Whether you’re in the supermarket or scrolling TikTok, there are some food trends that are impossible to ignore. (See: butter boards, tinned fish and Barbie everything.) More subtle are the food trends that start and flourish in restaurants. Have you noticed an unlikely vegetable on the cocktail menu at every happy hour you attend? Or that every aioli seems to be spiked with a particular ingredient in place of usual black truffles or roasted garlic? Maybe it’s the unique-yet-familiar feather chandelier you’ve been seeing at every new eatery in your city. Well, if you haven’t noticed any of those things, don’t worry: We have. Read on for nine restaurant trends that we suspect to reign this summer.
1. Casual Caviar
“I feel like it’s suddenly an option to add a ‘bump’ of caviar to an appetizer,” says senior food editor Katherine Gillen. How many people are actually paying for a tiny mound of fish eggs to top their avocado toast, especially in this economy? Who knows. But restaurants are offering the option nonetheless.
We’ve also clocked more casual approaches to the stereotypically fancy food, which we couldn’t love more. At Rye in Dallas, Texas, a transparent potato chip (yup, it’s a thing) topped with caviar, crème fraîche and chives is served as an amuse bouche for their chef’s tasting menu. At all three Nami Nori locations in NYC and New Jersey, you can order the crispy rice chips and dip with 35 grams of roe and onion cream for $34. Our favorite application is at Prime Bistro, located in Morehead City on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. The osetra caviar is locally sourced from Marshallberg Farm, where they sustainably raise and harvest their own sturgeon for eggs and meat. It’s paired with chives, dill, crème fraiche, red onion and Pringles.
2. Celery Cocktails
Yes, mocktails are still all the rage, but we’ve been noticing an unlikely ingredient on cocktail menus across the country: celery. Celery juice, celery seed and celery bitters are becoming much more commonplace in libations. Could it be due to an increased collective interest in plant-based eating and health? Perhaps—celery juice has been trending in wellness circles for nearly a decade. But these drinks are not your almond mom’s green juice. We thoroughly enjoyed the vegetal nature of the Blurred Limes cocktail at Rye in Dallas, Texas, made with dill-infused tequila, cucumber, aloe, lime and celery bitters. There’s also a botanical garden bloody, made with celery bitters and celery salt, available at Saints + Council’s brunch in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as a cocktail made with mezcal, celery juice, lemon, ginger and agave at Botanica in Los Angeles, California.
3. Slushy Drinks (That Are *Actually* Boozy)
Ah, blended cocktails: They make us feel like we’re on vacation…but we need two or three of them to get a buzz going, and that can be a tall order, given how filling they are. Luckily, there are plenty of places with slushy drinks that are actually worth the spend. The bar at Southern Table in Westchester County, New York is reminiscent of real-deal Tex-Mex joints that are incomplete without a slushy machine whirring behind the counter. The frozen rum punch at Brooklyn’s Branded Saloon goes down dangerously smooth, and the half-margarita, half-wine Frozé from the newly opened SOL Mexican Cocina in Flatiron is sure to loosen you up at first sip.
4. Esquites > Elotes
Things we love: elotes, AKA Mexican street corn. Things we hate: picking corn kernels out of our teeth at the dinner table. Maybe this is why easy-to-eat esquites, which is basically an elote served off the cob in a cup or bowl, has become such a popular side dish on the East coast. (Mexican restaurants on the West coast, like Taco Mesa’s locations in California and Chilango PDX in Portland, Oregon, have been onto esquites for a while.) In NYC, we’ve enjoyed the dish at IXTA on the Lower East Side, where local corn is mixed with turmeric, Parmesan, ancho ashes and a lemon emulsion, and at Amigo in the East Village, where esquites is served with queso fresco, Manchego, cilantro and serrano pepper.
5. Pickle Martinis
The espresso martini is shaking in her glass over this low-brow riff. Pickles, which were well into their second renaissance by the end of 2022, are being utilized by NYC mixologists across the boroughs. At Mono + Mono in the East Village, you can try one made with house-aged pine soju. At Maison Pickle on the Upper West Side, there’s a dry gin martini made with house pickle brine, orange cream citrate and pickled peppers on the menu. And at Chez Zou in Midtown West, you can try both a saffron-infused Gibson finished with house pickles anda Champagne-topped pickle spritz.
Maybe it seems unappealing to you, but we’d argue that pickles’ brininess makes them a stellar substitute for traditional olives. Plus, a pickle martini must be better than pickle-flavored Mountain Dew, right?
6. Feathers on Feathers on Feathers
While there are still plenty of faux vertical gardens adorned with cheeky neon signs (you may have noticed both in one of the mansions featured on the latest season of Selling Sunset, the sign reading “I Licked It So It’s Mine”), large, ostrich-style feathers seem to be the moment in terms of décor. “Animal prints and bird motifs are everywhere right now,” says assistant editor and interior design expert Sydney Meister. Perhaps that’s why we’ve been seeing feather chandeliers, lamps and wallpapers in new and old restos alike. (For instance, at Fat Rabbit in Brooklyn, Reyna in Union Square and Lexy’s in Dallas, Texas.)
7. Black Garlic Everything
Daria Bulgakova/Getty Images
This isn’t necessarily a new trend (Bon Appetit called chefs’ penchant for the stuff back in 2016), but we can’t help but notice black garlic everywhere in many forms. For the uninitiated, black garlic is regular garlic that’s strategically aged until the cloves turn black and sticky. It tastes umami-rich, sweet and earthy, minus the bite raw garlic is known for. At Upland in NYC, black garlic is the star accoutrement for the angus skirt steak, complete with romesco and onions. At Philly’s A.Kitchen + Bar, black garlic vinegar is drizzled over buttermilk fried veal sweetbreads with roasted strawberries and whipped chevre. You’ll also find it in the aioli on the Eve bison burger at Eve Fremont in Seattle, Washington, as well as at California’s Ramen Mura, where black garlic oil is drizzled over their signature noodles. (Trader Joe’s also sells it dried, in case your daily egg scramble needs a pick-me-up.)
8. Surprise-and-Delight Cocktail Presentations
“I recently went to Bohemien Bar in Brooklyn and was blown away by the variety of barware,” shares senior editor of special projects Rachel Bowie. “I sipped my French 75-inspired drink (the Birdy Num Num, a mix of gin, sugar snap pea, jasmine tea, peach and cava) from a birdy glass that I went home and researched; I discovered that it’s all the rage in Tokyo.”
We’ve also noticed that unconventionally packaged smoked drinks are gaining traction, like the mezcal-based Veldt at Eden Bar aboard the Celebrity Beyond cruise ship, which comes in a moss-lined wooden box, and the Smoking Treasure Chest batch cocktail from the TikTok-famous Gin Lane in Sydney, Australia.
9. Cash Is King (Again)
MoMo Productions/Getty Images
Does it feel like every restaurant (and bagel shop and café and nail salon…) is charging you an extra 3 percent for paying with a card? Even if they frame it as a “discount” for paying cash, it seems we’re spending more than ever on a meal out. We’re also being asked to tip for everything and anything, including black coffee, bottled water and packaged snacks. Inflation has caused prices to soar for consumers and business owners alike; pair that with revamped post-pandemic tipping etiquette (25 percent is the new 20 percent) and it adds up, fast. We want servers and restauranteurs to be paid what they deserve, but we wouldn’t hate to see this trend fade.
Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.