Many conversations surrounding 2023 restaurant menu trends seem to focus on quirky and bizarre ingredient combinations or TikTok influencers. However, when it comes time to order food from a menu, what are diners excited to order? In a nutshell, diners want their food choices to feel good: physically, emotionally, and even ethically. Here are five restaurant menu trends that showcase how restaurants are creatively meeting the consumer demand for wellness and sustainability:
- Plant-based Options Shift.
- Drinks Come to Center Stage.
- Gut-Health Gets Delicious.
- Asian and African Cuisines Reign.
- No-Waste Popularizes Unique Dishes.
Plant-based Options Shift
Despite the recent investments in lab-grown meat, Beyond Meat’s flat growth has shown that consumers have cooled down on the hype, and cost, of imitation meat. However, the health, environmental, and ethical concerns surrounding meat are still on the minds of many diners. Menus are offering more dishes that completely skip the idea of animal protein and put plant-based ingredients in the spotlight. Dishes featuring lentils, mushrooms, and unique grains provide the bulk of the protein and can keep diners full and satisfied at a lower price.
Drinks Come to Center Stage
The balance of food and beverage in restaurants is shifting. Beverage options quickly became the focal point of many menus this year. Established trends like “mocktails”, kombucha, and cold-brew coffee have converged to give drink selections a prominent place on menus. This has given restaurant operators far more options in upselling and attracting new business outside of peak meal hours.
Gut-Health Gets Delicious
Gut health has recently been highlighted for its many effects on cardiovascular, immune-system, and metabolic functions: and the wellness community is listening. Health-conscious consumers are shunning fads like keto diets and cleanses and enjoying gut-healthy menu items with big flavors, like turmeric, ginger, kimchi, and kombucha. Many of these can be easily incorporated into both food and beverage menus and happen to merge perfectly with popular international flavor infusions.
Asian and African Cuisines Reign
Infusing global flavors into menus is nothing new to the restaurant industry. It is only a matter of identifying the hottest cuisines of the moment. African and Japanese cuisines (naturally gut-healthy and less meat oriented) are all the rage. Flavors like miso, yuzu, and dates are popping up on menus everywhere.
No-Waste Popularizes Unique Dishes.
Supply chain issues are still putting financial and operational strain on restaurants. Chefs are finding ways to incorporate more of each ingredient into menus. Fried chicken skins, house-made stock from vegetable scraps, and juice from leftover fruit have become focal points of many menus. And consequently, diners love the creativity and thoughtfulness of menu items that aim to use more of an ingredient and produce less food waste.
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