Restaurant menus are bursting with refreshing new items that showcase summer flavors and ingredients. Many of the dishes and drinks maximize the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that are now at their seasonal peak, while others play up summer’s outdoor grilling and barbecue flavors or vacation themes. On the beverage side, operators are promoting icy drinks to beat the heat. See the nine menu additions driving trends for the season.
1. Triple the berries
Wendy’s is highlighting summer’s blueberries and strawberries with the addition of its Berry Burst Chicken Salad. The salad is a toss of hand-chopped lettuce, fresh berries, feta cheese and toasted almonds, topped with grilled chicken. A raspberry vinaigrette adds another layer of berry flavor. The limited-time salad is tied into a delivery promotion with Wendy’s third-party partner, DoorDash. Customers who input the code BERRYBURST can get free delivery of the item. The salad is priced at $6.79 for the full size and $4.79 for a half-size option.
2. Cooling off with cold brew
Frozen coffee drinks made with on-trend cold brew are hitting McDonald’s McCafe menu this summer. The Cold Brew Frozen Coffee and Cold Brew Frappe—both blended with ice for a frosty finish—are following in the higher-end footsteps of McDonald’s espresso drinks that debuted in the McCafe line last year. The new cold-brew frozen drinks are available for a limited time and sell for $2.
3. Road food
Family-dining chain Shoney’s launched a Summer Road Trip menu, featuring regional sandwiches and six lemonade variations. The sandwich LTOs, tied into the American tradition of road trip vacations, include Memphis-Style Pulled Pork, Texas Burger, Buffalo Chicken and Philly Steak & Cheese. Each of the six goes for $8.99. On the lemonade list are strawberry, mango, strawberry-banana and berry-pomegranate variations of Shoney’s old-fashioned lemonade.
4. Stirring up summer flavors
Emerging chain Honeygrow, with locations in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and other metropolitan areas, is offering up a new stir-fry and new salad this summer. To evoke the flavor of Maryland shore meals, the Chesapeake Crab Stir Fry combines egg white noodles with blue crab, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions and scallions in an Old Bay-seasoned tomato broth. Joining Honeygrow’s salad roster is the Highland Summer Salad, an item specially created by the team at the concept’s Pittsburgh location. It’s a mix of baby spinach, spring mix, grape tomatoes, roasted corn, watermelon, red onion and sweet-and-spicy cashews, tossed with a ginger balsamic dressing.
5. Barbecue with a Canadian twist
Three new poutine variations are taking a cue from ’cue at Smoke’s Poutinerie. Heating up the menu are Hickory Smoke Steak, Original BBQ Chicken and Classic Tangy Boneless Rib, all served on a poutine base of fries, cheese curds and gravy. The chain coupled its menu additions with a Grills Gone Wild Instagram contest, in which customers are asked to post photos of their BBQ poutine experiences with the hashtag #smokessummervibes for the chance to win prizes.
7. Gather ’round the campfire
Cracker Barrel is jumping on the summer camping experience with a menu of iconic campfire meals, offering them across all dayparts through July. On its all-day breakfast menu, a Smoky Beef Brisket Breakfast is composed of pulled brisket served over sweet pepper potato hash and topped with eggs, cheese, crispy onions and smoky-sweet barbecue sour cream. At lunch and dinner, choices include Roasted Sweet Glazed Chicken, Campfire Beef, Campfire Beans and a Cracker Barrel Campfire S’more dessert.
8. Iced tea in coffee territory
Cold-brew tea flavors are the latest addition to the menu at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. The two new beverages—Mango Cold Brew Tea and Black Cherry Cold Brew—join the chain’s year-round cold-brew lineup, which also includes raspberry and jasmine. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf also offers cold-brew coffee and is expanding the selection with Vietnamese Cold Brew Coffee through the end of August.
9. Pairing produce with beer
Oggi’s Pizza & Brewing Co. is tapping summer produce as the inspiration for four new signature dishes, all of which feature a suggested craft beer pairing on the menu. The Summer Lovin’ menu includes the Summertime Salad paired with a citrusy wheat beer that complements the honey-lemon vinaigrette; SoCal BBQ Chicken Salad paired with a Scottish ale; Southern Chicken Sandwich paired with a golden ale that cuts the richness of the fried chicken, avocado and cheese; and Crispy Brussels Sprouts tossed with chilies and shallots in a Sriracha glaze paired with an IPA.