Insects Creeping Onto Menus in Latest Dining Trend

Creepers embraced at trendy restaurants.

— -- Insects are worming their way into food all over the country. From cricket bars to “grasswhoppers” to tacos with worms inside, the latest trend in eating has worked its way onto the menus of some of New York City’s hottest tables.

There’s ant guacamole, grasshopper tostadas and tacos filled with dried worms. Even the drinks incorporate the crawlers: the climbing ant, for example, uses crushed ants to make the salt that lines the rim of the glass.

“It’s been really good for business,” said Jorge Guzman, the restaurant’s owner. “We didn’t even know what we were getting into, but now this huge thing unfolding and I think we started the movement in New York, at least among the Mexican restaurants. It’s paid off big time.”

While grasshoppers are generally considered to be the chicken of the insect world, they actually taste mildly fishy and very salty. Ants are crunchy and a bit spicy; worms taste a little like a very salty shrimp.

The Black Ant isn’t the only restaurant serving up insect cuisine. Toloache, also in NYC, serves grasshopper tacos and the Typhoon restaurant in Santa Monica, California, has an insect section of the menu with offerings like scorpions, crickets and ants.

“There’s an element of shock value,” said Arthur Bovino, executive editor of The Daily Meal. “But it’s also us catching up with what’s going on around the world.”

Editor Bovino said people likely eat insects every day without ever realizing it. “The FDA accounts for a certain amount of bugs to be in everything we buy already,” he said.

The key, he added, is to make insects more commonplace and therefore less taboo. “If we don’t have the surprise element, if we see the insects and decide to engage with it,” he said, “it makes it a little less crazy.”