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13 Trends in Restaurant Food Service for 2013

Restaurant food service news predicts what we’ll see on menus in the year ahead


Americans eat 40% of their meals away from home, so trends in restaurant food service is news we should all be interested in. From fine dining to fast food, there are always changes being made to the menus. As we sample and adopt some of the new options being offered, our own diets gradually change, too.

Remember the first time you sampled a portabella mushroom, sushi, or cage-free chicken?

Some of the changes we can expect to see this year are cost-driven, as less expensive foods replace those whose prices are going up. Other changes will be driven by this year's top health and diet concerns, while others are inspired by chefs looking to create something new for their most adventurous customers willing to eat just about anything.

After researching all of the predictions by the people in the know, I compiled my own list of restaurant trends we can expect this year to complement my earlier post about food trends for 2013. There is some overlap in what we'll be preparing at home and ordering off menus, but overall it promises to be another year of extraordinary eating!

13 Restaurant News & Food Service Trends for 2013                                        

  1. Big breakfasts aren't just for weekends. The most important meal of the day is catching on as a way to eat well for less than the cost of a lunch or dinner out. More protein will be seen on menus along with the eggs, such as beef and ham steaks, sausage and chorizo, and salmon and crab.
  2. Vegetables move beyond salads and side dishes. We'll see more innovative uses of vegetables as entrees, such as cauliflower steak, without necessarily being part of a meat-free meal.
  3. Kid's menus get grown-up treatment. There'll be real fish in those tacos and a wholesome whole grains in the buns surrounding the sliders, and all of it will be much more nutritious than standard kid's fare.
  4. Small plates will be enough for adults. Tapas-style eating will allow you to order some fish or meat, vegetables and starch to make the right-sized meal for any appetite.
  5. Popcorn will be the snack-turned-garnish that is served with everything from soup to ice cream. The beauty of this whole grain is that it can be dusted with any flavor to complement a meal or be a great stand alone snack.
  6. Apps and iPads in the dining room. We'd all like to see fewer cell phones in use when dining, but using a smart phone app or tablet computer to peruse the menu and place your order is technology that's on its way.
  7. The complete cow makes the grade. Butchers will be busy making cuts of meat from parts of the cow you've never heard of and salvaging more organ meats that have never been in the dining room before.                                                                                     
  8. Special requests aren't just the motto at Burger King. You can "have it your way" as more restaurants are prepared to honor gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, or whatever else it takes to keep you happy and satisfied.
  9. "Nex-Mex" Food from the Southern Hemisphere is traveling north. This year we'll be moving beyond Mexican cuisine to the flavors and dishes of Argentina, Brazil and Chile.
  10. Adult beverages minus the alcohol make a splash. Specialty cocktails will feature herbs and exotic nectars while distilled ciders and homemade sodas appear on tap.
  11. Sustainable seafood is catching on. Just like knowing where your eggs were laid, cows were milked and tomatoes were harvested, diners can expect to know where the catch of the day was actually caught.
  12. "Know your grower" menu descriptions help sell food. Customers can help support local farmers, cheese-makers, bakers and other providers of sustainable and artisanal foods when they see their wares being advertised on the menu.
  13. Family-style take-out lets you eat out at home.  You'll find special menus in some restaurants for foods you can order in quantity and pick-up packaged with instructions for you to reheat and serve.

What restaurant food service news do you wish was on this list?