Food Trends We Boldly Predict for 2017

BY: Charles Austin | Jan 4, 2017

In the beginning days of any new year, most people obsess over setting goals, joining gyms, and curing hangovers. Diehard foodies, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about anything but scoping out the latest food trends. So with the help of some of the country’s top restaurants on Groupon, our editors set out to forecast a few food and drink crazes sure to take 2017 by storm.

Veggies as comfort food

What it is: Carrots, zucchini, beets, spinach—the usual suspects. But in this case, these fresh ingredients are stepping in for richer, heavier foods.

Why it’s interesting: More people are opting for beer-battered greens or broccoli-and-daikon tacos over those big ol’ bowls of mac 'n' cheese. With bold flavors, creative presentations, and innate health benefits, it’s no wonder these used-to-be sides have risen to entree status.

Where we’ve spotted it: Naturally, this trend confirms what vegetarian restaurants have known all along: plants rule. Places to start include Mana Food Bar and Ground Control in Chicago and Conscious Cravings in Austin.

Nitro cold-brew coffee

What it is: On-tap cold-brew coffee infused with nitrogen bubbles, which lend the traditionally bitter drink a creamy flavor and texture without a drop of half-and-half or witchcraft. If you drink beers like Guinness, you’re probably already familiar with the basic concept.

Why it’s interesting: You can enjoy a creamier coffee without adding any extra fat. That means less time in the gym and more time at your favorite café.

Where we’ve spotted it: Dozens of Chicago coffee shops, including Bow Truss in Logan Square and Goddess and the Baker in the Loop, offer these frothy brews. Even Starbucks recently hopped aboard this trend.

Delivery-only restaurants

What it is: The latest way to take advantage of the eat-at-home craze kicked off by delivery apps (like Groupon To Go). You’re seeing more and more “virtual” restaurants that swap waiters for drivers, harnessing the power of the gig economy.

Why it’s interesting: It’s another new way to enjoy restaurant-caliber dining without straying from the couch. This means more at-home Netflixing and less at-table check splitting.

Where we’ve spotted it: Two big players in this space are David Chang’s Ando and Michael White’s Costata, both located in New York City.

Cauliflower

What it is: You know, that plant that looks like white broccoli.

Why it’s interesting: The versatile veggie can stand in for anything from pizza crust to steak, making it an inventive and nutritious alternative to classic meal staples. Sorry, kale, you’re being replaced as the hot new thing—just stay in the crisper drawer along with 2016, please.

Where we’ve spotted it: This craze is being accelerated in large part by a new breed of veggie-focused fast-casuals such as Sweetgreen. You’ll also find it on the menu at True Food Kitchen in both Chicago and Austin.

Probiotic juices

What it is: Typical fruit juices (and waters and teas, too) infused with wellness-boosting probiotics.

Why it’s interesting: The same beneficial bacteria that propelled frozen yogurt to full-blown craze a few years ago could have the same effect on juices. Plus, drinking a fruit-based concoction tends to be easier and healthier to incorporate into your diet than a dessert.

Where we’ve spotted it: Chain retailers like Whole Foods and Target are already stocking a wide variety of probiotic juices from brands such as KeVita and Suja.

Upscale ramen shops

What it is: Restaurants specializing in traditional Japanese noodle bowls packed with pork, egg, and bamboo. Though the dishes are simple, the distinctive flavors within are anything but.

Why it’s interesting: These hearty entrees ring true to the Japanese creation invented over a century ago, sharing little in common with the prepackaged discount meals familiar to American college students. The gourmet treatment of what is essentially a basic, uncomplicated soup proves that you don’t need tons of ingredients to create a layered, dynamic dining experience.

Where we’ve spotted it: The Japanese chain Kizuki Ramen & Izakaya is swiftly sweeping into America and can already be found Chicago and a number of cities in Washington and Oregon.

Brunch, brunch, and more brunch

What it is: It’s not quite breakfast. It’s not quite lunch. It’s the best of both worlds, roping in everything from eggs to fried chicken. Though you’re probably already familiar with the concept, you’re gonna start seeing more of it at more places in 2017.

Why it’s interesting: Brunch offers more substantive meals at earlier hours, often with the added bonus of acting as a hangover cure.

Where we’ve spotted it: Chicago’s Whisk beefs up brunch with steaks and crab cakes, and another Windy City spot, Bread & Wine, serves country-ham monte cristos and braised pork-belly benedicts.

Guide Staff Writer
BY: Charles Austin
Guide Staff Writer