Hot weather isn’t hampering menu launches, but innovation seems to be focused on familiar favorites. Pizza, burgers and sandwiches are seeing some action, as operators tweak these standbys with flavor and ingredient twists. Two taco chains are trying out a different platform entirely, playing around with new carriers. And shrimp steal the spotlight in casual dining, while a bakery cafe’s European roots shine through in seasonal specials.
Cauliflower and plant-based chicken are the focus of three new items at Toppers Pizza. Beyond Meat chicken tenders are topping a Buffalo Chicken-Less Topper Pizza and the Vegan Nashville Hot & Crispy Pizza. Guests can also order the tenders as in individual item. And through another supplier partnership, Toppers is introducing the Caulipower King premium pizza, featuring the chain’s homemade pizza sauce, mozzarella and pepper jack cheeses, pepperoni and sausage on a gluten-free cauliflower crust.
Pizzas and bowls inspired by two iconic regional sandwiches are debuting at Marco’s Pizza. The Philly starts with white cheese sauce layered with shaved steak, marinated mushrooms, sliced green peppers and onions and three cheeses. The Buffalo Chicken combines Buffalo sauce with five cheeses, then tops it with grilled chicken breast and sliced red onions; it’s served with ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce on the side. Both The Philly and The Buffalo Chicken come as a pizza or a crustless pizza bowl.
The newest addition to the Your Pie menu is a larger 14-inch pizza. The item taps into the trend toward family meals to-go that grew during the pandemic. Your Pie has always specialized in 10-inch pizzas, but with delivery and carryout still going strong, the family-size pie fills a gap. Customers can order all of the chain’s signature pizzas in the 14-inch version ($14.99), as well as a customizable build-your-own pie with up to eight toppings ($19.99). Standard pepperoni and cheese pizzas are also available for less.
The Brew Boss Burger made its debut at The Counter as the latest Burger of the Month. The build is composed of an Angus beef patty topped with beer cheese sauce, bacon, fried onion strings and mixed greens, all sandwiched on a toasted pretzel bun. Customers get a side of beer cheese and house mustard with each order.
Three limited-time offerslaunched at Wayback Burgers, all running until Sept. 6. The Guac Burger is the latest addition to the burger roster. It features two beef patties topped with two slices of pepper jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, chipotle mayo and guacamole. The other two LTOs are on the beverage side of the menu. The Tangerine Shake is a blend of vanilla ice cream and tangerine syrup, while the Tangerine Lemonade gets its flavor from a tangerine-infused ice cube submerged in Wayback’s signature lemonade.
A burger bun is making news at Logan’s Roadhouse. The casual dining chain is now baking the bun using its signature yeast roll recipe. The upgraded scratch-made buns are served with half-pound steak burgers and sandwiches. Also new on Logan’s menu is Southern Fried Catfish farm-raised catfish fillets covered in cornmeal breading and served with tartar sauce.
Taco Bell has a new carrier for tacos. The new Flatbread Tacos—available in two varieties—start with a gordita flatbread shell. The Loaded Chicken Flatbread Taco is filled with grilled chicken, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and avocado ranch; the Beefy Potato Flatbread Taco contains seasoned beef, potato bites and warm nacho cheese sauce. Both were formerly tested in select locations.
Taco del Mar
The Mexican Torta Sandwich recently arrived on Taco del Mar’s menu. This classic Mexican sandwich is differentiated by its carrier—a grilled telera roll—and Taco del Mar follows this tradition. Layered on the roll are refried beans, creamy guacamole, shredded cheese, lettuce and a choice of protein. These include braised chicken, pulled pork carnitas or shredded beef or steak. The build is completed with pickled jalapenos and chipotle mayo.
Le Pain Quotidien
The menu at Le Pain Quotidien is getting back to its Belgian roots with the return of several legacy items and expanding into new territory with seasonal specials. Among the dishes reflecting its heritage are Warm Belgian Waffles, Dutch Pancakes a selection of Tartines and Belgian Chocolate Brownies. Seasonally driven salads, sandwiches and soups include Tomato and Mozzarella on a ciabatta with basil oil, tomato, arugula and balsamic vinegar; Tuna Nicoise with sugar snap peas; Pea and Cheddar Frittata; and Gazpacho with mango, cucumber, radish and basil oil.
Shrimpfest is happening at Fatz Cafe, with 10 items spotlighting the popular seafood. U-Peel Shrimp leads off the selection, a half-pound of peel-and-eat shrimp seasoned with Old Bay. Other choices include Calabash Popcorn Shrimp Platter, Fatz Firecracker Shrimp Pasta, a Shrimp Po’Boy and a Shrimp Trio of jumbo fried shrimp, blackened shrimp and shrimp scampi. One outlier in the Shrimpfest promotion is the Fatz Calabash Calamari.