Say so long to the summer of frosé. Kiss cacio e pepe, well, everything goodbye, and put down the can of LaCroix. The year 2016 is history, and the future has never looked better. From an Appalachian revival to the return of Alton Brown, these are the food and drink trends we can't wait to dive into fork first.
A Movable Feast
Dinner in some of the country's most exciting new restaurants is kicking off well before you ever get to the dining room. At Lazy Bear in SF, snacks are served on the mezzanine, followed by dinner downstairs, and at the newly opened SingleThread, the night starts in the rooftop garden before moving indoors for the main event. At The Shaw Bijou in D.C., your first bite is at the bar upstairs, followed by a tour of the kitchen before being seated in the dining room. Food aside, checking out the latest restaurants is more about the dining experience as a whole than ever before.
Side Gigs Are Here to Stay
Blame it on rising real estate prices, but more and more restaurants are opening with side projects in tow, like the Aussie-inspired vegan café, The Good Sort, from the folks at Chinese Tuxedo in NYC, Union Square Cafe's upcoming Daily Provisions and the market heading to upcoming Botanica in L.A. It's easy to overlook these "not the main event" establishments, but don't; it's often these side spots where chefs get creative in the kitchen.
Middle Eastern Cuisine Moves In
Michael Solomonov and Alon Shaya have already helped put modern Middle Eastern food on the map in the U.S., but if you don't live in Philadelphia or New Orleans, finding cheffy takes on the Levant is hard. Enter a new wave of SoCal chefs opening restaurants this year, like the Madcapra team, who are partnering with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo on Kismet; the team from Love & Salt, who are planning a Persian- and Lebanese-inspired restaurant; even April Bloomfield will be experimenting with Middle Eastern flavors at her first L.A. project. Across the country in New York City, Israeli chefs like Meir Adoni are setting up shop. His buzzed-about restaurant, Nur, is slated to open soon. And if the rumors are true, the team from Tel Aviv's Miznon will be bringing their whole-roasted cauliflower to Gotham.
An Appalachian State of Mind
Appalachian cooking traditions have long been overlooked by most diners outside the region. But in the past few years, a small cluster of chefs has moved (back) to the area and started working with indigenous ingredients, offering their own takes on regional classics like apple stack cake and kilt greens. Leading that charge is Travis Milton, a native son who has three restaurants in rural Virginia in the works that will explore the area's food. But it's not just Milton who's drawing our eye southward. In Davidson, North Carolina, it's Joe Kindred of Kindred, who is working on a second restaurant. Over in Greenville, it's Sean Brock, who is planning a location of his acclaimed Husk. Get ready to road trip.
Get Thee to Houston
Everyone from David Chang to Anthony Bourdain seems to be having a love affair with Houston's dining scene, and it's easy to understand why. The sprawling city already has a reputation for excellent Vietnamese food, Tex Mex, 'cue and more. And this year, things are getting even hotter with the likes of One Fifth, a new restaurant from Underbelly's Chris Shepherd, which will change its focus every year for five years; and the debut of Riel, Ryan Lachaine's restaurant, which will draw on his Manitoba roots.
The Year of Alton Brown
After a stint on Broadway, Alton Brown is getting ready to return to the small screen. Everyone's favorite food science nerd is not only working on a late-night food variety show inspired by the The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and the original Tonight Show, he'll also host the newest iteration of Iron Chef, called Iron Chef Gauntlet, and most exciting for old-school fans, he's bringing back Good Eats—or as he says, its sequel—as a web series.
Supermarkets Join the 21st Century
Grocery shopping, for the most part, has been stuck in the 20th century. Amazon is changing that with artificial intelligence and stores that track your shopping. The company is also working on "click-and-collect" shops, where you simply place an order and the items are gathered for you by a staff member.
For anyone who's eaten one too many meals at Legal Sea Foods or Bertucci's (not that there's anything wrong with that), the restaurant scene in Boston these days may feel unrecognizable. From Ana Sortun's empire spreading out in Cambridge to all-day gem Juliet in Somerville to Jamie Bissonnette and Ken Oringer's new hot spot, Little Donkey, Boston's dining scene is thriving. All eyes may have been on Washington, D.C. and L.A. in 2016, but food lovers would be wise to watch Beantown next.
Lagers Flood the Craft Beer Landscape
If the only lager you know is the Lite kind, brace yourself. Microbrewed lagers have been picking up steam over the past few months, with both established and emerging breweries putting out a new generation of crisp pilsners, easy-drinking Oktoberfests, smooth Mexican-inspired varieties and even sudsy American crushers (think: tastier versions of your college go-to). Lager fans can thank the recent turn toward low-alcohol, or "session," beers for the trend. Look out for exciting releases from Chicago's Half Acre, Santa Monica's House Beer and Miami's Wynwood Brewing.