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This Summer’s Hottest Restaurant Trends

This Summer’s Hottest Restaurant Trends


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People love dining out… and people love summer! But most of all, people love dining out in summer: almost half of all U.S. diners report they eat out the most during the sunny, warm season. Are you curious about this summer’s (and year’s) hottest restaurant trends? We have the know-how!

With more than 1 million restaurant locations in the country, and annual sales of $799 billion, the restaurant industry is booming – and constantly changing. We read the “What’s Hot” forecast from the National Restaurant Association, which surveys American Culinary Federation (ACF) chefs, and will save you some time by sharing some of the top trends – check them out below.

Even mainstream breweries, like Lagunitas, are incorporating cannabis into their beverages.

1. Cannabis-Infused Food & Beverages

A whopping 76% and 77% of chefs ranked cannabis-infused food and drinks as the first and second most popular trends this year, respectively. Why? They say the infused goods have the potential to create unique cuisine opportunities and new markets for experiential dining experiences.

This number-one trend comes as the cannabis industry overall is growing rapidly – it’s predicted that the global legal cannabis market will be worth $63.5 billion by 2024. (If you’re looking to cash in on the cannabis industry, be sure to download our free guide).

2. Zero-Waste Meals

Waste not, want not: 70% of surveyed chefs reported zero-waste meals as the third biggest trend this year. In general, eco-friendly products are thriving, and this carries over into the culinary world, as well.

So, what exactly is zero-waste? It’s food that’s focused on using food scraps, damaged produce, and leftovers to create delicious dishes. These foods, like coffee grind-flavored ice cream and cabbage butt stir fries, take what chefs used to throw away and make them into crave-worthy, guilt-free crowd-pleasers. Plant-based menu items are also a current hot trend (veggie “meat” products, we’re looking at you).

International menu items are having a moment right now, like “gazoz,” or Israeli soda. Source:

3. Globally Inspired Dishes for the Whole Family

It probably comes as no surprise that global foods are popular right now – but what might surprise you is which cultures’ cuisines are having a moment, and who the meals are for.

According to the report, the most popular cuisines right now are from North, West, and East Africa, as well as foods such as Israeli soda (gazoz), Thai-rolled ice cream, and shakshuka. And if you think American kids only like chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, think again: the number-one trend for kids’ meals this year is global flavors!

4. Hyper-Local Items

Next up on the list of hot restaurant trends is hyper-locally sourced items, or items that are essentially cultivated by the restaurant itself. You may notice this is similar to #2 in that it seems today’s consumers care more about where their foods come from, and how they are sourced. Hyper-local items that are popular now include locally-sourced produce, meat, seafood, and spirits/wine/beer. In particular, on-site barrel-aged drinks are the second most popular trend in the Alcoholic Beverages category.

Which Trends are Fading?

According to surveyed chefs, overnight oats, anise-flavored cocktails, novel cuts of meat, and desserts that feature pretzels are all not-so-hip anymore.

Download the full report now to learn about top restaurant trends by category (produce, dishes, condiments, kids’ meals, snacks/sweets, and more).

One thing that won’t fade out like other restaurant trends is the receipt. Discover when (and why) receipts are critical, as well as the value in both printed and digital receipts, now!

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