I hadn’t even considered posting a best of 2010/2011 forecast piece until I read an article in the El Paso Times. I was surprised to find that they actually wrote an article rather than publish a syndicated one. It was good to hear what EP restaurant owners are thinking and doing about the food scene here. I was inspired and thought it might be fun to try my hand at covering and forecasting EP’s food trends.
My 2010 Food Trend Year in Review:
Craft Beer, especially on draft.
- 2010 was the year of beer in El Paso. The Side Door Liquor Store/State Line held its first annual beer tasting event in April, and I was blown away. There were unlimited tastings of over 100 beers. About eight of the beers were on tap, while the rest were in the bottle. Representatives from the breweries were present as well. It was like a mini version of Denver BrewFest. Their tasting was so successful, they decided not to wait a full year, and held another one in August. Other places such as Billy Crews held their own beer tastings as well.
- Several beer dinners at local restaurants were also held throughout the year.
- Commonwealth, a so-called gastropub (a pub that concentrates on quality food) opened. I haven’t been there because it does not look like there’s any veg items on the menu. I’m not sure if they were trying to emulate the Commonwealth bar in D.C., but I wish they actually had, because their menu looks amazing.
- The Hoppy Monk, a bar that serves over 100 craft beers opened in December. No Budweiser or MillerCoors products are served there.
- A couple of local farmers’ markets have been around for years, but they seemed especially trendy this past year.
- New farmers’ markets popped up, such as the one at the Outlet Shoppes.
- This year we saw a lot of Juarez based restaurants open up locations in El Paso. Off the top of my head, they were: Carousel, Los Cunados, Garufa, and Tortas Nico. El Pasoans had mixed emotions about the establishments. Many were excited to have them come to El Paso, while the rest felt that these restaurants should not be supported because they are supposedly drug funded.
- A lot of local restaurants made the leap to Facebook and Twitter, some successful and some…well they just abandoned their sites. “I’m Doing El Paso” did a great job of letting El Pasoans know about drinking and eating news, as well as the best deals in town.
- Some restaurants made their presence known on Foursquare by offering rewards.
- Food trucks let everyone know of their location through Facebook and Twitter.
My 2011 Food Trend Forecast:
My list is probably going to look lazy to you because I feel that most of 2010’s trends are going to continue on in 2011. My hope is that they become bigger, better, and more affordable as the demand grows.
- More bars, more craft on tap, & a focus on food pairings. Everyone has become or is trying to become a beer snob these days. El Pasoans are still true to their domestics, but they also want to splurge and sample craft and import beers. I think we’re going to see a couple more bars open that are going to try to capitalize off of the craft beer craze. A lot of current bars and restaurants are going to rethink their taps, and possibly add more out of the ordinary draught choices.
- In 2010, we saw a first attempt at a gastropub via Commonwealth and an influx of beer dinners. I think more local restaurants are going to include beer pairing suggestions on their menus. I also think that beers will play a key ingredient in new menu offerings. Hopefully they will go beyond beer battered foods, chili, and beer floats. I heard that the Hoppy Monk is going to eventually open their kitchen and offer a small menu.
- The Greenery, World Market, The Side Door Liquor Store, and some grocery stores sell single bottles of beer to create your own six pack. I think more people are going to want to host their own beer tastings at home.
- We’re definitely going to see more restaurants, both chain and local utilizing social media. Carl’s Jr. has bypassed Foursquare and other location based sites by creating their own mobile app rewards program. I don’t think local restaurants will invest in creating their own apps, so most will probably utilize Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places, etc. Restaurants need to realize how important social media is to their businesses these days. Customers want to know what’s going on at their local restaurants, and interact with them both positively and negatively. This feedback is going to help restaurants succeed and better themselves, as well as create a strong loyalty to their brand. Chefs in larger cities are on Twitter and tweeting about what they’re cooking at both their restaurants and at home.
- The popularity of farmers’ markets has made us more aware of what’s in season. I think El Pasosans are going to try to cook more with foods that are in season. It’s tastier, healthier, cheaper, and helps narrow down what to cook for dinner. Sustainability has been a hot topic for the past couple of years.
- Meatless Monday was created back in 2003, but it picked up even more popularity in 2010. Many publications are including a weekly feature that focuses on Meatless Monday recipes, including the NY Times and Cooking Light. The Stanton Magazine also wrote an article about this trend. Unfortunately, someone posted a negative and ignorant comment about vegetarianism. I posted a comment, but it was never approved (?!), so you won’t see it there.
- Last May, Mario Batali joined the Meatless Monday campaign by offering vegetarian options at all 14 of his restaurants on Mondays. They even came up with a cool, minimalistic MM logo. It would be great if El Paso restaurants had at least one veg option on their menus. Even chains like Applebee’s don’t have a substantial veg option.
- Las Cruces opened SB’s Late-night Lunch Box, a mainly vegetarian/vegan restaurant. While I don’t foresee a veg restaurant opening this year in El Paso, I do think that more El Pasoans will order vegetarian at restaurants and dabble in cooking more meatless meals at home.
What trends did I miss? Do you have any forecasts for 2011?