Year End Dining Trends

As January 2020 comes to a close we wanted to put out one last 2019 trends report. People remember the songs, movies and fashion statements that defined the year, but what about the food trends?  Here’s a look back at the most important food moments of 2019 and a look forward to what may come in 2020.

2019 Trends

grilled chicken sandwich shot from eye level

Chicken Sandwiches

Did you hear that Popeye’s unveiled a chicken sandwich this year?  A twitter feud kicked off by Chick-fil-A fueled a nationwide craze for the chicken sandwiches.  Popeye’s ran out of sandwiches, but like any good viral brand, restocked a few months later.  Demand has settled down, but some chains are still trying to ride the wave.

Young woman with apron celebrating a victory

Female-led Kitchens

Although the industry is still dominated by men, women are making their mark.  Chefs like Missy Robbins, Angie Mar and Niki Nakayama aren’t new on the scene, but they’re getting some extra recognition after the shock waves of #MeToo scandals are still being felt.  Although there’s a long way to go, eleven of the restaurants in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list are led by women.

Close-up of unrecognizable woman cutting loaf of bread.

House-Baked Bread

You know you love the bread basket when you go out to eat.   Restaurants are upping the ante; gone are the days of free bread.  At the best new restaurants, such as Hearthside in Collingswood, NJ and Rezdora in NYC, bread is served warm, grilled and for a price.  But freshly baked bread is priceless, am I right?

Canned Cocktails

While a specialty cocktail list will always be on trend, canned cocktails made a splash in 2019.  Spiked seltzer had its moment; now it’s time for canned cocktails to shine.  Some even taste good!


So “Dry January” is a thing now.  Instead of losing out on sales, restaurants have added non-alcoholic mixed drinks to their menus – popular with teetotalers and pregnant women alike.


2020 Trends Predictions

MORGANTOWN, WV – 8 October 2019: Packaging for Impossible Foods burger made from plants on steel background

Socially-Conscious Cuisine

If the last decade was all about house-blend burgers, the next decade will be devoted to anti-burgers.  Impossible Foods, aka meatless substitutes for your favorite carnivorous delights, are popping up all over.  Since plant-based diets are better for the environment, expect to see this trend stick around awhile.

Italian housewife ironing clothes, smoking cigarette and drinking wine. Housework concept. Modern mother. A lot of copy space.

Domestic Wines

With European wine being slapped with 100% tariffs, expect to see a rise in domestically-focused wine lists.  To avoid raising prices on imported wines, restaurants can start offering a broader selection of American wines for customers to explore.

Hemp oil, CBD chemical formula, Cannabis oil in pipette and hemp seeds in a wooden spoon, Medical herb concept


I agree with what Robert Davis predicted in his trend report – CBD will be hot in 2020.  As marijuana is legalized in more and more states, CBD is an even more approachable alternative.

Veggie Crust Pizza

Trader Joe’s started selling pizza crusts made from kale, cauliflower and butternut squash.  Eating pizza that’s a little more guilt-free is an absolute dream, so I see this trend catching on quickly.

White single use plastic in garbage bin on yellow background.
Concept of Recycling plastic. Flat lay, top view

Plastic Reduction

I wrote a piece about plastic reduction last April, and the revolt against single-use plastics is still raging on.  Look for a drop in plastic straw and plastic bag usage.  Restaurants that embrace the anti-plastic movement will be praised for their environmental consciousness.



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