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Trending Tables Portland Tusk AJ Meeker
Kibbe naya at Tusk in Portland

Trendy restaurants reflect local customs, global influence

Dishes from Israel, Peru and Sichuan attract customers

Trend-forward restaurants run the risk of all seeming to serve the same thing, with customers drinking IPAs and spicy cocktails as they munch on avocado toast or a fried chicken sandwich (after photographing it for social media, of course). But the restaurants in the current class of Trending Tables have found ways to reflect their locales as well as the particular proclivities of their chefs.

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In Dallas, barbecue can be found served on tacos at Taco Deli, reflecting that city’s Tex-Mex culture, while in Kansas City it’s burnt ends and beans at C. Frogs. The Hake in La Jolla, Calif., reflects the nearby ocean and the wide range of cultural influences there with a menu that includes both Peruvian tiradito and tuna “carnitas” seasoned with Japanese ponzu.


Courtesy of The Hake

The Hake in La Jolla, Calif.

When it comes to different cuisines, Israel is well represented this season with Nur in New York City and Tusk in Portland, Ore. So are refined but casual approaches to Mexican food at Chisme in San Antonio and Atla in New York, and deeper interpretations of Chinese cuisine, such as the Sichuan items at Birds of a Feather in Brooklyn, N.Y., the creative creations of Peter Chang at Q in Bethesda, Md., and the Beijing street food at Dānwèi Cāntīng in Portland.

Korean food appears in Portland, too, at Han Oak, and also in Honolulu. But in both cases it’s paired with other influences that reflect the city’s particular melting pot. At Portland’s Fête, Korean food shares the menu with Italian dishes, and at Honolulu’s Artizen by MW it’s joined by Japanese food and hamburgers.

Courtesy of Artizen By MW

Tart at Artizen By MW in Honolulu


Korean duck is on the menu at Junction Craft Kitchen in Dallas, which also serves dishes reflecting other cultures, such Brussels sprouts with Southeast Asian fish sauce caramel, and steak tartare, because why not?

More than ever, trendy restaurants are reflecting the increasingly eclectic nature of American cuisine, which is why no one is surprised to see uni risotto with hijiki on the menu at Bluegold in Huntington Beach, Calif., next to Spanish paella.


Of course there are some trendy Italian restaurants, such as Mora Italian in Phoenix, Ariz., and Rosario in Washington, D.C., and French influence can be seen at venues such as Coquine in Portland, but increasingly we’re seeing popular restaurants serving food made from ingredients that are sourced nearby, but influenced by cultures from as far afield as they like.

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Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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