Predictions for Food Trends in 2012

Photo courtesy of philliefan99
opening wide
courtesy of philliefan99

With 2011 and the year of the burger now behind us, the food team’s mouths are already watering and we’re looking ahead at what 2012 will bring to our plates. Our team, comprised of myself, Tricia and Natalia (our newest addition to the team!) all brainstormed about what we think will be all the rage in the new year when it comes to food.

Find our full list of predictions after the jump.
Photo courtesy of LaTur
Sinful, Delicious

courtesy of LaTur

Natalia’s 2012 Predictions:
1. Get Your Pork On
2012 will continue to be the year of the pig. Despite it being prohibited by two major world religions (more for me!), this year, pork belly will be the new bacon (take this as my official public plea/new years wish). Because its time to share the wealth and #occupy pork belly.

2. Gluten Free Fad
Two diets took over 2011–the Dukan and the Gluten Free. All women hoping to someday find a prince charming and royal wedding to match will continue to Dukan, (thanks Kate Middleton for the fairy tale
impossibility). But I’m predicting the Gluten free fad will explode in 2012. Restaurants, cookbooks, grocery stores and more will all be posting menus and items made of rice and other grains. You better stock up on those breads…soon, even wheat will be gluten free.

3. Root to Table
Remember when every restaurant concept was described as “farm to table”? Almost to the point that any restaurant that wasn’t listing their local purveyors was just bat crazy? Well, farm to table was so 2011. This year my friend, we’ll be getting the roots. Nah, not the band, they’re too busy on Jimmy Fallon… I’m talking “root to table.” What kind of radish would you like with your salad? Let me bring you our mini garden, take your pick and that root is yours.

Photo courtesy of ekelly80
fruit &

courtesy of ekelly80

Photo courtesy of Paige Weaver
courtesy of Paige Weaver

Marissa’s 2012 Predictions:
1. Take the Doughnut, Leave the Cupcake
We finally branched out from the cupcake this year, as I saw more cookies and “dessert plates” pop up on menus. But what I really think is going to endear itself more in the hearts and stomachs of DC is the doughnut. They’re just as portable as a cupcake, you can fill them with tasty jellies or creams and they’re fried. What more could you want?

2. Noodles Galore
The idea about this trend actually hit me when I was home for the holidays when I saw a few noodle chains cropping up around Charlotte, NC. Who doesn’t love a big, hot bowl of noodles or pasta? Whether it’s more mainstream places such as Noodles & Company opening locations around the city, or more homegrown ramen or pho joints, I think we’re gonna get our fill of everything from soba to bucatini in 2012.

3. Food Truck Laws on the Books
If there was any trend I wholeheartedly welcomed over the last two years, it’s been the food truck. And the trend has shown it has staying power. Unfortunately though, I still catch tweets about MPD harassing the trucks about parking or permits. With the successful creation of the DC Food Truck Association, I’m hoping/betting that 2012 will be the year that we finally see some progress with legislation that makes both traditional restauranteurs and food truck owners alike happy.

Photo courtesy of Mr. T in DC
1200 Block of H Street NE
courtesy of Mr. T in DC

Tricia’s 2012 Predictions:
1. H Street Becomes the New 14th Street
So this probably isn’t too risky of a prediction to be completely honest. Where there used to be empty lots and huge manufacturing buildings we now have locales for the artists, the music lovers, and the foodies. In the past year we had restaurants like Toki Underground, The Queen Vic, and Khan’s Bar & Grill join the ranks of Granville Moore’s, The Atlas Room, Smith Commons and…well, you get the idea. Even without the DC Streetcar on the ground quite yet, I think that H Street will become the new 14th Street NW in 2012. The four similarities that come to mind:
1. Rapidly changing neighborhoods with a LOT of resident pride.
2. A straight road with great food options on both sides as well as other entertainment (hello, theater).
3. A quiet lunch scene.
4. Three words: developer Jim Abdo.

2.The Rise of the Meatball
I’ve been hearing since 2010 that meatballs would be the new cupcakes. Yes, well, maybe elsewhere but not yet in DC…until 2012 that is. It’s such a comfort food (cue memory of cooking with grandma in the kitchen) on a mental and visceral level whether it’s in a pasta, in sandwiches, or even alone. Meatballs opened in November in Chinatown next to Luke’s Lobster, though the backing is interesting and the reviews not so good.  So maybe this locale isn’t the be-all, end-all of DC meatballs, but it might just be the impetus. I bet that by the end of 2012 we’ll have comfort balls lots of places – just think: lamb, lentils, crab, yum! Plus, from a business perspective, what a great profit margin. I don’t even want to know the cost versus the charge for a dish of meatballs. And you know we love things that we can eat in one bite!

3. A New “Celebrity Chef”
We have a lot of restaurants in DC known for their “star power,” ie – the celebrity chef. Some restaurants see their eponym often, others a few times a year, and others almost never (you know who you are). Thankfully, some of these celebrity chefs are actually in the kitchen every single day executing their food and concepts. Still, there was a big emphasis on the name this year instead of the team actually making your food everyday: the prep staff, the line cooks, the sous chefs, chef de cuisine, and even the executive chef. As always, there was an importance played on where the food is sourced from, and I expect that to only keep rising. With so many area restaurants talking farm to table, local, regional, sustainable, etc., I expect the farmer to be the new celebrity chef here in DC. That means more dinners with the farmers behind the chef explaining exactly how what you are eating got to your plate. I really hope this trend takes off.

Marissa was born and bred in New Jersey, but moved to DC for undergrad at GWU (Go Colonials, go!), fell in love with the District and learned that there was life and civilization beyond New York City. She loves eating at white-tablecloth-three-forks-at-your-place-setting restaurants, but she’ll also be the first to suggest we scarf down some chili dogs at 2 am. Simply put, she loves all things food. You can also read about why she loves DC. Follow her on Twitter and email her at mbialecki (at)

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