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2013 Hot Trends for Restaurant Menus

Menu Trends From the National Restaurant Association


2013 Hot Trends for Restaurant Menus

Burgers are one menu trend with staying power.

Beverly Taz
The National restaurant Association (NRA) released its annual What’s Hot Survey, which outlines upcoming menu trends for the coming year. Each year the National Restaurant Association polls 1800 professional chefs on various menu trends, including ingredients, cooking styles, technology. Along with What’s Hot, the survey rates items as outdated (yesterday’s news) or a classic (perennial favorite). For 2013, locally sourced meats, seafood and produce are the most popular trends. Healthy kid’s meals, environmental sustainability and gluten free foods are among the other hot trends on this year’s list. Falling into the territory of food fads include bacon flavored dishes, frothy drinks and bottled waters.

Top Hot Trends for 2013

For the third year in a row, locally sourced meats, seafood and produce top the list of What’s Hot. The complete top 10 hot menu trends include:

Locally sourced meats and seafood
Locally grown produce
Healthful kids meals
Environmental sustainability
Children’s nutrition as a culinary theme
New cuts of meat (i.e. Denver steak, pork flat iron, teres major)
Hyper-local sourcing (such as restaurant gardens)
Gluten free cuisine
Sustainable seafood
Whole grain items in kids meals

Yesterday’s News for 2013

These menu trends are viewed by the majority as old hat.

Froth/foam/air (say goodbye to cappuccino, if you haven’t already.)
Gazpacho (cold soup can only stick around for so long)
Fun shaped children’s items (anything processed and molded into a smiley face or dinosaur shape probably isn’t all that healthy.)
Mini-burgers and sliders – note that this was among a top trend as recently as 2010.
Flavored/enhanced waters
Bacon flavored chocolate
Flavored popcorn
Fish collars –In case you haven’t heard of this term, it refers to the piece of meat that is right behind the gills and includes the pectoral fins. Fish collars are popular in Asia, but not so much in the US.
Desserts with bacon

Perennial Favorites for 2013

The perennial favorites list includes both menu items and types of cuisine. Many of the items of rated as menu keepers can be served plain (think comfort food) or dressed up a bit. And all of them offer good food cost, making them ideal menu choices for today’s economy.

Italian cuisine
Hamburgers/cheeseburgers (little black dress of a menu, can be dressed up or served plain, and people always love them.)
Egg dishes – a bonus because they are usually cheap to make.
Fresh toast – like a burger, French toast can be served traditionally, with maple syrup or stuffed, powered, and deep fried (or sometimes all three.)
Barbeque – A uniquely American cuisine that will likely never go out of style.
Fruit desserts – Seasonal swap ups keep dessert menus from going stale.
Comfort foods – think Mac and cheese, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, apple pie.
Grilling – A versatile way of cooking any number of foods.
Milkshakes (note, I am not going to reference any boys coming to the yard.)
Mexican cuisine – Not too long ago Mexican foods like salsa, quesadillas, refried beans and picante sauce were considered exotic, definitely a hot trend in their heyday. Today Mexican cuisine has become as American as Apple pie.

Other Trends for Restaurants

Technology trends include iPads and tablets for ordering, smart phone apps and pay-at-table options. For dealing with the rising cost of menu ingredients, 25% of chefs polled recommended adjusting plate composition and another 24% recommended exploring new sourcing options – in other words, start shopping around and stop relying solely on one food distributor. Increasing menu prices as a way to combat rising food costs was recommended by only 4% of chefs.

So, there you have it- what to expect in 2013. Now is a good time to review your restaurant menu and see what’s hot and what’s not.

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