10 Top Food Trends for 2018

Discover the dining trends that will change eating out in the coming year.

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Photo By: Merriman's Restaurant

Photo By: Max's Wine Dive, photo by Brian Hutson

Photo By: Hampton + Hudson

Photo By: The County Club, Lexington, Ky.

Photo By: Thai by Night

Photo By: St. Cecilia, stceciliaatl.com

Photo By: The Kitano Hotel

Photo By: Clay Pigeon Food and Drink, photo by Brian Hutson

Photo By: Aurora Inn Dining Room

Photo By: Sweet Auburn BBQ

Sustainable Seafood

What emerging trends and food movements can we expect to see in 2018? The National Restaurant Association and several top chefs foresee a number of exciting changes on the horizon including an increased emphasis on sustainable seafood. This means avoiding overfished species, questionable harvesting practices and damage to marine habitats in favor of local and responsibly-farmed and caught fish and seafood. One of the leaders in the movement is the Hawaii-based Merriman’s Restaurants which serve such delicacies as a fresh shellfish sampler (pictured). Another example is Saltyard in Atlanta which serves a wonderful appetizer of cornmeal blini, smoked cheese and University of Georgia caviar, sourced from a nearby sturgeon farm.

New Cuts of Meat

Instead of such traditional fare as New York Strip, ribeye and filet mignon, some steak restaurants are expanding their repertoire to include new cuts like Vegas Strip steak (cut from the cow’s shoulder area), Merlot cut (from the cow’s heel) and Bavette (the bottom part of sirloin known as flap meat). Max’s Wine Dive in Fort Worth, Texas, for example, offers such creative dishes as pastrami short rib sliders and a steak Caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, balsamic caramel, herb basil dressing and grilled butchers cut steak (pictured).

Vegetable-Centric Dishes

Chefs continue to find new and innovative ways to move vegetables to their menu's center stage as in this fall risotto bowl from Hampton + Hudson in Atlanta which is made with roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, fried kale, pumpkin seeds and smoky parsnip risotto.

House-Made Condiments

Some restaurants are finding it is more rewarding, economical and tasty to create their own in-house condiments to bring out the flavors in their main dishes such as County Club in Lexington, Kentucky (pictured) which offers a range of homemade sauces for their signature barbecue such as a sorghum-based sweet sauce, a smoked hot sauce and vinegar with chili flakes and sugar.

Asian Treats & Sweets

Asian-inspired cuisine has always been popular but a new trend is focusing on snacks and sweets in addition to favorite main entrees. A newcomer in this regard is Thai By Night in Canandaigua, New York which serves up fried banana wontons drizzled with local honey from the Finger Lakes.

Street Food Inspiration

Think of American street food and you might conjure up visions of hot dogs, soft pretzels and pizza. But in recent years international street food has grown in popularity and the variety and quality is extraordinary. A good example is this mouthwatering mixture of spiced chickpeas, fried parsley and lemon from Atlanta’s St. Cecilia restaurant or housemade horchata, a Mexican beverage made from rice or ground nuts and flavored with cinnamon and sugar, which is served at Superica locations in Atlanta.

International Breakfast Fare

Ever get tired of the traditional American breakfast of bacon, eggs, pancakes or cereal? Some diners are branching out and exploring new ways to start their day at restaurants which cater to more exotic breakfast offerings such as The Kitano Hotel in New York City where you can feast on grilled fish, miso soup, steamed rice, Asian pickles and seaweed (pictured). Kitty O’Shea's in Hilton Chicago features a lovely Irish brunch with almond whiskey buns, corned beef sandwiches and other delights while The Greenhouse at The Jefferson in Washington, D.C. serves healthy European choices like muesli (a Swiss granola) with Greek yogurt and fresh berries.

No-Waste Cooking Movement

Enterprising chefs and restaurants are continuing to learn new ways to utilize all of their ingredients, be it meat or vegetables, in ways that are winning rave reviews as with the smoked beef cheeks (pictured) and roasted bone marrow at Clay Pigeon Food and Drink in Fort Worth, Texas.

Flowers for Flavor Accents

Yes, you always knew that some flowers are edible but only in recent years have you seen them showing up more often on menus in salads, vegetable dishes and drinks like this enticing Purple Haze cocktail made with mescal, lemon and fresh lavender from the Aurora Inn Dining Room in Aurora, New York.

Social Media-Worthy Dishes

In this Instagram/Flickr/Pinterest age, diners love sharing photos of their culinary adventures with friends and restaurants are responding to this trend by creating more aesthetic specialty dishes that help advertise their chefs’ creativity like "Joni’s Campfire" cake, a crowd-pleasing dessert topped with flaming bourbon, from executive chef Cameron Floyd at Sweet Auburn Barbecue in Atlanta.

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