Restaurant Marketing
Apr 26, 2023
min read

From Plant-Based to Fast Casual: 7 Gen Z Restaurant Trends

Article Outline

In this blog, we'll explore seven trending restaurant options that are capturing the attention of Gen Z.

- Healthy and Sustainable Food Choices
- Plant-Based Options
- Authentic and Ethnically Diverse Cuisine
- Fast Casual Dining
- Instagrammable Food and Decor
- Online and Mobile Ordering
- Virtual and Ghost Kitchens

1. Healthy and Sustainable Food Choices

The first major trend among Gen Z when it comes to dining out is their preference for healthy and sustainable food choices. In fact, studies have shown that 70% of Gen Z prefer to eat healthy food when dining out.  To cater to this demand, restaurants need to step up their game and offer nutritious and wholesome options on their menus. Many are sourcing their ingredients locally to reduce their carbon footprint and support local farmers. Others are offering plant-based and gluten-free options to cater to different dietary needs.

Sweetgreen, Dig Inn, and Cava are some of the popular restaurants among Gen Z for their healthy and sustainable options. These establishments offer salads, grain bowls, and other dishes made with fresh and nutritious ingredients.  By prioritizing healthy and sustainable food choices, restaurants can attract Gen Z customers who value these factors when dining out. This trend is not going away anytime soon, and it's one that savvy restaurant owners should take note of to stay competitive in the industry.

2. Plant-Based Options

The rise of plant-based diets is another major trend among Gen Z when it comes to dining out. More and more young people are turning to vegan and vegetarian options as a way to eat healthily and reduce their carbon footprint.

Restaurants are taking note of this trend and offering innovative plant-based options on their menus. From meatless burgers to tofu bowls, the options are endless. Some restaurants even specialize in vegan cuisine, offering plant-based burgers, salads, and desserts.

By incorporating plant-based options into their menus, restaurants can cater to this growing market and attract a wider customer base. This not only helps them stay competitive in a crowded market but also shows their commitment to providing healthy and sustainable food options.  In other words, it's a win-win situation for everyone involved - customers get to enjoy tasty and healthy food, and restaurants get to meet the demand for plant-based options while keeping up with the latest trends.

3. Authentic and Ethnically Diverse Cuisine

Gen Z craves adventure and enjoys exploring diverse cultures and cuisines, fueling the growing trend of seeking authentic and ethnically diverse cuisine in the restaurant industry. To satisfy this demand, restaurants are incorporating traditional ingredients and cooking techniques from various regions worldwide. Many have partnered with local immigrant communities to offer authentic dishes that are not typically found in mainstream restaurants, and some have even offered immersive dining experiences with live music, cultural decorations, and traditional attire worn by staff.

By embracing this trend, restaurants can attract Gen Z customers looking for unique and different dining experiences. It's a trend that's here to stay, and savvy restaurant owners should take note of it to stay competitive in the industry.

4. Fast Casual Dining

Gen Z, being a generation with a busy lifestyle, values convenience and quickness when it comes to dining out. Fast-casual dining has emerged as a popular choice for this generation, as it offers a more elevated dining experience than traditional fast food while still being accessible and affordable.

To keep up with this trend, restaurants are focusing on using fresh and locally sourced ingredients to create healthy and tasty menu options. Many fast-casual restaurants have also integrated technology into their ordering and payment systems to cater to the tech-savvy nature of Gen Z.

Incorporating these elements not only appeals to Gen Z but also attracts a wider customer base. The success of fast-casual dining can be attributed to the balance it provides between delicious and healthy food, affordability, and convenience. As a result, this trend is expected to continue its upward trajectory and remain a popular dining option for years to come.

5. Instagrammable Food and Decor

The fifth trend that is making waves in the restaurant industry is the demand for Instagrammable food and decor by Gen Z. This generation is highly active on social media and loves to share their dining experiences with their followers.

Restaurants have realized the power of social media and are now designing their menus and decor to be visually appealing and Instagram-worthy. They are creating dishes with vibrant colors, unique plating, and interesting textures that are sure to capture attention on social media.  In addition to the food, restaurants are also investing in decor that is aesthetically pleasing and Instagram-friendly. They are incorporating features such as neon signs, green walls, and trendy lighting fixtures.

This trend has not only increased foot traffic to these restaurants but has also boosted their social media presence and overall brand awareness. By creating Instagram-worthy experiences, restaurants can attract more customers and reach a wider audience.

Overall, the trend of Instagrammable food and decor is here to stay, with more and more restaurants incorporating this trend into their offerings. It's a great way for Gen Z to not only enjoy a delicious meal but also create and share visually stunning content on social media, making it a win-win situation for both the customers and the restaurants.

6. Online and Mobile Ordering

Gen Z's familiarity with technology has driven a rising trend of online and mobile ordering in the restaurant industry. By enabling customers to browse menus, place orders, and pay without interacting with a server, online and mobile ordering provides a more convenient and contactless experience, which is especially important in the current climate.

Apart from convenience, online and mobile ordering offer customers customization and personalization options, such as the ability to customize their orders, save their favorite meals, and receive personalized recommendations based on past orders.

Overall, this trend is here to stay, as Gen Z expects technology to be seamlessly integrated into their dining experience. Restaurants that can provide this convenience and customization will be able to attract and retain this tech-savvy community.

7. Virtual and Ghost Kitchens

Virtual and ghost kitchens have been gaining popularity among not only Gen Z but also other generations as well. These types of kitchens allow restaurants to focus solely on the quality of their food, streamline their operations, and save costs on rent, maintenance, and staff. With the increasing demand for food delivery, especially during the pandemic, virtual and ghost kitchens. have become a popular option for customers who want quick and convenient meals.

This trend is here to stay as more as more diners opt for food delivery and convenience. In fact, many restaurant owners have started to launch secondary or even multiple virtual brands, which are exclusive to delivery platforms. These virtual brands can be used as a testing ground for new menu items and concepts without the overhead costs of a traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant. Overall, virtual and ghost kitchens are changing the restaurant industry and the way we dine out, and it's a trend that restaurant owners should pay attention to in order to stay competitive.


In conclusion, the restaurant industry must adapt to the evolving demands of Gen Z to stay competitive. Incorporating sustainable and healthy options, ethnically diverse cuisine, and fast-casual dining experiences are just a few ways to attract this generation of diners. Additionally, technology solutions like Checkmate can streamline the ordering and delivery process, improve accounting reconciliation, and offer responsive customer service.

By staying up-to-date with these trends and implementing the right technology, restaurants can not only attract Gen Z customers but also stay ahead of the competition.

To take your restaurant to the next level and meet the demands of Gen Z, schedule a demo with Checkmate today. We offer technology solutions to help your restaurant keep up with the ever-changing landscape of the food industry.

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