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5 restaurant trends to watch in 2018

The restaurant industry changes so quickly that if you miss one trend, there are another 10 waiting in the wings (which can be both a blessing and a curse). This year is no different, so here’s a peek at some of the can’t-miss trends to watch for in 2018.

1. Savory flavor boosters at breakfast

While syrupy sweetness and berry toppings are two characteristics are breakfast mainstays, savory options are quickly emerging as the newest member of the breakfast club. Bowl meals, breakfast meats and global flavors all lend well to savory breakfasts.

For instance, diners can expect to see savory oatmeal and bean-topped grain bowls, uniquely flavored sausages and ethnic-inspired dishes such as shakshuka or chilaquiles on the menu at their favorite breakfast restaurants this year. As for what types of savory flavors are gaining traction, be on the lookout for cotija cheese, blue cheese, Caesar, Cajun, sriracha, and pecorino—these are all trending up, according to Technomic’s 2017 Breakfastreport.

2. Asian island cuisine

Filipino food has been on the rise for a few months now, and in 2018, more operations will likely experiment with other Pacific and Asian island cuisines such as Indonesian, Mayalsian and Singaporean.

Where Sriracha has thrived in the past, sambal will begin appearing more and more—mentions of this spicy condiment are already up 11% year-over-year, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor. Lime is a prominent flavor in these cuisines, and Filipino adobo will likely increase in notoriety. Malaysian and Indonesian foods to look out for include satay—seasoned, skewered and grilled meat served with a sauce—and bakso, a savory meatball soup.

3. Ordering automation  

Self-ordering kiosks and at-the-table ordering are expected to become more commonplace as labor costs rise and operations look for ways to optimize employees’ time. Self-ordering kiosks speed up lines, and at-the-table ordering offers a sense of immediacy to diners, rather than having to wait for a server’s attention. At-the-table ordering also offers the potential of increased check averages, since there’s no waiting to order drinks, apps or desserts—three categories that diners may waver on if they have spare time to do so.

4. Better-for-you kids meals

As finding healthier options becomes more and more important to consumers, kids menus will need to respond. Some chains are already taking steps in this direction. For instance, Smashburger offers grilled chicken strips as part of its kids menu, while Burger King offers its BK Fresh Apple Fries (peeled apple slices) as a side instead of traditional French fries.

Interestingly, instances of satay are up 56% year-over-year on kids menus, according to MenuMonitor—a convergence of the better-for-you and Asian island trends.

5. Plant-based dining

Finally, expect to see even more plant-based dining—this 2017 trend is keeping momentum. Plant-based options are popping up across menus and a heavier focus is on making vegetables the star of the show, rather than just a side to a meat-analog main. This could be perhaps due to consumers’ increased consumption of veggies—41% of consumers say they're eating more vegetables than last year, according to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian report.

Additionally, expect to see more unique plant-based items on menus, like Romanesco broccoli, burgers made from beets and cashew-based “cheese” sauces.

This post is sponsored by Bush’s Best®

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