In many ways, the restaurant industry is a race to see who can best capitalize on trends. While there will always be outliers, in any given year certain varieties of cuisine seem to take precedence over others. In 2015, some cuisines definitely stood out.
There are certain cuisines that will never fade in popularity. Chinese, for example, or Italian. But recently we’ve seen an uptick in restaurants specializing in some relatively unexpected cuisines, and others are following suit. This year, modern Mexican, modern French, Southern, sushi, Southeast Asian, Mediterranean, and Spanish/ Portuguese proved to be the most popular.
Modern Mexican restaurants tend to be on the high end, serving dishes that you won’t find at your standard taqueria. The dishes served there tend to be chef-driven instead of ultra-traditional, but with their heart and soul (as well as ingredients) firmly rooted in Mexico. French cuisine has also made a surprising comeback, and not in the form of the traditional sauce-heavy fare or “nouvelle cuisine,” either. These new modern French restaurants, which still use traditional French techniques and preparations, aren’t afraid to push the envelope. We’re also seeing an uptick in chefs returning to their Southern roots, serving traditional, hearty, and comforting fare, usually involving fried chicken. Chefs are reaching beyond their comfort zone, introducing new audiences to the big and bold flavors of Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, sushi will always be trendy, so more and more sushi chefs are foregoing spicy tuna rolls in favor of outside-the-box seafood.
Read on to learn more about these seven cuisine styles, through the lens of five new restaurants that best represent them. Some of these restaurants are a year or more old, and some haven't even opened yet, but most were some of the most hotly-anticipated (and most successful) restaurant openings of the year.