1. Local Foods. Local foods convey health, better taste and offer good marketing potential on restaurant menus. Plus buying local keeps your money in your community. Local foods do offer some challenges. Fresh fruit and vegetables are not available all year round in many areas, making it hard to include them on a set menu. However, this encourages a rotating menu of specials, allowing chefs to flex their creative muscles. And remember, local foods extend beyond produce. They include meat, poultry, seafood, baked goods, and even desserts. Read more about why restaurants should buy local.
2. Healthy Foods. Dovetailing nicely with local foods, healthy food trends are on the rise as more and more people demand healthy as well as tasty options when they dine out. Healthy menu items are replacing all-you-can eat buffets and food porn like the 5lb burger or Breakfast Fortress. Does that mean you should cut French fries and onion rings off your pub menu? No. But you should consider adding low-fat, low-calorie options like lean cuts of meat and poultry, fish and smaller portion sizes (at smaller prices).
3. House Made Items. In-house (hyper-local, if you will) produced foods like cheese, ice cream or beer, have greater appeal than industrially produced goods. Offering a house specialty also makes your restaurant stand out from the competition. No idea how to make cheese or ice cream from scratch? No room for a brewery? Try selling homemade desserts, like pies, crumbles or cakes. After all, it’s all in how you market the dish.
4. New Cuts of Meat and Fish. While filet of beef, pork chops and halibut will undoubtedly remain popular for years to come, today you can pique diner’s interest with newer cuts of meat and fish that are currently popular like Denver steak, pork flat iron or Arctic char. One of the reasons many people like to eat out is to try new foods, especially those they can’t reproduce at home.
5. Gluten Free Foods. Whether it’s an allergy or a health conscious choice, more people than ever are opting for gluten free diets. There are many health benefits to going gluten free and it also serves as an opportunity to experiment with alternative cooking ingredients like amaranth, cassava flour and rice flour.
6. Comfort Foods. While not really a trend, considering comfort foods have been around for decades, you can add your own signature to a dish and dress them up. How about macaroni and cheese with fresh lobster meat or meatloaf topped with truffle gravy? Familiar doesn’t have to be boring.
7. Local Beer and Wine. Just like local foods, local alcohol has the same appeal. The amount of micro-brewed beers and small vineyard wines consumed in restaurants continues to grow. Local spirits, made in small batches, offer distinctive flavors and aromas that appeal to many beer and wine connoisseurs.
8. Traditional Spirits and Cocktails. Scotch, bourbon, vodka and gin have ageless appeal, whether served on the rocks or mixed in a martini, old fashion or cosmopolitan.
9. Pie. The beauty of pie is that anything can go into one. It can be a fresh fruit dessert, decadent chocolate torte, or a savory mincemeat dish. People love pie in all its form. As with comfort food, you can customize this universal dessert, making it unique to your restaurant. Check out these 10 classic food trends for restaurants.
10. Exotic Grains. Remember when whole wheat pasta was the most exotic starch available? Today ethnic grains from all over the world have gone mainstream , including teff from Ethiopia, cassava from parts of Africa, and amaranth, a gluten free cooking staple.