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The Biggest Dining Grievances of 2019: Lack of Liquor License Reform and More

Local food writers share their complaints

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As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2019 by surveying local food writers (including our own staff and contributors) on various restaurant-related topics, and we’re publishing their responses in these final days of the year. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section below, or hop into our Facebook group to discuss.

Keep an eye on the Year in Eater landing page for other stories in this series, rolling out over the next several days.

Up next: What was your biggest dining grievance in 2019? (See the 2018 responses here.)

MC Slim JB, restaurant critic at

“Lack of liquor license reform. Look at how many neighborhood indie places closed and sold their licenses in recent years to chain restaurants downtown. I like Davio’s, but did we really need a seventh one in Massachusetts at the expense of Doyle’s closing? It’s a stupidly antiquated system that presents an enormous barrier to entry for the kind of locally owned indie restaurants that make our dining scene unique and distinctive.”

Erin Kuschner, food writer for

“Having moved here from Austin, I am still in denial that the breakfast taco game hasn’t improved (with the exception of Pepita Coffee opening at Lamplighter with breakfast tacos).”

Jacqueline Cain, deputy food editor at Boston magazine:

See the previous answer! It’s really hard to operate an independent restaurant in Boston. Who can blame entrepreneurial chefs like Rachel Miller, Avi Shemtov, and Dave Punch for decamping?”

Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston’s Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk, food writer for Dig Boston:

“Restaurants continue to be too loud, though it’s good to see that there’s some pushback on this now.”

Eric Twardzik, freelance writer and contributor to The Food Lens,, and Dig Boston:

“The transfer of liquor licenses from beloved local spots to soulless out-of-town chains (one of which stands on Congress Street and is named after a slang term for female genitalia, which is hilarious if you are 14 and The Hangover is your favorite movie. Pink Taco delanda est). For the love of all that is great and good, legislators need to find a way to increase liquor licenses and make them more affordable before we live in a sea of expense-account steak houses and nothing else.”

J.Q. Louise, lifestyle blogger behind and food writer at the Boston Herald:

“Over-complicating how menus are written. For example: If you are serving steak frites, call them steak frites; do not list them as ‘Fire Grilled Skirt Steak and Hand Cut Fries.’ And simplify the mentioning of local partners. We all are in favor of farm-to-table dining, but listing out where every single ingredient in every single dish came from in a menu is unnecessary.”

Dan Whalen, cookbook author and blogger:

“I feel like we talk about this every year but so many restaurants just feel like more of the same to me. I understand why it is hard to take risks in this city, so I’m not mad about it, and you do see more risks being taken now that there are some unique super small blueprint locations in places like Bow Market.”

Katie Faust Stryjewski, cocktail Instagrammer and Eater Boston contributor:

“Reservations booking up months out! I’m not usually much of an advance planner but the current state of the Boston dining scene is turning me into one. I’ve already got date nights booked in February.”

Terrence B. Doyle, Eater Boston reporter:

“More of a drinking grievance than a dining grievance, but Doyle’s Cafe losing (well, selling, but still) its liquor license to a chain steakhouse in the Seaport is pretty devastating and is probably a harbinger for more bad things to come.”

Lamplighter Brewing Co.

284 Broadway, , MA 02139 (617) 945-0450 Visit Website


75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116 617 357 4810 Visit Website

Pepita Coffee

284 Broadway, , MA 02139 (617) 945-0450 Visit Website

Doyle's Cafe

3484 Washington Street, , MA 02130 (617) 524-2345 Visit Website

Bow Market

1 Bow Market Way, , MA 02143 Visit Website