national restaurant association

From horchato to stroopwafels, the hottest foods at the National Restaurant Association show

By Rieva Lesonsky

There were a lot of new food and beverage trends unveiled last week at The National Restaurant Association (NRA) show. Restaurant Hospitality covered the show and reported that in addition to the glut of gluten-free items, food entrepreneurs should look at these emerging trends:

  • Vegan foods. These are not new, of course, but Restaurant Hospitality’s Bret Thorn (@foodwriterdiary on Twitter), says Beyond Meat’s new line of “hamburger,” primarily made from pea protein, “actually tastes like meat.”
  • Latin drinks. Thorn says horchata (a sweet Mexican rice milk made with cinnamon) and tamarind-flavored beverages were all over the show floor. Also popular are drinks made with hibiscus, already featured in sodas from Coca-Cola and Pepsi. (Maybe that could be my new entrepreneurial venture—I have five hibiscus bushes in my yard.)
  • Gyros and doner. Both these dishes are “stacked meat” cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Gyros are Greek, while doners are from Turkey.
  • I want some of these Dutch sandwich cookies filled with gooey goodness like caramel right now.
  • Cookie dough. We’ve all been warned about eating raw cookie dough (due to the raw eggs). But Thorn says, “Shops offering raw cookie dough are opening across the country.” My friend Joel Libava, the Franchise King, wrote about them here. There’s a Cookie Dough Café in New York City that BuzzFeed wrote about. Or check out Unbaked in Los Angeles.

Other trends Thorn mentioned are Filipino food, all-natural protein bars, and hopped cider (a sort of marriage of cider and beer).


Photo credit: “Stroopwafel Ice Cream Sandwiches with Homemade Speculoos Ice Cream” by Joy is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Photo has been cropped for space.