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This is 2020: Part 3

This is 2020: Part 3

Experiential dining, global influences hit high notes

Photo (above): Rock Steady by Jacob Thomas

The last 10 years in drinking and dining have seen trends come and go, with some making their exit far quicker than others. We gradually entered the era of the conscientious diner as farm-to-table meals, craft cocktails and other "quality over quantity" trends were championed by diners, restaurateurs and everyone in between.

As we enter a new decade, long gone are the days of meaty, oversized portions and dining experiences that lack precisely that. In 2020, food and beverage trends will continue to challenge everything we've known about traditional dining as intimacy and international flair take the reins.

Embracing Global Influences

From decor to fusion dishes, 2020 will eagerly embrace global influences with open and hungry arms. For Robert Phalen, chef-owner of Atlanta-based One Eared Stag, two particular trends are primed and ready for the new year: "exploring African cuisine and a big British invasion of styling and decor." Among the restaurants already introducing diners to African cuisine is the newly opened Rock Steady, an Afro-Caribbean restaurant located in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood. The menu boasts diasporic bites, including the West African-inspired suya shrimp & grits as well as quimbombo, an okra-based, Afro-Cuban dish.

this is 2020 part 3 1
Photo by Jacob Thomas

Mixology Goes Mini

The warmer months of 2019 saw an influx of lower-proof and zero-proof cocktails. While this trend will continue as diners opt for taste over heavy pours, a similar trend is set to emerge in 2020. Having already graced the drinks menus at Gran Tivoli in New York City and Flowers of Vietnam in Detroit, miniature martinis will be a welcome trend in 2020.

According to Miranda Dickson, global brand director at Absolut Elyx, which released three-ounce copper martini coupes in late 2019: “People are a little challenged by a seven-ounce, spirit-forward strong cocktail...Enjoying the drink in smaller [servings] makes it less serious, more fun and ultimately more accessible for people to try.”

this is 2020 part 3 2
Photo by Absolut Elyx

Exploring Brunch Alternatives

The days of bottomless mimosas and eggs Benedict will never truly be a thing of the past, but in 2020, brunch alternatives will play a big role in weekend dining. Diners, an at-times forgotten food landmark, will make a bold return aimed at brunch-loving, millennial customers. Indicators of this new trend are swiftly popping up from Utah to Georgia. Salt Lake City's Vertical Diner offers vegan fare and slam poetry night while Atlanta's Wonderkid provides a reimagined diner experience complete with wine program and, of course, homemade pies.

A Shift Towards Intimate, Experiential Dining

The increase in the curious and experience-driven consumer will without a doubt result in more intimate dining experiences in 2020. "The next dining trends of 2020 will be a rise in smaller and more intimate-style restaurants where the customer can gain an experience along with a meal, such as open kitchens and chef interactions," says Leslie Cohen, Firepit Pizza Tavern creator and winner of the Food Network's “Cutthroat Kitchen.”

Elevating Beyond Cappuccino & Lattes

In Georgia’s historic Stone Mountain Village, Gilly Brew Bar has helped solidify a trend that will be an unexpected hit for caffeinated, coffee shop regulars in 2020. For well over a year now, Gilly Brew Bar has offered seasonal menus featuring coffee elixirs. Similar to craft cocktails, yet minus the booze, these coffee elixirs (served hot or cold) are comprised of craft ingredients like mint, coriander and pear puree. As coffee drinkers become intrigued by offerings outside of café basics, expect an influx of elixir-esque drinks.


  • Author: Danielle Harling
  • Posted: December 12, 2019
  • Categories: Trending Now
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