As fans of cronuts and cake pops can attest, food trends come and go. So how can you tell which tastes are trending right now?
We took a data-driven look at the question, using Yelp and SafeGraph, a dataset of commercial points of interest and their visitor patterns, to analyze which local businesses have been seeing especially high review volumes this month.
To find out who made the list, we first looked at Houston 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. Then we analyzed foot traffic data from SafeGraph to validate the trends.
Read on to see which spots have the momentum heading into the end of the year.
La Marisquera Ostioneria
Whether or not you've been hearing buzz about Mid-West's La Marisquera Ostioneria, the Mexican spot, which offers seafood and more, is a hot topic according to Yelp review data.
While businesses categorized as 'Seafood' on Yelp saw a median 1.5% increase in new reviews over the past month, La Marisquera Ostioneria bagged a 53.8% increase in new reviews within that time frame, maintaining a sound 4.5-star rating. It significantly outperformed the previous month by gaining 1.6 times more reviews than expected based on its past performance.
Open at 5851 Westheimer Road since July, La Marisquera Ostioneria (one of three locations in the state) offers authentic Tex-Mex cuisine, including tacos, enchiladas, ceviches, fajitas, tostadas, raw oysters and more. Catering services are also available, and you can check out the full menu here.
La Marisquera Ostioneria is open from 11 a.m.–10 p.m. on Monday-Thursday and Sunday and 11 a.m.–midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Spring Branch West's BORI is also making waves. Open at 1453 Witte Road since July, the Korean steakhouse and barbecue spot has seen a 37.5% bump in new reviews over the last month, compared to a median review increase of 2.4% for all businesses tagged 'Barbeque' on Yelp.
BORI offers a unique, cook-your-own meal concept that lets you cook your own select cuts of meat (steak and pork) and seafood (octopus, salmon, shrimp and scallops) over an open flame. Other menu highlights include kimchee fried rice and a Korean-style risotto. Over the past month, it's maintained a superior 4.5-star rating among Yelpers.
BORI is open from 5–11 p.m. on weekdays, 4–11 p.m. on Saturday and 4–10 p.m. on Sunday.
Mico’s Hot Chicken
Greater Uptown's Mico’s Hot Chicken is the city's buzziest Southern spot by the numbers.
The popular Nashville hot chicken spot, which opened at 2829 Chimney Rock Road in June, increased its new review count by 20.5% over the past month, an outlier when compared to the median new review count of 1.5% for the Yelp category 'Southern.'
Mico’s Hot Chicken offers fried chicken tenders, a fried chicken breast sandwich with housemade coleslaw (called The Sammich) and waffle fries covered with cheese, chives, fried chicken and Mico's house sauce. You can order your chicken with no heat, mild, medium, hot or extra hot.
Mico’s Hot Chicken is open from noon–8 p.m. on Thursday-Sunday. (It's closed on Monday-Wednesday.)
The well-established Dandelion Cafe is currently on the upswing in the breakfast and brunch category on Yelp.
While businesses categorized as 'Breakfast & Brunch' on Yelp saw a median 2.2% increase in new reviews over the past month, this breakfast and brunch spot, which offers coffee, tea, juices and smoothies, increased its new reviews by 2.9% — and kept its rating consistent at 4.5 stars. Visits to Dandelion Cafe increased by more than 50% over the same time frame, according to SafeGraph's foot traffic data.
Open for business at 5405 Bellaire Blvd. since 2016, Dandelion Cafe offers full breakfasts, such as omelettes, breakfast tacos, pancakes, French toast and housemade biscuits, as well as soups, salads, sandwiches and more for lunch. Beer and wine are also served. (Check out the full menu here.)
Dandelion Cafe is open from 7 a.m.–6 p.m. on Monday-Saturday and 8 a.m.–3 p.m. on Sunday. According to SafeGraph, it's usually busiest at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon, and people visit Dandelion Cafe most on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so go on Sundays if you want to avoid the rush.