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The Biggest Dining Surprises and Grievances of 2017

Local food writers weigh in

Masala Street

As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2017 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.

Keep an eye on the Year in Eater archive page for other stories in this series.

Today’s questions: What was your biggest dining surprise and dining greivance in 2017?

Dining surprises:

Michele Parente, San Diego Union-Tribune: The implosion of Bracero. Little Italy, and San Diego, lost the talents of superstar Baja chef Javier Plascencia.

Michael Gardiner, San Diego CityBeat: I didn’t see Masala Street in La Jolla coming. In America, with few exceptions, Indian food is expected to be cheap and thus rarely climbs to the heights of which it’s capable. The food that Saransh Oberoi (formerly of the Michelin-starred Cal-Indian trailblazer Campton Place in San Francisco) puts out at Masala Street is characterized by both subtlety and power as well as an extraordinary precision in his use of spices.

Jackie Bryant, Eater: Through talking to various restaurateurs, i learned how prohibitive and expensive it is to source responsibly and work directly with farms. I always figured as much, but our food system is horrifically broken and it was a surprise to learn the deep challenges restaurants face, both logistically and financially.

Barbarella Fokos, SD Reader: The “Microblogging Crazy Raw Noodles” at Village Kitchen. Like, what? Despite the apparent Google translate that led to this menu item, the dish was a favorite at my table.

year in eater

Dining grievances:

Frank Sabatini, San Diego Uptown News: Celebrity-seeking chefs and restaurant owners. I understand the importance of publicity, but food and service invariably suffer when the key players divert tons of energy to TV shows and auditions. Kudos to the culinary ringleaders who could give a damn about landing gigs on the Food Network.

Erin Jackson, Thrillist: Unsupervised children. I'm all for kids experiencing good restaurant food from an early age, but the correct amount of silverware clanging at the table is zero.

Candice Woo, Eater: It’s frustrating when restaurant owners and chefs don’t have enough confidence in diners’ capacity to be challenged through a progressive menu and conversely, when diners aren’t faithful in their support of chefs who do strive to push boundaries. Trust Restaurant in Hillcrest continues to be a living example of how successful the diner-chef relationship can be when real trust exists on both sides of the kitchen. I also hope that the continuing fast-casual boom doesn’t foretell the death of independent restaurants.

Caron Golden, San Diego Foodstuff: I can’t say this enough: noise levels! Just the other day I walked in and then walked right out of a restaurant in La Jolla that was so loud I couldn’t hear what my dining companion was saying. It’s just getting worse and worse.

Edwin Real, Eating and Drinking in San Diego: Three percent surcharge as an act of political grandstanding.

Darlene Horn, Zagat: The need to make everything from desserts to bathrooms Instagram-worthy. ​