9 Menu Items That Never Go out of Style

Waiter serving slider hamburger to woman dining with friends at restaurant table
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Menu trends come and go. What’s hot one year is shunned the next. Recall the nose-to-tail cooking trend of 2013.  Just like with fashion, people’s tastes change and evolve over time. It makes creating a sustainable restaurant menu all the trickier. How do you know what your customers will like, a year from now? Two years from now? The good news is that there are classic menu items that never go out of style: the burger, pizza, local foods, just to name a few. Like your favorite pair of blue jeans, these classic items can be updated with fashionable accessories like avocado, Sriracha or a side of kimchi. Pair them with artisan cocktails or hip microbrews, and you have a trendy menu item that can easily be updated to reflect consumers tastes.​


No matter if it is served tossed, cobb, or Caesar, salads never go out of style. Part of the allure of a salad is it is often perceived as the healthiest option on the menu (even if it isn’t).  Along with their menu staying power, salads offer great food cost and low labor cost, helping to keep restaurant profits up.  


Even upscale restaurants like Ai Fiori in New York and Sepia in Chicago feature burgers on the menu. The Little Black Dress of any restaurant menu. Burgers can be dressed up with avocado, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, even peanut butter or served plain jane.


Classic desserts like pie, cake, and crème Brulee have timeless appeal. If you don’t make desserts in-house, it’s easy to find premade ones that are of good quality.  Desserts can be tricky to sell – with so many people keeping an eye on their waistline.  One way to increase sales of desserts at your restaurant is to offer a contest for servers to see who can upsell the most during the week or month.

Beer & Wine

While trendy cocktails may come and go – Carrie Bradshaw and company are most likely drinking gin or shrubs nowadays, having long since moved on from Cosmos. Unlike hard liquor, beer and wine have a timeless, nearly universal appeal. You can dress up your restaurant’s selection of spirits with artisan microbrews and local vineyard varieties of wine.

Barbeque / Grilled Items

Consistently rated as a perennial favorite by the National Restaurant Associations Culinary Forecast, grilled food remains popular with diners.


As more and more people seek healthier options when they eat out, vegetables have moved from obligatory side dish to main entrée.

Local Foods

Local, homegrown foods have a timeless appeal. Millennial diners, especially like food with a story, and local foods provide just that. While perhaps more expensive to purchase than through a large food distributor, buying produce from nearby farms puts money back into the local economy.


Soup has never been overly trendy, but it’s always there when you look for it. Paired with a soup or salad, and you’ve got one of the most popular lunch items ever invented.  Easy to make from scratch with low overhead costs, soup should be on your restaurant menu.

House Specialties

Every menu should have a few core items that set you apart from the pack. Whatever it is that you do well at your restaurant, keep on doing it. If you are known for the best BBQ ribs in the area, those won’t go out of style. If homemade desserts put you on the local food map, keep making them. Every menu should have a few stand out specialties that make it unique.