America seems to be in vacation mode after a rousing July 4 celebration this past holiday weekend. Although menu launches have slowed down a bit this week, a number of chains are revving up the lineup with new items and LTOs. Handcrafted beverages, chicken thighs, Cuban flavors and a towering burger are making their debut, and fan favorites are coming back for a return engagement.
Flamin’ Hot Doritos Locos Tacos are returning to Taco Bell for a limited time through July. The QSR is tying the return of the fan favorite into the NBA Finals; customers across America can score a free flamin’ taco if one of the basketball teams makes a halftime comeback to win the game. The taco has a spicy shell fired up with extra heat and filled with seasoned beef, sour cream, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. The “NBA Comebacks” promotion takes off from Taco Bell’s former “Steal A Game, Steal A Taco” deal, but this time around, Taco Bell is also partnering with FanDuel, allowing fans to wager on the team they believe will make a comeback.
A Chicken Thighs & Fries combo is joining the roster of chicken tenders and fried chicken at Golden Chick. The skinless, boneless thighs are marinated, then hand-breaded and deep fried to create a crispy, crunchy chicken dipper similar to the chain’s tenders, but made with dark meat chicken instead of white. Golden Chick suggests pairing the boneless fried thighs with its newest sauce: Tangy Golden BBQ. The soaring price of chicken breasts and wings has pushed several chains to try boneless thighs as an option.
Pollo Tropical is taking advantage of the summertime popularity of hot dogs to launch one that reflects that concept’s Latin roots. The Cuban Hot Dog features an all-beef frank on a soft hot dog bun topped with ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and papitas (fried potatoes), then drizzled with a mayo-mustard blend—much like the iconic Cuban sandwich. In celebration of Independence Day, the chain also launched a ready-to-drink Rum Mojito in its Florida locations.
Always known for its wide variety of lemonades—as well as fresh salads, bowls and sandwiches—California-based Lemonade just upgraded its drinks menu with a new handcrafted lemonade program. The new beverages are made with fresh ingredients, including lemons, muddled fruits and vegetables and whole herbs. The five flavors in the program are Spicy Caramelized Pineapple Lemonade, Raspberry Mint Lemonade, Cucumber Mint Lemonade, Blood Orange Hibiscus Lemonade and Carrot Ginger Lemonade. On the food side of the fast casual’s new seasonal menu are a Peach Caprese Sandwich; Fennel Crunch Marketplace Salad; Pineapple Chicken Marketplace Salad; Peach, Smoked Bacon and Red Kale Marketplace Salad; and Summer Vegetable Gemelli Marketplace Salad.
The ‘Merica Burger is the way Slater’s 50/50 is paying tribute to Independence Day all through July. The towering burger is stacked with a full pound of meat, including two beef-bacon patties, bacon mac and cheese, bacon cole slaw, bacon island dressing and a half bacon-half beef grilled hot link dipped in hot sauce. The over-the-top item is returning to the menu in select locations in California and Denver until the end of the month.
Mon Ami Gabi
While other chains are tying in menu items to the July 4 holiday, Mon Ami Gabi, a Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises concept, is keeping with its French theme and celebrating Bastille Day. For France’s national holiday, which falls on July 14, the restaurant’s five locations are offering a Parisian-style Trio of Profiteroles, filled with blueberry sorbet, vanilla ice cream and strawberry ice cream. The special dessert is available for $9.95 for dine-in guests only.
Today is National Fried Chicken Day, and Smokey Bones is taking it as an opportunity to launch a fried chicken sandwich through its virtual brand, The Wing Experience. The new Crispy Chicken Sandwich is golden-fried and available with all the 50 varieties of sauce offered with the brand’s wings. Customers can request to have the crispy boneless breast tossed in flavors such as Honey Hot, Spicy Peach, Garlic Buffalo, West Indies Curry or dozens of other spicy, savory or slightly sweet sauces. At the chain’s other virtual concept, The Burger Experience, the chicken sandwich is topped with a more classic combo of mayo and pickles.
Picnics are a popular warm-weather activity, so TooJay’s Deli has pulled together a line of Summer Sandwich Boxes, available through Aug. 15. Customers can choose from a variety of sandwiches (turkey breast, ham, corned beef, chicken Caesar, roast beef or Triple J) and a selection of breads and toppings, which comes along with chips, a pickle, a mini black and white cookie, a bottle of water and condiments. The boxes can be ordered for takeout or delivery.