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Philly’s Professional Eaters Air Their Dining Grievances

What needs to change in 2018?

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Joy Manning would like to see more nonalcoholic craft beverages on restaurant menus

As per tradition, Eater asked a group of journalists, bloggers, and friends of the site to weigh in on the year in food. Here, experts share their biggest dining grievances from 2017.

Alex Tewfik, food editor, Philadelphia magazine: Now that wine is cool, my resentment toward the PLCB has really intensified. Good wine lists shouldn’t have to start at $15.

Adam Erace, freelance writer: A manager asking me to write up a five-star Google or Yelp review on my phone in exchange for a free drink token at Mad Rex.

Sarah Maiellano, food and travel freelance writer for local and national outlets, including Eater: Dirty bathrooms, being seated next to large, loud groups with kids, and now that I'm having a kid (sorry, other tables!), the lack of virgin drinks on menus (hat tip to Edible's Joy Manning for calling this out).

Joy Manning, editor of Edible Philly: I stopped drinking alcohol this year and when I started looking around for truly equally appealing nonalcoholic beverages, there were almost none. I asked a bartender at a so-called craft cocktail bar what their nonalcoholic beverage options were, and he said, “Coke.” No. Sodas, even nice house-made sodas, are not equally appealing nonalcoholic beverages.

Cities like Chicago, Louisville, New York, and Los Angeles are wiping the floor with us in this important emerging category. It isn’t just health conscious middle-aged food writers like me who don’t want alcohol. Lots of people don’t drink for religious reasons. There are a host of medications that can’t be combined with booze. There are pregnant women. People in recovery from addiction. Athletes in training. Designated drivers.

It just isn’t cool to not offer any of these groups sophisticated, craft options. Even if a restaurant or bar doesn’t want to make them, the craft beverage movement is happening and you can just buy great stuff. Some places are working on this: Suraya has a nonalcoholic beer on its menu, Royal Boucherie has three good “temperance” cocktails, La Colombe in Fishtown has kombucha on tap, the Library Bar and Bar 210 have zero-proof cocktails on the menu. So do quite a few other places around Philly. But it’s still more the exception than the rule and that has to change.

Drew Lazor, Philadelphia-based freelance writer and author of the upcoming Session Cocktails (Ten Speed Press, May 2018): This isn't really a "grievance" per se but I wish a Royal Farms would open up closer to me. I said this last year too.

Wendy Ramunno, freelance writer/editor and local editor at Zagat: I can't think of anything major — I try to give people the benefit of the doubt.