A recent New York Times article dove into AF&Co.'s food and hospitality trend report, which predicts what will be "on brand" for eating, drinking, and serving in the new year. Some of its findings:
- More Japanese influence, including soufflé pancakes and other street foods.
- More vegan dishes and plant-based alternatives, plus more Earth-friendly packaging.
- A higher occurrence of blue- and indigo-colored food on menus, with more sightings of Filipino favorite yam ube.
- Asian tea-shop influenced honey toast, along with hollowed-out bread items, will be gracing more pastry counters.
- CBD. Much more CBD.
- Flour made from cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables.
- Menus will transform as chefs learn more about the immigration stories of their own families.
How likely are these things to come true in 2020? The short answer: It'll vary. The long answer is that we can read tea leaves and comb through findings to come up with some broader thoughts on what might happen in the new year. Here are three I'm predicting:
1. The Philippines Is In
So, back to ube. The vibrant purple root vegetable native to the Philippines was a white-hot food item during 2019. Maybe it signals the beginning of a blue and indigo food craze, but to me, it's an indication that we're craving more Filipino.
Houston has a small but strong concentration of Filipino cuisine, but the incoming Be More Pacific, newcomer 7,000 Islands (via Click Virtual Food Hall), and popular Flip 'n Patties at Understory suggest there's room in fast-casual for pancit, Spam-ified meals, lumpia, and halo-halo with its ube ice cream.
2. It's Not All Booze
The CBD craze is certain to continue into 2020, and bartenders will surely continue to infuse their cocktails with a couple milligrams of the chemical compound. Really, it doesn't matter whether or not it's effective, because what we're really talking about with CBD is an additional tool for bars and restaurants to deliver experiences. Maybe a guest wants an alternative drink. Maybe a guest is curious. However the guest gets to the CBD drink, the point is that the guest gets there. Expect to see more bars take it on in 2020.
The same goes for zero-proof cocktails. With more and more millennials having families and reconsidering their alcohol consumption, it only makes sense that non-alcoholic options are more widely offered in bars and restaurants.
3. Continued Japanese Influence
There are now a handful of izakayas (or restaurants employing an izakaya theme) in the Houston area. Casual bar-first restaurants like Better Luck Tomorrow have sprouted up over the last few years. Hand-roll bars are now part of the scene, as of late 2019. Wildly popular Bravery Chef Hall offers more proof that people want to sit at a counter and talk to a chef, like they're at their own personal omakase meals. This is likely to continue as restaurateurs further break down the walls between themselves and customers.