As more consumers get vaccinated, it looks like restaurants are giving their menus a shot in the arm, too. New items and LTOs are launching at a speedy clip, with every menu category getting a piece of the action. Burgers, sandwiches, burritos, snacks, coffee drinks, breakfast items and more are making their debut with flavor and ingredient variations. Here’s the latest chain menu news in store for customers.
Cheesy Pretzel Bites are back at Culver’s, earning a permanent spot on the menu. Previously, this snacky side was a limited-time offer on the chain’s fall menu, but consumer demand has elevated them to the core menu. The soft pretzel pieces, served with Wisconsin cheddar cheese sauce, can be ordered as a savory snack or a side with a burger, sandwich or frozen custard.
White Castle is also trying to snag snackers, this time with a sweet treat. To celebrate its 100th birthday, the slider specialist is debuting “Birthday Cake on a Stick” on Sunday. The snacky dessert LTO features a vanilla cake base with white frosting, topped with blue, white and orange sprinkles.
The popularity of burgers doesn’t seem to wane, and several new versions are making their debut. The Big Sky Burger is the latest at Roy Rogers, a burger with a name that evokes the chain’s Western theme. The LTO features a cheeseburger piled with pulled pork, beer battered onion rings and Duke’s Georgia sweet heat barbecue sauce served on a corn-dusted Kaiser roll. It goes for $5.99 on its own or $8.79 as part of a combo meal.
Frisch’s Big Boy
Big Boy Sliders are joining the lineup at Frisch’s, available in packs of three or six. The chain downsized its iconic Big Boy burger into slider size, boasting the same components: a beef patty topped with cheese, caramelized onions, shredded lettuce, spicy tartar sauce and pickles on a mini bun. Bad Boy Sliders are a variation swapping in pepperjack cheese for a kick. Also new on the menu is a Strawberries & Cream Frappe made with strawberry puree and cold brew coffee garnished with whipped topping.
In celebration of April 20, the national holiday for cannabis culture, Fatburger and Buffalo’s Express locations are offering their OG Fatburger for $4.20. “We always anticipate a heightened demand for our mouthwatering Fatburgers on 4/20 as they are a go-to munchie (or anytime) craving,” said Thayer Wiederhorn, chief marketing officer of FAT Brands, in a statement. The burger comes with “the works.”
Umami Burger is also tying a burger into a promotion. The chain is teaming up wit DJ duo NERVO to commemorate the debut of their new single “Pickle.” The build of the NERVO Pickle Burger includes a burger patty, provolone cheese, fried pickles and jalapeno pickle ranch on a brioche bun. The burger comes in a branded box with a QR code so purchasers can stream the video for NERVO’s “Pickle.”
The chain known for feeding seafood lovers is jumping on the chicken sandwich bandwagon. Red Lobster launched a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich composed of hand-battered white meat chicken tenders tossed in a sweet-hot Nashville sauce on a toasted brioche bun with pickled peppers and ranch dressing. The seafood chain isn’t abandoning its roots, however. Also new on the menu is Crispy Cod Sandwich featuring a six- to eight-ounce piece of hand-battered fried wild cod topped with slaw and tartar sauce on a toasted brioche bun.
Checkers & Rally’s
A new iteration of its best-selling Mother Cruncher chicken sandwich has arrived on Checkers & Rally’s menu. The Candied Bacon Mother Cruncher features the “mega crunch” breaded fried chicken breast and signature Squawk Sauce of the original, but it’s topped with brown sugar-candied bacon, Swiss cheese, mayo and crispy onion tanglers. The sandwich comes on a toasted, bakery-style bun.
Mediterranean-inspired Daphne’s restaurant chain has added two seafood plates to the menu. The duo, available through July 5, includes a Salmon Plate showcasing a wild-caught Alaskan salmon filet marinated in chermoula sauce with lemon and spices and served with basmati rice, roasted vegetables, warm pita and grilled lemon ($15.49). The Fish and Chip Plate is Mediterranean riff on the British classic, composed of breaded white fish, fries, house salad and lemon tahini dressing ($10.99).
Original Chop Shop
An enhanced Rise + Shine menu is the seasonal introduction from Original Chop Shop. The revamped breakfast items all have a better-for-you focus. Among the eight offerings are ABC Toast with two over-easy eggs, smashed avocado, bacon, fontina cheese and arugula on house bread; the Zen Bowl with scrambled egg, spinach, mushroom, onion, white cheddar, arugula and brown rice; the Sunrise Wrap with egg whites, tomato, onion, sweet potato, white cheddar and avocado pesto, and several other updated wraps, bowls and toasts.
Pilot Flying J
Pilot Flying J, a large network of travel centers, is introducing four new breakfast sandwiches. A bigger Sausage, Egg and Cheese Biscuit leads the roster, with a fluffier biscuit and 25% larger sausage patty. There’s also a Sausage, Egg and Cheese Croissant; a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit and Bacon Egg and Cheese French Toast. The later features two cinnamon-swirled French toast rounds as the carrier.
Lime Fresh Mexican Grill
Steak is now filling burritos at Lime Fresh Mexican Grill with the launch of the Carne Asado burrito this month. It’s made with grilled skirt steak flavored with ancho lime and rolled with poblano rice, creamy black beans, roasted poblanos, pico de gallo and chipotle ranch. The fast-casual chain, which menus Mexican-inspired dishes with a Miami accent, prioritizes local sourcing and fresh ingredients.
MargaritaPalooza is Taco Cabana’s tribute to spring at its Texas locations. A roster of 12 margaritas includes nine new flavors, all available for $2 each all day long for a limited time. Among the new flavors are dragonfruit, pistachio, pineapple-jalapeno, orange cream and violet. Also new on the menu are three street tacos: Carne Asada topped with chopped cilantro and diced onion; Pork Adobado topped with chopped cilantro and pickled red onions; and Pollo Adobado topped with cilantro lime ranch and cotija cheese. They’re available in a three-pack for $4.99. Finally, a new chicken milanesa torta and a dessert item, peach empanadas, also join the Taco Cabana menu.
National Cold Brew Day falls on April 20, the same day pot smokers celebrate marijuana. In recognition of the coffee drink, Farmer Boys is launching Vanilla Cold Brew this Tuesday. The new item is a blend of coffee brewed from Arabica beans, whole milk and a touch of organic cane sugar. On 4/20, Farmer Boys is offering the cold brew for $1.