Suburban dining: Finally, with places like Kitchen and Rail, Shakopee House, Pau Hana, Churchill Street and more, the cries for great independent dining outside the inner city are being answered.
Fast-casual expansions: Local favorites such as Wrecktangle, Centro, Abang Yoli, FRGMNT Coffee, Momo Dosa, Cardigan Donuts, Joey Meatballs, Boludo and more are growing, and primed for a multitude of locations. Meanwhile, Steele Smiley's Crisp & Green, Stalk & Spade and forthcoming Paco & Lime are booming.
Hotel restaurants: A crop of new restaurants from big-name chefs have moved into downtown Minneapolis hotels this year, bringing the district back to life: Gavin Kaysen's Mara at the Four Seasons; Daniel del Prado's three concepts inside the Rand Tower Hotel; Vincent Francoual's Chloe by Vincent in the Canopy by Hilton. They join the Royal Sonesta's Wood + Paddle Eatery; Tullibee at the Hewing; the top-notch Italian restaurants Giulia, at the Emery, and Monello, at the Ivy; and, of course, classic Manny's at the W.
Star-quality chefs: Minnesota chefs are getting more national platforms on television. Ann Kim was on the Netflix docuseries "Chef's Table," and Zoë François, Yia Vang and Justin Sutherland all seem to be everywhere these days. Ditto Andrew Zimmern, who's also producing local talent through his Intuitive Content.
Surcharges: We've struggled with the mathematical acrobatics of tipping on top of service fees. Just tell us how much money to give you so we can all sleep comfortably at night.
QR codes: Ordering from our phones at an isolated table is a bummer; people make restaurants our favorite third space.
Staff shortages: Same as above. We love the people who make our hospitality industry hum, and the lack of experienced workers is tough on everyone. Fingers crossed that fresh workers are on next year's hot list.
Less desirable cocktail trends: While they might streamline the work behind the bar, tap and pre-batched cocktails suffer without fresh citrus — especially those garnished with shrubbery destined to explore nostril space.
BBQ bust: Three Minneapolis food trucks had to retire their smokers per the abrupt enforcement of a long-ignored Minneapolis city ordinance. (The only good side: One of them, Animales Barbeque Co., is getting around the ordinance by going brick and mortar.)
Liquor laws are changing — slowly: This year, large breweries could finally sell growlers again. At the same time, businesses like Tattersall and Lift Bridge are expanding in Wisconsin, where looser regulations don't hinder their growth.
Big-ticket dining: Pricey tasting menus and immersive dining experiences are back with some eye-popping price tags (we're talking $475 dinners in the galleries at Mia, and $2,500 for a season pass to Spoon and Stable's Synergy Series). For those who haven't felt the pinch of inflation, and want to indulge in new experiences rather than acquire new things, it's fun to explore.
Fancy salads: With the proliferation of more salad chains, some of us are willing to spend a decent amount of cash for food that at least feels like we're doing our bodies some good. On the other hand, sky-high prices can make eating your greens feel like even more of a chore.