2020's Food Trends Include Oatmeal and Churros

We might also see a boom in elongated bagels.


Image: Kristan Lawson

Top restaurant-and-hospitality consulting firm af&co has released its twelfth annual list of new food trends.

Based on nationwide research along with the insights of industry insiders, the 2020 list is titled "We're Not in Kansas Anymore."

According to the list, the "Food Trend of the Year" is plant-basedness. Vegan, the list predicts, will go viral. If so, then East Bay-headquartered companies such as Oakland's Impossible Foods and Berkeley's Prime Roots will be at the forefront.

The "Cuisine of the Year" will be Laotian. As stated in the report: “The Lao food movement is growing and for good reason — the food is bright, herbal, and delicious. Building on the popularity of northern Thai cuisine, expect spicy meat salads (larb), lots of fresh herbs, simple grilled meats and fish, and plenty of sticky rice.” That's good news for Oakland's Vientian Café and Champa Garden.

Mooshy and comforting, the "Dish of the Year" will be porridge — ranging in style and origins from Portuguese papas to Japanese okayu to Chinese jook to Filipino arroz caldo to Vietnamese chao ga to Swedish risgrynsgröt to classic Quaker Oats.

The "Dessert of the Year" will be churros, according to the report. Check out Churros Guerrero on Bancroft Avenue or Churros Mexicanos on East 12th Street. 

Other trends to watch out for, according to San Francisco-based af&co, include soft, elongated Jerusalem bagels — and sourdough in suprising formats such as donuts, pizza, pickles, and more.

“There’s a greater knowledge and appreciation for the art of sourdough, a traditional way of leavening using fermentation,” the report stated. “Health benefits also play a big role in the rise of sourdough — it can make items more easily digestible and also offers nutritional benefits.”

Another hot trend is square pizza. Also known as Sicilian-style and Detroit-style, it's not round.

A business trend predicted by the report will find restaurants "breaking out of their four walls." In other words, sit-down meals in brick-and-mortar eateries are on the outs. Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Oakland's own Planted Table and Kitchen Doula are in.

“Delivery spending is growing two-three times faster than on-premises restaurant sales and expected to outperform on-site sales next year," the report explained. "The implication? Ghost kitchens, virtual restaurants, and cloud kitchens are moving into the spotlight."

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