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Two bottles of wine and several glasses on top of a glittery green bar.
No restaurant exemplified the maximalism of 2022 quite like Shuggie’s in the Mission.
Erin Ng

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The Best — and Worst — Bay Area Food Trends of 2022

How about more unionizing and less maximalism next year?

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Welcome to Year in Eater 2022, Eater’s annual tradition of celebrating the past 12 months with help from some of the Bay Area’s top food and restaurant industry experts. Between now and the end of the year, Eater SF will post daily questions about the Bay Area restaurant scene with answers from those who know it best.

It has to be the swarm of maximalist restaurant aesthetics. I’m the type of dude who unironically listens to jazz and smokes roll-your-own cigarettes, so ignore my curmudgeonly ways if you must, but color schemes and designs that evoke Wes Anderson’s quirkiness if the writer-director mainlined the stuff this bear was on are just not for me. I won’t name names.

— Paolo Bicchieri, Eater SF reporter

The local restaurant trend I was most impressed by this year was the “trashy glam” aesthetic. Not only did these over-the-top spaces feel like the diversion-y, maximalist fun that we (ahem, I) desperately needed, but they also underscored the DIY ethos that was in the air throughout this year. Yes, perhaps one could say that it was an aesthetic formed out of necessity and dwindling budgets, but on the other hand, it showcased the creativity of bar and restaurant owners and broke the Bay Area out of its mold of go-to restaurant designers that have come to define the local aesthetic.

— Dianne de Guzman, Eater SF deputy editor

I’m a fan of how restaurants have kept the whole QR code menus, even when they have resumed to “normalcy” in other aspects. It makes things much easier/convenient and eliminates paper waste.

— Alan Chazaro, food reporter at KQED

2022’s hottest trend is… unionizing! It was super exciting to see workers at Starbucks stores across the nation vote to unionize to secure better pay and working conditions. We’re now seeing the organizing trend spread to Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, and more. A national labor movement is on the rise.

— Madeline Wells, SFGATE food reporter

Restaurants closing due to exorbitant rent hikes remains infuriating.

Sarah Henkin, manager at Omnivore Books

This is more a movement than a trend, but it’s gratifying to see workers get more of a say in the environment in which they work. From restaurants that are requiring a 20 percent service charge and distributing that amongst all employees instead of just those interacting with customers, like Good Good Culture Club, to places that are changing the health and wellness support for staff, like Che Fico, and also offering avenues for formalized employee feedback, it feels like there’s a real movement for creating long-term, sustainable, and healthy environments for hospitality workers.

— Christine Farren, Executive Director at Foodwise

Robots in restaurants. Maybe both at once? It’s exciting to see what’s possible with the current tech and mildly infuriating that it’s not as life-changing as sci-fi has us primed for in 2022.

— Patricia Chang, freelance editorial and commercial photographer

I was most excited by pizza and tacos this year. For pizza, I liked Outta Sight and Shuggie’s in San Francisco, Rose Pizzeria in Berkeley, and many, many others. For tacos, there are too many to name! Go try Tacos Mi Reynita’s Tijuana-style tacos, if you haven’t already.

— Cesar Hernandez, associate restaurant critic at the San Francisco Chronicle

Folks in the kitchen are some of the hardest working people there are, and customers need to recognize that it’s a privilege to be served, and not the other way around. While there were many good things about local restaurants, I saw a lot of bad customer behavior and racism in restaurants. Additionally, I still feel there’s a lot to be said about Indian food without evoking the phrase “curry.” Curry has become a pronoun, even though it is an adjective, a descriptor. One can’t take spices common in Indian cuisine, throw them on a dish, see what sticks and then promote it as an Indian dish on a fusion menu. Lastly, I was also shocked at how many celebrity-owned restaurants did not know how to cook their vegetables — they were either boiled to mush, pan-fried to be al-dente, or merely greasily deep-fried. Really?

— Nandita Godbole, writer at Curry Cravings

This is the most exciting trend for me: More diverse cuisine and more BIPOC Chefs in the Bay Area and beyond.

— Tonya Pitts, sommelier and wine director at One Market Restaurant

I hate how convenient everything is these days. I ordered via DoorDash more than I ever thought I would in 2022, and I hope I can make more time next year to actually go out and enjoy more places in person.

— Nick Bastone, reporter at Axios SF

Every espresso martini variation on a cocktail menu is taking the place of a better drink.

— Camper English, cocktails and spirits writer and author

It’s perhaps not the worst trend, but I am quite fatigued by the excessive amounts of caviar we put on everything this year. On the other side of the coin, give me all the nouveau French food you’ve got, San Francisco! I dream of Maison Nico’s pâté en croûte — and the French onion soup at La Société? Ridiculous.

— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor

The $42 caviar-topped avocado at RH in San Francisco.

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