The MT dining guide 

Sure, times have been tough. For our last several years, we've been watching the initial tweaks our talented entrepreneurs have dreamed up to keep diners coming in. And it's been challenging. Dining out is one of the first things people tighten their belts on, and, with recent fuel shocks, the price of running a restaurant has gone way up. Yet we've seen cut prices, special deals, altered menus and cheaper choices galore.

But as the slump sticks around longer than we'd like, is it possible we're seeing some lasting changes in the way we dine? Our research suggests as much, showing that we're still going out to eat, but in different ways than we used to. And that's not all bad news. It's tough going, but the restaurants that adapt to these changing tastes are going to be rewarded — big time. 

No, dining isn't dying; it's changing. Less formal, more casual. Less dinner, more breakfast. Less lunch and more happy hour. Less big food and more small, slow and local food. And, in many ways, it's a journey to the heart of comfort food, a return to fundamentals. Less jet-set, more old-Chevrolet set.

And so we dove in, talking to restaurateurs who are switching it up, changing concepts, appealing to diners by giving them exactly what they're willing to pay for. The news ain't all bad. In fact, some of it's surprisingly tasty.

Puttin' off the ritz
by Michael Jackman

Why 2009 is the year you can have your haute cuisine and your hoodie too

Working the room
by Michael Jackman

A musing on chefs who press the flesh

A fresh niche
by Michael Jackman

Farm-fresh dining on the grow

Your guide to dining
by Michael Jackman

Michael Jackman is a writer and copy editor for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected]

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