With the introduction this spring of the cronut by Dominique Ansel, New Yorkers got their first taste of a brand new food trend. Exciting! The cronut—a cross between a croissant and a donut—follows in the illustrious footsteps of such foods as the cupcake (RIP, cupcakes) and the kale salad (still going strong!) as a food item that every self-respecting New York foodie (which, they all tend to, um, respect themselves a lot) obsesses over.
But what about all those other food and drink trends that came before the cronut? What happens to them when they no longer hold the spotlight in our food-obsessed culture? Some of them—like the once popular Cosmopolitan—die a slow death before fading into obscurity, where they rightfully belong, while others demonstrate much-deserved staying power, and become an entrenched part of the culinary world. I'm not really sure that the cronut will have the longevity of the now maligned cupcake—it seems far too niche-y for ubiquity—but think that there's a chance that the cronut's popularity will signal a renewed respect for decadent breakfast pastries. Whether or not that actually happens, though, here's a look back at ten food trends of the last decade that have become a seemingly permanent part of New York's food culture.
I know what you're thinking. Pizza has been around FOREVER. You can't call pizza a "trend." Oh, but I can. I can do whatever I want. But also, while it's true that pizza, whether a classic Grimaldi's pie or an ever-popular slice, is a New York institution, pizza as something that is taken seriously in the food world is a relatively new thing. It's only really been in the last decade that Brooklyn foodies started extolling the virtues of the once humble pie. No longer satisfied with the occasional pilgrimage to Di Fara's, food lovers demanded more options, and now there's an abundance of amazing pizza with lots of variety and innovative toppings. One of the best places to go now if you want to experience what Brooklyn pizza has become is Greenpoint's Paulie Gee's. Whether you get the classic Regina (Fresh Mozzarella, Italian Tomatoes, Pecorino Romano, Olive Oil and Fresh Basil) or the mouth-burning Hellboy (Fresh Mozzarella, Italian Tomatoes, Berkshire Sopressata Piccante, Parmigiano Reggiano and Mike’s HOT Honey) you'll be happy that pizza became as popular as it did.
Paulie Gee's; 60 Greenpoint Avenue, Greenpoint
Another food that seems to humble and obvious to have earned "trend" status, the burger has really transformed itself from a simple diner staple into something that is so, so much more. Burgers started getting fancy once it became a trend for restaurants to open up about where they sourced their meat. Suddenly, we all knew what kind of Pat LaFrieda blend was used in our burgers, and standing on a 30-minute line at Shake Shack became a rite of passage. No longer would diners blink an eye to see a $20 burger on a menu, it became the norm. And, also, burgers are just plain delicious. They're juicy and fatty and you get to eat them with your hands. Burgers aren't going anywhere. But where should you indulge your burger love? I'm a sucker for the Dumont burger, it's thick patty is flavorful and the juices will run down your hands as you eat it. Get it with blue cheese and onion rings and you'll feel like you never need to eat again.
Dumont Burger; 314 Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg
In more innocent, pre-food culture times, I ate Top Ramen at least five times a week. Was that a healthy thing to do? Of course not. Although, in fairness, it was probably the healthiest thing I did at the time, not least because all those preservatives have probably kept me looking relatively young (I'm pretty sure that's how preservatives work.) Anyway, ramen is not just about cheap eats for college students anymore—it's a veritable obsession for food-lovers all over New York. My favorite place for ramen now is Prospect Heights restaurant Chuko, which has a limited menu and is cash-only, but that's just fine. The food isn't pricy and the ramen is so delicious that you won't want anything else, except maybe a side of spicy pickles.
New York has never been—and perhaps never will be—known for its Mexican food. In fact, it's one of the few things Californians can lord over us. Which, fine. Do what you gotta do, Californians. Despite that, Mexican food has become incredibly popular here, and with good reason. There actually is a lot of great Mexican food here—especially tacos. In fact, there are so many good options now—from the breakfast tacos at Williamsburg's Briskettown to the carnitas tacos at Sunset Park's Tacos Matamoros—that it was hard to pick just one place. But in the end, I have to recommend Chavela's in Crown Heights. I could eat their avocado tacos all day, every day. So, so good.
Chavela's; 736 Franklin Avenue, Crown Heights
It really wasn't so long ago that vodka ruled the roost at most bars, and the fanciest drink that a person felt comfortable ordering was a dirty martini or (shudder) a Cosmopolitan. Well, those days are long gone thanks to the advent of cocktail culture and the popularity of speakeasy-style bars. And while I tend to be partial to bars that don't rely too heavily on references to the 1920s, I also really appreciate that it has become incredibly easy to go to most bars and get a well-mixed Old Fashioned or Vieux Carré. So, in honor of that, go get a drink at Miles, where there is no shortage of perfectly mixed drinks (with awesome, punning names) that celebrate cocktail culture without being too theme-y.
Miles; 101 Wilson Avenue, Bushwick
Kale. What is there to say about kale anymore? What a weird food to have become trendy, right? It's so...healthy. And green. And full of fiber. Anyway, it is basically the exact opposite of a cronut, and yet it's popularity is still sky-high. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that some of the best kale dishes also incorporate bacon? I don't know! Hard to say. But who cares really? We're still eating our greens. And you should eat your greens at Battersby, which became famous based on its delicious kale salad. Instead of just the kale salad, you also might want to try the Wagyu Short Rib, which comes with crispy kale and combines the best of both worlds in healthy and decadent eating.
Battersby; 255 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens
Maybe this started with Starbucks? That's kind of crazy to think. But no matter how the coffee trend made its way over to New York from the west coast, it's definitely here to stay. In fact, coffee culture has completely transformed my life because now I spend a shit ton of money on coffee all year and, frankly, it might not have been much cheaper if I'd just stuck to cigarettes and my homemade Chock Full o' Nuts instead of quitting smoking and indulging in a five-dollar-a-day Grumpy habit. Anyway, if you have a lot of disposable income, there's no better place to spend it than in Steeplechase. This small Windsor Terrace coffee shop uses beans from the Brooklyn Roasting Company and also has a great assortment of pastries and small sandwiches if you're hungry.
Steeplechase Coffee; 3013 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Windsor Terrace
Bacon! Everybody loves bacon, right? That's why it's now so easy to find in things like chocolate bars or mixed up with salt and used to coat the rim of a cocktail. While I think we reached peak bacon saturation point some time ago, it's hard to deny that bacon still has some legit staying power and is still pretty damn delicious. But where should you go for your bacon fix? I mean, you could go anywhere, right? Bacon is on almost every menu these days. But I'd recommend you hit up the Pines, where guanciale (not exactly bacon, but close enough) is used to great, explosively flavorful effect in a variety of dishes.
The Pines; 284 3rd Avenue, Gowanus
Who would have thought that a spicy condiment known colloquially as "rooster sauce" would have gotten so ubiquitous? Anyone who's tried it, basically. Sriracha has become my ketchup, if I'm going to be honest. But beyond being something that Brooklynites can just eat at home, many chefs have incorporated it into their dishes to startling effect. One such chef is Dale Talde, who uses it in many amazing ways, but my favorite might be as a coating to his Korean chicken wings that he serves with waffles and coconut brown butter syrup at brunch. I'm drooling just thinking about it.
Talde; 369 7th Avenue, Park Slope
Perhaps the strangest trend—although certainly the healthiest, other than kale—is the juicing trend. It's strange only because it is so closely associated with things like office juice cleanses, which are really little more than a week of seeing your co-workers run to the bathroom to shit several times a day. Um, but anyway, juicing has become really popular, and I'm in favor of it for the simple reason that fresh juice is insanely good and does great stuff to my skin and hair. And, I guess, regularity? But, ew. Anyway, I love Tiny Empire in Williamsburg, where the juice is all raw, organic, and unpasteurized. It's also insanely addictive, like all good food trends should be.
Tiny Empire; 142 N 6th Street, Williamsburg
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen