As fans of cronuts and cake pops can attest, food trends come and go. So how can you tell which tastes are trending right this minute?
We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp to deduce which restaurants have been on the tips of diners' tongues this month.
To find out who made the list, we looked at Washington businesses on Yelp by category and counted how many reviews each received. Rather than compare them based on number of reviews alone, we calculated a percentage increase in reviews over the past month, and tracked businesses that consistently increased their volume of reviews to identify statistically significant outliers compared to past performance.
Read on to see which spots are sizzling hot this winter.
1. King Street Oyster Bar
Open since October 2019, this restaurant, which also has outlets in Virginia, is trending compared to other businesses categorized as 'Seafood' on Yelp.
Citywide, seafood spots saw a median 1.3% increase in new reviews over the past month. King Street Oyster Bar only recently appeared on Yelp, but while many new businesses struggle to gain reviews, it has seen strong initial popularity.
Located at 22 M St. NE, Washington in NoMa, King Street Oyster Bar features a raw bar. Dinner entrees include a smokehouse fish board, cedar plank salmon, basil-crusted chicken, Shanghai sea bass and grilled filet mignon.
King Street Oyster Bar is open from 11 a.m.–11 p.m. on Monday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–midnight on Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m.–10 p.m. on Sunday.
2. Nina May
Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about Shaw's Nina May, the New American restaurant is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.
While businesses categorized as 'American (New)' on Yelp saw a median 1.2% increase in new reviews over the past month, Nina May appeared on Yelp relatively recently. Many new businesses struggle to gain reviews, but it has seen a surge of interest.
What does this business focus on? 'Co-owners chef Colin McClimans and general manager Danilo Simic are serving up chef- picked and locally sources dishes with unique and inventive cocktails,' according to the restaurant's page on Yelp.
There's more that's trending on Washington's New American scene: Shilling Canning Company has seen a 22.8% increase in reviews, and District Kitchen and BlackSalt have seen 1.3% and 0.4% increases, respectively.
Open at 1337 11th St. NW since November 2019, Nina May offers a 'chef's choice' tasting menu. Entree options include Buffalo-style boneless Maryland quail, braised beef short ribs, fennel-crusted rack of pork and lemon and thyme roasted Pennsylvania chicken. Stuffed rainbow trout and little neck clams with chorizo are also on offer.
Nina May is open from 5–10 p.m. on Monday-Thursday, 5–11 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–11 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. on Sunday.
3. Immigrant Food
Immigrant Food is also making waves. Open since November 2019 at 1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW downtown, the traditional American spot is relatively new to Yelp, but has seen a surge of new reviews, while all businesses tagged 'American (Traditional)' on Yelp saw an increase of 1.2% for new reviews in the past month.
Want to know more about who's behind the business? We found this on Yelp: 'Born in Caracas, Venezuela, chef Enrique Limardo has garnered inspiration from working in many countries.'
What does this business focus on? 'A one-of-a-kind fusion menu inspired by immigrant gastronomies that combine flavor profiles like El Salvadorian and Ethiopian food, and Mexican and Indian ingredients,' the restaurant's Yelp page says.
There's more than one hot spot trending in Washington's traditional American category: Roy Boys has seen a 25% increase in reviews, and Circa in Navy Yard and Little Pearl have seen 9.7% and 5.5% increases, respectively.
Fusion bowls, such as Filipino rice and grains, and Mumbai mariachi, are among the menu options at Immigrant Food. Fusion milk teas and beverages and desserts are also served. Over the past month, it's seen its Yelp rating tick down from 4.5 stars to four stars.
Immigrant Food is open from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. on weekdays. (It's closed on weekends.)
4. Residents Cafe & Bar
Dupont Circle's Residents Cafe & Bar is the city's buzziest breakfast and brunch spot by the numbers.
The cocktail bar and restaurant, which opened at 1306 18th St. NW in September 2019, increased its new review count by 41.4% over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 1.1% for the Yelp category 'Breakfast & Brunch.' It outperformed the previous month by gaining 1.3 times more reviews than expected based on past performance.
Want more about the business's specialties? 'Local coffee, brunch all week, espresso martinis and fresh house-made cocktails' are among the highlights noted on the restaurant's Yelp page.
It's not the only trending outlier in the breakfast and brunch category: Mexicue has seen a 26.1% increase in reviews, and Bullfrog Bagels and Unconventional Diner have seen 5.1% and 4.4% increases, respectively.
Among the menu items at Residents Cafe & Bar are black truffle gnocchi, charred octopus and Moroccan lamb.
Residents Cafe & Bar is open from 8 a.m.–11 p.m. on Monday-Wednesday, 8 a.m.–midnight on Thursday, 8 a.m.–3 a.m. on Friday and 11 a.m.–3 a.m. on Saturday. (It's closed on Sunday.)
5. Hook Hall
Park View's Hook Hall is currently on the upswing in the bar category on Yelp.
While businesses categorized as 'Bars' on Yelp saw a median 1.1% increase in new reviews over the past month, this venues and event space and bar increased its new reviews by 35.5% — and kept its rating consistent at 3.5 stars. Review counts increased by more than 160% on a month-to-month basis.
Intrigued so far? Here's more about the business from its Yelp history section: 'Hook Hall is a traditional tavern and event space. It is a place you go to enjoy a cold beer and catch up with friends, or to find the latest epic pop-up experience.'
What's the business known for? 'We offer 12,000 square feet of space to design your perfect event, or kick back with friends. We offer outdoor cabana rentals with drink and food packages and event catering from local D.C. restaurants,' its Yelp page says.
There's more abuzz in the world of Washington bars: Miracle on Seventh Street, a pop-up bar, has seen a 13.7% increase in reviews, and Mission - Navy Yard and El Centro have seen 8.6% and 0.7% increases, respectively.
Open at 3400 Georgia Ave. NW since July 2019, Hook Hall has a beer garden featuring craft brews. It also serves specialty cocktails, wines, coffee and small plates such as a Bavarian pretzel sandwich and apple raisin strudel.
Hook Hall is open from 4:30 p.m.–midnight on Monday-Wednesday, noon–midnight on Thursday, noon–1 a.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.–1 a.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.–7 p.m. on Sunday.