November 16th, 2020

2021 COVID Food Trends

Posted in Food Trends, Healthy

Food Trends to Expect as We Head into 2021

It may seem crazy to start anticipating 2021 COVID food trends, but there’s already plenty of information available on what food life may look like.

As we know, this year has led to the rise of comfort food. The stress of the world around us partnered with stay-at-home orders, food distribution issues, and hoarding led to many consumers wanting to curl up with their favorite food. This nostalgic touch of normal has helped us stay grounded in tough times.

But those same comforts and limitations have led to unwanted side effects on health. Depression, weight gain, and nutrient deficiencies have all been on the rise as we’ve lost time in the sun and access to healthy hobbies. Therefore, it’s no surprise that consumers are looking towards health and wellness in 2021.

2021 COVID Food Trends

Healthy Snacking

2021 COVID Food Trends

Snacking is up across the board. As people work from home and find more flexibility in their daily schedule, they’re also finding more time to snack. 26% of U.S. consumers snack multiple times a day, and another third snack at least once daily; 38% say they replace meals with snacks (usually lunch) at least occasionally.

As consumers work to get back to their “pre-COVID weight,” a strong draw will be to find healthier snacks. Outside of the retail setting, this means bite-size restaurant eats made with vegetables, lean meats, or whole/ancient grains. Even if weight loss is a focus, it can’t take the place of exciting flavor (like bold sauces!).

Plant-Based

Food Trends 2021

Plant-based foods are no fad. They are here to stay and they can provide an excellent health-focused option. Home preparation of plant-based proteins like dry beans and lentils, tofu, and homemade veggie burgers are helping people discover that good nutrition can be delicious. This can translate directly to restaurants, where that exposure will lead to plant-based menu choices.

An important fact to keep in mind on this note, however, is that more than ever consumers are reading nutrition labels. Those labels need to reflect recognizable ingredients. Consumers are actively steering away from ingredient labels that sound like science experiments.

Restaurants can capitalize on this with flavor-forward plant-based options tying into nostalgic favorites. Plant-based buffalo chicken or meatless marinara are excellent options. Both provide immense flavor boosts without blowing out the caloric limit.

Functional Foods

Functional Foods Trends 2021

Coronavirus has done a great job of opening consumers’ eyes to the power of foods and their functions. 2021 will undoubtedly showcase foods that offer a functional benefit, like immune and energy boosts.

This is a great opportunity to enhance dishes by packing them with protein, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc, among others. And with family mealtime becoming a norm once again, creating dishes that benefit the whole family will be an added bonus.

Opportunity is Knocking…

Will you answer? Now is the time to start planning your menus and products for 2021. Using these characteristics aligned with bold, craveable flavors, you can ensure your place with the diner of next year.

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October 19th, 2020

Detroit Style Pizza is Winning the Pandemic

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Restaurants

Detroit Style Pizza Hits on Satisfaction & Nostalgia

Detroit Style Pizza

Photo courtesy of Via313.com

Detroit style pizza is winning the pandemic. Yes, big statement for sure. I mean, can anything or anyone really win the pandemic? Maybe, maybe not. But, if anything comes close, it’s Detroit style pizza.

What is Detroit Style Pizza?

First thing’s first, let’s answer what Detroit style pizza actually is. Basically, Detroit style pizza refers to a deep, square pie, traditionally cooked in blue steel pans that were also used by Detroit automotive manufacturers at the time. They have caramelized cheese crusts and a generous pour of sauce on top of the pizza when finished.

Detroit Style Pizza

For long-time readers, you may remember a story we did on Austin’s very own Via 313 Pizza. Now with multiple locations and no sign of slowing down, they came on the scene with plenty of time to reap the benefits of this trend. Their popularity has been so high, they’ve essentially become a monopoly in the market, with no other restaurants even attempting to edge into their territory.

Why Now?

As we’ve noted during the pandemic, comfort food has been a driving trend, finding its way into fast food, QSRs, and brick and mortar restaurants alike. Right alongside comfort food during this trend change has been pizza. Ubiquitously popular, craveable, and supremely portable, pizza has weathered the storm better than almost all of its culinary counterparts.

So, it makes sense then that Detroit style pizza, with its thick, yeasty crust, crispy/cheesy frico edges, and quirky sauce-on-top characteristic, has found deep roots with diners across the U.S. Aside from comfort food, Detroit style pizza also matches up with the new found love for yeast and sourdough. All those folks at home, who learned how to make their own starter or fell in love with the art of yeasted bread, have found a kindred spirit in Detroit style pizza.

Where is it Gaining Ground?

Detroit Pizza

Photo courtesy of la.eater.com

It’s gaining ground in some of the best markets in the U.S. In fact, a bevy of new Detroit style pizza restaurants have opened in Los Angeles, including the likes of Dough Daddy and Schell’s Pizza Hole. And these launched during the toughest parts of the pandemic.

In the last two months in Dallas, three new ghost kitchens have opened slinging the chewy pies. Even the well-renown and highly respected Cane Rosso restaurant group has gotten in the game with their new concept, Thunderbird Pies.

The popularity for this pie has also redoubled in Detroit, its home turf. One of the original makers in the game, Detroit Style Pizza Co., saw their sales triple overnight after popular internet pizza reviewer David Portnoy of  One Bite Pizza Reviews gave the pie a stellar rating of 8.5 out of 10.

Denver, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, and Tampa, among many other cities, have all seen Detroit style pizza restaurants open during the pandemic. This shows you how strong the trend is currently driving. Even major chains like Jet’s, Little Caesars, and Pizza Hut have tested DSP in regional markets, meaning it’s bound to keep gaining steam.

Pizza Trends

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/thunderbirdpies/

What’s Next?

Time will tell. But, for now we know that consumers will be sticking with comfort foods, especially going into the winter. While there’s a push for healthier options, there’s also a strong desire for decadence. Because of that, coupled with our deep love for familiar items with a twist, Detroit style pizza has staying power and it’s a trend worth jumping on.

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October 5th, 2020

New Menu Items October 2020

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

October New Menu Items Offer Variety and Portability

A new month is upon us, therefore it’s time to look at the national new menu items for October 2020. For those of you familiar with our posts, you’ll know we usually find a common thread that links new menu items together. A trend for spicy foods, or plant-based, for example. This month, however, it seems the trend is variety and portability (with a splash of BBQ sauce, for sure).

As we begin to pivot into the winter months, restaurants are looking for ways to diversify menus to off-set the inevitable loss from inhospitable outdoor dining conditions. One way to do this is to offer items that are easily portable and speak to a wide range of customers, including kids and families.

The October new menu items certainly reflect this need for diversity. Let’s take a look at what’s out there.

October 2020 New Menu Items

Fazoli’s

October Menu Trends

Image courtesy of Fazolis.com

Our friends at Fazoli’s are shaking up their Italian-focused menu with some continental fun. They will now be serving breaded and fried chicken wings in a variety of savory flavors, including mild, medium, or hot buffalo, hot honey BBQ sauce, and Asian chile sauce, among others.

Why this may seem to not fit their Italian mold, it’s a smart business move. Now, customers have lots of fun options when ordering and Fazoli’s found a way to grab another market of consumers with minimal in-house changes.

Lion’s Choice

Menu Items October 2020

Image courtesy of STLmag.com.

Lion’s Choice is focused on grabbing a younger demographic with their new Turkey Dipper. This is a handheld item of roasted turkey and Provel cheese in baked flatbread with a side of marinara sauce for dipping, served with apple slices and a drink. A perfectly complete meal for the kids.

Modern Market Eatery

New Menu Items

Image courtesy of ModernMarket.com

Mod Market is going all-in on their new blackened chicken options. One of which is their BBQ Pizza, topped with barbecue sauce, blackened chicken thigh, red onion, green onion, cilantro, and pepper Jack cheese. It’s a solid favorite among diners with a new twist by including blackened chicken thigh. This item will only be available until November 11th.

O’Charley’s Restaurant & Bar

Carolina Gold BBQ

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/ocharleysfans/

O’Charley’s is coming in with a bevy of new family-style meals, but the standout is their new Carolina Gold Family-Style Meal. It’s a protein packed box of six herb-seasoned, grilled boneless chicken breasts basted with Carolina Gold barbecue sauce and topped with bacon and Monterey Jack cheese, served with rolls and your choice of two family-size sides. Gotta love that Carolina Gold!

Velvet Taco

October Menu Items

Photo courtesy of NRN.com

Velvet Taco, a perennial placeholder here on our new menu items list, hits a new flavor profile with their Sweet Chile Shrimp Taco. This is a panko breaded fried shrimp taco with sweet chile sauce, kimchee slaw, angry crema (with sambal oelek and Sriracha sauce added to it), carrots, pickled Fresno chiles, and green onions in a flour tortilla. Guaranteed to keep you warm in the cold weather.

Your Pie

2020 Menu Trends October

image courtesy of facebook.com/YourPieThornton/

The up and coming franchise Your Pie makes the list for the first time with a pair of new menu items sure to heat things up. They’re offering a Hot Honey Pepperoni Pizza and a Sweet Heat Pepper Pasta, both loaded with savory marinara sauce, pepperoni, pickled jalapenos, and finished with a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey. Now we’re cooking with fire!

Make it To Go!

Having a smart, portable menu that satisfies a group of picky eaters is a safe bet to maintain steady business in the coming winter months, as the new menu items above show. It also may not hurt to add a little heat. Make sure you’re planning ahead to keep your customers fed, happy, and calling back for more.

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September 7th, 2020

New Menu Items September 2020

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

Pizza Reigns for September New Menu Items

pizza-cover-photo

September’s new menu items have just begun to roll out and we’re getting them to you as quickly as possible. Last month saw a big uptick in spicy items and chicken wings, but September is taking a slightly different route.

For the most part, pizza innovation is driving September’s trends. And really, this shouldn’t be too much of a shock. National pizza chains have been able to stave off the effects of coronavirus a bit better than other brands, thanks to their popularity and native to-go style.

So, let’s see who’s doing what this September and how these items can help you find new flavors for fall.

September 2020 New Menu Items

Domino’s

New Menu Items September 2020

Image courtesy of ChewBoom.com

Domino’s Pizza hits the ground running this month with the launch of two new pizzas. The Chicken Taco Pizza features grilled chicken, taco seasoning, onions, green peppers, diced tomatoes, and American, provolone, and Cheddar cheeses.

The Cheeseburger Pizza hits the nostalgia trend with a tangy ketchup-mustard sauce topped with beef, onions, diced tomatoes, and American, provolone, and Cheddar cheeses. Can’t wait to get a bite of that!

Donatos

September 2020 New Menu Items

Image courtesy of Donatos.com

Donatos Pizza continues to innovate with their cauliflower crust, and this month is no different. The new offering is a Cauliflower Spinach Mozzarella Pizza which features a lower-carbohydrate 10-inch cauliflower crust topped edge-to-edge with baby spinach, plant-based sausage, roasted garlic and a blend of mozzarella, Asiago, smoked provolone, and Romano cheeses. Got my mouth watering already!

Krystal

BBQ Trends

Image courtesy of ChewBoom.com

Krystal is skipping the pizza rush and jumping on the previous BBQ trend with their new Memphis BBQ Sliders. These little devils feature slow-smoked pork in Memphis barbecue sauce with pickle flavor on a steamed bun. Now, I’m all types of curious about that “pickle flavor.”

McDonald’s

Spicy Menu Trends 2020

Image courtesy of LifeSavvy.com

The folks at McDonald’s must’ve caught wind of last month’s blog because they’re getting spicy with a duo of new flavors. First off are the Spicy Chicken McNuggets, featuring a blend of chile peppers in the breading, which you can then pair with their new Mighty Hot Sauce. This concoction is a spicy dipping with crushed red pepper and other chiles.

Papa John’s

2020 Menu Trends

Image courtesy of BrandEating.com

Papa John’s is throwing their hat in the snackable foods ring with the launch of their new Buffalo Chicken Papadia. It’s a folded pizza dough stuffed with grilled chicken and onions, three-cheese blend, buttermilk ranch dressing and fiery Buffalo sauce. Sounds like a perfectly complete handheld snack.

Uno’s

Pizza Trends 2020

Image courtesy of NRN.com

Finally, Uno’s is coming into September guns blazing with a new group of hearty Italian classics. First, try the Deep Dish Meatballs made with beef, pork, ricotta, and Italian seasoning baked with ricotta cheese and marinara sauce and served with pizza chips for dipping. Then, go for the Meatball and Ricotta Deep Dish Pizza overflowing with Deep Dish Meatballs, ricotta cheese, mushrooms, mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, and Pecorino Romano cheese in a deep-dish crust.

If you’re not full yet, how about the Chicken Parm Sub or the Mom’s Meatball Sub, both served with fries. Or, if all that sounds too heavy, they also launched a Margherita Chicago Thin Crust Pizza, featuring fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato, and basil over pizza sauce on a thin crust. Sounds like all bases are covered (with marinara sauce!).

Ciao for Now!

Apparently, all that Italian food is influencing me. And perhaps it should influence you as well. The weather is starting to turn towards fall and that means warm, comforting flavors are in the air. Jump on trend with your favorite pizza and watch the diners line up for a bite.

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July 6th, 2020

June 2020 National Menu Trends

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

National Menus See BBQ and Heat for the Win

June 2020 Menu Trends

June 2020 has seen a massive amount of new menu item rollouts, but there were two stand out trends: BBQ and heat.

Across the board, the sweet and smoky comfort of BBQ along with the rich complexity of spicy new flavors are holding strong in popularity. This makes sense as we’ve seen a large rise in the presence comfort foods and Mexican cuisine on menus since the pandemic has kept consumers home.

So, let’s check out the innovative items that just hit and how you might be able to capitalize on these trends.

June 2020 New Menu Items

Carl’s Jr. & Hardee’s

New Menu Trends June 2020

Photo courtesy of carlsjr.com

The burger masters at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s decided to go for broke with a duo of new burgers. The Spicy Western Bacon Cheeseburger features smoky BBQ sauce, jalapeno peppers, crispy onion rings, and creamy pepper Jack cheese with a pile of savory bacon. Its sister sandwich, the Beyond Spicy BBQ Cheeseburger, is a meatless Beyond Burger patty with jalapeno peppers, crispy onion rings, and pepper Jack cheese slathered in tangy BBQ sauce. You can’t go wrong either way.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moes BBQ Burrito

Photo courtesy of moes.com

Now, you wouldn’t normally think Moe’s when it comes to BBQ, but indeed that’s what they’ve done. They’re now offering a Barbecue (yes, fully spelled out) Burrito and Bowl to satisfy your cravings. Featuring seasoned rice, pinto beans, your choice of protein, savory barbecue sauce, and a tangy Southwest slaw. Hurry to get one soon, they’ll only be available until July 13th.

Roy Rogers

June Menu Trends

Photocourtesy of royrogersrestaurants.com

The culinary team over at Roy Rogers are hitting the spicy trend hard with their new Dynamite Burger. This quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger serves up layers of heat with crispy jalapeno poppers, creamy pepper Jack cheese, and a smoky chipotle ranch on a fluffy Kaiser roll. Think you can handle the heat?

Tropical Smoothie Café

BBQ Trends

Photo courtesy of tropicalsmoothiecafe.com

The folks over at Tropical Smoothie Café want to make sure you know they’re about more than just smoothies. To prove it, they’ve launched a smoky BBQ Pork Quesadilla. Stuffed with barbecue glazed pork, queso blanco, Cheddar, smoked cheese blend, pineapple salsa, and pickled jalapenos, it finds the right balance of sweet, hot, and smoky.

Velvet Taco

Velvet Taco seems to always end up on these lists. It’s no surprise really, they’re known for their bold flavors and experimentation. Which brings us to the new Nashville Chicken and Waffle taco. It features crispy fried chicken tenders tossed in a fiery Nashville hot sauce and amped up with peppered bacon, peppercorn gravy, green apple slaw, maple syrup, and a smoky red chile aioli all stuffed in a crinkly waffle tortilla.

Can You Feel the Heat?

Good! Make sure you’re keeping on trend with bold, smoky, and spicy flavors to keep your guests ordering over and over again. Now, I think I’ll be going to order one of each of these new June 2020 National Menu Trends.

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June 1st, 2020

Food Trends During Coronavirus

Posted in Consumer Trends, Culinary Conferences, Food Trends

How Has COVID-19 Changed Food Trends?

Food Trends During Coronavirus

Food trends during the coronavirus pandemic have, as you might imagine, changed from what earlier predictions may have expected. Isolation and self-preparation of foods has left consumers yearning for comfort and portability over experimentation and presentation.

During a recent RCA PoweredUp session, Mike Kostyo of Datassential discussed this very topic. By monitoring menu and retail trends from over 100,00 national sources, he showcased what consumers are really craving during this time.

Let’s look at some of the top trends highlighted.

Coronavirus Food Trends

Plant-Based Foods

Plant Based Food Trends

2019 marked a major up-tick in plant-based food representation on menus nationally, going from 14% in 2018 to 56% in 2019. Meat sales from April 12 to May 9, 2020 were 28 percent higher than in the four weeks ending Jan. 18, 2020 according to data from Nielsen. Plant-based meat substitutes, had a jump of 35 percent in sales during the same period. The increase for uncooked products was more dramatic: 53 percent for the vegan products versus 34 percent for meat.

Environmental concerns among consumers are also a driver for this trend. In fact, 21% of consumers are interested in plant-based foods for the environmental impact alone. Generation Z is undoubtedly the leader in plant-based food interest, with 64% of Gen. Zs having tried it and 1 in 5 saying they love it. So, if your target audience is comprised of Gen. Z, you should be considering plant-based options on your menus ASAP!

Mexican Food

COVID-19 Food Trends

Whether it’s the bottomless chips and salsa, the energetic social nature of Mexican restaurants, or the ice-cold citrus margaritas, Mexican food leads the pack for the most craved foods during COVID-19.

The tough part with most Mexican foods is portability. The crispy, crunchy tacos and tostadas tend to lose their texture, smothered burritos get a bit soggy, and fajitas just don’t have quite the same flair without the sizzle platter.

Many Mexican restaurants have overcome these limitations by providing deconstructed to go kits, creative to-go packaging with moisture vents, and limited menus to ensure what they are selling travels well. As Mexican restaurants continue to learn how to overcome these limitations (to-go margaritas certainly help!), you can expect this trend to strengthen and cross into other platforms, like pizza and burgers.

Pizza

Pizza Popularity during COVID-19

Most experts expected pizza to be a top trend prior to coronavirus and it looks like they were right. Cravings for pizza have not decreased during the pandemic. In fact, according to QSR magazine, in March the pizza segment of restaurants showed the smallest losses (8%) but were already starting to level off again.

There are many reasons for this. First and foremost, pizza is still the most popular food in America. Additionally, pizza has high value, has been available to bake at home for years, and is essentially designed for delivery, so there was no consumer hurdle to get over when dine-in options closed.

Pizza companies have further increased interest in their products by offering plant-based options, family meal deals, and efficient contactless order and delivery methods.

BBQ

BBQ trends

BBQ, the classic backyard event, and the All-American outdoor activity. Couple that with the warm summer weather and nostalgia for simpler times and it’s no wonder BBQ ranks high on the current trends list. Like meatloaf and apple pie, BBQ is a classic American comfort food.

Restaurants can easily incorporate BBQ items on their menus. Brisket tacos, pulled-pork pizza, and short-rib sandwiches are all crave-worthy inclusions that consumers will love. Plus, BBQ is extremely portable and loses very little quality in transport.

So, get those smokers rolling, the people want ribs!

Is Your Menu Adapting?

We hope so. Check out previous blogs to see what other trends we’ve seen and how restaurants nationally are responding. Chime in below with your thoughts on what’s trending how to attract customers. We love your feedback.

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May 18th, 2020

May is for Meat

Posted in Food Trends, Restaurants

May is for Meat

Think Meat This May

Why Meat for May? Good question, with a trio of great answers.

Meat, Meet May!

1. Coronavirus Relaxation

Meat Food Trend May 2020

Firstly, Coronavirus restrictions are beginning to lift this month. While some cities have already opened a smattering of retail businesses, others aren’t far behind. And while dining rooms may not yet be open, people will be headed back to work and will be looking for satisfying meals to bring home after a long day.

This is where your restaurant and meat come into play. With some markets and grocery stores running into shortages on meat, restaurants can fill the gap and offer diners what they simply can’t find in stores. And with the prevalence of family meals and relaxed policies allowing restaurants to sell foods and ingredients retail, it’s a golden opportunity.

Even Texas Roadhouse is currently selling ready-to-cook steaks with seasonings, sauces, and cooking instructions. Not a bad idea!

2. May is National BBQ Month

May National BBQ Month

Secondly, May just happens to be National BBQ Month! Yea, that’s a real thing! And Americans are renown for jumping on a national food trend. Plus, it’s no secret that BBQ and smoke flavors have been trending for some time now. Therefore, May is the perfect chance to capitalize on the style.

Dallas-based Dickey’s BBQ Pit is going all in on National BBQ Month with a six-pack of new sandwich options all customizable with sauce favorites. Items include a Kickin’ Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, a Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sandwich, and the Wild Westerner, loaded with hickory-smoked pulled pork, Texas hot sauce, spicy Cheddar kielbasa sausage, cheese, onion rings, pickles and jalapenos all on a toasty westerner bun.

3. Surf & Turf Rising

Meat for May

Photo courtesy of ispot.tv

Nation’s Restaurant News recently published an article predicting surf & turf as a strong trend rising in the current wake of coronavirus. The idea of pairing red meat and seafood intersects almost every cuisine, from Filipino to German, while also being readily available on most menus. Therefore, with some creativity and foresight, surf & turf options could be great answers to the questions of “what do customers want?” and “how can we increase revenue?”

Restaurants such as Ocean Prime, The Cheesecake Factory, and Outback Steakhouse have all quickly realized the potential for this pairing and are driving it on their menus. So ask yourself, what does your surf & turf option look like?

Steak Knives Required

There you have it, keep meat on the min this May and you’ll be sure to increase traffic. Plus, a nicely cooked piece of meat maintains its integrity out of the restaurant and back to your customers home. It’s that kind of transportable quality that will be important in menu designs to come in a post coronavirus world.

Cheers!

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April 20th, 2020

Family Meals Trend Nationally

Posted in Food Trends

Family Meals Over New Items

Family Meal Trends

It like looks family meals are going to describe the trend over the next few (and last few) weeks. With social isolation, stay home orders, and mandatory business closures, restaurants are creatively finding ways to maintain operation. One of these ways, and a very popular one, is with family meals.

Normally around this time of the month we’d deliver the new menu items that have been launched nationally over the past few weeks. But as restaurant foot traffic is at a standstill, innovation is being paused and replaced with accessibility. And what better way to make your restaurant accessible than with family meals for all the parents and kids staying home?

So, instead of new menu items, let’s look at the national restaurants serving up great family meal plans.

Family Meals – March 2020

Cowboy Chicken

Cowboy Chicken

Photo courtesy of CowboyChicken.com

The rotisserie chicken specialists at fast casual concept Cowboy Chicken have launched a whole series of awesome family meal options. You can get chicken meals for four or six, all including large sides, whole-wheat rolls, or chips and salsa. Or, you can satisfy your Tex-Mex craving with their Enchiladas Meal which includes nine enchiladas and three large sides.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Coronavirus Meal Deals

Photo courtesy of buffalowildwings.com

The fun folks over at BWWs are offering family meals of 10-20 traditional or boneless wings (or 20 of each) complete with a large side of fries. Additionally, they have buy one get one deals for wings on Tuesdays and Thursday. Sounds like a great, fun way to feed a group.

Fogo de Chão

Fogo Family Meal

Image courtesy of FogodeChao.com

The meat masters at Fogo are mixing up their normal all-you-can-eat service style with regular and family meals to go. You can find items like dry-aged New York strip, a rack of eight lamb chops, 5 pounds of beef short-rib, and even a cauliflower steak with Parmesan crust. All options include their classic pao de queijo and your choice of sides.

Mendocino Farms

Family Meals 2020

Photo courtesy of DestinationIrvine.com

The whole family craving sandwiches? Check out the Mendocino Farms’ family meal, the Mendo Meal Deal, which offers four salads or sandwiches and two sides for $40.00. Additionally, if you’re short on staples you can purchase a whole loaf of bread to be included with your pickup/delivery. Pretty sweet deal!

Olive Garden

Restaurants serving carryout

Image courtesy of OliveGarden.com

Don’t worry, you can still get your pasta, plus one more! With the Olive Garden Buy One, Take One special, you get a free pasta choice with the purchase of another pasta. With 10 options, everyone can get something they love. This deal is for car-side pickup only. Don’t forget to order salad and bread sticks!

Taco Cabana

Family Meals for Takeout

Photo courtesy of TacoCabana.com.

Taco Cabana is not only serving family meal deal specials, but you can also pair them with a beer or margarita (where states allow). They’re offering multiple variations and sizes of fajitas, along with family-sized sides, sopapillas, and chocolate cake. Don’t forget to grab a frozen lime or strawberry margarita and a pack of 12 or 24 tortillas for later.

Food for the Family

It’s great to see restaurants offering meals meant to feed the whole family. It’s a perfect way to support those at home while still being able to serve food. Hopefully this can offer a little peace to those with restless homes full of kids and parents.

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March 1st, 2020

Superb Street Food Snacks

Posted in Food Trends, Trailer/Street Foods

Street Food 2.0 is Cutting Loose on Menus

New Street Food

We’re no strangers to the love of global street foods here. It’s been a popular topic on our blog for quite some time. But it looks like we may be seeing the next evolution of street food taking place right before our eyes.

American street food is becoming an amalgamation of global flavors and influences with one set purpose, to be delicious. Chefs across the country are scorning the standards to create new blends of flavors, textures, and influences into amazing small bites that change the way we perceive street food.

Let’s see how some restaurants are adapting their menus to include new-era street foods.

Street Food Pockets

Street Food Empanadas

One of the most common types of street foods globally are food pockets. They go by lots of names like buns, dumplings, pirozhki, or calzones, but equal essentially the same thing: A flavorful filling enclosed inside a pocket of dough. Hopefully served with a delicious dipping sauce (because who doesn’t love dipping?!). The universality of this item plays directly into the creative nature of street food, and restaurants are taking notice.

Recently, Fogo de Chão has realized how to maximize this trend on their bar menu. Aside from the all-you-can-eat meat style of dining, you can opt for drinks and small bites at the bar, which includes their new empanadas. Made with flaky pastry and Picanha beef, these delicious morsels are served with a side of spicy chimichurri dipping sauce.

Conversely, the fast casual Indian chain Curry Up Now has found a growing market for their mouth-watering Street Food menu, especially the samosas. These are packed with curried potatoes and/or lamb and served with aromatic chutneys for dipping.

For the Love of the Spud

Street Food Tater Tots

Potatoes are back on trend (if they ever really left)! But it looks like we’re moving past French fries and into a whole new world of starchy deliciousness.

The Tot-Chos at the Rabbit Hole in Normal Heights, CA tops this list due to their over-the-top execution. A single order contains a combo of tortilla chips, wonton chips, tater tots, jalapeño cheese, cotija, Pico de Gallo, salsa roja, cilantro crema, and scallions. No words, I need a poet…

Curry Up Now also hit this mark with the launch of their Vada Pav. This is a mashed potato fritter sandwiched between an amul buttered bun with garlic chutney and Bombay dust. Also, the ever-creative Velvet Taco found a place for potatoes on their Picnic Chicken street taco. This features rotisserie chicken, avocado crema, warm honey-Dijon potato salad, crispy chicken skin, and cilantro on a flour tortilla. Oh, and don’t forget they also serve tots.

Tongue Thai’d

Thai Street Food

Atlanta’s Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft is showing the beauty of re-imagined Thai street food to hundreds of guests every day. People line up for the fried chicken drumsticks served with Thai 3-chile sauce. You can also order Thai-style samosas made with flaky rice paper and sweet chile sauce, or an order of Bangkok street noodles made with an assortment of chile sauces and fresh vegetables.

Dee Dee Thai in Austin, TX knows their way around next level street food as well. The Moo Ping is a pair of sweet and savory pork skewers marinated in special sauce for 48 hours and served with a small side of sticky rice and spicy dipping sauce. Or really go experimental with the Som Tom Isaan, a pungent, funky, and very spicy papaya salad made house fermented fish sauce and salted crab shell.

See You on the Streets!

So to speak. At least, with a mouth full of modern street food. These new trends are sure to launch more concepts and ideas. We’ll be here to cover them when they appear. Until then, happy eating!

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February 3rd, 2020

All Hail the Gastropub

Posted in Consumer Trends, Food Trends, Gastro-Pub

2020 Looks to be the Year of the Gastropub

Gastropub

On a previous blog we discussed the Fastest Growing Restaurant Concepts in America, one of which being the gastropub (or brewpub). Here we are now in 2020, and it looks as if gastropubs are still on track to be one of, if not the, fastest growing concepts.

While this is all well and good, I really wanted to know why America has such a fascination with the gastropub. Sure, they offer food and drink, much like most bars and restaurants. They also promote hearty socialization and interaction, but that’s not uncommon in the F&B industry either. So why do we love them so much? The answer, I believe, lies in the menu.

The Best Gastropubs in the U.S.

Recently, USA Today released its list of the Reader’s Choice 10 Best Brewpubs in the U.S. These brewpubs span the country from San Diego to Maine, and Chicago to Colorado. What this gives us is a terrific cross-section of guests voting on what are essentially their favorite foods.

So, I thought it would be prudent to review the menus from all these award-winning gastropubs and see what they have in common (aside from beer). The answer? Quite a bit.

Trends

Gastropub food

All the brewpubs that made the 10 Best list are covering multiple food trends, many of which we’ve covered right here on our blog. From smoke & BBQ, to decadent poutines, and a ubiquitous inclusion of Asian flavors and flatbreads. The trends drive the menus, which in turn bring the guests.

The chef-driven style and flavor impartiality of these establishments showcase a unique ability to change with, and even drive, food trends. Customers of gastropubs tend to be willing to take more risks, try new foods, and be curious about things they haven’t had before. If that wasn’t their nature, they wouldn’t be going to a place brewing their own unique, small-batch brewed beers.

Bold Flavors

So, we see up-to-date trends represented with unapologetic bounty in gastropubs, but as we know, that doesn’t matter if the food is bland or dull. That’s the next common trait for these eateries: big, bold flavors.

Across the menus you’ll find items like Gastropub TrendsFresno chili sauce, beer-based BBQ sauces, bulgogi, gochujang, smoked buffalo, and Nashville hot sauce. These come in a variety of applications such as flatbreads, sandwiches, salads, wraps, wings, fries, vegetables, and others.

The point is this, brewpubs are using powerful flavors, often by way of sauces, to deliver unique and captivating dishes to their guests. It seems to be working, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking about this steady rise in popularity.

Personally, I’m dying to try the beer-brined house-smoked wings slathered in beer BBQ sauce at 18th Street Brewery.

Kids Menus

Gastropub food

Image courtesy of ptaourchildren.org

Yes, I know this seems out of left field, but actually, I think it’s quite telling. While gastropubs may be craft beer-driven, they’re also positioning themselves as family-focused eateries.

This recognition of the younger crowd certainly allows more flexibility for patrons. The destruction of the brewpub’s “bar” stigma means they have become acceptable for family-dining. This opens access to a broader demographic of parents with children to patronize the gastropub without needing a babysitter.

Also, these kids’ menus are not just afterthoughts. They are well-thought out with familiar items like grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken tenders, and quesadillas, but elevated with items like pulled pork, brioche buns, and house-made mustard. Even kids are getting a it more experimental these days, but let’s hold off on the heirloom tomato aspic for now.

Gastropubs, the New Home of Innovation

There’s no doubt in my mind gastropubs will continue to rise in popularity over 2020. Their creativity, trend-focused execution, and welcoming atmosphere make them a perfect venue for guests of all ages and backgrounds.

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