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Our Writers Predict Hits & Misses for 2019: Part 2

Our Writers Predict Hits & Misses for 2019: Part 2

Photo: New York’s Junoon restaurant has earned a Michelin star for its outstanding interpretation of classic Indian cuisine. (Photo by: Junoon)

Ari Bendersky’s Top 10 trends include ‘weed’ dinners, Indian cuisine and cooking with crickets. YEP, that last one isn’t a misprint.

A lifestyle journalist specializing in food, wine, spirits and travel, Ari Bendersky is the former founding editor of Eater Chicago. He’s a lover of discovering new food and cultures, and travels whenever possible, recently visiting Italy, Finland, Argentina, Portugal and Mexico. Here are his predictions for 2019.

Straws and Styrofoam

In 2018, it seemed like everyone deemed plastic straws the new evil, and operators—and even some entire cities—started banning them across the country. Places have either done away with them entirely or started replacing them with straws made from bamboo, paper, compostable material and more. We’ll start seeing straws showing up again, yet made with even more environmentally friendly materials since, and let’s be honest here, those paper straws suck.

Cannabis in the kitchen

Now that 10 states, including Colorado, Vermont and now Michigan, have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 33 additional states like Illinois, Florida and Maryland have legalized weed for medical use, it’s likely we’ll see more chefs, brewers, distillers, winemakers and coffee roasters incorporate cannabis into their work. More “weed” dinners will take place, more products will get infused with THC and CBDs, and more people will enjoy the, ahem, benefits of marijuana in a number of ways. 

Increase in in-restaurant app ordering/paying

People love convenience, and since we all use our smart phones for everything from ordering a rideshare to having food delivered, it only makes sense we’ll want to do that in many aspects of our lives. We already use apps like Resy and OpenTable to reserve tables, order coffee through the Starbucks app and pre-order takeout at QSRs. At restaurants and bars, people want to order drinks when they sit down and pay when they’re ready to go—and their servers aren’t always available. We’ll start seeing more casual restaurants using in-restaurant apps to remedy this, and you may start seeing more beverage sales and higher tips as a bonus.

Vegetarian/vegan lifestyles are in style.

Whether people are eating less meat or just want to get more vegetables into their diets, we’ve seen a big surge in vegetables on menus. Not just as side dishes, but as main dishes where animal proteins either get incorporated into a sauce or are excluded entirely. With more people concerned about climate change, we’re seeing a rise in diners adopting vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. So, start beefing up your focus on veggies. Why? They add color, texture, flavors and, frankly, people want them.

Cheers to spirit-free drinks.

Non-alcoholic drinks joined the beverage conversation in a much larger way in 2018, and that trend will only get bigger. You’ll see more restaurants and bars adding entire spirit-free sections on their drink menus for people who don’t imbibe alcohol for various reasons, yet want something more satisfying than club soda with a squeeze of lemon. If you haven’t started getting creative with non-alcoholic drinks, now is the time.

Spice up your menus with Indian accents.

In 2018, everyone was talking about food and flavors from the Middle East. Will 2019 finally be about Indian cuisine? If the number of new cookbooks dedicated to Indian food, especially for instant pot cooking, is any indication, we will start seeing more Indian flavors appear in a variety of dishes. You don’t need to add saag paneer or tandoori chicken to your menu, but cooking with curries, coriander, garam masala, lentils, chickpeas and other ingredients common in Indian cooking can add unique flavors to your food and give something new for your diners to enjoy. 

Mobile Ordering

With UberEats’ recent proposed valuation by bankers at $20 billion—yes, billion with a big fat capital B—it shows that more people, especially millennials, enjoy getting food from restaurants, but delivered to them at home. Delivery has always been a thing, but now with UberEats, Caviar, GrubHub and more services coming online, the sector continues to blow up.

Lower-ABV Cocktails

Yes, we’ve already seen lower alcohol cocktails enter the bar scene, but new methods are coming on line: a) 50/50 martinis to soften the gin or vodka with a dry vermouth or even doing a 50/25/25 with gin, vermouth and Lillet; b) making drinks with artisanal liqueurs from companies like Chicago’s Apalogue; and c) flipping drinks to use a traditional base spirit as the modifier and having a more traditional modifier like vermouth be the main focus in the cocktail.


It may be hard to believe, but more people drink tea in the world than coffee, and we’re going to see more of it. Restaurants have brought back afternoon high tea and have started adding high-quality tea service to their menus. Bartenders continue to use tea infusions in cocktails and spirit-free drinks while chefs incorporate tea into syrups, sauces, butter, pastries and more.


Yes, they make most of us shiver and squirm, but insects will continue to show up on menus as protein sources. Mexicans have cooked with insects for hundreds of years. Delicacies like chapulines (grasshoppers or crickets), chinicuiles (maguey worms) and escamoles (ant larvae) are found everywhere from street vendors to high-end restaurants. They’re not only delicious and add interesting textures, but they’re a fantastic source of protein.

  • Author: Ari Bendersky
  • Posted: December 04, 2018
  • Categories: Trending Now