KANSAS CITY — The rich, warm and historic culture of Caribbean cuisine is experiencing a resurgence among diners. Currently in the U.S., Caribbean and Cuban restaurants continue to pop up in large urban areas, said Kara Nielsen, food trend analyst from the San Francisco Bay area.
“The trend — ripe for revisiting now for food service — begins where there is a population of people from the islands,” she explained.
Specifically, Caribbean establishments in New York, Miami and pockets along the Eastern Seaboard. Such Michelin-recommended restaurants as Kingston 11 in Oakland, Calif., have established loyal followings and sometimes provide a newer and more upscale take on the foods, she said.
Plantains, Jamaican patties, goat, jerk chicken and rum cocktails combined with the creamy coolness of flavors such as mango, pineapple and coconut remain mainstays of the “movement,” but with the recent opening up of relations with Cuba and the U.S., Cuban food has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity that dates back to nearly a century ago.
While tropical fruit flavors like mango are already prevalent in mainstream America, Chicago-based research firm Technomic reported that “menu mentions” of Caribbean flavors overall grew about 15% in the last five years. Island beef flavors rose approximately 17%, while Caribbean-flavored adult beverages grew by 3%.
The research firm’s 2016 “Generational consumer trend report” also noted that millennials over-indexed against overall consumers for Caribbean, Cuban and other derivations of Spanish-inspired fare. Twenty-seven per cent of consumers and 31% of millennials would order Caribbean cuisine at a restaurant, and 24% of consumers and 29% of Gen Y diners would order Cuban, according to the report.