7 Hot Restaurant Trends for 2010

By , SparkPeople Blogger
The National Restaurant Association was founded in 1919 and is the leading association for the restaurant industry.

The American Culinary Federation, Inc. was established in 1929 and is a premiere professional organization for culinarians in North America.

Recently the National Restaurant Association conducted its annual survey of more than 1,800 professional chefs who were members of the American Culinary Federation. Here are 7 hot, new restaurant trends to watch for in the coming year.

  1. Sustainability, local sourcing and nutrition - These three are expected to be the hottest culinary trends and themes in 2010. More and more restaurants will likely begin using locally grown produce as well as locally sourced meats and seafood. As I mentioned in a previous Food on the Run blog, Chipotle Mexican Grill leads the way in this trend and seems to be doing fairly well with their "food with integrity" model.
  2. Half-portions and smaller entrée portion sizes - It is exciting to think that restaurants are finally realizing that bigger is not always better. I hope they also realize more and more money literally walks out the door in the form of take out containers all day long as more and more of us become portion and nutrition conscious. More than likely, we will quickly see smaller portion sizes as well as lower entrée and meal prices that not only help our waistline but also our wallet as well as helping restaurants save money at the same time.
  3. Gluten-free and food-allergy conscious meals - With more and more individuals requiring allergen free options if they are to eat away from home, it isn't surprising to see that these made the hot trends list for the coming year.
  4. Exotic and 'super' fruits - Since reducing sodium is also an expectation for many restaurants, using more and more fruits seems like a logical trend. Fruits such as acai, goji berry, and mangosteen are possible super fruit choices we may begin seeing more of on menus as well as exotic fruits such as durian, passion fruit, dragon fruit, paw paw and guava fruits.
  5. Regional focused and ethnic cuisine - When we were in Hawaii last year, we expected and enjoyed wonderful regional focused cuisine with locally produced foods such as pineapple and Macadamia nuts. I suspect we will see more and more items appearing on menus using the locally grown and available all over the country in this same way. We may also see more specialty varieties of everyday items such as potatoes like purple, fingerling and Baby Dutch Yellow. Also, expect to see ethnic inspired items especially for breakfast cuisine like Asian-flavored syrups, chorizo scrambled eggs, or coconut milk pancakes.
  6. New alternative and inexpensive meat choices - Non-traditional fish choices such as branzino, barramundi and Arctic char will likely become more popular fish offerings. We can also expect to see newly fabricated cuts of meat such as Denver steaks, Petite Tender, and pork flat iron offered on menus in 2010 as well. Less expensive and underused cuts of meat such as beef cheek, brisket, pork shoulder and skirt steak will also likely begin headlining entrée offerings as well.
  7. Specialty beverages - Locally produced beer and wine will likely begin to make an appearance in restaurants in the coming year along with 'culinary cocktails' including savory and fresh ingredients. There will also be an increase in artisan, infused and flavored liquors and organic beers and wines. If you are more interested in non-alcoholic beverage options, watch for organic coffees and specialty-iced teas in addition to Southern or sweet tea such as Thai-style and other flavored teas.

    It is very important for restaurants to keep up with national food and beverage trends in order to develop the menu mix that patron's desire. Which of these hot trends for 2010 are most exciting for you?

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My experience is that smaller portions do not mean equally small prices. Report
I saw that Applebee's is now offering meals that are around 550 calories. I hope that other restaurants will do the same and/or provide the nutritional information for the meals on the menu.

It's great to hear that the restaurant industry is moving towards locally grown fruits. :) Report
I enjoyed the article and found it helpful ,informative and easy to understand.Thank you ! Report
I couldnít agree more with the trends you have mentioned. I have already seen many restaurants adopting such trends. There is this restaurant Graffiti that I visit often in the East Village in NYC; they already serve gluten-free alternatives in their menu. Added to that, the food there is served in smaller portions, which is already a great hit.

Of all the trends that have been predicted for next year, the one I am eagerly looking forward to is the ethnic influence in the dishes. Whoa! I love the way the exotic spices from different parts of the world add that extra zing to your food and make you yearn for more.

Some restaurants sure know what people want and people like me end up stumbling into the place just to have a stimulating experience of dining. Expect an Ďeclecticí year ahead. Report
Becoming aware of our responsibility as consumers FOR setting trends will ALWAYS result in changes, provided we realize responsibility requires following through on all fronts; refusing what is offered, letting restaurants know what we need/want, participating in activities and living by what we say we want, and doing the right thing, no matter how convenient a cop out may be. The customer really IS always right; so let's continue to support such sites as this, and make such choices as reflect our stated values.
I am all about smaller portions as long as the $$ goes down as well. I really love the idea of using locally grown foods which would mean much less additives needed to preserve the food resulting in better tasting fresh food. Report
All of these are good to hear, but I am especially excited that restaurants in my area will be using fresh locally produced foods...I've already seen this in a couple places. We can do our part too by buying local when entertaining, from produce to beverages. Report
I like the idea of resturants going to smaller portions. We have one restruant where I live that has started doing that, but they also do larger portions for those who want them. To me smaller is better. Report
I like the idea of local produce & smaller portions. I bet we see a few large chains close this year too. Report
That sounds good, but I'll have to wait to see if that really happens and how much of welcome do they get. Report
Eating out can be stressful when you have celiac or gluten intolerance. Chipotle Mexican is a breath of fresh air in my life. Great blog post! Thanks.

Allergen info for Chipotle: http://www.chipotle.com/Chipotle_Al
I would like smaller portions because although you can take half home I never do. Lower the price and give smaller portions or have on the menu small or large and price likewise. Report
some great trends to watch for in our area! Report
All sound good but I have one word.......AFFORDABLE?????????
ok, it's a question . Report
the skirt steak and the thai teas would appeal to me. Report
I love 1-3! I have Celiac Disease so no gluten for me but it's hard sometimes to get the server to understand the importance of needing Gluten Free food without cross contamination.
I had friends from out of town staying this week and we ate out a lot. I was impressed with Red Robin, we walked in 15 min before closing but they were still very helpful and once I said that I needed no gluten they went and printed out the GF menu for me.
Chipotle is always great once I say I have food allergies(actually auto-immune but tha'ts another story) about making my order is safe. There servings are NOT small but I'll make 2 -3 meals out of one bowl. Report
Smaller portions would be very nice, but I seriously doubt that the price will be reflected accordingly. I wish restaurants would stop beeing so frugal with the veggies. My salads usually look like an afterthought, that they expect will get thrown away anyway. My sides of veggies are like 1-2 Tbls big. Yet my husband gets fries with his meal that cover half his plate!! They never offer a spray butter and I always must ask for refills on my water while they usher glass after glass of Coke to my husband even tho he doesn't lift a finger. They just don't seem to get that there really ARE such people who are deeply concerned with what they eat. Report
I like the 100 mile rule for getting produce. The lighter meat alternatives also sound good. Thanks for the info. Report
I love Chipotle and would love to get my Chik burrito in half!! MMM!! Glad the nearest one is 30 miles away! Report
I'm waiting for more restuarants to have smaller portion sizes and also more exotic foods Report
I have problems with the current trend of adding items that aren't described - especially mango, which is often used as a garnish. I'm deathly allergic to mango, and have sent back numerous items - restaurants need to be aware of this and list sauces, coulis, garnishes, etc on the menu - especially when adding "exotic" items. Report
i moved to hilton head thinking o boy, fresh seafood. BUT they have never heard of half portions or senior sizes. seafood does not warm up so a doggie bag doesnt work. bummer. sure wish more resturants would get it. Report
Good to see my city is once again ahead of the game. Local Sourcing of foods has been "on the platter" in the Portland area for several years at many of the restaurants I go to, and I've been seeing all the other trends listed offered at many restaurants here for some time as well. Report
I'm always excited to see restaurants exploring new options and giving me the opportunity to try foods I wouldn't make at home. However what interests me most of all is the smaller portion sizes. I hate ordering food and feeling like I have to give half of it away or box it up for later. I feel like smaller portions could cut back on a lot of waste, and make eating out easier/healthier if you are trying to watch how much you eat. Report
If the industry follows through, these are all great trends! Making smaller portions available would be awesome. Sometimes I split with another table member, sometimes I take the leftovers home and get another two, three, sometimes even four meals out of the excess. But it would be nice to look at the nutritional info on some of those entrees, and not have my jaw drop into my lap because the numbers are so high -- but only because the portions are so huge. Give me a correctly-sized portion, and suddenly the calories and fat content seem much more reasonable.

Speaking of which: having the nutritional info available on the menus (or at least on demand) on-site would be an awesome trend I'd love to see! I'm getting tired of lugging my big book 'o nutrition printouts around in the car with me all the time... and then discovering they're out-of-date sometimes anyway. Report
I love the idea of smaller portions.... when going out we split our plate anyway... I know it sounds cheap but we are know at the restaurants so the servers don't mind.... maybe I won't look like such a cheap date... lol if they go smaller, healthier choices as long as the price isn't ridiculous... Report
It is great to hear that more restaurents will be doing local foods. Where I live in S.E. Ontario The restaurents have already been doing this. We can also buy local produce in the grocery store Report
I like all of these. It's great to know that restaurators listen to customers. Now, I don't mind ordering meals that I know will come in large portions because taking home the leftovers means another delicious meal, and one that I don't have to prepare! Some restaurants already offer a "large" and "small" option to their meals. Again, I take the large so I have leftovers.
As far as authentic food is concerned - yay! I would also like to see more authentic ethnic food. I find that some restaurants "Americanize" meals to make them appealing to a wider audience, which I can understand. Personally, I want truly authentic ethnic food. Report
I can't wait for these ideas to kick in because I rarely eat out now. Even with taking home 1/2 portions, you are left not knowing how much sodium, etc is in your food. Report
I'm most excited about #1 (locally grown foods and nutrition) and #2 (portion sizes). I want to eat healthy, properly portioned foods, even when I am dining out! Report
I like #1 and will have to go back and read your blog on Chipotle Mexican Grill. I've never been there, but have access to one and am excited to try it and support a company that follows their principles. Report
I'm glad that restaraunts are responding to the demand, both for healthier meals and smaller portions, and also to utilize local resources. Report
Can't wait for smaller portions and cost. I was raised to clean my plate, so this will help greatly Report
I have celiac and must eat gluten free. I'd be ecstatic if there were more than 2 or 3 options on a restaurant menu I could eat! I'd also love it if everyone in the food industry from restaurant hosts to servers to chefs were trained in how to meet special dietary needs safely and healthfully. Report
I'll have to say exotic and superfruits. That plate looks so inviting. Report
I like #2 as I have BF who thinks he has wasted his money if he doesn't scarf down every morsel. I would LOVE to see a trend where items in restaurants are truly low sodium. If they are going to trend towards using locally grown products, I would think they would need less doctoring up. Fresh is more flavorful. Or, to have a chef who is not afraid of alternative seasonings! I also love trend #7, my brother makes a good brew, and I have really enjoyed trying others home concoctions. We have a local company that has grown out of a basement--and they make truly good beers!!! Report
I love the pic of cut up fruit...I am sooo hungry for that platter Report
Definitely the SOLE food aspect - which is sort of in conflict w/ the exotic fruits and some of the ethnic cuisine. Hoping it extends to the seafood and meat trends, encouraging sustainable raising! Report
I am in Switzerland right now and it sounds to me that we in the United States are getting some of these ideas from restaurants in Europe. I like these ideas...especially the smaller portion size...let's just hope that they lower the PRICE with the size of the portion. Report
I'd like waitstaff to become more familiar with the food they serve. I'm violently lactose intolerant, and I've broken toilets in nice restaurants because the food that was supposedly dairy-free was not. Report
I'd like to see DIABETIC friendly foods, vegetarian foods available. Report
I have seen these treads increasing over the past few years in the DC area. The lower sodium thing may be happening in some of the more alternative, vegetarian-types of restaurants, I donít see it fine dining or the typical casual places. Not that I can afford fine dining, I just happen to sell products to them. I am especially happy to see more and more locally produced food being offered. As far as Chipotle is concerned, I do like their concept and I love the veggie burrito bol, but it has 91% of a healthy personís maximum recommended amount of sodium. I hope everyone will log on to their website and look at the sodium content of your favorite foods. Then make a comment. They wonít change anything unless they hear from millions of people.


p.s. to PICKIE98 Ė be cool, nobody said you have to go to any restaurants. Truthfully, it really is best to prepare your own food. Thatís the best way to have control over what you eat, a lot cheaper too. But millions eat out every day and itís nice to see positive changes taking place in the industry : ) Report
These trends all sound positive. I would especially like to be able to order smaller portions. Report
I would like to see more vegetable choices for sides with the entree. Last time I went out to eat I ordered 2 servings of broccoli because I didn't want French fries or a loaded baked potato. While I like broccoli I would have appreciated having the choice of another vegetable. Report
I love it when restaurants source their food as locally as possible. That's a little tougher here in Wisconsin, where it can be almost impossible to get local vegetables in the winter. But as much local food as possible is great.

I'm happy with smaller portion sizes, especially if it's fabulous food. I find it's the chains that tend to go crazy with portions. Their food may be tasty, but it's not usually fabulous. I take my own containers and take some home with me.

But when I go to a great restaurant, where real thought and care have gone into my meal, where it's served at a leisurely pace, smaller portions are ok because a small portion of GREAT food is more satisfying than a huge portion of fair to pretty good food.

I echo the comments about wishing for reduced sodium, though. Report
I recently ate at Carraba's and was delighted to see they are now offering some of their entrees in smaller portions. But, as several others have noted here, the price is not that much smaller. My personal choice is to order something healthy and eat half (or less) of it and take the rest home for another meal. I'm glad to see restaurants are beginning to see the portions don't need to be gigantic. Now if they'll just cut the sodium and use local products....... Report
I guess they aren't that exciting to me because I'm inclined to believe they will be expensive for a long time. I prefer to eat at home. Report
I usually take home at least half my portions....but rarely eat those take homes. Most foods just aren't good reheated. So, I would love to have smaller portions at smaller prices. Report
NOne of these "Trends" appeal to me, nor attract me to a dining establishment.

They could be serving dollar bills on a stick, but if they continue to hold out on the sugar free, low fat, low sodium foodstuffs on this planet, then I will be tipping the best server I know:ME! My butt will be in my seat, not theirs! Report
If you love good beef try beefmaster it is lean and has less fat we had some im mo. this year and i don't think I have ever tasted any meat better. IT is too bad more states are selling it yet if you taste it your hooked I know there is a ranch outside springfield mo that raises the meat but don't know if you can order it Report
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