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Dining Experts Reveal What Pissed Them Off in 2022

Themes include jerky customer behavior and cocktail confusion

A hand pours a cocktail out of a strainer and into a coupe glass.
Grievances range from yucky TikTok trends to excessively loud music.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Chicago’s media dish on their biggest dining grievances of 2022 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.

Jay Westbrook, local craft beer professional: That establishments are still leaning on that tired “nobody wants to work” narrative after all this time. Do yourself a solid and pay folks a livable wage with benefits, allow them the space and grace to take care of their own physical and mental well-being with PTO, and don’t subject them to hostile work environments, and folks will wanna come work with you. Take care of your people. It’s not that hard

Amy Cavanaugh, Chicago magazine: I wish I had more time to dine out! I’m constantly checking out new spots, and often can only get to my favorite places once a year. I’m hoping to make a point to do more of this in 2023.

Sarah Spain, ESPN: Restaurants that don’t respect requests for no plastic cutlery in your to-go bag—save the plastic (and don’t add to my drawer filled with unused forks!) Also, those videos where people cook and serve food directly off their counters. For reasons hygienic, aesthetic, and every other -ic(k), I say NO to “countertop spaghetti ‘’ and all related countertop disasters presented by an attention-starved TikTok’r.

Nick Kindelsperger, Chicago Tribune: The quality of cocktails has been all over the place in 2022. While I’ve had some great drinks in unexpected places, I’ve also had to set many aside after a few sips because they were so unbalanced. Unfortunately, it feels like the expensive places are messing up the most.

Matt Lindner, writer and marketing manager: Oh, do I have some grievances...

The lack of streets that are closed off to allow for more outdoor dining year-round. The emergence of outdoor dining in creative ways, whether it was pods or closing off parts of certain streets, was one of the only good things to come out of the worst parts of the pandemic.

I did not make it to Pilsen to do a taco crawl and that makes me so very sad.

Ridiculously high surcharges from delivery companies.

People continuing to be jerks to waitstaff and bartenders despite the fact that literally everywhere is short-staffed right now. We get it, Karen, you want your naan ASAP, but you’re making everybody uncomfortable with your uncouth attitude.

Restaurants that cater to Instagrammers. Like I get it, but gee whiz it’s getting obnoxious.

Samira Ahmed, best-selling author of Love, Hate & Other Filters, Internment, Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know, Hollow Fires, Amira & Hamza, and a Ms. Marvel comic series: Table time limits and excessively loud music. While I understand the need for restaurants to turn over tables quickly, especially as they’re still recovering from pandemic losses, I have to say getting the bums rush at a few restaurants was deeply annoying. And yes, I am An Old, but I really enjoy hearing what my dinner companions are saying.

David Manilow, Check, Please! creator and host of The Dining Table podcast: Why would anyone who gets paid to eat for a living complain?

Maggie Hendricks, Bally Sports: [My grievance is] definitely not with the restaurants. It’s with patrons. We’ve been through an incredibly destabilizing few years, restaurants are fighting to just stay open, and I’ve seen patrons get pettier and pettier with complaints. They’re wrecking restaurant ratings online for a dinner being a few minutes late. They’re expecting inflation not to affect restaurant prices. Come on, people.

Michael Nagrant, The Hunger: 1. The service professional brain drain

2. Vague money grab line-item service fees that have nothing to do with helping staff or compensating anyone other than the owner

3. Predatory cocktail pricing for basic-ass cocktails

4. Restaurant Group partnerships with non-local celebrity chefs instead of promoting your own people

5. The demise of the pastry chef

6. The demise of sommeliers and mixologists/head bartenders

7. The loss of chefs who really cook with voice

8. Too many Italian restaurants

9. Not enough Nam Khao or crispy rice salad in Chicago

Jeffy Mai, Time Out Chicago: Please, please stop calling a bar a speakeasy.