No longer are location, price or convenience the only factors when consumers decide which eating establishment to patronize. Instead, diners are looking for ways to make their meals their own. Restaurants of all sizes are now faced with the need to customize meals and cater to a variety of dietary demands. This, combined with rising food costs, labor shortages and an increase in food allergies, means that the foodservice industry has had to find new flexibility in offering customized menu options.
Customers who require gluten-free substitutions, prefer spicy fusions or expect hearty portions have one thing in common: They want a meal created uniquely for them. Whether they choose to tweak their meal option or not, 66% of diners consider customization to be an important menu factor, according to a recent Technomic survey.
Limited-service and fast-casual restaurants have reacted by offering substitutions based on dietary restrictions, offering the option to customize sauces or dressings on pre-made meals and offering a variety of sizes for various appetites. Most recently, McDonald’s introduced a limited time offer for its Big Mac, making it available in three sizes.
But the most prevalent example of customization is Chipotle’s create-your-own burrito and taco bar. While traditional Mexican and Hispanic cuisine is known for its ability to be customized, Chipotle brought the concept to the masses and introduced the expectation of made-to-order meals for quick-service restaurants.
As the industry shifts with new trends in global flavors and unique ingredients, the flexibility of customizable tacos remains king, and they continue to grow on menus—up nearly 35% since 2010, according to Technomic. And with either flour or corn tortillas as the carrier, tacos are a great fit for any globally inspired cuisine, from traditional ingredients such as pork al pastor to Korean barbecue.
Because they’re portable and familiar, tacos have been a long-time favorite fare for fast-casual and food truck offerings; however, more recently, tacos have also been featured on fine-dining menus with exotic creations featuring unique protein cuts and fusion flavors.
Reiterated beyond their authentic Mexican heritage, tacos now combine flavor trends with customizable ingredients as the perfect go-to menu option for restaurant operators and customers alike. Satisfying the desires of picky eaters, adventurous foodies and everyone in between, tacos are no longer relegated to only being enjoyed on Tuesdays.
This post is sponsored by Catallia