Regardless of whatever madness is plaguing society on a particular day, when I bite into a Chicago-style hot dog or a slice of New York-style pizza, my troubles are forgotten, if only for a moment.

Food has the power to both invoke amnesia and trigger our memories, harkening us back to joyous times when we ate something delightful with a smile on our face and a song in our hearts.

This edition of Leisure Group Travel embraces the power of food with our culinary issue as we explore a throng of exquisite food halls on the Eastern Seaboard, savor top ingredients on cruises along America’s waterways and unearth dining gems in Amish country where the portions are colossal.

This might be our most delicious issue to date.

Looking forward, with a new year comes new trends and a multitude of publications have weighed in on food trends for the coming year.

According to forecasters:

  • Restaurants will open fewer days of the week because of a lack of staffing and restauranters focusing more on quality-of-life decisions for their teams
  • High-end dining will return in force as patrons will be inclined to spend more for a formal dining outing. In response, restaurants are expected to make dining experiences an event as themed menus, creative settings and Instagrammable moments will become more common
  • Eating healthy, and in particular, eating vegetables, will be a priority as plant-based foods continue to surge in popularity. As a result, restaurants will focus on putting more vegetarian products on the menu
  • Reducetarianism, the practice of eating less meat, poultry, seafood, dairy and eggs has also grown in favor. While these diners aren’t quite vegetarians (they will opt for a cheeseburger on occasion) they are looking to eat healthier in an effort to reduce waste impact with upcycled ingredients
  • Running contrary to the previous two trends, comfort food will continue its comeback. Beginning in 2020, comfort food again became a popular menu item as chefs constructed dishes like mac ‘n cheese and French fries while utilizing their own flair. With the pandemic still causing mass consternation, diners are seeking food and drinks that offer a sense of familiarity and nostalgia
  • Outdoor private dining is here to stay as many guests have grown appreciative of the greenhouses, yurts and bubbles establishments have built over the past two years. Even during the winter months, diners appreciate the peaceful ambience and social distance these huts provide
  • Caribbean and island food is poised to make a splash coinciding with Jamaica celebrating 60 years of independence in 2022

Finally, to the delight of some and horror of others (I.E.: me), the ingredient of the year is expected to be mushrooms. Plan your menus accordingly.

Happy eating,

Jason Paha
Managing Editor