Saw It On The ‘Gram: Social Media Trends and Foodservice Operations

How Social Media Food Trends from Instagram and TikTok Can Bring Variety to Menus

To say social media has changed everything is the understatement of the century. But who would have thought it would change restaurant menus?

Last year, Chipotle released five new menu items inspired by viral TikTok trends. The menu items were “hacks” of the restaurant’s staple menu, using alternative ingredients in the standard quesadilla. The response was swift, and restaurant employees were inundated with requests for the new item. So much so that Chipotle decided to add the “hacks” to its digital ordering and retrain its 100,000 employees.

Food trends are not new, but the virality of social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok has put pressure on restaurant owners and foodservice providers to “pay attention” so they don’t miss out on profitable ventures.

Here are some recent viral food trends that are easy enough to replicate at food kiosks, mobile carts, or on foodservice EVs with basic ingredients and a little marketing savvy. By adding these trendy dishes to your menus, you can attract a new wave of customers looking for unique and Instagram-worthy dining experiences.

Feta Fried Eggs

Feta has been having a moment. From 2021’s popular baked feta pasta to last year’s feta fried eggs, this underrated cheese is finally getting the respect it deserves!

This two-ingredient recipe received cult status for its simplicity and deliciousness. Crumbled feta is fried alongside an egg until the whites set, giving the eggs crispy and cheesy edges. The end product can be served in a grain bowl, a tortilla, or any way you like!


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Chopped Italian Sandwich

If you’re already serving sandwiches, you probably already have the ingredients for this chopped Italian sandwich on hand. This trend features a combination of Italian meats, cheeses, and vegetables, chopped and mixed to create a tasty and convenient sandwich filling.

For easy assembly, pre-chop all the ingredients and keep the dressing separate. When ready to serve, combine and fill the rolls.

chopped italian sandwich social media trends in foodservice
Chopped Italian Sandwich from:

Big Mac Tacos

This creative culinary mashup combines the iconic flavors of McDonald’s Big Mac sandwich with the form of a taco. This trend involves using Big Mac ingredients such as seasoned beef, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, and onions and wrapping them in a soft taco shell instead of the traditional bun. The meal comes together in minutes, resulting in the familiarity of a Big Mac with the ease of a taco.

Folded Tortilla Hack

This trend is more about the method than the ingredients. A flour tortilla is cut in the middle down to one edge, and the quadrants are each filled with different toppings and then folded to make a neat triangular sandwich. The sandwich can be served as-is or grilled for a panini-style option.



Dalgona Coffee

The Dalgona coffee trend is another simple and easy trend that uses only a few basic ingredients. The name “Dalgona” comes from a South Korean candy known for its similar appearance. This trend took the internet by storm at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when people were stuck at home and looking for ways to recreate cafe experiences.

To make Dalgona coffee, equal parts instant coffee, sugar, and hot water are whipped together until they form a thick, creamy foam. This foam is then spooned onto hot or cold milk, creating a layered effect.

The result is a rich and creamy coffee drink with a sweet and frothy topping. Foodservice operators can provide variations like Dalgona matcha or chocolate to cater to local tastes and preferences.

dalgona coffee held in front of a plant | social media trends in foodservice concessions
Dalgona Coffee

Lasagna Soup

This soup is an easier-to-eat and easier-to-make form of its namesake. Brown ground beef or Italian sausage, add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, and lasagna noodles broken into pieces.

The soup is seasoned with Italian herbs and spices like basil, oregano, and garlic powder, and simmered until the noodles are tender, then topped with a creamy, cheesy blend of parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella cheeses. This item is great for campuses that want to provide a hearty meal for diners on the go.

lasagna soup viral trend
Lasagna soup from


Girl Dinner and Rat Snacking

charceuterie plate or girl dinner | foodservice social media trends food carts kiosks

These two trends are more about the style of the meal than the actual content. #GirlDinner can be a bit more controversial due to the gendered label and the hat-tip to diet culture. “Girl dinner is akin to an aesthetically pleasing Lunchable: an artfully arranged pile of snacks that, when consumed in high enough volume, constitutes a meal.” (NY Times)

Think charcuterie plates or other meals or snacks that require minimal preparation or forethought. There are a lot of opinions out there on Girl Dinner, so be careful with this one.

Nevertheless, the idea of an adult-style Lunchable has been a desirable meal item for years. It even has its own subreddit!

Rat Snacking is a newer food trend based on the idea of rats as scavengers that eat whatever is edible. A rat snack is a mashup of whatever you find in the kitchen to put together and eat with pleasure.

Popular rat snacks include potato chip soup (crushed chips in a bowl with vinegar served with a spoon), crackers and hot sauces, chicken nuggets with honey, or mayonnaise on strawberries.

Honestly, the weirder the snack, the better, might be the way to increase virality and interest.

Turkish Breakfast

turkish breakfast brunch trend | foodservice concessions social media trends

Turkish Breakfast is having a moment on TikTok. The traditional breakfast in Turkey is known for featuring a huge spread of various foods.

The recent trend stars Cilbir as the focal point. Cilbir is a traditional Turkish dish with poached eggs, yogurt, and a spiced butter sauce.

Cilbir is often served with bread for dipping, alongside other Turkish Breakfast staples like olives, cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers, and Turkish tea. This viral trend now appears on restaurant menus as a weekend brunch item.

Pros and Cons of Social Media Food Trends on Menus

There is no denying the influence of social media in driving food and beverage trends. Many of these trends feature visually appealing and easy-to-make recipes that capture the public’s attention and satisfy individuals’ desire to be “on-trend.” However, there are pros and cons to incorporating these social media food trends into menus, and food service operators must carefully weigh these factors to determine if it’s beneficial for their operations. Some of the pros include:

  • Increased Visibility: Social media trends can attract attention and increase a restaurant’s visibility, potentially attracting new customers.
  • Enhanced Engagement: Offering trendy dishes can increase customer engagement. Customers may be excited to try something new and trending and share their experiences on social media. (Don’t forget to tell them to tag you or use your hashtag!)
  • Competitive Advantage: Keeping up with food trends can help a restaurant stay competitive in a crowded market and differentiate itself from competitors.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Meeting customer demand for trendy dishes can increase satisfaction and loyalty.

Some of the cons include:

  • Short-lived Popularity: Food trends can be short-lived, and it can be time-consuming to keep up with new trends and adjust menus and supplies accordingly. Introducing new dishes and ingredients to keep up with trends can be costly and require inventory and kitchen operation changes.
  • Risk of Oversaturation: If many restaurants in an area offer the same trendy dishes, this can lead to oversaturation and decreased customer interest.
  • Menu Fatigue: Constantly changing menus to incorporate new trends can lead to menu fatigue among customers who prefer consistency.

Mobile carts, kiosks, and foodservice EVs are great ways to test food trends without the high overhead cost and logistical implications of incorporating them into long-standing menus. If you are thinking about incorporating social media food trends into your campus or venue? Let us help you create a plan to do it.


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