Restaurant menus move into winter and holiday mode
In the restaurant universe, Black Friday is dedicated to more than shopping for deals—it’s the day when menus go into full winter and holiday mode. The Thanksgiving takeout rush is over, and it’s time to get guests into the Christmas spirit. Some operators are launching menu items with holiday flavors such as eggnog, gingerbread and peppermint, while others are more subtly promoting festive foods and combos fit for smaller at-home gatherings. And with chilly weather in the forecast, restaurants also are embracing dishes that offer cozy warmth.
Roadhouse Party Packs from Logan’s Roadhouse include an array of appetizers and shareable entrees for small group celebrations. Among the more snackable starters are loaded potato skins, mesquite-smoked wings and the casual-dining restaurant’s signature rolls, either hot and ready to serve or ready to bake. Logan’s is also targeting heartier eaters with its party packs, offering fall-off-the-bone ribs, grilled salmon and mac ‘n cheese. Roadhouse Party Packs start at $19.99 and serve 10 to 12.
Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe
Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe is menuing a new Appetizer Bundle, featuring some of the chain’s signature dips and spreads to share. Included in the package are a pint each of hummus, yogurt-cucumber-dill dip, spicy pimento cheese and whipped feta. The bundle comes with 60 veggie dippers, including carrot sticks, celery sticks and cucumber slices, and 60 baked pita chips. It’s available for $39.99 through the holiday season until Dec. 31.
Seasonal cocktails are ready for holiday toasts at Bennigan’s. The new winter drink lineup includes the Citrus Winter Frost (lemon vodka, triple sec, elderflower, mojito mix and Red Bull); Holiday Cranberry Soda (cranberry vodka, vanilla spice syrup, fresh lime juice, cranberries and lemon-lime soda); and Irish Pumpkin Spice Martini. On the food side of the menu, Hogan’s Egg Rolls, Bennigan’s Cottage Pie and a Creamy Mushroom Bacon Swiss Burger are making their debut.
Tamales are a tradition with Mexican families during the holidays, and Del Taco is piggybacking on the tradition with a fresh selection of the favorites. The tamales follow an authentic recipe, using seasoned, shredded pork and fire-roasted salsa, surrounded by a layer of soft, stone-ground corn masa all wrapped up in a corn husk. Customers can purchase two smothered tamales for $4 or a Tamale Fiesta Pack that feeds 12. As part of the promotion, Del Taco is surprising different groups of essential workers and community members with free tamales every week in December.
Black Bear Diner
Black Bear Diner is giving its family meals a holiday spin for more festive at-home occasions. The Carvemaster Old-Fashioned Ham dinner features an applewood-smoked ham topped with honey-Dijon glaze and accompanied by mashed red-skinned potatoes with gravy, cornbread stuffing, Italian green beans, soup or salad and pumpkin pie. The Slow-Roasted Prime Rib comes with similar sides and both au jus and horseradish cream. For those who crave more turkey, the chain also has a Roasted Turkey Dinner to go.
Several winter LTOs are new to the menu at Newk’s Eatery. Fan favorite Taco Salad, which debuted in 2019, is back, topped with beef chili made with the Newcomb family’s recipe. The same signature chili shows up in a new Frito Pie, where it’s topped with corn chips, shredded cheddar cheese, jalapenos, fresh cilantro and sour cream. Newk’s is also introducing a new Chili Mac and Cheese, a combo the beef chili with five-cheese macaroni and cheese, then sprinkled with roasted jalapenos, shredded cheddar and cilantro.
A lighter but comforting Asian-style meal is now available from WaBa Grill—with a value-priced upgrade for families or groups. The rice bowl chain is permanently adding a Value Bowl Combo to the menu, featuring a mini bowl topped with chicken, sweet and spicy chicken or tofu, one side (salad, steamed veggies or pork-veggie dumplings) and a 12-ounce drink for $7.99. WaBa’s Loaded Miso Soup, topped with rice and a choice of chicken or tofu, is another entree option in the $7.99 combo. Guests ordering a carryout family meal can upgrade to a feast by adding 10 dumplings and four bottled soft drinks for only $5 extra.
Wayback Burgers, Smashburger and Krystal
Shakes in holiday flavors are the latest limited-time offers at three burger chains. Wayback Burgers is ushering in the season with a Peppermint Bark Shake, a chocolate-peppermint treat topped with chocolate syrup, whipped cream and candy crunchies ($4.69). Smashburger is going with a Gingerbread Holiday Shake, a blend of vanilla ice cream with gingerbread cookie crumbles ($5.99). Rounding out the trio is Krystal’s Eggnog Shake, made with soft-serve ice cream, vanilla custard, cinnamon and nutmeg ($2.99).
Paciugo Gelato Caffe
In a category all by themselves are Hot Cocoa Chocolate Bombs from Paciugo Gelato Caffe. The handmade hollow chocolate balls, filled with mini-marshmallows or marshmallows and peppermint candies, are designed to float in a cup of hot chocolate. As they melt, they release flavor and indulgent richness to the hot beverage. They’re available for purchase at most of Paciugo’s 45 locations and online in boxes of four ($28) or eight ($48).