This fall, restaurants are putting new spins on America’s most popular protein: Chicken. Different flavor combos and preparations are debuting on menus in the form of sandwiches, wings and chicken entrees. But October is also the month to celebrate vegetarianism, and several chains are spotlighting new plant-based items. And even though National Taco Day happened on Oct. 4, the festivities continue this week with taco specials.
The iconic rotisserie chicken is spinning with new fall flavors at Boston Market. For a limited time, the chain is offering Tuscan Chicken, seasoned with Italian-inspired herbs and spices, Chicken Marsala, sautéed with cremini mushrooms, garlic, fresh herbs and wine, and Roasted Garlic & Herb Rotisserie Chicken topped with herbs, Parmesan and a light garlic cream sauce and toasted herb crunch. Also new on the sides section of the menu is cilantro lime rice.
Buffalo Wings & Rings
Oktoberfest and Korean flavors are making waves at Buffalo Wings & Rings. The kitchen is incorporating beer into the batter for its Sam Adams Drunken Chicken Tenders, a fall LTO. It features crispy, beer-battered chicken pieces served with housemade beer-cheese dipping sauce and french fries. There’s also a Sam Adams Drunken Chicken Sandwich topped with applewood-smoked bacon, beer cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun. Joining the sandwich category is the Korean Chicken Sandwich, a pairing of fried chicken tenders tossed in gochujang sauce and topped with spicy Asian slaw.
Blackened chicken thighs, a new protein for Modern Market, debuted on its fall menu. The thighs are tossed in a blend of paprika, thyme, garlic, onion, chili powder, cayenne and black pepper prior to roasting or searing, then go into two new items: a Blackened Chicken Mango Bowl with organic rice and quinoa blend, mango salsa, roasted sweet potatoes, black beans and kale topped with habanero pineapple sauce and a Blackened Chicken Thigh Hand Carved Bowl with chimichurri and two sides. The thighs are also replacing chicken breast in Modern Market’s BBQ Pizza and Baja Blackened Chicken Salad.
Fazoli’s is launching four new Parmesan Bakes, one of which stars chicken. Three Cheese Chicken Pasta features two roasted chicken breasts topped with smoky tomato sauce and baked with mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan-panko crumbs. Also in the line are Parmesan-Cursted Alfredo (baked gemelli pasta with Alfredo sauce), Parmesan-Crusted Alfredo with Meatballs and Parmesan-Crusted Shrimp Bake. On the dessert side, Pumpkin Cheesecake is returning for the season.
Ike's Love & Sandwiches
With National Vegetarian Month continuing throughout October, Ike’s Love & Sandwiches is promoting four of its plant-forward choices for $10 each—a 20% discount. The Mack Daddy is filled with vegan meatballs, slaw, Ike’s signature sauce and American cheese. Also on offer is the Gramps made with vegan turkey, James & the Giant Peach (vegan scallopini) and the Handsome Owl (vegan breaded chicken.)
Mountain Mike’s is celebrating World Vegetarian Day on Oct. 15 with a discount on its Mt. Veggiemore Pizza. The pie is topped with mushrooms, black olives, bell peppers, artichoke hearts and sliced fresh tomatoes. From Oct. 1-15, customers can receive $10 off a large pizza.
Smoothie King and Pressed Juicery
Dessert and smoothie fans also have more vegan options. Smoothie King introduced the Vegan Mixed Berry Smoothie blended with oat milk, strawberries, wild blueberries, raspberries, banana, super grains, an organic plant-based protein, apple blueberry juice and pear juice. Pressed Juicery added to its roster of vegan soft serve flavors with the seasonal Pumpkin Spice Freeze. It’s made with almond butter and pumpkin puree along with maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Dickey's Barbecue Pit
On the meaty side, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit is chopping up its signature hickory-smoked brisket as the base for a limited-time Brisket Chili. Starting Oct. 19, guests can order up the Texas-style chili as a side item or a topper on various menu staples, such as mac ‘n cheese, baked potatoes or Frito Pie.
Tacos continue to show up on menus, both in new guises and old favorites. Chopt Creative Salad Co. introduced the Baja Shrimp Taco Salad as part of its Destination California menu. Resembling a deconstructed taco in a bowl, the salad is a toss of shrimp, corn, watermelon radish, jalapeno, tortilla chips and a blend of romaine, cabbage and cilantro with Baja sauce. Sister company Dos Toros unveiled its Toro Taco Lineup—a “secret” menu that riffs on insider tips to customize the brand’s tacos. A different staff member’s taco hack will be revealed each week in October.
Torchy’s Tacos taco of the month ties into the upcoming presidential election. The Washingtonian features smoked pulled pork, grilled onions, jack cheese, pickles, sour cream and avocado with chipotle barbecue sauce. It kicks off the chain’s “Tacos/Queso 2020” campaign, which also includes limited-edition T-shirts, bumper stickers and other election-themed merchandise.
Tacoberfest is what Del Taco is calling its taco promotion this month. Every Saturday in October drive-thru and delivery customers can get a different free taco with a purchase, culminating with $5 off a Fiesta Pack on Oct. 31. Fans can redeem the offers through the Del Taco app.