Our celebration of our 25th anniversary continues with a look at food fads of the last quarter-century. From fantasies to flops, foodies have seen much worth remembering in the past 25 years:
- Celebrity restaurant owners. In 1990, Robert De Niro opened Tribeca Grill; today it’s still hopping. The same can’t be said for Britney Spears’ failed Nyla, but who knows when she might — oops — do it again.
- Celebrity chefs. High-flyers like Daniel Boulud, Bobby Flay and Mario Batali came into their own. Others were just flashes in the pan.
- Open kitchens. Visible chef meltdowns turned great meals into great shows.
- Food trucks. The craze was convenient, but if you want fine dining, keep on truckin’.
- Farm-to-table. Begging the question: Where was food coming from before?
- Communal tables. Being inconvenienced by strangers never felt more chic.
- Coffee. Went from addiction to obsession.
- Locavore. Pushing locally sourced, sustainable produce, many locavore restaurants also famously served a holier-than-thou attitude.
- Small plates. You’d think making meals out of appetizers would cut down on the tab. Nope.
- The Food Police. Trans fats were forbidden and calories, revealed. But who’s counting?
- No smoking. The after-dinner cigarette went the way of the dodo.
- Blogging. Everyone’s a critic, and iPhones snap each dish. But who’s supposed to care?
- Molecular gastronomy. Chefs became mad scientists. But eventually even Wylie Dufresne closed his lab, wd-50
- Umami. They called it the fifth taste. I call it soy sauce.
- Burgers. The classic gave birth to a cult — from ground sirloin stuffed with foie gras, short ribs and black truffles at db Bistro Moderne to the Angus burgers at Shake Shack.
- Real-estate wars. Even stalwarts seemed perpetually in danger of losing their leases.
- Cocktail culture. Thanks, Sex and the City.
- Upscale comfort food. I love an oxymoron.
- Kale. To quote Orange Is the New Black, “That’s a garnish.”
- Fusion cuisine. A multicultural melting pot.
- Singular sensations. Spots like Flex Mussels, Peanut Butter & Co., S’Mac, and The Nutella Bar found many ways to play one note.
- “Tap or sparkling?” Designer bottled water made a splash. The Ritz-Carlton Battery Park City even had a water sommelier on staff.
- Careful Carnivores. Beef went grass-fed; chicken, free-range; pork, hormone-free.
- Brooklyn. The new dining destination. (Shh — don’t tell Manhattan.)
- Gluten-free. Please pass on the rolls.
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Last modified: July 30, 2019