Chicken drives R&D at Black Bear Diner, Velvet Taco and Piada

Taste Tracker: Marco’s Pizza pushes portability; California Fish Grill and Slim Chickens innovate bowls; Thanksgiving flavors trend at Dog Haus and Baskin Robbins; and more menu news of the week.
Images courtesy of the brands.

Chicken is the protein of choice this week, filling tacos, bowls, wraps, breakfast sandwiches and more. But turkey isn’t far behind, with Thanksgiving just around the corner. The flavors and signatures of that festive day are showing up in unusual places. And the surge in handheld and portable items proves that food to-go continues to be strong.

The Weekly Taco Feature at Velvet Taco is Chicken Piccata in a flour tortilla with crisp tenders, lemon caper sauce, buttered cilantro basmati rice fried artichoke hearts, crispy capers and parsley. Over at Piada Italian Street Food, three Italian Handheld Classics debuted—the Deluxe Caesar Piada, Carbonara Piada and Penne Parm Piada—each with a choice of grilled, crispy or hot fried chicken.

Black Bear Diner is putting its buttermilk biscuits front and center for breakfast. Hot Honey Crispy Chicken Biscuit combines crispy chicken strips with Mike’s Hot Honey on a buttermilk biscuit. Three others join the lineup: A Breakfast Club Biscuit layered with American cheese, diced bacon, ham, tomato, avocado and egg; Baby Burn Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs Biscuit and Tri-Tip Benedict Biscuit.

Portability is a priority for Marco’s Pizza with the launch of Pizzoli. The handheld, inspired by pizza and stromboli, comes in four varieties: Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Bacon Ranch, Pepperoni & Sausage and Pepperoni. Marco’s also launched the Hot Honey Magnifico Pizza.

Mahi Mahi is back at California Fish Grill, spotlighted in three new menu items. Mahi Bowl Cali-Style features the fish over rice and beans with diced chilies, cilantro-lime slaw and pickled onions topped with avocado, corn salsa and chipotle aioli. There’s also a Mahi Mahi Grill Plate with a choice of two sides and signature sauces, and Mahi Taco Combo Cali-Style. The mahi mahi is sourced from sustainable fisheries in Costa Rica and Peru.

Slim Chickens’ Mac Bowlshave returned to the permanent menu, using the chain’s mac and cheese recipe as a base. The bowls are topped with hand-breaded tenders, shredded three-cheese blend (cheddar, Colby Jack and aged Parmesan), scallions, crispy fried onions, cayenne ranch and buffalo sauce.

Japanese chain Yoshinoya introduced Tokyo Fried Chicken, a take on authentic Chicken Kaarage. For this Japanese signature, the chicken is marinated and coated with a batter made with potato starch. Through November, a four-piece snack pack will be offered for $3 with the purchase of any bowl.

Thanksgiving flavors are packed into the latest LTO at Dog Haus. The Wurst Thanksgiving Sausage offers a blend of turkey and all the trimmings in every bite. It launches along with the Peach Maple Smash cocktail and $1 from the purchase of either will be donated to No Kid Hungry.

Baskin Robbins is also embracing Thanksgiving with its November Flavor of the Month called “Turkey Day Fixin’s.” It boasts a combo of sweet potato and autumn spice ice creams mixed with honey cornbread pieces and cranberry sauce. And for those who looking for a centerpiece dessert, the dessert chain has a Turkey Cake filled with any flavor of ice cream decorated with sugar cone legs and caramel praline glaze.

As the holiday rush ramps up, Wetzel’s Pretzels has a festive snack to grab and go. S’mores Bitz features the chain’s iconic buttery pretzel bitz drizzled with Ghirardelli chocolate sauce and topped with mini marshmallows, a sprinkling of chocolate chips and a dusting of graham cracker crumbles.

To catch a glimpse of all these menu launches, click on the video below.

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