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Innovative Ideas From 2022 We Want to See Continue in 2023

Non-alcoholic cocktails, collaborative pop-ups, and more unionization in the industry are welcome in the new year

Four cocktails sit on a table at Suckerpunch.
Zero-proof cocktails from Suckerpunch.
Aubrey Janelle Photography

Each December, Eater Portland ends the year by reflecting on the last twelve months of dining in a series we call Year in Eater. We reach out to Portland food writers and influencers for their perspectives on major trends, impressive newcomers, and standout meals, and share their responses in a single package.

Responses are edited and condensed for clarity.

“This was a big year for unionization at restaurants and grocery stores in Portland; we also saw more restaurants open with a cooperative model, profit sharing, that sort of thing. I really do think that the workers rights movement could keep the industry afloat in certain ways, in terms of addressing the labor shortage; with more protections in place, hopefully we can help people stay in the field longer, and avoid burning out.”
-Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor

“Perhaps not the most innovative, but more a return to form: taking food seriously. I feel like COVID takeout, TikTok fads, and general desire for nostalgic comfort caused us to go child-mode on every menu. But it can’t be corn ribs and Cocoa Puffs all the time. What I saw returning in 2022 were really thoughtful, technique-driven dishes that focused on local meat and produce. Those are the biggest gifts that Oregon has to offer. Why waste them?”
-Thom Hilton, Eater Portland contributor

“I really enjoy collaborative pop-ups, like those that Luna from Chelo, Gabriella from Sweet Creature, and Nan from Mestizo and Norah have been doing for some time. Not only do they celebrate several chefs, it’s a way for them to uplift each other. I hope we’ll see more of that, and it’s something I keep in mind for my events too. It’s cool to see places that have closed, like Alley Mezza and Dinger’s Deli, revive their concepts for the occasional popup. Another pivot I’m into is Tiffin Asha’s condiments line, and I’d love to see more chefs explore that route. Also, Vince is winning at TikTok and Reels with Berlu Bakery’s lighthearted approach at a time when social media can feel very exhausting.”
-Waz Wu, Eater Portland contributor

“I wouldn’t necessarily say innovative, but the unionization of local spots like Burgerville, Mirisata, Voodoo Doughnut, and New Seasons seems like a good direction for the industry.”
-Krista Garcia, Eater Portland contributor

I love seeing the continued growth of Portland’s craft non-alcoholic movement with the addition of Suckerpunch and other bars highlighting non-alcoholic cocktails like Sousol. It makes for a more inclusive, creative, and safe drinking space for everyone and it’s great that there is a craft-focused element as well, with these drinks getting the same amount of attention and care. Just as Portland was one of the pioneers of the craft cocktail and craft beer movements, I think it’s at the forefront of craft N/A movement as well, and that will only continue.”
-Zoe Baillargeon, Eater Portland contributor

“I look forward to having a robot deliver food to my table. I love the human interaction of chatting with a barista or a server, but it would be nice to have robots to pick up the slack when humans can’t keep up with the crowds.”
-Rachel Pinsky, Eater Portland contributor

“I have noticed an increase in establishments which offer elaborate non-alcoholic (N/A) drinks on their menu. This is important as it promotes inclusion of people who don’t drink alcohol as part of the dining experience.”
-Ehow Chen (@ehow.eats), influencer