“Stay on the lookout for more chefs introducing the versatile rotisserie chicken — easy on operations and the wallet and perfect for delivery and takeout,” AF&Co., said, pointing out that fried chicken and chicken sandwiches also are being embraced as affordable comfort food suitable for stressful times.
Coined by Danny Meyer to describe Shake Shack, AF&Co., says, “Think upscale counter-service — and even table service — with curated ingredients and unexpected touches like a wine bar and optional tasting menu.”
3. Israeli cuisine
AF&Co., calls this the “cuisine of the year,” with restaurants such as Zahav in Philadelphia and Shaya in New Orleans getting national acclaim. “From shakshuka at brunch to sumac-spiced [doughnuts] for dessert, Israeli flavors are deep and vibrant, lending themselves well to both savory and sweet applications,” the PR and consulting firm said.
4. Colorful food
“The more photo-friendly your food, the better,” AF&Co., said, which means there will be more items like Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino in the offing in 2018, as well as pastel colored ice creams, edible flowers and black charcoal lemonade.
Creative use of waste
AF&Co. cites ice cream maker Salt & Straw, which uses leftover popcorn from the Roxie Theater in San Francisco in one of its flavors, as an example of drawing attention while also cutting down on waste.
6. Vegetable entrées
Expect more main courses such as rotisserie cauliflower, jackfruit tacos and hominy ceviche in the coming year, AF&Co. said.
7. Contemporary regional Mexican and Chinese
New takes on dishes specific to one of Mexico’s 31 states or their sub-regions can be expected as chefs take deeper dives into the cuisines of our neighbors to the south. The same is true with Chinese cuisine, AF&Co., said, pointing to cuisine specific to Shandong province and Beijing.
Goat Hill Pizza
Both local and regional specialties, like Detroit-style pizza which currently enjoys popularity in New York City, and globally inspired pies topped with Asian ingredients, can be expected in 2018, AF&Co., said.
9. Nostalgic foods
Cookie Dough Parlor
Chicken nuggets, potato tots, Pop Rocks, edible cookie dough and more “are showing up in unexpectedly refined places,” said AF&Co. The company also pointed to a resurgence in upscale meat loaf, deviled eggs, crudités and more.
10. Jewish-style deli
AF&Co. said delicatessens featuring corned beef, pastrami, smoked fish and more are opening all over the country.
High-end no-alcohol drinks
House-made sodas, fresh juices and other booze-free drinks, often with health claims, are helping to drive up check averages.
“Farm to shaker”
Cocktails with kitchen byproducts, such as beet trimmings and leftover fruit, are becoming more widespread.
13. Adjacent wine bars
Restaurants are taking over neighboring spaces, or dividing existing ones, to add wine bars with limited menus that allow guests to stop by for a drink and/or bite without committing to a full meal.
14. Cold brew 2.0
Hillside Supper Club
Expect cold brew coffee to be augmented with flavor ranging from hazelnut to lavender.
Tequila’s smoky cousin is showing up in more cocktails, AF&Co. said.