6 Dining Out Trends for 2023 to Know Before You Make a Reservation

New data from OpenTable dishes on what going out to eat will look like this year.

The simple act of going out to eat has gone through quite a transformation within the last few years. After restaurants closed their doors for months at a time throughout the pandemic, it became apparent how much dining out plays a role in our everyday lives, whether it’s getting a drink at happy hour at the end of a long day or a weekend brunch tradition. With all the changes the industry has faced, diners have adapted and new trends have been created.

Group of people dining out and sharing pizza

Getty Images / AsiaVision

OpenTable, the online restaurant-reservation service, looked at seated diners from online, phone, and walk-in reservations from January 1 through October 31, 2022 and compared it to the same range in 2021 and 2019. Using that data, they developed trend predictions for what we can expect when dining out in 2023.

The main takeaway? Diners are ready to get back out there and make up for time missed.

"Despite challenging macro-economic factors, we're seeing a renewed vigor for dining out,” said John Tsou, VP of marketing at OpenTable, in a statement. “Diners are spending more on meals and going out during the weekdays more frequently too.”

Here are six trends impacting the restaurant industry this year—plus what to keep in mind when making a reservation.

1. Diners are willing to splurge.

According to OpenTable’s data, restaurant meals priced more than $50 per person saw the largest increase (8%) in popularity compared to 2019. Referred to as “revenge dining,” it’s possible this is a response to prior restaurant closures and restrictions: People are more willing to go out to an extravagant dinner, and not hold back when they do. 

2. Mindful and sustainable dining is still very much valued. 

Vegetarian cuisine has been on the rise for years now—the vegan food industry is expected to be valued at $91.9 billion by 2027—but OpenTable found there was a 60% spike in plant-based diners compared to pre-pandemic 2019. People have more of a focus on making health-conscious choices when out to eat, and they’re more interested in where their food comes from and its impact on the environment. 

3. People are dining out on Mondays for a post-weekend pick me up. 

Whether it’s to keep the party going after the weekend or to jumpstart the week in a positive way, Mondays saw the biggest increase in dining compared to last year at 27%, followed closely by Tuesday at 26%. If you’re making plans for early in the week, try to get your reservation a few days earlier than you usually would, and don’t be surprised if you’re met with a dinner rush if you do a walk-in.

4. Happy hour is back.

Growing in popularity by 27%, between 4:00 and 4:59 p.m. is the time to go out and grab a drink. With more people working from home and offices getting back into the swing of outside-of-work bonding, happy hour is the perfect way to get out of the house and get a dose of socialization. Although, alcoholic beverages aren’t necessarily the go-to anymore—mocktails continue to be on the rise in 2023. 

5. People can’t stop ordering Latin American cuisine.

Of the three current top-trending cuisines (measured by year over three year increase), two have Latin American roots. Diners are loving Colombian food, which took the top spot with a 224% rise, and Contemporary Latin came in at #3 with an increase of 68%. 

6. Diners crave connection.

Experimental dining is a trend to watch this year, from dinner theaters to underwater restaurants. After many at-home meals eaten alone during lockdown, OpenTable found that diners want communal and interactive dining experiences. Specifically, Korean, Hibachi, and Brazilian steakhouses have risen in popularity substantially since 2019. 

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