Food and Dining Trends- 2nd Half of 2023

Girl Dinner

So, I reported about Food Trends in January of 2023, but I’m doing another one- midway through 2023- because the nature of Trends is they change quickly.

During the Pandemic the one thing I really missed was dining out. The thrill of getting dressed up, being seated at a table, enjoying the ambiance, anticipating a good meal, being waited on! All were so missed, I told myself I would never take Dining Out for granted again. So many things have changed because of the Pandemic and that, of course, includes Dining Out.

So these first five trends have to do with that exact topic.

  1. Needing a Credit Card to hold a restaurant reservation. I’ve encountered this over and over again and while a little aggravating, it makes sense. Restaurants, especially high-end ones, need to know how many diners they’ll be having in order to purchase food and secure staffing. The margins are so close for profits for many restaurants, that the more information they have, the better.
  2. Charging for Bread. The first time I had to pay eight dollars for Bread (and the table ordered two!) I almost choked on it. That was a year ago and now, I barely blink, when I see Bread on the menu as a charge. In fact, when my husband and I went to an Oyster Bar (The Walrus and the Carpenter) in Seattle and I saw a bowl of whipped butter, next to some thick slices of sourdough bread on the front counter, I insisted we order it. Bread, while not inherently expensive, is labor-intensive. Anyone (including moi) who attempted to make Sour Dough Bread in the Pandemic can testify to this fact. It’s worth every penny!

3. No more QR Codes. According to an article I recently read in the New York Times, QR Codes are being shown the door. While they were a life-saver (literally) during the Pandemic, I still craved a real, paper (or leather or plastic), honest-to-goodness menu. I don’t think there’s a death knoll for these yet (I still encounter plenty), but they are falling out of favor, especially with us old timers, the Baby Boomers.

4. Automatic Gratuity. While some restaurants have always routinely charged automatic gratuity, it seems to be happening more and more frequently. Unfortunately, servers don’t always give you the heads-up on this little fact. So the moral of this story is: Check your bill, carefully.

5.Buffets are Back. I remember a time during the Pandemic when I wondered if the free-for-all that are Buffets, would ever return. They seem so… vulnerable and susceptible to germs. But Buffets are back and in a big way. I just returned from Las Vegas, where we sampled the Buffet at our hotel- The Wynn. It featured everything from stacks of crab legs and Asian dim sum, to a ferris wheel of ice cream flavors. A glutton’s delight.

6. Freeze Dried Candies. Maybe it’s the survivalist mentality of having survived the Pandemic, but apparently Freeze Dried Candies are in vogue. Think your favorite sweets (like Peach Gummy Rings or Skittles), but freeze dried. I tried some I got for my grandson; they are hard, crunchy and void of moisture. Kind of like a candy cheese doodle. I don’t get it, but he liked it.

7. Hot Honey. This has been trending for a while, but picking up steam with more than Mike’s Hot Honey available. I’ve seen Hot Honey at Seattle’s Pike’s Market, as well as at local Farmer’s Markets. Hot Honey is good on Pizza (especially Pepperoni), drizzled on cheese, put in salad dressings or on whipped feta dip.

8. Crispy Rice. While I’ve always found this dish delicious (at Nobu and Makato), it’s now trending as a make-it-home dish. The crunchy rice, contrasts with the creamy tuna or salmon, to make for one yummy bite-full. Apparently there’s a Tik Toker named Zachary Neman (@cheffinwithzac), that shows home cooks how to accomplish this culinary delight.

9. Pistachios. There always seems to be a “Nut Du Jour”, and that nut now is Pistachios. Whether in Pesto, on Pizza or in a myriad of desserts, this little, green Mediterranean gem is having it’s close-up. We’ve made a pizza at home called the GOAT, which has Goat Cheese, Pistachio Pesto, Mozzarella, fresh Rosemary and Truffle Honey with chopped Pistachios on top. It’s to die for and the pistachios make it truly, the greatest.

10. Dirty Martini Everything. While we’ve all heard of Dirty Martinis, this trend has jumped to Pastas, Salads and Dips. The secret ingredient, of course, is olive juice. Why not?

    11. Tinned Fish. This Tik Tok trend is so popular, Tinned Fish is selling out a grocery stores. On Tik Tok, Danille Matzon offers 2-3 ingredient recipes with tinned fish like tuna, anchovies and sardines. And Ali Hooke posted a Tik Tok on Tin Fish Date Night that went viral. I don’t normally think of greasy fish and date night together, but ok.

    12. Girl Dinner. This trend may have started on Tik Tok but it’s transitioned to mainstream consciousness. Even KFC is offering Girl Dinners on its menu and it’s all sides. To me, it’s something I might eat when I’m alone and want to put zero effort into dinner. Recently, for Girl Dinner, I “made” sliced Toscano Cheese with truffle honey drizzled on top, bread slices, whipped butter, pepperoni slices, dried apricot, fresh blueberries, sliced mango and nuts, with a glass of Rose wine. In my mind (and taste buds)- perfection! Girl Dinner could be anything low effort, but trends toward the charcuterie-style meal.

    13. Tequila and Mescal Tequila is having a moment. It’s had significant growth in bars and restaurants, due to the fact that it’s Natural and Low in Calories, two things consumers appreciate. Although drinks like Margaritas and Palomas are known for using tequila, it’s also shaking up drinks like Negronis and Old Fashioneds. Drinking it neat or with soda water are two other easy options. Tequila, by the way, is a type of Mescal.

    That’s all for Now Folks! Until 2024.

    Published by gleeguilford

    Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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