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More plant-based items pop up on menus

Chains launched plant-based burgers and more in the past week, while others showcased winter produce.
burger and fries
Photograph courtesy of Ruby Tuesday

Restaurant chains continue to roll out plant-based alternatives to animal proteins in items from burgers to beverages, while others are showcasing winter vegetables on seasonal menus. Here's a roundup of new menu items from the past week.

Denny’s launched a plant-based Beyond Burger chainwide after a successful test in Los Angeles. The item is made with a Beyond Burger patty topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, American cheese and All-American sauce on a multigrain bun, and is served with wavy-cut fries.

Ruby Tuesday is testing a plant-based burger of its own. The Sweet Earth Awesome Burger, made with plant-based protein from Sweet Earth Foods, debuted Friday for a special one-day price of $5. The casual-dining chain will continue to offer the burger as an off-menu option through mid-March, and will then consider making it a permanent item. Customers can substitute the Awesome Burger patty for any of the chain’s burgers.

And On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina added ground Beyond Beef to its menu for enchiladas, Stacked Nachos and the Beyond Meat Taco, which includes shredded cheese, lettuce and housemade pico de gallo.

Meanwhile, Dunkin’ is planning to launch an Oatmilk Latte in the spring. It will be available hot or iced, and guests will also be able to add oat milk to any beverage on the menu.

True Food Kitchen, a casual-dining concept with a rotating seasonal menu, unveiled its winter lineup, with a heavy focus on winter produce. Featured dishes include Butternut Squash Pizza, Fig & Gorgonzola Flatbread, Roasted Brussels Sprouts and a plant-based Unbeetable Burger made with beet, kuzu, jicama slaw, crushed avocado, butter lettuce and vegan mayonnaise on a flaxseed bun.

Breakfast and lunch chain First Watch also debuted new seasonal menu items, available through March 15. Among the offerings are Brilliant Beet Toast (whole-grain toast topped with beet hummus, avocado, pickled onions, diced beets, arugula and herbed goat cheese), Vanilla Chai Pancakes, a Baja Chicken Burrito Bowl and Blue Booster, a juice made with white grape, blueberry, lemon and basil.

In non-plant-based news, Bob Evans introduced a new value menu called Dinner Bell Plates. Each of the eight entrees comes with two sides and is priced at under $8. Options include Tender Fried Pork Loin with mashed potatoes and coleslaw, Lemon Pepper Sole Fillet with a baked potato and sugar snap peas, and Smaller Portion Turkey & Dressing, a scaled-down version of the family-dining chain’s classic dish, served with mashed potatoes and gravy.

And Roy Rogers Restaurants added new brisket items for multiple dayparts. The quick-service chain’s Brisket Breakfast Skillet is made with breakfast fries, scrambled eggs, sausage gravy, shredded Smithfield brisket and shredded cheddar cheese. The Brisket Burger Melt is a cheeseburger topped with grilled onions, shredded Smithfield brisket and barbecue sauce, served on two slices of toasted sourdough bread. 

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