As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to put a strain on the hospitality industry, Yelp is taking a look at how consumers changed their habits when ordering in and eating out in 2020 — and what that means for next year. As more restaurants and other businesses have reduced capacity or switched to outdoor or takeout-only options, Yelp's food trends for 2021 were released on Dec. 2, and they show people gravitated towards classic comfort food dishes as well as some more adventurous offerings when deciding what to eat. Here's what the company says you can expect in the coming year, based on the foods that popped in 2020.
In an email to Elite Daily, Yelp detailed the report's findings, which were computed by comparing the rate at which trending words were mentioned in recommended U.S. reviews from Jan. 1 through Oct. 27 in 2020 versus that same nearly 11-month time frame in 2019. Unsurprisingly, the report found that the mention of meal kits, in-restaurant groceries, and takeout significantly increased during the year as restaurants found new and inventive ways to serve customers during the pandemic.
In addition, Yelp reported that for both takeout and dine-in options, people continued to gravitate to comfort food takeout staples in addition to more trendy ingredients. Some notable jumps included:
- Detroit-style pizza had an increase of 52% in review mentions.
- Fried Chicken. In fact, Nashville hot fried chicken was up 60% in mentions, and Korean fried chicken was up 26%.
- Hot honey, which is, of course spicy honey, is having a moment and spiked 48%. The condiment has been used often as a topping on foods like fried chicken and pizza, as well as an addition to cocktails.
During 2020, people also got more adventurous by trying classic dishes from other countries. For example:
- Birria, which is a meat-based stew from Jalisco, Mexico. This dish saw a 235% increase in mentions thanks to the food truck scene, especially when used in birria tacos made from beef, goat, or lamb. In 2021, expect to see even more spins on the dish, like birria quesadillas, aka a "quesabirria."
- Japanese sandwiches, or "sandos," which are often filled with fruit and egg, saw a bump of 97%.
As for drinks, some classics remain supreme, like:
- Hard seltzers, which jumped 169% between 2018 and 2019, continued to trend this year with a 189% increase.
- Boba, aka bubble tea, reigned supreme. The number of reviews mentioning brown sugar boba went up 185% compared to the same time last year. In 2021, you'll see boba in more dessert offerings as well.
Over the past year, Yelp's report also noticed that people upgraded their takeout options with an increased interest in Indian and Thai food. Meanwhile, cocktails and other beverages with turmeric were a popular addition. While Yelp didn't predict whether this trend would continue past the pandemic, it reported that "overall interest in both delivery and takeout surged." In particular, the amount of search interest in takeout grew 71% percent from the same time last year.
Only time will tell whether any of these trends hold up in 2021, but if they do, get ready to share your birria tacos and hot honey on your grid.