Ethnic Cuisines

The National Restaurant Association issued new research that finds a wider variety of ethnic cuisines are increasingly becoming part of everyday American diets.

The NRA’s Global Palates: Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors in America study found that Italian, Mexican and Chinese cuisines reign supreme in terms of familiarity, trial and frequency of eating, while consumers are least familiar with Ethiopian, Brazilian/Argentinian and Korean cuisines.

“Americans generally are more willing to try new food than they were only a decade or so ago – especially in restaurants – underscoring that the typical consumer today is becoming more adventurous and sophisticated when it comes to different cuisines and flavors,” said Annika Stensson, director of research communications, National Restaurant Association.

“Ethnic cuisines are a long-term trend on restaurant menus, with some being so common that they’re hardly considered ethnic anymore, while others are still relatively unknown. However, our research shows that consumers are exploring a range of international dishes these days,” Stensson added.

The survey finds that two-thirds of consumers say they’re eating a wider variety of ethnic cuisines now than they were just five years ago. Restaurants are the primary point of access for trying new cuisines, as well as the source where frequent eaters typically get their ethnic food, the research found.

Additional highlights from the survey include:

American consumers place value on authentic experiences and restaurants specializing in individual cuisines, but are nearly equally as open to ethnic dishes on mainstream menus.

80 percent of consumers eat at least one ethnic cuisine per month.

17 percent of consumers eat seven or more cuisines on a monthly basis.

Nearly one-third of consumers tried a new ethnic cuisine in the past year.

The cuisines most commonly eaten on-premises at restaurants are sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Brazilian/Argentinian, Greek and Southeast Asian.

On the restaurant takeout and delivery side, Chinese is by far the most common, followed by Ethiopian, Mexican and Italian.