Special Report

What’s New on Dinner House Menus This Fall

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The first places that come to mind when people think of chain restaurants are probably fast-food operations – McDonalds, Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, etc., etc. But a significant number of chains fall into what the industry describes as full-service restaurants, sometimes described as dinner houses – that is, places where you sit down and somebody takes your order and brings you food, theoretically with at least a few amenities on the side.

Different sources define the terms differently, but full-service places are generally subdivided into casual or family restaurants – think Applebees, Olive Garden, TGI Friday’s, etc. – and fine-dining establishments. These latter are usually independently owned and not part of chains, but there are certainly exceptions – for instance, upscale steakhouses like Ruth’s Chris or The Capital Grille. (These are America’s most expensive steakhouses.)

Fast-food chains, along with fast-food/casual hybrids like Panera or Chipotle, tend to introduce new menu items frequently, often keyed to the season – and their fancier cousins, the full-service bunch, do the same, though not always as often. 

Along with new things to eat, many restaurants – independents as well as chains – have presented diners with new prices in the past year or so. Increases of 10%-15% have been common since the pandemic receded, reflecting increased food and labor costs. That’s one good thing about new items: Patrons have nothing to compare their prices to, if they’ve never been offered before.

To compile a list of some of these latest new menu items at full-service restaurants, 24/7 Tempo reviewed several recent editions of the Menu Tracker column appearing regularly in Nation’s Restaurant News, a leading national restaurant trade publication. Bret Thorn, NRN’s senior food and beverage editor, constantly updates information of product debuts, covering a wide range of restaurant chains both large and small around the U.S. (Here’s ranking of the most successful restaurant chains in America.)

This list includes everything from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, the legendary lodestar of New Haven-style pizza, which has expanded to 16 locations in seven states, to IHOP, which numbers almost 1,700 outlets all over the country. If there’s a common theme here, it’s meat (including turkey in one case), which figures in two-thirds of these new dishes.

See what’s new on dinner house chain menus this fall:


Source: sanfel / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • New menu item: Salted caramel banana pancakes
  • When available: Through the holidays
  • Price (may vary): $3.99 and up

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

  • New menu item: Patata rustica pizza (white pizza with seasoned potatoes, bacon, Asiago, mozzarella, and grated Pecorino Romano cheeses)
  • When available: Through December
  • Price (may vary): $16.75-$33 depending on size


Source: jetcityimage / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • New menu item: Homestyle turkey and stuffing melt
  • When available: Through Nov. 26
  • Price (may vary): $13.99

Moe’s Southwest Grill

Source: jetcityimage / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • New menu item: Chile con queso (with ground beef)
  • When available: Through Jan. 16, 2024
  • Price (may vary): $3.99 and up

Outback Steakhouse

Source: ablokhin / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
  • New menu item: Bone-in ribeye with a Bourbon onion
  • When available: Through December
  • Price (may vary): $32.99

P.F .Chang’s

Source: Scott Olson / Getty Images News via Getty Images
  • New menu item: Chili crab and pork belly fried rice
  • When available: Through early 2024
  • Price (may vary): $18

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers and Brews

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  • New menu item: Whiskey River BBQ ribs
  • When available: Permanently
  • Price (may vary): $17.99

Smokey Bones

  • New menu item: Robert’s Ribfeast (Half rack of St. Louis ribs, two sides, garlic bread and choice of salad, fried pickles, pretzels or doughnuts)
  • When available: Through Jan. 1, 2024
  • Price (may vary): $19.99 (a portion going to the Robert Irvine Foundation)

TGI Friday’s

Source: Wolterk / Getty Images
  • New menu item: Margarita shrimp cocktail (non-alcoholic)
  • When available: Indefinite
  • Price (may vary): $9.39 and up

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