Minimalist Menus Are Here To Stay, According To 2023 Trend Predictions

Minimalism is not a new concept, long having been integrated into everything from art, architecture, home décor, fashion, lifestyle, and even food. A common misconception is that minimalism is about sacrifice or foregoing exciting life experiences, explains Larsen & Ericksen, which notes that the opposite is true. In selecting fewer things, a minimalist values the elegance of quality over quantity, and, for an artist or chef, it makes the choices more deliberate. But can a restaurant menu embody that concept and still appeal to post-pandemic diners itching to return to normal? Many industry people think so, including the National Restaurant Association, which says that menu streamlining is a wise business practice that will trend into 2023 and possibly beyond.

Minimalist menus, whether in restaurants or home kitchens, epitomize the idea of "less is more" and maintain that folks will get the most memorable experience out of fewer options. Healthline agrees that simplifying your food options is possible without compromising quality or flavor, focusing on simple, high-quality, fresh ingredients. When it comes to dining out, restauranteurs have multiple reasons to embrace that philosophy, especially during times of inflation affecting food prices and customer pocketbooks.

Efficiency, profits, and simplified choices

Three heavy hitters in the food industry have released their "What's Hot 2023" report, with research from the National Restaurant Association, Technomic, and the American Culinary Federation (ACF), which gathered at least 500 professional foodies, culinary leaders, and chefs to arrive at a consensus for upcoming trends. A crucial goal was predicting how restaurant menus would change for the year 2023, and their results indicate that menu streamlining, or minimalism is among the groups' Top Three Macrotrends. The other two things they predict you will see more of are comfort foods and more local dining experiences.

While they note that inflation has created a desire for more customer value when dining out, they also observe that the cost of home groceries is outpacing menu prices, so folks will still be able to justify dining at their favorite spots. The trick will be for those restaurants to keep costs under control as they emerge from three years of pandemic-related upheaval. Paring menu items down to the popular dishes that have a good return on investment is the most practical solution for restaurants and consumers alike.

Does it work for the customer?

FSR notes that menu streamlining has long been successful for popular eateries such as In-N-Out, which has thrived on a limited menu for decades. In addition to focusing on high quality for a smaller number of menu items, the benefits of minimalist menus include simplifying the exchange between customers and cashiers, how inventory gets managed, and increasing efficiency in chef output and training.

For the customer enjoying a night out with family, friends, or coworkers, the payoff is simplicity and quality over quantity. As Mintel points out, any kind of product, including a menu, appeals to buyers looking for an escape from information overload. Highlighting fresh, natural ingredients with clean, straightforward design allows diners to relax and enjoy good food and good company. Yet another indication that this is what we will see in 2023, a Pinterest board showcases no less than 180 minimalist menu templates for chefs wanting to streamline not only their food options but how they present and describe them to diners.