As December begins and the quarter comes to an end, here at the Nexus we want to reflect on 2017. While most of it may have seemed like a cruel joke or a nonsensical dream, one thing that can always be relied upon to seem right in the world is food.
On The Menu went back in time through the depths of Pinterest, Instagram, Google search results and hipster food blogs to reveal the biggest food trends by month in 2017. In case you missed the hype or want to reflect on your culinary decisions, here is a compiled list of the most popular foods of the past year.
Okay I know I just said that this list was trends of 2017 but let’s face it: A lot of rapid change happened after the November 2016 election, and with that being said I feel like our journey begins here with empanadas. The delicious savory pastry pockets come in a variety of flavors, making them adaptable to many different culinary backgrounds. Plenty of places have taken on the grab-and-go simplicity of these Latin treats and applied their own artisanal spin on them. Locally, you can pick some up at Tangonadas downtown.
For anyone with any sort of appreciation of Vietnamese cuisine, you may be saying “what the pho” to this next pick. But for those unaware, this noodle dish and its aromatic broth blew up in a big way at the beginning of this year. Although it was an already trendy meal, there was an explosion of social media posts about at-home adaptations of the traditional dish in that first cold month of 2017. You can get your pho on at Saigon Noodle House near Kmart or in your backyard at Pho Bistro.
Matcha is one of those things that I have been intimidated by. Hearing those perfectly put-together sorority girls order their matcha lattes while I grunt out an order for black iced coffee in my sweatpants and last night’s leftover eyeliner has made me as bitter as my drink. But matcha became a staple in coffee and tea houses this year. Not only is it super good for you, but it’s an aesthetically pleasing pale green. Pick up a matcha green tea latte at Caje to make you feel better about yourself for finals week.
Just a walk down the snack aisle at TJ’s will tell you that veggie chips are in. If it grew from the earth and is remotely considered vegan, then by God the manufacturers are going to thinly slice, fry and salt it so they can throw it in some packaging and tell you it’s a chip. And this year we ate it up, literally. Those “alternative chips” flew off the shelves with their peak season in March. Might I suggest a bag of the classic Inner Peas? They may be contested as a true to form “chip,” but, let’s be honest, if it isn’t a potato, is it really a chip?
This year I think we were all desperate for a little escape from reality, and maybe that’s why we made everything look like a fucking unicorn. From lattes to cupcakes to god damn cream cheese on toast and popcorn. We slapped pastel pinks, purples, blues and edible glitter on anything that couldn’t run fast enough. While I appreciate the creativity, I’m not an advocate of consuming fictional beings and hope this trend stays in 2017. If you need one last magical meal, try the unicorn hot chocolate recipe from cookiesandcups.com
Isla Vista may have jumped on the band wagon late with this one by just opening up two poke restaurants in the last few months, but that is simply a testament to the popularity of the raw fish bowls. It seems as if this trend is here to stay and has already formed its own cult following and fusion adaptations. You’ll be seeing an exponential growth of the poke scene. Try out our two new Isla Vista poke stops at Poke Ceviche and PokiRito.
Although tacos have stood the test of time and will likely always be popular, especially in our beautiful state of California, there has been a taco takeover in the culinary world, so to speak. It seems that one positive thing from this past election has been a need for awareness and a sense of unity amongst cultures and groups targeted by the executive branch. A Mexican classic that allows for variation and adaptations, the taco has become a staple in restaurants as humble as mom and pop’s to five-star culinary legends. To feel united with our cousins south of the border, try the famous Lily’s Tacos in the Kmart plaza, open every day except Tuesday.
This trend was one that I seemed to have missed entirely, although Pinterest sure didn’t. In case you were looking for an alternative barbecuing option, then jackfruit is your guy. Used as a substitute for pulled pork and other piggy plates, the hearty fruit definitely raises some eyebrows. Try this recipe for Kentucky-fried jackfruit from theveglife.com
For years the green on the scene was kale, but that’s old news now. Many veg heads have opted for more aromatic and interesting greens. Those like mustard greens, arugula, watercress, chard and curly endive have hypnotized the masses with their nutritional benefits. Anything from green smoothies to salads, the health gods have spoken and kale just simply isn’t enough. Try Mesa Verde’s strawberry asparagus salad for your next dinner.
Yes, I know avocado has consistently been a trend since idk, the early 2000s?? Yet here we are, just as mesmerized as ever by this creamy green fruit. The California Avocado Festival, which happens at the end of September or early October, doesn’t help us calm down much either, and so all month our Instagram feeds are filled with avocado roses, guacamole done 100 different ways and of course every variation of avocado toast that has ever been thought of. Ever. So go ahead, get the guac, even though you know it’s extra; at least you’re on trend.
Another trend that simply skyrocketed was the grain bowl. Every natural food blog or weight loss enthusiast has posted about these nutritious build-your-own bowls. Starting with quinoa or brown rice and then a healthy mound of greens, fruits veggies, legumes and sometimes meat, these bowls are super customizable and easy meals for every appetite. Try the Quinoa Keen-What? at Kyle’s Kitchen.
The latest trend has been a favorite of co-op queens and counter-culture kids for years, but has since become a mainstream staple. The fermented concoction is boasting probiotic benefits and pungent flavors, making it the new powerhouse potion for those looking to cleanse their inner chakras. Pick up a bottle of Health-Ade Kombucha in pomegranate flavor at the Isla Vista Food Co-Op.