Many of January’s menu introductions focus on one of two themes: healthy eating or comfort food. Customers are still trying to stick to New Year’s resolutions to make healthier choices but they also are craving hearty, cold-weather food. These chains have launched items to meet the challenge.
Smoke’s Poutinerie, a Canadian chain with locations in California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada, gives its namesake dish a breakfast spin as Hangover Poutine. The loaded French fries are covered with the usual gravy and cheese curds, topped with scrambled eggs, double-smoked bacon, maple syrup and hot sauce. The poutine didn’t debut on New Year’s Day when hangovers are rampant. The $9.49 limited-time offer is running from January 25 to March 20 and is served all day, not just for breakfast.
The Under 500 Calorie Menu from El Pollo Loco features five new entrees, each falling within that calorie limit. The Chicken Black Bean Bowl ($6.19) also falls into the comfort-food bucket with its hearty combo of grilled chicken breast, avocado, rice, cotija cheese, pico de gallo, black beans and broccoli. It’s a complete meal, offering a healthy dose of nutrients in popular bowl format.
Sriracha Black Bean Soup is Potbelly Sandwich Shop’s spicier take on traditional black bean soup. Sriracha, the condiment that keeps on trending, adds the heat, but specific cooking techniques ramp up the flavor in more subtle ways. Fire-roasted tomatoes and sautéed onions and peppers simmer in a vegan chili garlic broth. A cup of the soup weighs in at 147 calories and sells for $3.30.
The new U.S. Dietary Guidelines, released this month, advocate whole grains as key to a healthy eating plan. Au Bon Pain packs three whole grains—oats, quinoa and amaranth—into its Superfood Blueberry Chia Hot Cereal. Calling out the word “superfood” in the cereal’s name sells the nutrition benefits to health-conscious customers.
Two-unit Eastman Egg Company in Chicago is primarily a destination for breakfast sandwiches. To ramp up lunch business, the farm-to-table concept’s January special is a warm French Farm Salad—a base of greens topped with a poached egg, smoked pork loin and bread crumbs. Instead of promoting the LTO with a photo on a table tent, the restaurant hangs an illustration on the wall deconstructing the salad into its ingredients and stressing the pedigree of each.