The restaurant industry is experiencing a wave of new trends hitting menus this year. Dive into the latest to keep your offerings up to date and give revenue a jolt.
While sustainability, technology, immersive experiences, and plant-based options are all trending this year, consumers are interested in much more than eco-friendly packaging, mobile app ordering, and a pop-up here and there. Let’s take a deeper dive into the latest trends shaping menus.
Classics like Negroni sbagliatos, whiskey sours, apple martinis, and Cosmopolitans have returned to the spotlight this year. However, new trends have emerged that can revamp your beverage program. This year’s surprising favorite is a zesty mix of briny cocktails, made with pickle juice or clam juice; decked out with extravagant garnishes such as shrimp, crab legs, or oysters. Consider riding the wave of this trend by serving up a spicy Bloody Mary with Bay Winds® Lobster Claws and Old Bay® Seasoning.
And it’s not just booze that’s booming. Non-alcoholic drinks continue to boost profits in 2023. Mocktail sales are rising and include popular flavors such as cucumber, mango, flavored syrups, and green tea. New twists on tea and coffee are seeping into the scene, with yaupon tea and mushroom-infused coffee blends leading the charge.
While plant-based foods and healthier alternatives are blossoming on menus, comfort food is a perennial favorite, and became a go-to staple for consumers during the pandemic. And the trend has only grown. New takes on classic comfort food dishes, such as mac ‘n’ cheese with unique toppings, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, or breakfast cereal milkshakes are popping up on menus, and diners can’t get enough.
In a recent industry survey, more than 50% of consumers said they would like to see more comfort food options on menus. Top baked mac ‘n’ cheese with smoky brisket, spicy Buffalo sauce, and blue cheese, or top with fried chicken for a comfort dish no guest can resist.
New Fusion Flavors
While international flavors have been trending on menus for the last few years, consumers’ palates are changing fast, and they’re demanding even more unique flavors. This year, Ethiopian and Filipino foods are having their time in the spotlight. Filipino dishes like banana cue, (deep-fried, caramelized bananas served on skewers), and chicken adobo, often called the national dish of the Philippines, both make for delicious and cost-effective appetizers or snacks. Or consider offering Chicken Inasal, a classic sweet and spicy Filipino street food, featuring West Creek® Chicken Legs.
Ethiopian cuisine is known for its spicy and flavorful dishes, regularly served on a communal platter called injera, a sourdough flatbread made from teff flour. One of the most popular Ethiopian dishes, Doro Wat, is a stew made with a blend of spices, including berbere (a spice made with chili peppers, ginger, and other ingredients). Create your own take on the dish or consider making it authentic with West Creek Chicken Thighs, Peak® Ginger, and West Creek Chicken Stock.
With 56% of consumers wanting more international flavors on menus, adding options such as these can be a ticket to boosted sales.1
Old trends always come back again in one form or another. And this year, retro desserts are sweetening up menus all over. According to the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot Culinary Report, revamped classics like moon pies, housemade oatmeal cream pies, and Baked Alaska (the hottest dessert of the year)2 are having a resurgence.
You can pull in a wide demographic by serving up nostalgic desserts, either made traditionally or by putting your own modern spin on them. Consider using Nature’s Best® Ice Cream Mix for a decadent s'mores shake that can attract both the young and young at heart.
1. Nat Rest Association, Hot Culinary Trends Report, 2023
2. 2023 Trends Report – af&co and Carbonate