Restaurants from New York City to California are always fine-tuning the food they serve, adopting a variety of trends to impress diners in 2012.
<b>Breakfast All Day</b><br>At <a href="http://www.bad-burger.com/">B.A.D. Burger</a> in New York City, the B.A.D. stands for "burgers/breakfast all day" -- a perk that's on the radar of many foodies. Open 24/7, this comfort-food joint serves up classic breakfast options (steak and eggs, anyone?), as well as vegan alternatives (such as shroom burgers), for cravings from dusk till dawn -- and beyond.
<b>Bread Upon Request</b><br>There's nothing quite like warm bread right out of the oven, and many restaurants are catching on to the idea. At <a href="http://fishtailscafe.com/">Fishtails Café</a> in Newport, OR, the bread is baked fresh daily. So are the muffins, biscuits and pies.
<b>Sustainable Food</b><br>At <a href="http://trianglecharandbar.com/">Triangle Char and Bar</a> in Mount Pleasant, SC, the ingredients are homegrown and sustainable. The head chef has developed relationships with area farmers and bakers to provide the freshest bar food around, such as burgers made from local grass-fed beef.
<b>Small Portions</b><br>Tapas, antojitos, small plates -- call them what you will, but this trend isn't leaving the culinary scene anytime soon. Restaurants such as <a href="http://www.oyamel.com">Oyamel</a>, a Mexican eatery in Washington, DC, are giving patrons the opportunity to taste many different plates at once.
<b>Spicy Food</b><br>Part of the fun of dining out is getting the chance to taste cuisines from around the world -- especially spicy ones. If you’re looking for watery eyes and beads of sweat on your brow, head to new Thai restaurant <a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/31/1621245/restaurant/Mount-Vernon-Mid-Town/Stang-of-Siam-Baltimore">Stang of Siam</a> in Baltimore for its drunken noodles.
<b>Menu Narratives</b><br>Menus can showcase a chef's vision for the food he prepares. At <a href="http://www.picanrestaurant.com/">Pican</a> restaurant in Oakland, CA, the menu tells the story of Southern culinary traditions; it includes complimentary corn bread and a comprehensive bourbon guide.
<b>Veggies for Dessert</b><br>A few restaurants are surprising diners with vegetable-themed desserts. <a href="http://www.delposto.com">Del Posto</a> in New York City proudly serves celery sorbet with a fig sweet-and sour-sauce, giving patrons a great excuse to eat dessert first.
<b>Mobile Technology</b><br>Restaurateurs are seeing the advantages of finding technology at their tables. <a href="http://www.larkcreek.com/">Lark Creek Steak</a> in California uses tablet computers to display its menu. Diners can see photos of the farm where their steak was sourced and what it will look like when it arrives tableside.
<b>Fine Dining Burgers</b><br>A burger can be so much more than fast food. With locations in Georgia and Alabama, Top Chef's Richard Blais's <a href="http://www.flipburgerboutique.com">Flip Burger Boutique</a> artfully crafts burgers with toppings such as pomegranate ketchup, seared foie gras and cucumber relish -- not all together, of course.
<b>Fine Dining… for Kids</b><br>Fine dining no longer has to exclude the kids. High-end French country restaurant <a href="http://www.seldelaterre.com">Sel de la Terre</a> in Boston offers a kids' menu, with choices such as chicken fingers or grilled cheese with pommes frites. Mom and dad no longer have to sacrifice fine dining for family-friendly fare.