As the restaurant industry continues to have record year after record year, 2018 will open the door to more creativity in the kitchen. With increased competition, but also increased budgets, many chefs will be experimenting with new ingredients and different methods of service. Be on the lookout for foods you have never heard of and ethnic dishes you’ve never tried. Check out some of the menu items we think will be hot in 2018!
Sunchokes have been hitting farmer’s markets in recent years and are making their way into restaurants in 2018. If you aren’t familiar with them, sunchokes are a root vegetable of the sunflower family. Visually, they look a little bit like large ginger with their knots and light brown color. They are similar to potatoes, though, in flavor and in the way they are prepared. Almost anything you can do to a potato, you can do to a sunchoke - like roasting, mashing, and frying.
Sunchokes are low calorie and very fiber rich making them a popular side dish. Expect to see them served alongside red meat, chopped up raw to add texture to salads, and fried and seasoned as a savory appetizer. They are still not widely farmed though, so you will likely see them more in higher end restaurants this year.
Poke bowls, sushi bowls, and even breakfast bowls are going to be even bigger in 2018. A “bowl” is not quite a salad and not quite a traditional plated meal. Bowls usually combine a meat, a leafy green, a starch, and a few toppings and sauces. They are not as plant-based as a salad, but the contents are meant to be mixed up and enjoyed together. There are usually a variety of textures and temperatures to the ingredients in a good bowl.
Bowls are a great fast-casual menu item because of the way they are served. You don’t need to worry about carefully placing each dish in different compartments of a to-go container, or have to package everything separately. They can be dressed up though, with high-end ingredients like ahi tuna and kale. Bowls will likely increase in popularity in both the casual and fine dining worlds in 2018.
You might have tried Argentinian or Brazilian food in the last few years, and the new South American food making its way north is Peruvian. Peruvian food combines European influence with native plants and culinary traditions. Their staples include tubers, legumes, rice, and meats (both indigenous and European).
The most popular Peruvian dishes you will likely see as menu items in 2018 will be ceviche, Lomo Saltado, and a variety of quinoa dishes. Lomo Slatado, the Peruvian dish you have most likely heard of, combines hot chilis, strips of beef, onions, tomatoes, and French fries.
And a Peruvian cuisine probably best left in Peru? Fried guinea pig!
Healthy Kid’s Options
As the main-stream understanding of children’s nutrition has changed in the last few decades, kid’s menu items have been slowly catching up. In 2018, expect to see less fried food and more healthy options. Rather than having a completely different menu for children, many restaurants are offering small portions of their most popular dishes for kids, instead. Adults have been getting more delicious, healthy menu options, so why not the kids too?
2018 Menu Items
2018 will be a year of mixing culinary traditions with new ingredients and methods and service. As new menu items reach the trend setters, we are sure to see the most popular items trickle down to your local restaurants soon enough. What do you think will be hot in 2018?