2020: What are the food trends?

State of the Plate 2020 - top foods across various cities

Since shelter-in-place orders began in the U.S. in mid-March, consumers have changed their morning coffee routine. GrubHub said Friday that its data indicates that Americans are seeking out a cooler start to their day, with orders of cold brew soaring by 232%.

Americans are also seeking out comfort foods and alcohol while they stay at home. The spicy chicken sandwich is 353% more popular under quarantine, according to GrubHub. A red velvet cupcake is 196% more popular.

Orders of meal kits are up 55% in quarantine compared with a year ago. GrubHub says the most popular orders include do-it-yourself kits for burgers, lobster rolls, salads, pizzas and gyros.

The company’s latest report, “State of the Plate”, looks 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.

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State of the Plate 2020 – top foods across various cities

From grabbing a chorizo burrito (270% more popular) for breakfast, a cheesy breadstick snack (412% more popular), a plant-based burger (291% more popular), or a fit-for-quarantine meal kit (orders of meal kits rose 55%), below are the trends Grubhub has seen this year.


The year 2019 was the year of the chicken sandwich war (ah, those were the days). 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% rise in popularity this year, with other top foods spanning a range of categories and plenty of newcomers.

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  1. spicy chicken sandwich: 299% more popular
  2. plant-based burger: 291% more popular
  3. vanilla shake: 273% more popular
  4. iced latte: 261% more popular
  5. chili: 228% more popular
  6. cinnamon roll: 205% more popular
  7. chimichanga: 195% more popular
  8. beef burrito: 181% more popular
  9. potato taco: 169% more popular
  10. taro milk tea: 168% more popular

The Top Food in America’s Most Populous Cities

  • New York City: Mushroom burger: 150% more popular
  • Los Angeles: California burrito: 286% more popular
  • Chicago: Gyro: 299% more popular
  • Philadelphia: Buffalo chicken pizza:323% more popular
  • Dallas-Fort Worth: Elote: 191% more popular
  • Bay Area (SF, Oakland, San Jose): Saag paneer: 389% more popular
  • Washington, DC: Drunken noodle: 166% more popular
  • Houston: Fried mushrooms: 238% more popular
  • Boston: Lettuce wrap: 268% more popular
  • Atlanta: Plant-based burger: 147% 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 trends tend to impact eating habits, so Grubhub 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.

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Top Trends: Winter

  1. chicken sandwich: 238% more popular
  2. New England clam chowder bowl: 195% more popular
  3. barbecue burger: 132% more popular
  4. sausage egg cheese sandwich: 101% more popular
  5. tan tan ramen: 96% more popular

Top Trends: Spring

  1. donuts: 214% more popular
  2. bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit: 169% more popular
  3. sausage burrito: 163% more popular
  4. chicken sandwich: 153% more popular
  5. plant-based sausage breakfast sandwich: 150% more popular

Forecasts: Summer (in ranking order)

  1. vegetable biryani
  2. spinach and artichoke wonton
  3. Mexican shrimp cocktail
  4. black bean and quinoa bowl
  5. balsamic chicken salad

Forecasts: Fall (in ranking order)

  1. miso tofu bowl
  2. quinoa taco salad
  3. mushroom burger
  4. cajun wing
  5. 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.


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%, plant-based burgers specifically increasing by 90% and general plant-based orders by a whopping 135%!

Top Vegetarian Burgers

  1. black bean burger: 233% more popular
  2. grilled portobello mushroom burger: 179% more popular
  3. Impossible burger: 167% more popular
  4. quinoa-based burger: 161% more popular
  5. eggplant burger: 147% more popular

Top Vegan-friendly Cities

  1. New York, NY
  2. Los Angeles, CA
  3. Portland, OR
  4. Las Vegas, NV
  5. 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.


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% more popular
  • portobello empanada: 99% more popular
  • plant-based burger : 95% more popular
  • bean burrito: 83% more popular — 2018’s more popular food
  • vegan pad thai: 74% more popular
  • cauliflower pizza: 31% more popular — 2019’s most popular food
  • black bean & sweet potato taco: 27% 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.


Breakfast: while bacon, egg & cheese came in as #1 in 2019, we have yet to see the breakfast staple among 2020’s top foods.

  1. acai bowl: 359% more popular
  2. chorizo burrito: 270% more popular
  3. potato pancakes: 259% more popular
  4. shrimp and grits: 179% more popular
  5. vegetable wrap: 112% more popular

Lunch: salads and sandwiches lead the charge, while avocado toast makes a bit of a comeback. 

  1. Thai chicken salad: 399% more popular
  2. tuna salad sandwich: 262% more popular
  3. chicken avocado melt: 188% more popular
  4. kale caesar salad: 165% more popular
  5. avocado toast: 164% more popular

Dinner: from Italian to Indian, diners are getting in a mix of cuisines for dinner.  

  1. rigatoni bolognese: 292% more popular
  2. lamb vindaloo: 283% more popular
  3. vegetable korma: 267% more popular
  4. moo shu pork: 266% more popular
  5. salmon avocado roll: 244% 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. 

  1. cheesy breadsticks: 412% more popular
  2. strawberry cheesecake: 247% more popular
  3. cheese sliders: 220% more popular
  4. jalapeno poppers: 216% more popular
  5. pizza puffs: 182% 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.


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%

Most popular foods nationwide: It’s all about the comfort foods and shareable plates as people order in.

  1. spicy chicken sandwich: 353% more popular
  2. red velvet cupcake: 196% more popular
  3. plant-based burger: 166% more popular
  4. cajun shrimp chicken pasta: 164% more popular
  5. cheeseburger sliders: 158% 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.

  1. wine
  2. cake
  3. boba tea
  4. beer
  5. donuts

Top Alcohol Orders (in ranking order): as delivery rose in popularity, so did alcoholic beverages while diners stayed home.

  1. pinot grigio
  2. hot sake
  3. rosé
  4. light beer
  5. IPA
  6. merlot
  7. frozen strawberry margarita
  8. chardonnay
  9. cabernet
  10. pina colada

Meal Kits rise to the occasion: During quarantine, orders of meal kits rose 55% compared to the year before as diners put their own personal touch on the ingredients delivered.

Most Popular Meal Kit Orders

  1. D.I.Y. burger
  2. D.I.Y. lobster roll kit
  3. D.I.Y. salad
  4. D.I.Y. pizza
  5. 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, diners have shown their generosity through our Donate the Change feature. At the start of the pandemic, Grubhub launched the Grubhub Community Relief Fund, where proceeds go to organizations that support members of communities impacted by COVID-19, including restaurants, delivery partners, and those in need. With more than $7 million donated by diners and Grubhub (including through Grubhub’s matching of Grubhub+ orders), the company was able to help feed the frontlines, support our drivers, support local restaurants, and so much more.

To find more about Grubhub or read more about the State of the Plate 2020 trends, check out Grubhub.com or visit the Grubhub Blog.