Nation's Restaurant News Names Top Food Trends of 2015
Nation's Restaurant News Names Top Food Trends of 2015

Forget kale and those weird food mashups like the Piecaken. Here are the nine best food trends from this year.

As the year of kale ( once called “the Taylor Swift of greens”), avocado toast, sour beer, freaky food mashups (oh, what agony the Cronut, Doughssants, Piecakens and Crumbnuts hath wrought) and the oft- used farm-to-table marketing ploy finally comes to an end, we’re eager to say good riddance to a handful of lazy, weird and downright bad food trends.

Fortunately, not all of 2015 has filled our stomachs with regret. Nation’s Restaurant News tapped into some of the country’s top restaurant franchises to compile their list of this year’s top food trends. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Fried Chicken

The lowly fried chicken has become the new object of every gourmand’s affection. With chains like Chick-fil-A, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen, Church’s Chicken and KFC covering the country, franchises have long been a part of this trend before it was cool (take that, hipsters). But we’re excited to see how other restaurants will adapt, too. Fried chicken sandwiches are already appearing at places like Shake Shack, which recently introduced a Chicken Shack at its Brooklyn, N.Y. locations. And in a move that pays homage to the fast-casual restaurants before him, renowned chef David Chang opened the doors to Fuku this year, a so-called beta test for a multi-unit fast-fried chicken venture.

2. Chiles

A few years ago, sriracha was just some weird, unpronounceable hot sauce that you might find in Chinatown. Now, it’s everywhere you look—you can get a Subway chicken sriracha melt with a side of sriracha potato chips and a sriracha-induced stomachache. If you’re in need of even more heat, Your Pie, the originator of the down-the-line pizza category, introduced a Sriracha Nacho Pie this year. While this much-loved condiment will always remain ubiquitous, it’s helped pave the way for other spicy elements. Chinese Szechuan peppercorns, harissa and Peruvian aji Amarillo are just a few items finding their way onto menus across the country.

3. India Pale Ales

The IPA is unassailable in the craft beer world, and it has come to symbolize the modern beer drinker. Sales of the style account for 27.4 percent of the overall craft beer market—a number that’s increasing annually. These hoppy, high-flavor brews can be found on tap in restaurants big and small, giving diners even more reason to imbibe on a Sunday afternoon. Society might dub the IPA as the drink of choice for your standard Urban Outfitters-wearing, fixie-riding, bearded millennial, but we’re still happy to see restaurants like Your Pie and Buffalo Wings & Rings adding craft beer pairings to their menus.

Click here to read the full list of food trends.