Expanding the menu to potentially bring in a wider swath of diners, chains are sampling select markets to see if some out-of-the-ordinary menu items will be a hit—and bring in some extra sales. Will consumers buy fried chicken from a taco chain? Will a fast-food spot’s attempt to add health to its menu be a boon for sales? Before committing to a nationwide rollout, these chains are testing some items that don’t necessarily match their typical menu.
1. Shophouse’s wraps
Embracing the popular format of parent Chipotle’s eats, Shophouse Southeast Asian Kitchen—known for Asian-inspired rice and noodle bowls—is testing burritos in four locations. While the chain is calling them “wraps,” not burritos, spokesperson Chris Arnold told website Eater that the idea came from diners bringing in tortillas from nearby Chipotle locations, asking staffers to wrap it up.
2. Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Chips
Following its rollout of fried chicken as a taco shell in its Naked Chicken Chalupa, Taco Bell is making another fried chicken play, this time testing out Crispy Chicken Chips. The wedge-shaped chicken tenders, essentially chicken dippers, have left the internet pondering whether the taco concept is making a play for the legacy chicken chains.
3. Chick-fil-A’s whole-grain bowls
The fried chicken chain continues to try to play in the healthful realm, testing two new bowls—the Harvest Kale & Grain Bowl and Egg White Grill Grain Bowl—in select locations. The chain is cross-utilizing what’s already in stock for the new offerings. The Harvest bowl features chopped Broccolini and kale from the Superfood Side (plus roasted squash, diced apples, nuts and a goat cheese blend), and the breakfast bowl includes some of the same ingredients from its Egg White Grill breakfast sandwich. Both will feature the same grain blend of red quinoa, white quinoa and farro.
Chick-fil-A’s healthful tests aren’t limited to bowls, though. The chain also is testing a smoothie-like Berry Protein Blend, featuring a mix of berries, whole grains, chia seeds and yogurt.
4. Taco Bell’s Walking Nacho
It sells nachos. It sells Doritos Locos Tacos. So the chain is testing out a portable combination of the two with its Walking Nacho. Select North Carolina Taco Bell stores will feature the riff on Frito pies, aka Doritos with nacho toppings, served up in an easy-to-hold foil pouch.