Like fashion, diets change with the seasons. Every year a new way of restricting caloric intake hits the airwaves and suddenly it’s not a good idea to, say, eat orange foods with caffeinated beverages after labor day. Fashionable food trends dictate what we put in our mouths and, as a result, impact the very places that provide us said sustenance in a social setting. Just like shoulder pads and feathered hair, restaurant popularity ebbs and flows with the decade, style, and economic climate.
The “Take the steak, leave the cannoli” trend
Of all the fad diets out there, the Atkins craze of 2003 impacted international eating habits more so than any other diet (cabbage soup menus didn’t exactly take off). Italian restaurants scrambled to provide a low carbohydrate alternative to piles of pasta, eaters everywhere banished rice to the other side of their plates, and bagel lovers quit cold turkey. Although the protein good, carbs bad diet is not nearly as popular as it once was, there are still dining destinations for Atkins adherents in the first phase.
For a low carb trip, the steakhouses of San Antonio will not disappoint. Owned and operated by Executive Chef Mark Bohanan, Bohanan’s Prime Steak and Seafood is famous for the restaurant’s Texas hospitality and attention to detail. Consistently rated one of the best steakhouses in San Antonio (and a AAA Four Diamond Award winner to boot!), Bohanan’s corn-fed 16 oz New York Strip will make you forget just how badly you want to eat the potatoes that come with it. While in San Antonio, also try Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ – a half pound of their dry-rub beef brisket or a half roast chicken will fill any carb-deprived belly.
The “Ooh La La!” Movement
For some, French food is synonymous with old people and money, complicated sauces and indecipherable accents. Recently, energetic chefs around the world have supplemented their french culinary training with an ounce of fresh air and a dash of sass, drawing hungry masses to cuisine Française. With the release of the feature film Julie and Julia, Julia Child’s 1961 classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking finds itself once again on the best seller’s lists.
Wanna emulate Amélie? Hop a plane to Paris and linger in cafes around Montmartre. For those stateside, Las Vegas promises far more than just roulette and broken dreams. Recently featured on the awesome French episode of Top Chef, Daniel Boulud’s Brasserie in the Wynn Hotel features Country Paté, beaucoup de fromages, and, of course, escargot.
The “Security Blanket” Diet
One used to spend a special occasion dinner amongst white table clothes and an abundance of difficult to decipher cutlery. Now, food that once seemed relegated to Mom’s Sunday Dinner has become de rigueur on the most talked about menus, and international dining mecca New York has led the charge towards dishes you last consumed alongside a sippy cup. Graydon Cartyer’s The Waverly Inn and Garden in New York raised a few foodie eyebrows when it featured a decadent interpretation of the childhood favorite – USD $55 Truffled Macaroni and Cheese. For those lacking the Vanity Fair connections and endless amounts of cash required for the Waverly Inn, revisit a youthful lunchtime favorite at Peanut Butter & Co, where your inner child can ruin your actual diet by demanding a Fluffernutter or a Peanut Butter BLT.
The “Local or Else” Trend
Guru Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, started it all – retiring the frequent flyer card for her confit and celebrating locally sourced staples in her renowned kitchen. Beyond the Bay Area, you’ll find 100 mile diets on many the international menu. Locavores will not go hungry in Berlin, especially after chowing down on the Brandenburg Potato Stew at Berlin’s first Carbon Neutral restaurant, Foodorama.