Chicago / IL. (grub) We’re officially in the second half of 2020, and it’s time to turn the dial back to take a look at how we ate our way through the beginning of a year unlike any other we’ve seen before. Grubhub Inc., a leading online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace, launched its latest report, «State of the Plate», looking at trends across the more than half a million orders placed a day. Grubhub’s mid-year report checks in on the popular food trends to date and what quarantined Americans ordered through contact-free delivery, and predicts what we can expect to see more of in the second half of the year.
From grabbing a chorizo burrito (270 percent more popular) for breakfast, a cheesy breadstick snack (412 percent more popular), a plant-based burger (291 percent more popular), or a fit-for-quarantine meal kit (orders of meal kits rose 55 percent), below are the trends we’ve loved so far this year.
Disclaimer: The top foods below have seen the fastest growth on the Grubhub platform during the first half of 2020.
Top foods of 2020 to date
In 2019 we were introduced to the chicken sandwich war, and in 2020 it raged on as chain and independent restaurants added the sandwich to their menus for diners to enjoy. The spicy chicken sandwich saw a nearly 300 percent rise in popularity this year, with other top foods spanning a range of categories and plenty of newcomers.
- spicy chicken sandwich: 299 percent more popular
- plant-based burger: 291 percent more popular
- vanilla shake: 273 percent more popular
- iced latte: 261 percent more popular
- chili: 228 percent more popular
- cinnamon roll: 205 percent more popular
- chimichanga: 195 percent more popular
- beef burrito: 181 percent more popular
- potato taco: 169 percent more popular
- taro milk tea: 168 percent more popular
The Top Food in America’s Most Populous Cities
- New York City: Mushroom burger: 150 percent more popular
- Los Angeles: California burrito: 286 percent more popular
- Chicago: Gyro: 299 percent more popular
- Philadelphia: Buffalo chicken pizza: 323 percent more popular
- Dallas-Fort Worth: Elote: 191 percent more popular
- Bay Area (SF, Oakland, San Jose): Saag paneer: 389 percent more popular
- Washington, DC: Drunken noodle: 166 percent more popular
- Houston: Fried mushrooms: 238 percent more popular
- Boston: Lettuce wrap: 268 percent more popular
- Atlanta: Plant-based burger: 147 percent more popular
Methodology: Grubhub took a look at order trends on its platform from January 1 – June 20, 2020, as compared to the same timeframe in 2019 to find the top items rising in popularity so far.
Seasonal favorites + forecasts
Seasonal trends tend to impact eating habits, so we took a look at exactly what rose through the ranks this past winter and spring. As far as what we can expect to see in the latter half of 2020, summer is seeing lighter fare while the fall heats up with a little spice.
Top Trends: Winter
- chicken sandwich: 238 percent more popular
- New England clam chowder bowl: 195 percent more popular
- barbecue burger: 132 percent more popular
- sausage egg cheese sandwich: 101 percent more popular
- tan tan ramen: 96 percent more popular
Top Trends: Spring
- donuts: 214 percent more popular
- bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit: 169 percent more popular
- sausage burrito: 163 percent more popular
- chicken sandwich: 153 percent more popular
- plant-based sausage breakfast sandwich: 150 percent more popular
Forecasts: Summer (in ranking order)
- vegetable biryani
- spinach and artichoke wonton
- Mexican shrimp cocktail
- black bean and quinoa bowl
- balsamic chicken salad
Forecasts: Fall (in ranking order)
- miso tofu bowl
- quinoa taco salad
- mushroom burger
- cajun wing
- buffalo chicken empanada
Methodology: «Top Trends» look at the most popular food orders during winter (Dec 21, 2019 – March 19, 2020) and spring (March 20, 2020 – June 20, 2020) compared to those same periods in 2018 and 2019. «Forecasted» items looked at the top foods on the Grubhub platform over the past two years, recently trending items, and other seasonal favorites to forecast what America will indulge in this summer + fall.
Vegan + plant-based trends continue to grow
Similar to Grubhub’s 2019 Year in Food Report, diners are continuing to eat vegan and vegetarian dishes. So far this year, vegan orders have risen by 23 percent, plant-based burgers specifically increasing by 90 percent and general plant-based orders by a whopping 135 percent!
Top Vegetarian Burgers
- black bean burger: 233 percent more popular
- grilled portobello mushroom burger: 179 percent more popular
- Impossible burger: 167 percent more popular
- quinoa-based burger: 161 percent more popular
- eggplant burger: 147 percent more popular
Top Vegan-friendly Cities
- New York, NY
- Los Angeles, CA
- Portland, OR
- Las Vegas, NV
- Boston, MA
Methodology: Grubhub took a look at vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based orders in each city and compared them to the overall number of orders.
Past favorites are still a hit
Taking a look back at the «Top Foods of the Year» in Grubhub’s 2018 and 2019 Year In Food Report, we found that many of the past favorites are still trending in 2020.
- spicy brussels sprouts: 125 percent more popular
- portobello empanada: 99 percent more popular
- plant-based burger : 95 percent more popular
- bean burrito: 83 percent more popular – 2018’s more popular food
- vegan pad thai: 74 percent more popular
- cauliflower pizza: 31 percent more popular – 2019’s most popular food
- black bean + sweet potato taco: 27 percent more popular
Methodology: Grubhub took a look at the top foods from past reports to see what was still gaining in popularity so far this year (January 1-June 20, 2020) as compared to the same timeframe last year.
Top trends across meal times
Breakfast: while bacon, egg + cheese came in as #1 in 2019, we have yet to see the breakfast staple among 2020’s top foods.
- acai bowl: 359 percent more popular
- chorizo burrito: 270 percent more popular
- potato pancakes: 259 percent more popular
- shrimp and grits: 179 percent more popular
- vegetable wrap: 112 percent more popular
Lunch: salads and sandwiches lead the charge, while avocado toast makes a bit of a comeback.
- Thai chicken salad: 399 percent more popular
- tuna salad sandwich: 262 percent more popular
- chicken avocado melt: 188 percent more popular
- kale caesar salad: 165 percent more popular
- avocado toast: 164 percent more popular
Dinner: from Italian to Indian, diners are getting in a mix of cuisines for dinner.
- rigatoni bolognese: 292 percent more popular
- lamb vindaloo: 283 percent more popular
- vegetable korma: 267 percent more popular
- moo shu pork: 266 percent more popular
- salmon avocado roll: 244 percent more popular
Top late-night orders: it’s no surprise carbs come in on top, but 2020 brings in the appearance of a sweet treat.
- cheesy breadsticks: 412 percent more popular
- strawberry cheesecake: 247 percent more popular
- cheese sliders: 220 percent more popular
- jalapeno poppers: 216 percent more popular
- pizza puffs: 182 percent more popular
Methodology: Grubhub took a look at the top foods on its platform for the specified mealtimes/food types below from January 1-June 20, 2020 as compared to the same timeframe in 2019 to find the top items rising in popularity.
A look at how quarantine has impacted America
On March 18, the first shelter-in-place order was initiated in San Francisco and the rest of the country followed suit shortly after. As Americans stayed home, they continued to order food using features like contact-free delivery to safely enjoy their favorite meals from local restaurants.
Over the months, Grubhub has observed diners turn to comfort foods, order alcoholic beverages, and D.I.Y. orders. Under quarantine one thing was clear: morning coffee routines changed as orders of cold brew rose by 232 percent
Most popular foods nationwide: It’s all about the comfort foods and shareable plates as people order in.
- spicy chicken sandwich: 353 percent more popular
- red velvet cupcake: 196 percent more popular
- plant-based burger: 166 percent more popular
- cajun shrimp chicken pasta: 164 percent more popular
- cheeseburger sliders: 158 percent more popular
Most popular items searched: while restaurants and bars were closed, we can see that diners are searching for a way to bring home the full dining experience.
- boba tea
Top Alcohol Orders (in ranking order): as delivery rose in popularity, so did alcoholic beverages while diners stayed home.
- pinot grigio
- hot sake
- light beer
- frozen strawberry margarita
- pina colada
Meal Kits rise to the occasion: During quarantine, orders of meal kits rose 55 percent compared to the year before as diners put their own personal touch on the ingredients delivered.
Most Popular Meal Kit Orders
- D.I.Y. burger
- D.I.Y. lobster roll kit
- D.I.Y. salad
- D.I.Y. pizza
- D.I.Y. gyro kit
Methodology: Grubhub took a look at both order trends and search trends on its platform in the respective categories from March 18 – June 18, 2020, compared to the same timespan in 2019 to find the top items in popularity.
Additionally, we saw diners show their generosity through our Donate the Change feature. At the start of the pandemic, we launched the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, where proceeds go to organizations that support members of our community who have been impacted by Covid-19, including restaurants, delivery partners, and those in need. With more than USD 7 million donated by diners and Grubhub (including through Grubhub’s matching of Grubhub+ orders), we were able to help feed the frontlines, support our drivers, support local restaurants, and so much more.
Grubhub Inc. is a leading online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace with the largest and most comprehensive network of restaurant partners, as well as nearly 24 million active diners. Dedicated to connecting diners with the food they love from their favorite local restaurants, Grubhub elevates food ordering through innovative restaurant technology, easy-to-use platforms and an improved delivery experience. Grubhub features nearly 300,000 restaurants and is proud to partner with more than 200,000 of these restaurants in over 4,000 U.S. cities. The Grubhub portfolio of brands includes Grubhub, Seamless, LevelUp, AllMenus and MenuPage.