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National Restaurant Association - Global Palates

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News & Research

Global Palates

Ethnic cuisines and global flavors are a long-term trend on restaurant menus.

The National Restaurant Association set out to explore how familiar Americans are with various cuisines and items, where they typically eat them, and how they feel about those choices.

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Additional information:

Article #1            News Release   Infographic
Article #2    Article #3    Article #4   


  • Italian, Mexican and Chinese are the top three cuisines in terms of familiarity, trial and frequency of eating.
  • Ethiopian, Brazilian/Argentinian and Korean are the three least known cuisines.
  • Cuisines most commonly eaten on-premises in restaurants are sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Brazilian/Argentinian, Greek and Southeast Asian.
  • Chinese is by far the most common cuisine for restaurant takeout and delivery, followed by Mexican and Italian. Ethiopian is tops as convenience- and grocery-store takeout.
  • 66 percent of consumers eat a wider variety of ethnic cuisines now than five years ago.
  • 80 percent consumers eat at least one ethnic cuisine per month.
  • 17 percent of consumers eat seven or more cuisines on a monthly basis.
  • 29 percent of consumers tried a new ethnic cuisine in the last year.
  • Restaurants are the primary point of access for trying new cuisines, as well as the source where frequent eaters typically get their ethnic food.
  • 85 percent of consumers say they prefer to eat ethnic cuisine in a restaurant focused on that cuisine.
  • 75 percent of consumers say they like it when restaurants with mainstream menus also serve ethnic cuisine.
  • 25 percent of consumers like trying unconventional ingredients like snails, brains or ants.
  • 56 percent of consumers customize ethnic cuisine dishes to fit their taste.
  • 43 percent of consumers say the ethnic foods they like to eat are tied to their ancestry or heritage.


Graphics (Click on images to enlarge and download. Photo credit: National Restaurant Association)



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