It’s the end of the year, and time to get reflective about what, exactly, was 2023. If the most read stories on Eater.com are any indication, it was a year of sating curiosity, of celebrating restaurants and dining scenes — both intensely local and thrillingly international — and of figuring out exactly what the brands were up to (a perennial question). These are the Eater.com stories that grabbed the most readers this year:
Literally no one had “Panera sandwich purse” on their 2023 brand stunts bingo card which is what made the ridiculousness of Panera’s BAGuette so decidedly welcome. It’s fun! It’s dumb! It’s fashun! It’s also an opportunity to ding Panera for its subpar sandwiches, so honestly a win all around.
People really love In-N-Out, huh? The famously west-coast-only chain announced earlier this year that it would finally open its first outpost east of Texas — in Tennessee — and east coasters rejoiced. They’ll have to be patient, though: The stores won’t debut until 2026.
“Loaded teas” — highly colorful tea and juice drinks that often claim to have positive health effects — started to crowd Instagram back in 2022. This story unpacked where that trend actually came from: Loaded tea shops are often associated with the multilevel marketing company Herbalife, and operators of “nutrition clubs” slinging caffeinated loaded teas and protein shakes spoke out about how the MLM system works.
We love a random, low-stakes, celebrity food drama, and early this year, the internet turned on Katy Perry, who apparently bought a stake in Bragg Live Food Products, the maker of the iconic yellow-label apple cider vinegar, back in 2019. Vinegar fans on TikTok alleged that the product had been watered down or changed its formula since Perry’s acquisition; Bragg attributed any differences to natural variations in the product.
Where to Eat, which publishes at the top of the year, predicts the world’s next top dining destinations to inspire some armchair traveling. Manila, Albuquerque, and Asheville, North Carolina were among the 2023 locales.
Any coverage of the James Beard Awards, an annual celebration of America’s chefs and restaurants, is consistently a top Eater story (its semifinalist and finalist lists also cracked the top posts for the year). But it’s the final list of actual winners that readers flocked to the most, to celebrate and congratulate this year’s slate of medal recipients.
This one’s for the fine dining lovers. The reveal of the World’s 50 Best list for 2023 saw Central in Lima taking the top spot, with three restaurants in Spain — Disfrutar, Diverxo, and Asador Etxebarri — rounding out the top four.
Every year, the Eater team scours the country to identify the restaurants defining dining right now. This year’s list of 12 Best New Restaurants, which spans from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, reveals a current spirit of experimentation: There’s a tasting menu that started as a pop-up, a Saturdays-only barbecue joint, a Mexican brunch spot tucked into a brewery, and a daytime cafe/marketplace.
“There’s actually cocaine Coca Cola” is a fun fact that’s been in the ether forever, and Gastropod unpacked that history — and tons more — in its episode dedicated to the secret formula of the iconic soda. An additional bit of trivia from the episode: a chemical company in New Jersey currently (legally!) makes cocaine for Coke.
This movie starring Ralph Fiennes as a violently off-kilter fine dining chef came out in late 2022, but as audiences streamed the film throughout the year, more people asked: What in the actual hell was that ending? And does the unexpected final twist actually work? This is our attempt to explain.