Popular Menu Items and Trends
Popular Menu Items Among Customers
Food is a lot like fashion. Items may be popular for a short time or may exist indefinitely. To keep customers interested, it's important to determine what popular foods your menu is going to feature. Food trends such as locally grown or organic food will continue to influence menus for years to come. While not every classic menu item will fit every restaurant concept, incorporating a few items into your menu can increase customer appeal. Also, classic food doesn’t equate to boring food, as there are many ways to introduce old favorites in new ways.
Classic Comfort Food
Meatloaf, shepherd's pie, pot roast and gravy, and macaroni and cheese have been featured on restaurant menus for decades. Customers are offered the experience of dining on comforting, home-cooked food that they do not have to prepare themselves. The mass appeal of these savory, filling foods isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon, even with the growing focus on healthier eating options at restaurants.
Locally Grown Food
In recent years, locally grown food offered at restaurants has gained in popularity, especially among an increasing number of health-conscious people. Often called "farm-to-table," this local food lets consumers know the origin and quality of the food they are eating.
The hamburger is one of the world's most popular foods. It can be served plain or dressed up to suit a variety of tastes. One of the world’s most expensive burgers was sold by a New York City food truck, which featured a $666 gourmet burger, topped with foie gras, caviar, lobster, truffles, and aged gruyere cheese. Even the fast food chain Wendy's in Japan created a $16 gourmet burger that was topped with lobster, caviar, foie gras, and truffle sauce.
Pizza is another menu favorite that can be served plain with cheese and tomato sauce or topped with a variety of items. Traditional toppings include, pepperoni, sausage, and vegetables; while more trendy toppings include buffalo chicken, french fries, and salad. For those with more expensive tastes, there are gourmet pizzas available that feature truffles, caviar, gold, and diamonds. Generally, pizza is a low cost, easily prepared menu item that is well suited for a casual dinner any night of the week.
Olive oil has been touted in recent years for its health benefits. Of course, Mediterraneans have known this for centuries. Just as pizza has taken a foothold in the United States, cooking with olive oil and serving it as a condiment or dipping sauce has become common in many restaurants.
Healthy Kid Menu Options
A popular trend that is likely to remain is healthy menu options for children. Fast food chains now offer many healthy food options such as grilled chicken wraps, yogurt, and apple slices. Think of ways to update your own children's menu, so it appeals to parents as well as to kids. It should balance popular kids' foods with nutritious alternatives that parents will appreciate.
Fruit pies continue to be a popular staple on dessert menus everywhere. To dress up a simple pie, bakeries and restaurants are offering decadent fillings and toppings. For a nice change, try sweet potato meringue pie or berry apple-butter pie.
Salads have long been featured on menus as an appetizer, main course, or side dish. Salads appeal to customers looking to eat a healthy light meal or something quick. They have evolved from iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes to exotic selections featuring everything from truffles to caviar.
Eggs are extremely versatile and can be offered in many ways as a breakfast or brunch item. They can be served plain or dressed up by adding fillings or toppings. Eggs can also play a role in lunch and dinner menus. Quiche or eggs Benedict are two popular dishes that can be served anytime of the day.
Americans love their beer, and craft breweries continue to grow in the United States. Depending on your restaurant concept, a solid beer menu can increase customer interest.
Menu trends come and go for most restaurants. What's hot one year may be a food fad the next year. But certain trends, such as healthier food options, will most likely continue into the future. In light of these trends, it is important to make sure your restaurant menu stays fresh and appealing to customers to encourage repeat visits.