Fall isn’t all about pumpkin spice, despite the August race by several chains to return that ubiquitous seasonal flavor to coffee drinks and baked goods. Now that September is here and summer is officially coming to an end, restaurants are going beyond pumpkin spice to showcase a diverse array of fall dishes. Some tap into current trends while others take seasonal ingredients and global preparations in fresh directions. Click through to see the latest additions on chain menus.
1. Robust flavors in big and small plates
Maple, squash, lamb and wild boar are some of the ingredients showing up on Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar’s menu this fall. During happy hour, customers can indulge in Lamb Barbacoa Tacos, Cowgirl Cheese Dip with everything bagel-spiced pretzels and Chili Cheese Dip with Indigo Cornbread Fries, the latter featuring wild boar black bean chili and a beer-flavored cheese sauce. On the dinner menu are Butternut Squash Soup topped with coconut cream and candied pumpkin seeds, Lamb Shank Pot Pie, and for dessert, a Maple Bacon Bar with salted maple cream and candied bacon. The beer, wine and cocktail lists also change seasonally, says Gabe Caliendo, VP of food and beverage. Fall’s margarita is flavored with hibiscus and peppercorns.
2. Fan favorites go veg-centric
Big Bowl is jumping on the plant-based bandwagon with a lineup of 17 new vegetarian dishes. Many are veggie versions of the chain’s most popular dishes, but instead of using animal proteins and chicken stock, executive chef Raul Gutierrez subs tofu and a roasted vegetable broth made in-house with lemongrass and ginger. The new items span several Asian cuisines and include Spicy Thai Green Vegetable Curry, Tofu Poke Bowl and Kung Pao Tofu.
3. Spinning the rotisserie toward Asia
Boston Market is anticipating sweater weather with the launch of three new menu items. The nationwide home meal replacement chain gives its traditional roast chicken an Asian twist by topping it with a sweet-savory sesame glaze and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. To accompany the Sesame Rotisserie Chicken, customers can order Loaded Roasted Potatoes smothered with melted cheddar cheese, bacon and green onions. And for dessert, there is Warm Apple Cobbler spiced with cinnamon.
5. Sweet heat is the flavor star
Bourbon, jalapenos, honey and brown sugar flavor three fall specials at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. The Crispy Bourbon Chicken Sandwich is served on a toasted brioche bun with bourbon mustard sauce, pickle slaw and charred pickled jalapenos. Those chile peppers also go into Honey-Jalapeno Smoked Chicken Wings with crushed pistachios and green onions, while pomegranate balsamic vinegar and blue cheese crumbles counter the sweetness in Bourbon Brown Sugar-Roasted Pear Salad.
6. Lucky 7 for $10
Fast casual Urban Plates is introducing seven made-from-scratch menu items, each priced at $10. In step with the cooler weather, the selections include three slow-simmered braises: Braised Beef & Mushrooms Braise; Moroccan Chicken Braise with vegetables and preserved lemons; and Curry Tofu & Vegetable Braise. Also on offer are a Wild Ahi Tuna Banh Mi and a Grilled Cage-Free Chicken with Roasted Tomato Pesto.
7. Harvesting fall specials
The Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast, which benefits Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, is such a popular fall feature for First Watch that it’s become a seasonal must-have. But the daytime cafe isn’t limiting itself to pumpkin. Also debuting on its “Harvest the Season” menu are hearty Braised Short Rib Benedict, the shareable Mixed Berry Toast, vegetarian Butternut Squash Bisque and Carrot Crush, a healthy blend of carrot, orange, coconut water, turmeric and lemon in a glass.
8. Breakfast with a New Orleans accent
Corner Bakery is betting on pecans, hazelnuts, maple and caramel to infuse the sweet side of the menu with fall flavors. By way of New Orleans come Bananas Foster oatmeal, French toast and pancakes, all topped with sliced bananas, caramel and candied pecans. A similar theme plays out in Maple Pecan Pumpkin Baby Bundt Cakes, but more savory flavors are in evidence in the new Steak & Arugula Sandwich and Prime Rib & Provolone Panini.
9. Bowled over in the morning
Dunkin’ was the first out of the gate with its seasonal coffees and donuts, but the chain is not putting all its eggs in one pumpkin. In fact, dozens of eggs are going into two new protein-rich burrito bowls. The Fire Roasted Veggie Bowl features eggs, cauliflower, brown rice, two cheeses and a mix of fire-roasted veggies—onions, bell peppers, corn and black beans doused with chipotle sauce. The other choice is a meatier Chorizo Bowl with a similar base plus chorizo, poblanos, red quinoa and smoky tomato sauce. Dunkin’ introduced breakfast bowls earlier this year to good customer response.
10. Revealing the secrets
A popular secret menu item at Tijuana Flats is coming into full view this fall. Double Stack Cheesy Tacos will be listed on the chain’s main menu until Nov. 3. The item highlights the chain’s signature scratch-made queso, which “holds together” two hard-shell tacos, each stacked inside a soft flour tortilla with a choice of protein, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sour cream, jalapenos and more cheese.
11. Autumn in a cone
Cold Stone Creamery is dressing ice cream in fall colors and flavors with the launch of two seasonal items. Honey Cornbread & Blackberry Jam Ice Cream swirls together pieces of baked cornbread with blackberry jam, honey and blueberries, while Milk & Honey Graham Ice Cream combines honey-accented graham cracker cereal, caramel and vanilla ice cream. To double the flavor punch, the ice cream can be scooped into a honey graham bowl.