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Our predictions for 2019 food trends and the trends we want to see die

It’s the first This Bites of the year. We’re gonna talk about food trend predictions of 2019.

Each week on Radio Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine’s dining critic, Ann Christenson, and 88Nine’s foodie, Tarik Moody, discuss Milwaukee’s culinary and restaurant culture on This Bites. This Bites is supported by Society Insurance.

Read more and listen to the podcast below to hear our food trend predictions for the coming year, plus find out which shuttered Milwaukee staple returns. Check back in a year and see if these come true.

Here are our predictions for what will become more popular in 2019 on the culinary scene.

Food trends we think will have a moment

Let's kick it off with something inspirational...

Chefs being more involved in causes

Elevated Chef Pop-Up on Saturday, January 27th from 5-8PM at Blue’s Egg on 76th and Bluemound

We talk a lot about pop-ups, but this is a little bit different. This pop-up is for a potential food truck that wants to get up and running Summer 2019 called The Elevated Chef, that will be the name of the food truck. This is an initiative starting by and organization, Exploit No More. It’s an organization that seeks to help youth who have been trafficked or are at high-risk of being trafficked in the future; showing them there is dignity in work. There is so much that you get out of cooking. This pop-up will be a way to test out the menu. So far we know there will be grass-fed beef burgers and from what we’re told, the most amazing chicken tenders you’ll ever have with over 10 different sauces to choose from. Reservations required, make them HERE.

Mezcal & rum

Ann: Mezcal is making in-roads to more bar menus, maybe this will be the year.

Tarik: Rum has not gotten the respect it deserved. You’ve probably had rum at places like Foundation in a tiki drink, but how about neat or with one ice cube? I think it is the year of rum.

Plant-based menus continuing to grow

Ann: We have some great plant-based restaurants in Milwaukee and I think it’s only going to grow.

Tarik: I feel like there’s going to be a backlash. I bet in New York there will be “meat only” restaurants opening as a backlash.


Ann: I’ve found a brownie recipe with a tahini swirl in it, those are really good. There’s a positive and a negative thing happening there. Right before this I had your fantastic black-eye pea hummus with tahini and garlic. There are more kinds of flavored hummus, but apparently now there are dessert hummus. I really don’t think that’s the way to go with it. Although I think tahini is really interesting with a lot of different applications.


Ann: It will be interesting to see where bowls go; if they evolve into something else or go away entirely. We’re talking about so many things here; it could be hot pot, ramen, pho, a grain bowl.

Tarik: I think poké bowls are going out, but I think there might be a traditional poké moment. Like what you get at Ono Kine Grindz, that style of poké.


Ann: There are people doing Dry January. I read a study that a lot of people drank less even after the month. I do think collectively as a culture we drink too much. I think if you choose not to have alcohol, you should still be able to have something that tastes awesome with nuance of flavors. Why can't you have that in a non-alcoholic cocktail? I'm seeing more of them, I'm tasting more of them, and I love that.

CBD oil

Ann: I went to a local grocery store and saw individually wrapped CBD oil infused cookies. It was like $5 for that cookie.

Tarik: Is it just as effective as CBD oil if you cook it? CBD lattes; why can't you have your CBD oil and then a latte separately. I was in L.A. walking around and saw a CBD pizza place.

Ann: I think we'll see more instances of CBD in food.

Food trends that need to die

Ann: “Artisan” coffee. One of the things we were talking about is coffee. I like coffee, I went through a cold-brew phase. I just enjoy straight up French roast. It’s probably me, that I don’t appreciate these nuances of unusual flavors like mushroom. I don’t want to taste a rib-eye in the coffee, I don’t want “hints of root vegetable and citrus and lavender.” I don’t care for that in my coffee, I know it’s a big movement for these different beans; you roast them and they have different flavor. That’s fine, it’s great it’s out there, but I find it’s difficult to just go to a coffeehouse and get a French roast.

Tarik: I love instant coffee. I was a Sanka kid growing up, I could drink pints of it.

Overly flavored craft beer

Tarik: I have friends who are brewers and I respect brewers, I like interesting beers… but I go to a brewery and they have 30 taps and only one or two light lagers. I would love the return to great, refreshing, crisp beer. I don’t want to eat my beer, I don’t want it to overpower the food. It’s very rare for people to champion lagers again. There aren’t many food-friendly beers.

The insect trend

Ann: I remember the old Cempazuchi, they would serve some kind of insect during a holiday. I did not try it.

Small water glasses

Tarik: What’s with the small Dixie cup sized water glasses? I have to wait 10 minutes to have it filled again. It’s not cute, stop it.

Ann: There are restaurants now that don’t give you water unless you ask.

The return of two Milwaukee restaurants

Umami Moto

It has been four years since the Milwaukee staple closed its doors. They did a few pop-ups, but I didn't hear anything until now. It will be a new tenant in the 3rd Street Market Hall (formerly Grand Avenue Mall.)

Café Centraal 

It has been closed for a re-concepting. They will re-open with a new beverage experience featuring 70 beverages on tap; beer, wine, cocktails, craft soda, tea, coffee and other non-alcoholic offerings. They renovated the entire space. Expect more global offerings; Middle Eastern, Asian, Central American inspired dishes but with old favorites from the old days coming back.

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee