Swap Meet

What's that slider doing on a fine dining menu?

Have you noticed all those fine-dining restaurants with chicken pot pie on the menu? Oh, it’s not the humble pie served at cafeterias and family dining restaurants. These are filled with luxe ingredients, like lobster. It’s just one of the most recent swaps that take place between QSR and fine dining.

In the spirit of sharing, we’ve gathered some notable menu exchanges, ones that bubbled up from QSRs and others that trickled down from fine dining.

Chicken wings

We’re not in Buffalo anymore. Even the landmark 21 Club in New York City does wings.

Macaroni and cheese

The cafeteria staple now has artisanal cheeses and the addition of everything from truffles to lobster. At the Waldorf, mac and cheese is served in a martini glass.


The humble pastry gets a revamp at The Mooring in Newport, Rhode Island. Its “Bag of Doughnuts” is actually lobster, crab & shrimp fritters served with chipotle-maple aioli.


White Castle invented the “Slyder” in 1921. Today trendy appetizer lists feature slider samplers pattied from Kobe beef and ahi tuna and served on brioche buns.


Chefs are filling empanadas with everything from savory pumpkin to sweet caramel and figs. At the Norman’s in Orlando they’re stuffed with barbeque Kurobuta pulled pork.

Mini desserts

Once high-end only, mini-desserts have jumped to casual dining. Sweet Shots at Chili’s are served in little glasses and come in three flavors. 

Molten chocolate cake

Molten chocolate cake has migrated from chef-driven restaurants to be a top seller at casual concepts such as LA Food Show and Baja Cantina, where it goes by the name “Volcano.” 

Caesar salad

When the classic salad first appeared it was presented tableside by skilled waitstaff.Now everybody’s got a Chicken Caesar Salad on the menu.


More from our partners