Top Dining Trends for 2012: Kids at Restaurants Are Out; Bread, Spicy Foods Are In

When you think about it, is there anything that isn't fine about dining on a juicy burger, like this one from Elements in LA?

As we look back today at the top restaurants of 2011, we’re also looking ahead to next year. We recently surveyed our restaurant partners and OpenTable VIP diners to find out the top trends for 2012.

1. Babysitters are as important as reservations. You love your children, naturally, but your fellow fine diners? Not so much. Two-thirds of respondents would prefer you leave the little ones at home, even though just as many restaurants are more than glad to serve young foodies.

2. Bread is back. Carbs be damned; more than 60% of diners want to see bread on the table at the beginning of their meal — and they don’t want to have to ask for it, thankyouverymuch.

3. Almost everyone likes it hot. Nearly 90% of OpenTable diners want chefs to turn up the heat with spices.

4. Burgers are no longer rare. Three-quarters of guests surveyed welcome burgers on fine dining menus and half of fine-dining restaurants serve them.

5. Breakfast: It’s what’s for dinner. More than 80% of respondents would like to see breakfast food served all day. [Ed. note: Me, too!]

6. Desserts go beyond carrot cake. Bugs Bunny’s fave veg will have to share the dessert tray, as many other vegetables are being used in desserts. And, nearly 20% of diners have tried veggie-based sweets – and half of our respondents are interested in trying them.

7. Let’s get small. Diners are growing more health-conscious, with 70% reporting that they are pleased that restaurants have reduced portion sizes.

8. Sustainable is good for restaurants’ sustainability. 85% of diners prefer that restaurants serve sustainably sourced ingredients.

9. It’s easier to be gluten-free. More than 75% of restaurants surveyed said they offered gluten-free items, and many that do not plan on adding dishes that are safe for Celiac sufferers.

10.  Fine dining goes high tech. One-fourth of restaurants are or will be integrating more technology into the dining experience, via menus and wine lists on iPads. This is great news for our diners: 65% would welcome it!







What are your dining predictions for next year? Add a comment or tell us on Facebook!