Let the restaurant trend forecast season begin

Filipino cuisine is the cuisine of the year, according to AF&Co. and Carbonate. / Photo courtesy of Daniel Beck

Consumers are looking for nostalgia, global flavors and a great experience.

This is what the marketing and public relations firm AF&Co predicts. and creative services agency Carbonate. For 15 years, the companies have released an annual restaurant trends report that highlights the flavors, dishes and innovations that are grabbing attention across the country.

The next report presentation is scheduled for Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. Pacific. The webinar is open to industry professionals.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights for 2022 and what’s to come:

Food City of the Year: Austin, Texas

Long known for its beef brisket, Austin’s restaurant scene is gaining more and more attention. Local multi-concept operator Emmer & Rye Hospitality Group opens Caribbean concept Canje. Chef Brad McDonald opened the Nido rooftop concept at The Loren hotel. And New York bar concept Dead Rabbit lands in Austin.

Food of the Year: Filipino

Jollibee plans to expand 300 units across the United States, and independent restaurants like Abaca in San Francisco, Lasita in Los Angeles and Kasama in Chicago are gaining national attention. RB columnist Nancy Kruse wrote about the trend this week.

Hottest Dish of the Year: Maitake

These mushrooms replace grilled portobellos as an alternative to meat in the center of the plate. At Hartley Kitchen & Cocktails in Atlanta, for example, chicken fried mushrooms are served with ranch dressing.

baked alaska

Baked Alaska at Lord’s in New York. /Photograph courtesy of Evan Sung.

baked alaska

This retro dessert goes through regular cycles, but now it’s back as restaurants seek more post-pandemic theatrical presentations to entice diners. Here’s Baked Alaska at Lord’s, which recently opened in New York and offers retro English dishes.

fermented foods

Noma’s “new Nordic” lives on thanks to the popularity of fermented ingredients like koji, made from fermenting rice, barley or soybeans. Fermentation gives a flavor boost appearing throughout the menu, even at the bar.

Nigerian cuisine

Multi-ethnic influences contribute to the rich and varied Nigerian cuisine which includes dishes like Jollof Rice. At the new Tatiana at Lincoln Center in New York, Kwame Onwuachi offers Nigerian Egusi soup dumplings, for example.

Two-digit tasting menus

With inflation threatening to curb restaurant traffic, some chefs are offering more affordable tasting menus. At Rabbit in New York, for example, a 12-course raw vegan menu costs $75.

Coastal Cocktails

Look for the flavors of the sea in cocktails, like An Affair To Remember at Tao Group Hospitality’s Cathedral in New York, which is served garnished with a raw oyster and caviar.

avocado cocktail

The Bravocado cocktail at Bluestem in San Francisco./Photo courtesy of Kelly Puleio.

Avocado cocktails

Guacamole is part of the margarita mix with this trend bringing creamy avocado to the bar. At Bluestem in San Francisco, the Bravocado features aged rum, Cointreau, citrus, herbs and avocado.

Salted egg yolk

Declaring this the next pumpkin spice, salted egg yolk is popular in Asia and is now appearing more on American menus. The sweet and creamy flavor is rich in umami. At regular Pho-cific time in Seattle, for example, it’s served like Vietnamese egg coffee in cocktail form.


This cute Malaysian treat can be sweet or savory, but always colorful. Made with gelatinous rice, it appears at Austin Kuih Co. in Austin and Bungkus Bagus in Los Angeles.

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