This week the New York Times featured an article on the economically driven anxiety of restaurants this winter, stating, “In a season when diners have been ordering hamburger platters instead of T-bones, the stone-cold economy is a consuming preoccupation for most of the city’s 26,000 dining establishments.” Makes sense in the face of the perpetually diving Dow, right?

But in a blog post, San Francisco Chronicle restaurant critic Michael Bauer wonders if all the hand-wringing is unnecessary: “I know we’re supposed to be in a recession and many restaurants are beginning to feel the pain, but recently I’ve felt as if I was in the middle of rush hour … as I’ve gone about my job of eating out. All the places I’ve gone to have been packed.”

Of course, the crowds may be congregating at more modest, and modestly priced, restaurants. And Bauer does say, “I realize diners may be ordering less and spending less, and that things might slow down, but,” he continues, “in the Bay Area, we have our priorities straight. Dine tonight and worry about the economy tomorrow.”

So are we in a dining recession or not? Are the East and West coasts really that different? Or are both perspectives true? (From the sounds of the conversation on Chowhound, the answer is yes.) Do we even need the media to tell us these things?

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