The 5 Most Exciting Food and Drink Trends in the U.S.
(Photo: East Side King)
Guest blogger Chris Schonberger is editor-in-chief of First We Feast.
If there's ever been a better time to dine in the U.S., I certainly wasn't alive for it. Pick any city around the country, and chances are high that it's in the midst of a food and drink renaissance. You can find game-changing chef's tables in Nashville (Catbird Seat); cocktails on tap in Scarsdale, N.Y. (Racanelli’s New York Italian); and crazy-creative ramen in Cleveland (Noodlecat).
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The more I travel these days, the more I feel I can find the best of both worlds in any city: beloved regional classics tucked away within roadside stands and weathered dining rooms, but also ambitious new kitchens and bars benefiting from the fluid spread of culinary ideas from coast to coast (thanks, Internet).
When I arrive in a new place, my first point of interest is always those regional specialties: Do they have a weird local hamburger variant? Is there style of pizza that you can't find anywhere else? Can I get hot dogs slathered with cream cheese and topped with grilled cabbage (holler, Seattle)? Idiosyncratic junk food tends to be best explored during the day. By nightfall, I want to hit the town and find out what's new and exciting — zeitgeist dining that lets you connect the dots across the country and see how chefs and bartenders are putting their own localized spin on trends that extend beyond their own area code.
So what's worth looking out for right now? Here are the five food and drink trends I'm most excited about at the moment.
It might be said that nothing is sacred in this country, which is certainly true for chefs who have no problem co-opting the cuisine of other countries and running with it. Watered-down versions of ethnic dishes are always a bummer, but when a chef succeeds at putting a truly unique spin on something, the result is melting-pot dining at its best.
Perhaps the most exciting example of the latter right now is ramen, the latest canvas for creative mashups. Pastaria in St. Louis serves an Italian-inspired version with spaghettini and Parmesan broth; Cleveland's Noodlecat features "Irish Ramen" with roast beef fit for a Sunday roast; and “Top Chef” winner Paul Qui turns out funky riffs like a Tex-Mex-style chicken tortilla soup ramen at his cultish East Side King food truck in Austin, Texas.
(Photo: Empellon/Daniel Krieger)
Alongside the spread of boundary-pushing Mexican cooking at places like Bar Amá in