2019’s Hottest Food & Drink Trends and Where to Taste Them in Sonoma County

From cheese tea and pegan food to globally inspired breakfasts: here are the hot food trends of 2019 (and pasta is making a comeback!)

How will we eat in 2019? There are plenty of crystal ball-gazers looking at food trends that are coming into our consciousness (cheese tea) or finally cresting the wave (the Pegan diet).

What’s great for all of us are the number of healthy trends that are pushing out many of the fat and calorie-laden comfort foods we’ve seen so much of in the last five years — sorry fried chicken. Instead, we’re trending toward moderation in meat and alcohol; we’re more and more fascinated with Middle Eastern foods, fermented foods and probiotics in everything. Mushrooms and seaweed are having a moment.

(Here’s how to embrace the mushroom food trend in Sonoma County)

Not that there aren’t a few guilty pleasures trending as well. Pasta is making a comeback, and apparently the chicken katsu sandwich (think Japanese fried chicken) is an up-and-comer for food Instagrammers.

Looking at all the trends, we’ve found where to get them locally as you make your resolutions and look toward what will be on your plate this year.

Great Greens: According to the New York Times, Little Gem lettuce and romaine are so over. Instead, new greens like the oddball “celtuce” are on the way in. Expand your mind and explore some chicories, tatsoi, nasturtiums, and microgreens. Gemischter Salat, Lowell’s (7385 Healdsburg Ave #101, Sebastopol); Charred Greens and Things, Bird and Bottle (1055 4th St, Santa Rosa).

Low- or No-Alcohol Drinks: Getting hammered is out. Enjoying an aperitif or mocktail is in. You’ll pay almost as much for these mocktails as you will for the real deal, but they’re mixologist crafted to be delicious without the buzz. “Euphoria,” with Seedlip (a distilled non-alcoholic “spirit”), goji and Schisandra berry, lime and prickly pear hibiscus puree at Fernbar ( 6780 Depot St., Suite 120, Sebastopol); “Delicate Flower”, Duke’s Spirited Cocktails (111 Plaza St., Healdsburg).

(Check out some of our go-to bars for non-alcoholic drinks and mocktails.)

Food (And Drink) as Medicine: Treat your body like a temple. Wei-Shi Medicinal Miso Soup, Nectary (6760 McKinley St. #130, Sebastopol); Fire Cider Warming Elixir, 3 Leaves Foods (2484 West Third St., Santa Rosa, limited hours); Turmeric ginger lassi, The Pharmacy (990 Sonoma Ave., Santa Rosa).

Sour and Fermenty: Bye-bye bitter, hello sour. Get used to some sour power from pickles and other ferments (like sour beer). Pickle Board, Backyard (6566 Front St., Forestville); Tsuekemono seasonal pickles, Ramen Gaijin (6948 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol); Jar of Housemade Pickles, Zazu (6770 McKinley St. #150, Sebastopol); The Hot Mess, a polenta bowl with house-made pickles, kale and fermented hot sauce at Wishbone (841 Petaluma Boulevard North, Petaluma).

Mushrooms and seaweed: Science is finally catching up to what our ancestors already knew about these healthy and tasty foods. Mycopia Mushroom flatbread with braised leeks, Gravenstein Grill (8050 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol); Reishi Roast mushroom and herb tonic, Farmacopia (95 Montgomery Dr. #90, Santa Rosa); Seaweed Salad with local and imported seaweeds, Sushi Kosho (6750 McKinley Ave., Sebastopol); Creamy shiitake mushrooms with golden grits, Monti’s (714 Village Court, Santa Rosa, brunch only); Assorted mushroom and soft tofu soup, Tov Tofu (1169 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa).

Pasta: In a huge swing back from rigid gluten-free diets, pasta and bread are making a comeback. New to the scene, Mercato (630 3rd St., Santa Rosa), featuring homemade pasta and sauces.

Food From Lebanon, Syria and Turkey: Though officially this trend is being called “Food from the Stans”, calling out spots like Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, we’ve found some stunning dishes along these lines at Pearl (500 1st St., Petaluma) where nuts, fruits and exotic herbs (sumac, Za’atar) are deftly handled. For more kebab-style food, Real Doner (307 F St., Petaluma) or Stockhome (220 Western Ave., Petaluma).

Pegan is the diet du jour: The love-child of the Paleo and vegan diets, it’s not as much contradiction as compromise. Loosely explained, “pegans” follow a mostly vegan diet that allows for a limited amount of sustainable meat and fish. Apparently, there are also still strict rules about gluten and sugar; all dairy is prohibited (gasp) and heaven help you if you want a Dorito. Personally, I think it’s a good direction for our own bodies and the planet, though you’ll have to pry cheese out of my cold, dead hands. In general, Indian, Tibetan, Japanese and Southeast Asian cuisine play from the pegan handbook, though your experience may vary.

Cheese Tea: Way better than it sounds, it’s tea with a thick foam of whipped cream, milk and cream cheese. None so far in the North Bay, but expect it to land soon, because it’s a huge thing in San Francisco and Berkeley.

Globally inspired breakfasts: Who wants overly sweet waffles when you can have a savory dish like rice porridge? Actually, congee is not to be found on a restaurant menu in Sonoma County (currently), but we loved the Tuscan Bean Breakfast from Fork Roadhouse (9890 Bodega Highway, Sebastopol) or bacon and egg ramen for brunch at Bird and Bottle (1055 4th St, Santa Rosa).

Delivery of Everything: One of the biggest drawbacks of small town life has been the lack of delivery for anything but pizza. And maybe Chinese. With Foodjets, Doordash, GrubHub and Eat24 in our area, you can actually order just about anything to your door. One drawback: We recently ordered pizza via Grubhub, waited nearly an hour, called the restaurant and were told the “system was down” and our order was never received. Good plan to call and double check. On the plus side, an online order from Kafal (535 Ross St., Santa Rosa) satisfied our tikka craving in under an hour.

Plus a few more trends: Restaurants inside banks or other commercial businesses (Grove Cafe at Redwood Credit Union, 3033 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa); high-end chefs opening fast casual restaurants (Stockhome, 220 Western Ave., Petaluma); chefs taking on activist roles in disaster food relief (locally, John Franchetti, Kyle Connaughton, Ken and Joe O’Donnell, Amber Balshaw and the many chefs contributing to Sonoma Family Meal).