The new year is fast upon us, making it a time of reflection but also a time of looking forward.
So what does 2023 hold in terms of the food and restaurant scene? According to the the National Restaurant Association, in partnership with the American Culinary Federation and Technomic, diners are eager to return to the sense of community — the socialization, celebration and culinary exploration — that restaurants provide.
They’re also — pardon the pun — hungry to connect over shared meals that can’t easily be replicated at home. Trending global flavors that are predicted to entice customers include Southeast Asian and Caribbean cuisines and comfort foods with a twist.
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Inflation, however, continues to shift consumer spending habits. So while there’s a heightened appetite for restaurant experiences and connection, diners are laser focused on finding value. “The challenge,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association, “is how to fuse consumer desires for the new and trendy with their expectations for price paid.”
With ingredient costs expected to remain high in 2023, restaurant operators are looking to streamline menus and create dishes with new ingredients to preserve value.
Convenience is also top of mind, with delivery, curbside pickup, counter pickup, and drive-thru one facet of the business that is predicted to remain strong due, especially as remote work has effectively dissolved traditional meal and work times.
Also predicted to be popular in the new year: handheld items such as French toast sticks and chicken and waffle sandwiches.
The report’s top 10 predictions for 2023 include:
- Experiences/local culture and community (read about New Rochelle’s Union Avenue here)
- Fried chicken sandwiches and chicken sandwiches 3.0 (i.e., spicy and sweet-heat fusion flavors on chicken, etc.)
- Charcuterie boards (we wrote about the rise here)
- Comfort fare (nostalgic food spots here)
- Flatbread sandwiches/healthier wraps
- Menu streamlining
- Sriracha variations
- Globally inspired salads
- Zero waste/Sustainability/Upcycled foods
- Southeast Asian cuisines (Vietnamese, Singaporean, Philippine, etc.)