By Rieva Lesonsky

Pickles are cropping up on more and more restaurant menus, according to Datassential MenuTrends. Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) reports pickles are no longer just a side dish and are showing up more than 40% of all menus, up 15% from four years ago.

NRN highlighted the Mister Tuna restaurant in Denver, which features a pickle bar with “about two dozen house-made jars of pickled vegetables and fruits—from cucumbers and kohlrabi to lemons and rhubarb.”

Many of the restaurants mentioned in the NRN article are presenting pickles, not as a side dish, but as important components of entrées.

Pickles’ popularity is not for health reasons. NRN says fried pickles—hardly a healthy snack—“are making a major contribution to the growth in pickles on menus. Fried pickles now appear on 6% of all menus, a 9% increase in the past year, and 85% more than four years ago.” 

The new pickle phenomenon is not confined to food. Datassential says pickles and pickle juice increasingly appear on alcoholic beverage menus. Right now, while only 2% of restaurants with alcoholic beverages feature pickles or pickle juice on their menus, that’s triple-digit growth over the past four years.

Why pickles? (Actually, I get it—I love the half-sour pickles you can find at any authentic New York City deli.) Troy Guard, the chef and owner of Denver-based TAG Restaurant Group, which owns Mister Tuna, says pickles “are fun, and they seem to work, and people dig them.”

Departure Restaurant + Lounge