually Bringing Its Original Decades-Old Oven With It So That the Pizza Tastes Exactly the Same as It Did When You Lived in That Other City and Obsessed Over It
- 2016 Sees Numerous Restaurant Closures as Bubble Bursts
- Here We Go Again: What's #OpenInBOS Today as We Face Yet Another Storm
- Shortage on Large Dishes Means Restaurants Can Only Serve Small Plates
- Guy Fieri Expands His Empire to Boston With a Public Swimming Pool Full of Donkey Sauce
- Oh Look, Another Big Expensive Chain Is Opening in the Seaport
- This Fresh, Artisanal, Locally Sourced Juice Bar Wants to "Detox" "Toxins" From Your Body (Especially Gluten, Because Yuck) and Maybe Feed You Some Healthy FroYo Too
Optimistic or Pessimistic, Depending on How Much You Value Your Hearing:
- Restaurant Decides to Double Down on Commitment to a Noisy Ambiance and Sends a Heavy Metal Band to Your Table While You're Eating