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The Hottest New Menu Items in America, According to Yelp

Souffle pancakes, ube ice cream, and pineapple buns, oh my!

As the year (and decade!) come to a close, we're taking a look back at some of the most popular trends of the year, and how people will be eating in the years to come. And food trends aren't just for grocery products and cooking—there's also a lot to learn from what people are ordering and loving at restaurants. With the help of our friends at Yelp, let's take a look at the food trend predictions for 2020.

From new ways to enjoy fluffy pancakes to stretchy ice cream, consumers have tried a number of trendy foods over the past year. Some of these "trends" aren't new, per se—think Korean BBQ and Chinese pineapple buns—but they're reaching bigger audiences in the United States than ever before. As Americans embrace the country's diversity, they're doing so in their culinary pursuits, too.

With that in mind, here are the Yelp food trend predictions for 2020.

Next-level pancakes

fluffy japanese souffle pancake
Swanya Charoonwatana/iStock

Souffle pancakes—a fluffy, Japanese treat—made their way to the United States in 2019. Customers are raving about them on Yelp, and this is one trend that's sure to continue into the new year.

Yelp also predicts that customers will be especially interested in "cinnamon swirl pancakes" at their favorite breakfast outlets.

In fact, reviews mentioning cinnamon swirl and souffle pancakes have increased by a whopping 156.2 percent in 2019.

Alcohol-free bars

Cocktail cheers

Gone are the days when seltzer water with a lime wedge was the only option for sober folks looking to visit a bar after work. Mocktails and non-alcoholic bars have both seen increased popularity on Yelp, and there are more delicious zero-proof options than ever.

Floral everything

cup of hibiscus tea with hibiscus flower and petals

Sure, you've heard of chrysanthemum tea. But these days, flowers are being used in more than just teas and herbal infusions. Cocktails and even food are being floral-infused at restaurants, especially in big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Waco.

Mav Soho in New York City, for example, offers a hibiscus risotto on its dinner menu, and hibiscus and jasmine are showing up in various cocktail recipes across the country, too.

Nashville hot chicken

homemade plates of nashville hot chicken with pickles
Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock

Sure, this isn't a "trend" if you're from Nashville. But for the rest of the country, this spicy dish is a novelty. Hot chicken has shown up everywhere from Ruby Tuesday to the Panda Express menu, and its Yelp review mentions have increased, too. If you can't get your hands on the spicy Popeyes sandwich, hot chicken is the next best thing.

Ube desserts

tub of ube ice cream with scoop and cones
Carey Jaman / Shutterstock

Long a staple of treats in the Philippines, ube has made its way to the United States, in part thanks to its Instagram-friendly hue. The purple yam is used in ice cream and even pie, and Yelp reviewers are taking note, too. You can even buy ube ice cream at your local Trader Joe's store if you want to give it a try.

Cauliflower everything


Making healthy swaps to classic comfort foods has been a rising trend for quite some time now, but turning to cauliflower as a substitute for, well, just about everything has taken over. From mashed potatoes to pizza crusts to gnocchi you can get right at Trader Joe's, there really isn't anything cauliflower can't do.

Boozy kombucha

kombucha bottles

Kombucha is known as a rather trendy source of probiotics, coming to you as a good-for-you fermented fizzy drink. It seems that bars and even sports stadiums have taken notice of consumers' desire to sip on something different, as hard kombucha (yes, as in booze-filled) has become a staple on their menus. Yelp reviews for hard kombucha skyrocketed 377 percent in the last 12 months, and it looks like there is no slowing down.

Pineapple buns

pineapple buns on plate

Pineapple buns are a classic, sweet Cantonese pastry that has gained popularity in 2019. Yelp says those in major cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and even Jacksonville, Florida, have become major fans during the last year. Enjoy a pineapple bun for breakfast or dessert or served alongside dim sum. It's a truly versatile treat—what could be better?

No-sugar-added recipes you'll actually look forward to eating.

Above-and-beyond desserts

woman holding taiyaki ice cream cone

It appears Yelp reviewers are all about indulging in desserts that look as great as they taste, especially when it comes to ice cream. Stretchy ice cream (which is ice cream that pulls and stretches, just like cheese in a mozzarella stick) will be a truly hot trend in 2020, according to Yelp.

Taiyaki ice cream, a Japanese sweet treat best-known for being served in fish-shaped waffle cones, and brick toast are predicted to be super popular in the upcoming year, too. And they're pretty Instagrammable if we say so ourselves, which seems to be a key factor in these picture-perfect treats.

Korean BBQ

korean bbq grill with vegetables and garlic

Yelp saw a surge in reviewers eating (and loving) Korean cuisine, with Korean BBQ being a favorite. Yelp expects it to be a top cuisine of 2020 with dishes such as tteokbooki, which are Korean fried rice cakes, becoming staples on many tables.

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