Eating out

A 2016 Gallup poll found that 61 percent of Americans eat dinner out at least once a week, and 16 percent are frequent diners, eating out three or more times per week.

Dining out is no longer reserved for celebrating milestones or other special occasions. Many people dine out regularly for meals. A 2016 Gallup poll found that 61 percent of Americans eat dinner out at least once a week, and 16 percent are frequent diners, eating out three or more times per week.

People who regularly dine out may have noticed some of the growing trends that have emerged in recent years that are helping to shape dining experiences.

• Picked-on-property offerings: Many restaurants now serve foods grown, picked and processed on the premises. Rooftop or small courtyard gardens enable restaurateurs to pass the freshness on to customers. Chefs grind their own spice blends, harvest their own eggs, cure their own bacon, and embrace other hyper-local fare.

• Gut-friendly foods: Some restaurants are experimenting with preparing and offering foods that are friendly to the digestive tract. These establishments emphasize prebiotic and probiotic ingredients and focus some of their efforts on producing menus with foods that boast anti-inflammatory properties.

• Streamlined menus: Food waste is a problem across the globe. Operating a sustainable restaurant requires careful decisions about the foods that make it onto the menu. Instead of offering five different chicken dishes, a restaurant may focus on two or three popular standards to cut back on waste.

• Fast casual: Fast casual restaurants do not offer full table service, but offer a higher quality of food than traditional fast-food restaurants. These establishments also may be headed by trained and experienced chefs who add unique twists to popular menu items.

• Extended delivery options: Dining out doesn’t have to mean eating away from home. A growing number of restaurants are emphasizing their curbside takeaway, drive-throughs and delivery services. Travel-friendly fare and heat-and-eat meals are competing with convenient options available at grocery stores.

• Back to basics: More and more customers are looking for classic dishes they equate with home cooking. As a result, many restaurants are stripping away the pretense and extra ingredients and turning to traditional recipes.

Restaurant trends continue to evolve as a greater number of diners are going out to eat.

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