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Food

A taste of Mexico can boost menu appeal

Photograph: Shutterstock

With demand for dining out challenged by the pandemic, the need to appeal to diners is more crucial than ever. One way operators can capture more orders is by positioning their menu to satisfy a variety of appetites and tastes. Often, that means evolving beyond usual offerings into global cuisines.

Incorporating some Mexican dishes provides a logical solution to broaden the appeal of any menu. As one of the most popular global cuisines in the U.S., Mexican foods add a welcome and familiar dimension to a lineup. In addition, the availability of authentic ingredients, ready-to-use sauces and other labor-saving preparations has exploded in recent years, a phenomenon that paves the way for any restaurant to spice up its selections.

Mexican is mainstream: more than a third of all operators already feature some Mexican options, according to Technomic’s 2019  Mexican Menu Trends report. That means many consumers have come to expect to see the cuisine represented, regardless of the restaurant’s overall theme. Options abound for infusing a menu with Mexican flavors. Here are a few ways to do it.

Starters and snacks: Handhelds like tacos and flautas and shareables like nachos are hits; both are easily customized to fit in with an overall menu strategy—that is, they can be tailored to whatever the theme of the restaurant is. For instance, is barbecue the main event? Try offering barbecue-pork nachos or barbecue beef street tacos. And with margaritas sitting comfortably as many consumers’ cocktail of choice, a Mexican-themed appetizer is a no-brainer for any restaurant that also offers the tequila-based drink.

LTOs: Holidays like Cinco de Mayo tend to stir up demand for festive Mexican favorites, as do celebratory occasions like marquee sporting events, graduations and awards shows. Menus built and promoted around these themes connect with potential customers. Party packs, platters and other volume positioning are logical ways to position these LTOs.

Breakfast and brunch: Burritos, huevos rancheros, Mexican omelets and spicy egg-based breakfast sandwiches can satisfy morning cravings and wake up a sleepy menu. Be sure to offer a few Mexican hot sauces or salsas, too.

Pizzas and flatbreads: A way to combine another top-selling, Mexican-inspired pizzas appeal to pizza lovers who crave a bolder flavor profile. For operators, the shift simply means swapping out more traditional ingredients for Mexican flavors. For instance, Domino’s recently offered a Chicken Taco Pizza LTO topped with grilled chicken, taco seasoning, onions, green peppers, diced tomatoes and three cheeses.

Soups, salads and bowls: Toppings such as tortilla shells or strips, Mexican cheese, avocado or guacamole, Mexican-seasoned proteins and other additions give a dash of flavor and eye appeal to otherwise classic flavors. Offer authentic Mexican cheeses as a topping for tomato soup, or feature guacamole as an upcharge for a chicken salad.  

With Mexican cuisine firmly entrenched in the mainstream, restaurant guests are savvy enough to know quality and authenticity when they taste it, so sourcing the best ingredients is key to a successful effort to add it to the menu. Sigma Foodservice USA supports restaurants’ efforts to create winning south-of-the-border menu options with items such as Crema Natural, an ideal complement to traditional and modern Mexican fare. It can work as a topping on soups, salads, tacos, enchiladas and much more. Sigma Foodservice USA also offers authentic Mexican cheeses like Queso Fresco, Queso Panela, Queso Oaxaca and Queso Cotija, which can be crumbled, sliced, cubed, fried or grilled and used to garnish the likes of enchiladas, chili rellenos, tacos or salads. And Sigma Foodservice USA is also developing 8 new, unique Latin-themed burrito flavors for market debut starting the second half of 2021. The possibilities are endless. To learn more, visit www.sigmafoodserviceus.com.

This post is sponsored by Sigma Foodservice USA

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