Food and drink trends
In December of 2019, Yelp came out with a list of food trends to watch out for in 2020 based on user searches and review data. On that list was ube, cauliflower comfort food, boozy kombucha, and more. Not on the menu? A global pandemic and calls for social justice that would alter the way consumers behave and buy. Key phrases and themes that came out of the year’s reviews and data include values-driven support (searches for Black-owned businesses were up twenty-five-fold in 2020), mentions of gratitude (the average Elite user star rating was 4.12), and a new focus on meal kits and cocktails for takeout.
This year’s trends to watch out for are things you’ve likely seen all over your feeds: pop-ups, food trucks, and brick-and-mortar restaurants alike have already hopped on board. Read on for what food and beverages you can expect to see popping up on menus all over town.
Birria is a juicy, spiced meat stew from the state of Jalisco, Mexico. This year it made waves in the food truck scene, and in the year ahead, we expect to see traditional birria tacos and spins like birria quesadillas, fondly called “quesabirria,” and birria pizza hit plates everywhere. Somewhat elusive here in Rochester, Old Pueblo Grill offered up birria as a special in 2020, and Taco Dero is the hot new pop-up serving up birria goodness once weekly. (Birria’s review mention rate is up 235 percent.)
Detroit-style pizza has gone national. With pop-ups turned brick and mortar like Pizza Wizard, and food trucks like Peels on Wheels getting ahead of the curve, this Sicilian pizza recipe with a Motor City twist is having a moment. (Detroit-style pizza’s review mention rate is up fifty-two percent.)
Brown Sugar Bubble Tea
Boba, also known as bubble tea, is a year-round favorite drink. In the year ahead, flavors like brown sugar are emerging as a go-to for those in the know as well as fusion desserts like boba flan, popsicles, and ice cream. Both Cha Chat Café and Kung Fu Tea offer brown sugar milk tea. (Brown sugar boba’s review mention rate is up 185 percent.)
The Japanese version is crispy and light as air. In Korea, it’s fried twice and brushed with sauce. Americans brine it in buttermilk and fry until golden brown. Korean fried chicken (review mention rate up twenty-six percent) and Nashville hot chicken (up sixty percent) are poised to be breakout stars in 2021. BC’s Chicken Coop has been a ROC staple for more than a decade, while the folks behind Chick’n Out hopped on the scene for the first time as a pop-up at the Blossom Road Pub in April of 2019.
Whether dining in or taking home, seafood boils proved to be a fun, hands-on dining experience for many this year. Restaurants like Juicy Seafood and What! Crawfish! are helping customers embrace the mess, and we predict more people will don their bibs and gloves this year. (Seafood boil’s review mention rate is up sixty-five percent.)
Parties looked different last year, with many adapting plans to navigate virtual celebrations or socially distanced celebrations. But even the most socially distanced celebrations still need cake. Confetti cakes, cakes filled with surprise centers of candy or sprinkles, will be the centerpiece of parties in 2021. These gorgeous cakes are available at both Something Delicious Bake Shop and Scratch Bakeshop.
For a full list of trends, including wellness, travel, and beauty, head to blog.yelp.com/2020/12/yelp-predicts-the-top-trends-of-2021
—Megan Colombo, Yelp Rochester Community Manager