The 2020 Restaurant Menu Trends You Don’t Want to Miss

As we wrap up the year in 2019, everyone is talking about what is coming in hot for 2020, and restaurant menus are part of the conversation. Food trends are evolving like never before and you can expect that consumers have set the bar high for menu items they’re wanting to experience in 2020. While some of these restaurant menu trends are a natural evolution of years prior (like CBD and vegan fare), some are just plain out of the ordinary. So without further adieu, let us unveil the newest menu trends of 2020 to have your restaurant menu become the hot ticket item for consumers everywhere. 

While we wait on the National Restaurant Association‘s January 2020 release of the What’s Hot” list, sources like Upserve Restaurant Insider and Food & Wine have given their expert opinion, and as previously mentioned —

1. Vegan-Friendly Menu Items 

— are still very much here-to-stay. In 2019 we witnessed the swift rise of plant-based foods on restaurant menus. And in 2020 the consumer demand remains high. Vegan-friendly menu items do vary for their vegetarian counterparts (which may include eggs or dairy products). This restaurant menu trend has no end in sight as dietary preferences are taking precedence throughout the food industry to craft the dining experience both within the restaurant and at home.

Patrons are obsessed with foods that are functional — that have health benefits and improve their overall well-being, down to their desserts! Vegan options offer health benefits and flavor, which is the ultimate dining experience in 2020.


2. Fermented Foods

The obsession with gut-health continues as fermented foods continue to rise in popularity and consumer demand. This restaurant menu trend will continue to evolve. In 2019 we observed the beverage trends push kombucha and other fermented drinks onto restaurant menus. In 2020, more global flavors will make an appearance, impacting the fermented foods category and Asian-inspired foods like kimchi will have more of an influence on the trendy list. 

Kombucha, a fermented tea that is packed with probiotics that support gut and immune health, has evolved in its’ presence in restaurants. Many providing an array of flavors and specialty micro-brews as consumer demand grows.

3. Zero-Waste Cooking 

If restaurant owners became aware of any restaurant trend in 2019, it was sustainable practices in cooking. And in 2020 this trendy, waste-reduction method of cooking will not be slowing down anytime soon. Millennials have set the bar high when it comes to sustainability. And being that they have taken over as the generation with the most buying power, restaurant owners everywhere have begun to take note.


Reducing your carbon foot print through waste-reduction practices, like creating home-made items like condiments from scraps and other food items leftover from preparation, is high in consumer demand


4. CBD-Infused Everything 

Oh yes, the cannabidiol craze continues this year. The more that consumers experience the health-improving properties of the cbd food and beverage trends, the more they expect them to be listed on restaurant menus. 2020 is no exception. 

5. Sober-Curious Drinks

New on the scene in beverage trends are drinks that give the imbiber a heightened experience without the alcohol. Harnessing the power of various herb-blends, sober-curious beverages are on the high road for 2020 restaurant menu trends

6. Honest Menu-Labeling

Did you really think we could resist? Last but not least on our list is a menu trend gaining in popularity from what was originally a law set forth by the FDA for fast casual restaurants and similar eateries with 20 + locations. But now, the menu-labeling trend is more about building rapport and having a moment of honesty with dining patrons.

Menu calorie counts are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being in line with current trends.

Now more than ever, consumers are demanding to know what is in their menu items, from the calories to the individual nutrients and allergens. Millennials were big on the access to this knowledge when dining out and now it has begun taking off everywhere. 


So there you have it folks, the “What’s Hot” of Restaurant Menu Trends delivered to you MenuCalc style — ahead of time and on the pulse. Need help with #6? MenuCalc is the premier nutrition analysis and menu labeling software in the restaurant industry. Contact us today to get your menu on trend for 2020.

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