Photo: Grub Street

While 2020 was a catastrophic year for restaurants, 2021 gave us reasons for at least some level of renewed optimism. Long-shuttered businesses reopened, and we all started to (carefully) return to the places and experiences we’d been missing. In turn, we ran into an entirely fresh set of problems: staffing woes, ingredient shortages, and even masking etiquette in the age of partial vaccination.

On Grub Street, we asked ourselves big questions (When a neighborhood begins to gentrify, what does it mean for longtime residents?) and small questions that had surprisingly big answers (Why is it suddenly so hard to find bucatini?) in an effort to make sense of this new way in which we work, eat, and have fun. Are things back to “normal”? Certainly not, and 2021’s most-read stories offer a look back through a truly peculiar year filled with highs, lows, and far too many espresso martinis.


20. Horchoffee Is Both Delicious and Divisive

Photo: Melissa Hom

As the horchata-coffee hybrid’s popularity grows, so does the controversy around its origins. Read the story ➽


19. How to (Legally) Smoke Marijuana in New York City

Photo: Olena Ruban/Getty Images

Crucial service journalism. Read the story ➽


18. Why It’s So Hard for Restaurants to Hire Workers Right Now

Photo: Gabriela Bhaskar/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A career server on why the prevailing narrative rang false. Read the story ➽


17. Disco Is Back

Photo: Poupay Jutharat

A night at the door with the legendary bouncer. Read the story ➽


16. The Wild Domestic Subversion of @CheeseDaily

Photo: Maggie Shannon

Betrayal. Revenge. Bomb-ass sandwiches. Read the story


15. New York Grocery Stores Are Uniquely Weird. That’s Why They’re Important.

Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Of course they’re mediocre, and that’s sort of the whole point. Read the story ➽


14. A Hot New Restaurant Moved In. That Made Its Neighbors Nervous.

Photo: Christian Rodriguez

A gentrification battle erupts in Ridgewood. Read the story ➽

The Grub Street Diet

13. Elizabeth Bruenig Is Already in Fall Mode

Illustration: Margalit Cutler

“I wolfed down the last Pumpkin & Spice Siggi’s while flipping pancakes for the kids.” Read the story ➽


12. Can We Fix America’s Food-Appropriation Problem?

Illustration: Frankie Huang

If you’re only focused on the outrage, you’re missing the point. Read the story ➽


11. ‘No More Espresso Martinis!’

Photo: Kim Patrick P. Aguirre/Getty Images

Why bartenders hate the hottest drink on the planet. Read the story ➽


10. Keith McNally, to Go

Photo: Hannah Whitaker by New York Magazine

The post-COVID, post-Manhattan plans of the most Manhattan of restaurateurs. Read the story ➽


9. 5 Big Reasons the Delivery ‘Boom’ May Soon Go Bust

Photo: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Are the third-party delivery platforms actually in trouble? Read the story ➽

The Grub Street Diet

8. Leon Neyfakh Always Waits Too Long to Eat

Illustration: Elly Rodgers

“Not to be dramatic, but this is something I genuinely hate about myself.” Read the story ➽

The Grub Street Diet

7. Ronan Farrow Wants to Order a Side of Lox

Illustration: Ryan Inzana

“I missed lunch because a very angry lawyer was attempting to persuade me that I could not disclose private communications between government officials, which is not how journalism or the First Amendment works.” Read the story ➽


6. The Return of Restaurants

Photo: Dina Litovsky

No takeout, no pasta kits, just 66 of the best new (or newly relevant) places to eat. Read the story ➽


5. Whole Milk Mounts Its Triumphant Comeback

Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

“Hot girls are ditching the alternatives and are going back to basics.” Read the story ➽


4. De Cecco Finally Reveals What the Heck Is Going On With Its Bucatini

Photo: Melissa Hom

“It’s always a good thing to know who your enemies are.” Read the story ➽

Green Rush

3. Million Dollar Slice

Photo: Jessica Pettway

Can the Pizza Pusha survive pot legalization? Read the story ➽

The Grub Street Diet

2. Sarah Jessica Parker Misses Restaurants So Much It Hurts

Illustration: Ryan Inzana

“One of the greatest gifts in New York is the discovery of everywhere else.” Read the story ➽


1. What the Hole Is Going On?

Photo: Melissa Hom

The very real, totally bizarre bucatini shortage of 2020. Read the story ➽