HTX New Beginnings
In the pros' kitchen

The 10 biggest food trends of 2013: Expect donuts, exotic meats, beer desserts and plenty of surprises

The 10 biggest food trends of 2013: Expect donuts, exotic meats, beer desserts and plenty of surprises

Rainbow Lodge, steak, meat, January 2013
See more farm-raised and game meats on Houston menus, as Rainbow Lodge has done so well for years and others have followed suit. Rainbow Lodge/Facebook
Mortar_OKRA event, food trucks, crowd, June 2012
A seemingly endless list of new food trucks continue to open to the delight of Houstonians who love the often clever, delicious and reasonably-priced fare created by entrepreneurial chefs. Photo by Bethany Quillin
Roost, bread, bread service, food trends, January 2013
Look for more attention to be paid to bread, including housemade artisan bread and bread service like Chef Kevin Naderi offers at Roost. Photo by Billy Knox
Pondicheri, barley salad, October 2012
Meatless: Chef Anita Jaisinghani’s Pondicheri brought the concept home in 2012. Shown here, the chef's beet and barley salad Pondicheri/Facebook
Brasil, draft wall, taps, beer
Craft beers are all the rage, nationally as well as locally featuring Houston brewers St. Arnolds, Karbach, Buffalo Bayou and Eatzie Boys 8th Wonder Brewery. Photo by Darla Guillen
Rainbow Lodge, steak, meat, January 2013
Mortar_OKRA event, food trucks, crowd, June 2012
Roost, bread, bread service, food trends, January 2013
Pondicheri, barley salad, October 2012
Brasil, draft wall, taps, beer

Trends come and go, with fashion and with food, of course. With Houston’s culinary scene finally receiving national respect, look for the city's chefs to lead the way with their own interpretations of some projected trends for the New Year.

Researching while considering things I’ve seen and/or hope for, my list might actually be a wish-list as much as anything else, but these are the ones that resonated with me and one that I see already emerging or easily taking hold in Houston.

Food Trucks

Not to be deterred by the challenges of operating a food truck in our fair city (which is extremely difficult compared to other cities), a seemingly endless number of new food trucks continue to show up to the delight of Houstonians who love the often clever, delicious and reasonably-priced fare created by entrepreneurial chefs. Serving everything from Filipino, Korean, PB&J, waffles, burgers, grilled cheese and everything in between, there’s no stopping this trend.

Meatless

Even hard-core carnivores are becoming hip to “meatless Monday,” not to mention eating kale. Chef Anita Jaisinghani’s Pondicheri  brought the concept home in 2012.

Expect veggies to continue to move front and center with interesting new preparations for everything from root vegetables to the leafy green spigarello. And more vegetarian menu items in general — for everyone.

Game Meats

Seen as both a national and a local trend, we will see more farm-raised and wild game like alligator, venison, boar, rabbit, bison, elk on Houston menus, as Rainbow Lodge has done so well for years.

Donuts

Yes, we love our Shipleys, but I can’t help but think Houston is ripe for a donut shop the likes of Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Doughnut Plant in Manhattan or Dough in Brooklyn (not that I’m obsessed with donuts when I’m traveling). Until then, look for donuts to appear on menus everywhere and watch for the Lance Fegan/Lee Ellis team to open their drive-thru donut/fried chicken shop in the Heights near Liberty Kitchen in 2013.

Popcorn

Popping up everywhere (pardon the pun), popcorn is at the top of numerous trend lists, for both savory and sweet applications. Apparently popcorn is the new crouton — how bad could that be?

Smoke

Used to preserve and as a flavor element beyond the way we typically think of it (i.e., brisket or ribs). Consider vegetables, ice cream and even cocktails to include a smoky element in the coming year.

Pickling/Fermenting

Pickling is the baby-step of fermenting, which grows living bacteria. Pickled vegetables have shown up as a stand-alone dish on menus like Down House in the Heights. Foods like kimchi and sauerkraut will continue to expand in popularity due to their unusual meld of umami and sour tastes.

Bread

Look for more attention to be paid to bread, including housemade bread and bread service like what Kevin Naderi offers at Roost, with bread especially created by Slow Dough Bread Co. and featuring a choice of spreads. Gluten-free breads should also become more available.

Smaller Portions/Family-Style Plates

Diners are seeking ways to try a variety of dishes and share their food while decreasing waste. While some Texans might wince at the thought of smaller portions, I’d encourage an open mind and thusly an appreciative palate.

Beer

Craft beers are all the rage, nationally as well as locally, with Houston brewers Saint Arnold, Karbach, Buffalo Bayou and Eatsie Boys 8th Wonder Brewery. The momentum should continue with beer showing up all over menus, including dessert.