Grubhub Releases Annual “Year In Food” Report Detailing Most Popular Dining Trends of 2018

CHICAGO– Grubhub, the nation’s leading online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace, today released findings from its annual “Year in Food” report. To find out what food trends shaped the year (or didn’t), Grubhub analyzed millions of orders placed by more than 16 million diners on its platform and surveyed consumers across the country on their ordering tastes and eating habits.

Key takeaways include:


Plant-based foods were on the rise in 2018. According to Grubhub’s ordering data, bean burritos took the top spot as the food surging the most in popularity in 2018, rising 276% as compared to 2017. And if you’ve been hearing more about cauliflower this year, you’re not alone: cauliflower rice bowls (155% increase) and buffalo cauliflower (124%) also made the list. One food we don’t see in our top 10? Red meat. Overall, the top 10 foods in 2018 are:

  1. bean burrito (276% more popular)
  2. poke (205% more popular)
  3. chicken slider (189% more popular)
  4. baby back pork rib (165% more popular)
  5. chicken burrito (164% more popular)
  6. chicken sandwich (160% more popular)
  7. cauliflower rice bowl (155% more popular)
  8. chicken and waffle slider (145% more popular)
  9. parmesan chicken (139% more popular)
  10. buffalo cauliflower (124% more popular)

A few other fun facts to note:

  • Avocado toast is no longer all the rage – the dish responsible for emptying millennials bank accounts didn’t even make our top foods of 2018.
  • While poke bowls are still hot, they’ve fallen to the #2 spot of this year, seeing “only” a 205% increase in popularity, compared to a 643% rise in popularity in 2017.
  • America can’t get enough chicken, with chicken-based dishes making up half of our top 10 list.

Top Breakfast Items: Healthy items took the top two spots, but close behind are the classics we all know and love.

  1. peanut butter acai bowl (350% more popular)
  2. detox juice (193% more popular)
  3. bacon, egg and cheese sandwich (190% more popular)
  4. breakfast burrito (141% more popular)
  5. french toast (106% more popular)

Top Late-Night Items: People like to spice it up late night, with stuffed jalapenos and spicy miso ramen taking the top two spots. And it’s clear french toast is universally loved, making both our “top breakfast” and “top late-night” lists.

  1. stuffed jalapeno (169% more popular)
  2. spicy miso ramen (167% more popular)
  3. slider (148% more popular)
  4. french toast (119% more popular)
  5. lamb shawarma (70% more popular)

Top Dessert Items: Whether you love a classic brownie or prefer a twist on the basics (we see you, salted caramel cookie), it’s apparent America loves a wide variety of desserts.

  1. brownie (413% more popular)
  2. Oreo cookie cupcake (316% more popular)
  3. baklava (261% more popular)
  4. salted caramel cookie (243% more popular)
  5. cobbler (238% more popular)

Bonus: Coming in at the number six spot were vegan brownies (211% more popular), showing America loves brownies in all forms!

In addition to examining ordering trends on its platform, Grubhub also surveyed nearly 2,000 respondents across the United States who have ordered food in the past three months to understand their points-of-view on how food, food delivery and pickup impacted their lives in 2018. Key takeaways from the survey data are:


While we know America loves to order in, what matters most to people when choosing when, what, and where to order? Let’s dive in.

The What*: Fast casual reigns supreme with survey respondents — 40% ordered most from these types of restaurants, followed by quick service (32%) and casual dining at (24%.)

The Where: It’s no surprise the majority (80%) of survey respondents order food to their home. Other locations include work (35%), with friends (32%), on vacation (18%), and traveling for work (14%).

The Why: The top five reasons on why survey respondents order in include: 

  1. Didn’t feel like cooking (43%)
  2. Satisfy a craving (30%)
  3. Saving time from cooking/cleaning (28%)
  4. At home game night/movie night (25%)
  5. Family night dinner (24%)

Fun fact: Nearly 1 in 5 survey respondents order for pickup or delivery after having a new baby! (Sounds like a Grubhub gift card would make a great “welcome home” gift.)


Women and men differ in many ways, and their food preferences are no different. Overall, of all people surveyed by Grubhub, more men ordered pickup or delivery in 2018 (59% ordered at least once a week) compared to women (36%).

Different Tastes: Of those surveyed, when looking at the type of restaurant, 41% of men prefer quick service restaurants* for pickup or delivery (compared to 25% of women) and 44% of women prefer fast casual restaurants (compared to 36% of men). Diving into specific foods – pizza is about the only thing men (39%) and women (38%) agree on as a top choice. Burgers and chinese are also loved, but to different degrees:

  • Top Foods Among Men: Burgers (31%) / BBQ (24%) / Chinese (23%)
  • Top Foods Among Women: Women: Chinese (32%) / Mexican (27%) / Burgers (25%)

Different Habits: More than two-thirds of women surveyed (69%) tend to be spontaneous when it comes to ordering, compared to just over half of men (54%). And when they’ve had a long day, 48% of men will splurge on something more expensive compared to 34% of women.

Different Date Nights: Those surveyed in relationships, slightly more men (38%) than women (31%) feel ordering pickup or delivery is a great way to spend time together. Singles also have different visions for date night when ordering for pickup or delivery, especially when it comes to cuisine:

  • 41% of women prefer pizza on a date, compared to 29% of men
  • 25% of men prefer BBQ, compared to only 11% of women
  • 20% of women prefer sushi, compared to 12% of men

Different Work Preferences: The majority of men and women surveyed order food for pickup or delivery at work (69% and 63%, respectively), though more than half of men (51%) order twice a week or more compared to only 31% of women. Astoundingly, 10% of men surveyed said they order five times or more a week!


It’s apparent that food matters, whether you’re in a relationship or not.

Food Preferences – It Matters: Almost all surveyed in a relationship (90%) said they prefer if their significant others have the same food preferences as they do, and nearly half (42%) consider it a potential relationship breaker if they don’t. Overall, men care more than women, with 54% saying “of course” food preferences matter, while only 31% of women said the same.

Grounds for Argument: Nearly three quarters of respondents surveyed (71%) said they’ve argued with their significant other about what to order, with 23% saying they “frequently” argued about it in the past year.

  • Men feel it more, with 35% “frequently” arguing about what to order compared to only 13% of women.
  • Same could be said for those in urban areas, with 35% also “frequently” arguing about the topic when only 11% of those in the suburbs say the same.
  • Millennials tend to be a little more lax, with 20% stating they “frequently” argue, compared to 28% of GenXers.

But it’s not all arguing: 95% of those surveyed in relationships know their significant other’s order by heart.

The New Date Night: While we know convenience is key with ordering in and more than one third (34%) of couples surveyed order pickup or delivery for a “date night at home” (and this increases to 38% among men). In addition to date night at home, other reasons to stay in include: not wanting to cook (52%), it’s easier (34%), not enough time (25%) and simple cleanup (23%).

Friend Zone: Of single respondents, more than a quarter (26%) said they judge dates on what they order (this increases to 30% among men, compared to 22% of women).


Soccer practice. Karate lessons. Newborn in the family. Play dates. It’s part of life, and an already hectic schedule makes the question of “what’s for dinner?” a tough one.

Family Dinner: It should come as no shock that nearly everyone surveyed with children (91%) have ordered in for their family. The top reason why (46%) is “it was easier” (we get it!). From there, the reasons differed between moms and dads:

  • Dads do it as a treat for the kids (38%) and because they want to spend more time with family (37%)
  • Moms say they didn’t have time to cook (44%) or didn’t have anything planned for dinner (44%)

Budget vs. Variety: Moms and dads also have different priorities when ordering. Of those surveyed, dads named “variety of restaurants” (24%) as their top priority, compared to only 19% of moms. Mothers are clearly more budget conscious with 25% choosing “budget-friendly” restaurants, compared to only 19% of men.

Feeling the heat: Again, nearly every parent surveyed orders in for their family but one third of respondents said they feel judged by other parents when they do. This feeling is felt more by dads — 45% say they feel negatively judged when ordering in, compared to 22% of moms.

City vs. Suburban Life: The differences between city living and suburban living extends to food ordering, too:

  • Parents surveyed in urban areas feel more pressure about ordering in, with nearly half (49%) saying they feel judged by other parents, compared to only (18%) of those in the suburbs.
  • Moms (49%) and dads (44%) surveyed both agree “it’s just easier” to order in, however, the reasons differed from there. Parents in urban areas order as a “treat for the kids” (37%) and because they “want to spend more time with the family” (36%.) Parent’s in suburban areas, said they “didn’t have time to cook” (46%) and “didn’t have anything planned” (40%).

Late night, order in: Most respondents surveyed (85%) stated they ordered pickup or delivery (versus cooking or going out) after a late night, and this increases for those with kids – 89% of parents stated they’re more likely to order in!


Office Meals: Eating at the office is a common occurrence among employees. Of those surveyed who have ordered at work, 43% do it more than twice a week, and 35% order 2-4 times per week.

It’s Not All About Lunch: According to survey respondents, lunch (81%) is the most popular meal for pickup or delivery, but 44% have also ordered dinner to their place of work. And while 24% ordered breakfast, it seems those in urban areas are more prone to ordering at the office in the morning (32% of urban workers, compared to 13% in suburban areas).

Sad Desk Lunch?: Not for some folks! Of those surveyed, more than half (60%) are getting away from their desk to eat. In fact, over a third (35%) are opting for the office’s common areas and 13% are getting out of the office to enjoy their meal! Men get away more (66%) as opposed to only, 52% of women eating elsewhere.

Office Etiquette 101: Microwaving leftover fish in the communal kitchen? That’s one way to make an impression among your work buddies. Among other workplace annoyances cited by survey respondents:

  • Eating someone else’s food (47%)
  • Leaving a messy kitchen (44%)
  • Dirty microwave (38%)
  • Microwaving pungent food (34%)
  • Eating something messy/pungent at desk (30%)
  • Forgetting about leftover pick-up food in the fridge (29%)

Grubhub’s “Year in Food” report is based on trends gathered from millions of orders on the Grubhub platform and the results of a commissioned survey performed by a third-party. Order trends detail the rise in popularity of food items placed by Grubhub diners from January-November 2018, as compared to the same timeframe in 2017. The third party survey examined the ordering habits of a demographically representative sample of 1,927 U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 and 54 who ordered food for pickup or delivery via web or mobile over the past three months.

About Grubhub
Grubhub (NYSE: GRUB) is the nation’s leading online and mobile food-ordering and delivery marketplace with the largest and most comprehensive network of restaurant partners, as well as the largest diner base. Dedicated to connecting diners with the food they love from their favorite local restaurants, Grubhub strives to elevate food ordering through innovative restaurant technology, easy-to-use platforms and an improved delivery experience. Grubhub is proud to work with more than 95,000 restaurant partners in over 1,700 U.S. cities and London. The Grubhub portfolio of brands includes Grubhub, Seamless, LevelUp, Tapingo, Eat24, AllMenus and MenuPages.

* Type of food is categorized by quick service (order at counter, no wait line, low price-point); fast casual (order at counter, no wait line, higher price-point;) casual dining (order at table with wait staff, moderate price point); upper casual restaurants (order at table with wait staff, higher price point;); and fine dining (highest-end price point at $80+ per person)