What Consumers Will Be Eating in 2024

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A new year is a clean slate—a chance to make good on promises to be healthier, make better choices for your body, check out the hottest new social media viral food trend, or even become more adventurous while eating out. And, it seems that for this upcoming year, consumers are going to want to do it all, as well as look to make a smaller impact on the environment when it comes to food choices. Plant-based foods will grow to include even more alternative meats, and diners will fall into two spectrums: Those who want to feel the comforts of home while dining out, and those that will view a restaurant meal as a splurge and will add all of the available upgrades.

While 77% of consumers are excited for new foods and beverages to pop up in 2024, according to the Datassential 2024 Food Trends Report, it may be less about what’s new and more about what’s being reinvented. Here’s what diners are going to want to eat going into 2024.

Creature Comforts

Demand for comfort food and classic dishes will grow in 2024. This plays into the desire for nostalgia, also seen in cocktails, amongst the millennial sippers and diners. This trend is seen across food, beverage, and guest services and should be a top focus for bars and restaurants going into the New Year.

“I see some of the classic dishes coming back to the forefront. Very classic dishes like lobster thermidor or beef wellington are going to show up on many menus,” says Florian Wehrli, chef at Grand Tier Restaurant in the Metropolitan Opera, New York, N.Y.

James Gee, chef at Viceroy based in Washington, D.C., says that he is noticing an increase in requests for dishes like meatloaf, baked and fried cheeses, and stews made with lean meat. While he attributes this to high prices at the supermarket, he explains that customers are not just looking to eat any stews or cheese dishes—they need to be elevated.

Pasta from Sette
(Emily Goldfischer)

“People are often doing without on some household items, so when dining out, they will be looking for comfort foods and value,” he says. “Remember, value doesn't mean cheap—value means something worth more than you paid for it. And comfort foods prepared well bring the biggest value ratio."

This extends to cuisine, according to Datassential. Consumers, it notes, love classic European and Asian flavors but are looking to chefs to reinvent them for the upcoming year. Italian restaurants have leaned into social media like TikTok and Instagram to make the usual pasta dishes more interesting, while consumers are looking for amped up European fare, like fresh spins on French pastries, to show off on their own social channels.

Gioia, which is newly opened in Oyster Bay, N.Y., has leaned into the social media trend with several cart service options—a spritz cart and cheese cart, to name a few—as well as pasta rolled and plated on full display, creating an Instagrammable moment that brings a feeling of delight.  

“These past few years have made us realize that the simplest things are truly the most important, and sometimes all you really want is a bowl of pasta to feel good,” says Jesse Schenker, co-owner and executive chef of Lush Life Group. “With Gioia, we’ve created a welcoming atmosphere at a mid-range price point that brings people together with the joy of handmade pasta.”

Spice It Up

No matter what’s on the menu this year, consumers are going to want to spice it up. According to Monin’s 2024 Flavor Trends, diners will be looking for a “flavor journey” in 2024. This will include spices from Central and South America as well as Southeast Asia. Datassential predicts that black garlic, yuzu, ponzu, and harissa will grow in use this year, while Monin notes that fermented foods, like kimchi, will continue to make a home amongst eaters.

“Folks are getting pretty creative in their kitchens,” says Adjoa Courtney, professionally known as Chef Joya, and owner of Cooking with Joya. “They’re taking cues from social media influencers that are always onto the latest trends.” Courtney predicts that at-home eating trends such as this will carry over into the restaurant scene.

Plant-Based Is Mainstream

Consumers will be looking for increased plant-based options on menus, and a plate of roasted vegetables won’t cut it.

“People are realizing that just having fries or a salad isn’t enough—even cauliflower buffalo wings won’t be enough in 2024,” says Courtney.

Consumers are looking to be healthier overall, and eating less meat has become a mainstream way to do it.

“We at Koi Restaurants see the top trend for dining out to revolve around healthier options, particularly vegetarian and vegan cuisine,” explains Chef Robb Lucas of Koi Resturant, which has several locations in the U.S. including New York and California. “This shift towards lighter, more health-conscious eating has been gaining momentum, aligning with a growing awareness of wellness and mindfulness regarding food choices and what we put into our bodies,” he adds.

Seasonal vegetable dishes and vegetarian takes on classics, such as eggplant lasagna or cauliflower steak, will continue to be popular, however, those spending cash on dining out will also want some creativity and flair when it comes to plant-based dishes.

“With all the new brands and alternatives available, it only makes sense that consumers will want restaurants to be more inclusive with their menu,” adds Courtney.

Friends gather for a vegetarian meal
(Dreamer Company / Getty Images)

Meat Goes Alternative

What the Impossible Burger started will surely continue. While this hasn’t been a new trend, meat alternatives will continue to increase in 2024, as Datassential notes that 17% of consumers say they are open to trying lab-grown meat.

“Restaurants are likely to adapt to the increased desire to eat healthier by incorporating vegan alternatives and by transforming popular dishes into vegan options to cater to this evolving consumer demand,” says Lucas.

Impossible, Beyond Meat, and several other brands continue to gain ground, especially in the ground beef, chicken, and burger category, while Chunk Foods has been bringing plant-based cuts of steak to high-end restaurants, like Insignia based on Long Island, N.Y. and Manhattan’s Russ + Daughters.

Chef Paul Qui, winner of TopChef, James Beard Award winner, and a restauranteur, explains that the key to growing a larger plant-based menu, which includes alternative meats, includes having quality products that enable diners to feel as if they aren’t missing out on both flavor and texture.

“Eating plants is the future, and I’m happy that there’s a product that puts nature’s processes for umami in the spotlight,” he says, in reference to Chunk’s offerings.

Additionally, consumers that will be enjoying meat this year will be looking for ways to minimize their environmental impact. Organic, free-range, and grass-fed aren’t just buzzwords anymore. Consumers are conscious of their environmental impact and will continue to look at meat products scrupulously.

Ultra Lux

While comfort foods may be hot, there will also be increased desire for luxury touches. Truffles, caviar, and a high-low mix (for example, Champagne and fried chicken or cheeseburgers) will encourage customers to open their wallets, albeit if the restaurant delivers on service, show, and flavor.

James Grant, director of Mixology of Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, noted that he predicts luxury tableside service, like extravagant cocktail and caviar pairings served as a tableside show, will become a trend to watch in 2024 and should grow going into 2025. It’s the return of the restaurant as theater—dinner and a show.

Caviar, truffles, and even expensive cheeses are also predicted to top ice creams and desserts, as consumers will be intrigued by different uses of these luxury ingredients, experts say. This aligns with Datassential’s findings, as 34% of consumers say they treat themselves to an indulgent food treat a few times a week.


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