New Restaurant Trends to Look For in 2019

From gravity-defying pancakes to non-alcoholic cocktails, these are the food, drink and decor trends to seek out from Los Angeles to Toronto.
 

1. Sandos

Konbi, photograph by Alicia Cho.

The dish taking over social media isn’t some over-the-top milkshake or hybrid pastry—it’s a sandwich. Inspired by the katsu sando, a Japanese fried pork cutlet wedged between pillowy white bread, chefs are conjuring up their own take, with some sticking to classic combinations and others going less traditional.

Try It Here: Los Angeles’ Konbi serves two variations, one with pork and another with eggplant.

2. Mocktails

Blackberry Fojito, photograph by Darren Abate.

Booze-free drinkers can bid farewell to boring ginger ale and cranberry juice—zero-proof beverages are finally getting the attention they deserve. Crafted using the same quality and creative ingredients as their alcoholic counterparts, these fresh mocktails aren’t pink, sugary afterthoughts—they feature housemade syrups, bitters, juices and fancy cocktailing techniques.

Try It Here: Savor in San Antonio, Texas, pours a selection of seasonal sips, such as the Blackberry Fojito and Sage Cucumber Cooler.

3. Global Diner Fare

Photograph courtesy of Le Swan.

They may have the trappings of a traditional diner—swivel stools and plush booths—but today’s canteens boast menus that go beyond BLTs. Chefs are infusing all-American comfort food with hints of Chinese, Italian and other global tastes.

Try it here: Toronto’s Le Swan fuses French bistro classics and simple diner fare.

4. Soufflé Pancakes

Fluffy souffle pancakes, photograph courtesy of Gram Cafe & Pancakes.

Pancakes have always been a morning staple, but the latest iteration takes them to new heights—literally. Popularized in Japan, soufflé pancakes, which defy gravity thanks to an airy, meringue-like batter, have cropped up stateside.

Try it here: Osaka’s Gram Cafe & Pancakes, serving its fluffy flapjacks, made its San Francisco Bay debut in April.

5. Next-Level Vietnamese

Madame Vo BBQ’s grilled quail, photograph by Ben Hon.

Restaurants helmed by a young generation of Vietnamese-American chefs prove there’s more to the country’s cuisine than pho and bánh mì. Menus showcase lesser-known dishes, such as bánh xèo (a rice crepe with turmeric), and reinterpreted favourites, such as chicken pho.

Try it here: At Madame Vo BBQ in New York City’s East Village, husband-wife team Jimmy Ly and Yen Vo offer a modern spin on Vietnamese barbecue.

6. Tropical Beer

Photograph courtesy of Denver Beer Co.

The tropical movement has made its way to the beer world. Instead of the typical orange or grapefruit, brewers are turning to island produce, imbuing their suds with passionfruit, guava and coconut for a beachy twist.

Try it here: Denver Beer Co.’s refreshing Maui Express Coconut IPA is made from a blend of hops and shredded coconut.

7. Neon Signs

Neon has escaped its former reputation as the go-to sign of dive bars and strip clubs to be a popular restaurant decor trend. Signs have been moved inside, adorning statement walls in the form of cheeky taglines that include “Crazy Rich Broth” (PhoBar in NYC) and “chaud chaud chaud” (Montreal’s Louise Boulangerie).

[This story appears in the August 2019 edition of WestJet Magazine.]

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