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TheStreet Open House

Restaurant Trends We Love and Hate

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Twenty years ago, the idea of a shop that sold only cupcakes was virtually unheard of (remember "bakeries"?), and when you looked at a menu, there was no way it would tell you where the cow was raised or what it had for lunch. Today, locally sourced ingredients are all the rage and cupcake shops have become so trendy people are already saying they're passe.

Restaurants have changed a lot in the past few years, but not all of the trends are going to last. We spoke to food experts and bloggers to find out which restaurant trends they can't get enough of -- and which they can definitely do without.

The cupcake-only specialty shops popping up all over urban areas are just one food trend starting to grate on some people.

Love: Local sourcing
These days it's not enough to tell diners what ingredients are used in a dish. More and more restaurants are also telling us where the ingredients came from, and often it's not that far from home.

"As far as restaurants go, the trend is to source what they can locally and tell you what farm their meats and produce are coming from," says Jay Ducote, who runs the food blog Bite and Booze. "People now are starting to demand to know where their food is coming from, and a lot of restaurants are getting ingredients from local farmers markets or straight from the farmer."

This trend has quite a bit to do with political and ethical concerns. Locally sourced ingredients are supportive of the local economy and generally regarded as being better for the environment (transporting food over long distances takes a lot of fossil fuel, though some studies have downplayed the importance of transportation when assessing food's carbon footprint). And while we're generally wary of mixing food and politics, Ducote says he's a fan of anything that brings farm-fresh ingredients to the table and helps local farmers in the process.

Still, we can definitely see this trend being taken too far -- the last thing we want to see is a restaurant choosing inferior ingredients in the name of getting everything locally. But for now we're on board with this one.

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