United Plates of America: A Look at Regional Restaurant Dishes

United Plates of America: A Look at Regional Restaurant Dishes

Restaurant trends are always changing. Whether your guests are craving poke, pancakes, or unicorn lattes, it’s important to keep your menu up to date with the most popular dishes. And while everyone knows how seasonal specials can boost your bottom line (is it PSL season yet?), we’re just starting to realize just how regional these trends can be.

Wherever you are right now, you can be sure your guests have pretty unique tastes. Are you reading this while you drink hot chocolate? Or are you sipping a mai tai in your bathing suit? Regional weather is one clear indicator that guests around the country have different cravings – but it doesn’t end there. From Chicago’s Italian beef sandwiches to New Orleans’ Gulf-caught seafood, every major city has its traditions. It makes sense that customers in different areas will have different ideas about what makes a restaurant menu great.

Last year, GrubHub collected information about the most popular dishes in major cities around the country – and some of the findings may surprise you. Who knew Philadelphia rolls would be such a hit in Phoenix, AZ?


  1. Kansas City, Mo.: Mac and cheese — 447% rise in popularity
  2. Miami: Sweet plantains — 418% rise in popularity
  3. Austin, Texas: Chicken fajitas — 416% rise in popularity
  4. Phoenix: Philadelphia roll — 403% rise in popularity
  5. Portland, Ore.: Grilled steak burrito — 397% rise in popularity
  6. Chicago: Chicken taquitos — 373% rise in popularity
  7. Boston: Butter naan — 362% rise in popularity
  8. Cleveland: Loaded fries — 350% rise in popularity
  9. Seattle: Bacon cheeseburgers — 344% rise in popularity
  10. Detroit: Lettuce chicken wraps — 340% rise in popularity
  11. New York: Spicy miso ramen — 331% rise in popularity
  12. Dallas: Beef burger — 325% more popularly ordered in Dallas this year
  13. St. Louis: Steak tacos — 316% rise in popularity
  14. Philadelphia: Sweet potato tots — 308% rise in popularity
  15. Houston: Beef fajitas — 289% rise in popularity
  16. Los Angeles: Poke — 260% rise in popularity
  17. Atlanta: Buttermilk pancakes — 234% rise in popularity
  18. San Diego: Shrimp taco — 218% rise in popularity
  19. Las Vegas: Tuna sandwich — 203% rise in popularity
  20. Denver: Tonkotsu ramen — 152% rise in popularity
  21. Washington: Pho — 143% rise in popularity
  22. San Francisco: Buttermilk fried chicken — 136% rise in popularity


Looking at the data from 2017 can inform the decisions restaurant operators make in the year ahead. As some trends go up, others will go down. For example: lettuce wraps landed squarely in the middle of the list last year, with a 340% rise in popularity in Detroit. In 2018, this dish is forecasted to be more popular than ever, with a 184% average rise in popularity every month. Other light dishes, like poke and bulgogi, are also near the top of the list.

Whatever dishes you choose to serve, one thing is clear from this body of research. Cloud-based data is more important than ever – especially for restaurants. If you’re not already saving information about every customer’s order, now’s the time to start. Put your most valuable marketing tool to good use by analyzing the hottest trends, and changing your menu accordingly.

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