Grubhub’s midyear report ranks the top trending foods for 2021

The “State of the Plate” looks at how diners ate their way through the last six months, including a top 10 list of most popular foods and a forecast of what's ahead.
Grubhub graphics
Photo courtesy of Grubhub

Grubhub released its third “State of the Plate” report on Wednesday, taking a look at how and what consumers ate over the last six months.

The report delved into hundreds of thousands of delivery orders to identify the top trending foods, beverages and restaurants during the first half of 2021. The analysis also offers a glimpse into what to expect as we move into the next six months of the year.

Looking back at the top 10 trending foods to date, there’s a noticeable shift toward plant-based options and global flavors. Coming in at No. 1 is a plant-based sausage wrap, up 549% year over year. The birria taco—a taco filled with adobo-stewed beef or goat—has a large foodie following, accounting for its 500% growth in orders.

Grubhub Top foods

Consumers’ love of Latin flavors also showed up in the churro waffle (up 339%) and beef empanada (up 333%), but Asian food and drinks experienced growth, too. In the No. 2 spot is bubble milk tea (up 505%), with spicy miso tonkotsu ramen (up 354%) and Korean barbecue cauliflower wings (up 302%) not too far behind.

Although the Nashville hot chicken sandwich made the cut at No. 9. (up 327%), last year’s popular but mild-flavored fried chicken sandwich didn’t.

But that doesn’t mean customers have given up on homey comfort foods. Southern side dishes also moved up in the 2021 ranking. Cajun fries (up 630%) and red beans and rice (612%) led the pack.

The report also details local favorites in urban markets including New York City (toasted Monte Cristo panini), Houston (smoked mac and cheese) and Los Angeles (beef barbacoa taco). In Chicago, the deep-dish capital of the country, orders of thin crust pepperoni pizza increased by 694%.  

Moving into the next six months, Grubhub forecasts that items including loaded chicken nachos, watermelon slushies and an heirloom tomato salad will trend upward during summer, while fall could bring a surge in vegan mapo tofu, cookie and cream milkshakes and a truffle mushroom Swiss burger.

Grubhub's "State of the Plate" report is based on trends gathered from tens of millions of orders on the Grubhub platform. Order trends detail the rise in popularity of food items placed by Grubhub diners from January-June 2021, as compared to the same time frame in 2020.

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