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5 Hot Trends: ZAGAT Issues Mid-Year Restaurant Report

Hot & Cool Food Trends

Six months into 2011, the eminent restaurant review and trend-spotting company ZAGAT has noted five hot trends in its Midyear in Dining report. Here’s what they’ve spotted on ZAGAT’s "Buzz" city restaurant scene so far.

Pop-ups. The idea of temporary or concept-shifting has gained lots of momentum this year. ZAGAT spotlighted “perma pop-ups” such as the Burger Parlor in the LA area, and New York’s LTO, which rotates chefs every quarter. In Washington, D.C., Chef José Andrés is about to join the fun with his America Eats Tavern opening soon. Earlier this year The Food Channel made note of the New Orleans pop-up, Slim Goodies.

Beer, beer, everywhere. If what’s happening so far continues, this could go down as “the year of the beer garden.” In the last six months, LA gained Steingarten, Berlin Currywurst, and BRU Haus. And Wurstkuche is coming soon. On the other coast, NYC has seen openings for Spritzenhaus, Hospoda, BeerParc and Eataly’s Birreria. DC has a new biergarten, Standard, and plans are brewing for another called Bavarian Beer Garden.

Chain expansions. “Restaurants, bakeries and more notably fast-casual chains have been spreading the love in 2011, jumping coasts and cities,” ZAGAT writes. California’s In-N-Out Burger expanded into Texas, New York’s Papaya King and opened in LA, and Sprinkles Cupcakes and Smashburger landed in the Big Apple.

Food Trucks Going Brick-and-Mortar.  In LA, ice cream sandwich truck Coolhaus announced plans for a permanent location, and in NYC Big Gay Ice Cream Truck and Mexicue did likewise. We could point out another that ZAGAT didn’t mention: LA’s Roy Choi of Kogi Taco Truck fame has opened Chego, a rice bowl eatery without wheels.

Izakayas. These are Japanese small-plate operations that were big in New York a while back. Now they’ve taken off in other cities across the country, including Lure in Chicago’s Chinatown and Tokio Pub in nearby Schaumburg. In San Francisco there’s Hecho, Nojo and Chotto, and new in LA are M Izakaya and Aburiya Toranoko.  

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