We may think of chain restaurants as having a standard menu that doesn’t change much, but the truth is that all large-scale food service operations – from casual take-out stands and even convenience stores to comfortable sit-down table-service places – are continually experimenting, developing, adapting and adopting, and trying out new dishes to serve their patrons. (These are some of the most successful restaurant chains in America.)
Some of these dishes are seasonal or tied to specific holidays. Others are responses to trends (meatless burgers, for instance). Still others are probably just ideas hatched by some corporate chef that seemed good enough to put out there, at least for a limited time.
To assemble a list of some of these new items, 24/7 Tempo reviewed several editions of the Menu Tracker column appearing regularly in Nation’s Restaurant News, a leading national restaurant trade publication. Compiled by Bret Thorn, NRN’s senior food and beverage editor, the column details new additions to menus at a wide range of chain restaurants around the U.S.
Spring may be upon us, so you might expect to see lots of fresh warm-weather vegetables and other light fare on this list. Well…The restaurants included here might not have looked at their calendars lately, because while there are a few lighter items (a Baja shrimp taco; an Everything Plant-Based Sandwich), there’s also plenty of hearty fare of the kind your cardiologist would probably rather you didn’t enjoy. Sauced and Loaded Triple Cheese & Bacon Fries, anyone? Or some Tex-Mex Alfredo Taco Pasta?
As usual, though, there’s chicken on the list – five examples – as well as a couple of burgers (three, actually, if you count the black bean version). And those with a sweet tooth might want to try sipping a Burnt Caramel Cold Brew Latte or a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Milkshake. (These are the best burgers you can get at a fast food restaurant.)
Some of these items have been added to menus permanently (or at least until they’re moved off to make room for newer innovations), while others will start disappearing as early as May 17. But don’t worry if you miss some of them: There’ll be plenty more new treats next month.
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