Chorizo, Cholulah, Sriracha. Just a few years ago uttering these names at a restaurant would have got you blank stares in most parts of the county. Now these food items practically make up the under 40 crowd’s daily diet.
Food lovers are finicky. What is flavorful and exciting one year can become tiresome and expected the next. Our taste buds have short attention spans and restauranteurs know they have to stay ahead of the game to keep us dining out.
So what trends are hot for 2017? Here’s what’s on the menu according to the National Restaurant Association.
What’s this sudden poké craze all about? Enjoyed by the Hawaiian puka-shell-wearing, surfing set since the 70s, poke fits with our current love of healthy, customizable foods. In 2016 we learned we were saying it incorrectly (pronounced poke-eh). This year, we’re learning whether we like salmon, tuna, yellowtail or albacore poké and whether we like it with ponzu sauce or a spicy aioli, with brown rice, kale or smashed avocado—or pretty much a thousand other variations offered by an increasing number of poké restaurants around the country.
2. House-made charcuterie
Making your own charcuterie is no easy order. While the standard charcuterie plate has always popped up with the appetizers menu, it’s offering of salamis and pâtés rarely excited. As diners increasingly hold restaurants accountable for their ethics, more chefs are turning to old classics to showcase their ability to stay modern and source locally.
3. Street food-inspired dishes
Street food is often at the center of understanding a culture, history, people and place. These flavorful bites are often, quick, local comfort foods made with generations old recipes, and Americans especially love the portability. This year look for shawarma from the middle-east, chile con carne tacos from Mexico, pork and shrimp summer rolls from Vietnam, Indonesian chicken satay and more.
4. Food halls
Food halls are a relatively new experience for the States, but the shared community dining experience and outdoor food courts give nod to the desirable European way of life that has been going on for centuries. Meander through a variety of food offerings all in one location. Grab poke from one vendor, pho from another or kimchi from yet another. Say goodbye to meal-time indecision and boring dining experiences.
If you’re still thinking of Ramen as the hard noodle puck you would submerge in water and heat in a dirty college microwave, you’ve been missing out. The Japanese staple has since spread around American cities, inspiring chefs to create inventive broths, proteins and garnishes.
6. Breakfast burritos/tacos
You can pretty much wrap anything in a tortilla. Pair that with consumers who aren’t afraid to experiment with new flavor combinations and condiments, and you have a booming segment ripe for culinary creativity.
7. House-made condiments
Forget the ketchup and mayo. Diners are looking for unique condiments that make their meal a new experience. Freshness is also on trend, and that semi-slimy bottle of ketchup sitting off to the side does not scream health. Diners are appreciating homemade original flavors like fresh orange juice-fennel vinaigrette (Recipe below).
8. Lumberjack breakfast/fry-up
Not finding much joy in sunrise kale and quinoa? In resistance to trending health foods, in steps the lumberjack breakfast—a hearty meal of pork sausage, cheese, hash browns, eggs and a few sparse veggies depending on your preference. Make a casserole, use a slow-cooker or keep ingredients separate.
- 5 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 3 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon crushed toasted fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine first 6 ingredients using whisk. Gradually drizzle in olive oil while continuing to whisk. Pour over your choice of greens.