Those ascribing to the “new year, new you” should be interested in what’s on tap for fresh menu items rolling into 2019. Let’s look at what’s new on the scene.
Although we’re still waiting on Beyond Meat to make its way to our Del Tacos, the plant-based diner has a new option at Carl’s Jr. The burger chain recently unveiled its Beyond Famous Star, called the “first-of-its-kind flexitarian take” on the iconic Carl’s Jr. Famous Star.
The addition of the plant-based patty to the menu is bolstered by supermarket chain retail data showing the growing consumer leanings of meat eaters who still eat animal-based proteins while also incorporating more plant-based options.
“I have long looked forward to the day when my kids can go to a major fast-food chain and order The Beyond Burger. I am grateful to say that day has arrived,” said Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat Founder and CEO, said in a news release.
Note: Those who want a vegan burger should ask for no American cheese, which comes standard on the Beyond Famous Star, along with lettuce, tomato, sliced onions, dill pickles, special sauce and mayonnaise on a seeded bun. It sells for $6.29; the patty can be added to any Carl’s Jr. sandwich for $2 extra.
I had the chance to try the new burger last week and found it to be comparable to other plant-based burgers I’ve tried. The definite edge is its availability, being served at a chain with drive-throughs that keep later hours (until 11 p.m. or midnight). And you can order jalapeno poppers on the side.
Chipotle is another restaurant ready to embrace a healthier new year. On Wednesday, it launched a new collection of lifestyle bowls, diet-driven menu offerings catering to keto, paleo and Whole30 proponents.
The salad bowls are exclusively available through Chipotle’s mobile app and on the chain’s website (chipotle.com) for in-restaurant pickup or delivery.
“Now more than ever, Americans are embracing new and varied approaches to healthy living and wellness,” Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer at Chipotle, said in a news release. “We’ve watched guests custom create lifestyle-specific bowls when ordering in our restaurants, so it made sense to offer delicious options via our online channels that help people easily order bowls with real ingredients that fit their wellness goals.”
Each bowl is tailored to different dietary concerns. For those on the high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb ketogenic diet, the bowl consists of romaine lettuce, carnitas, red salsa, cheese and guacamole. Followers of the “I’ll only eat what my ancient ancestors did” paleo lifestyle can chow down on a bowl of romaine lettuce, barbacoa, fajita veggies, green salsa and guacamole. Those on Whole30, who are eschewing sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, dairy (and possibly fun) can order the bowl with romaine lettuce, carnitas, fajita veggies, tomato salsa and guacamole. And people who need more protein in their diet can double down with full portions of steak and chicken, along with white rice, black beans, red salsa, romaine lettuce and sour cream.
Meanwhile Dunkin gets that you might be torn in 2019 between eating healthier and just enjoying what you love. To wit, it has some lighter and decadent offerings this month.
New is the power breakfast sandwich, clocking in at 370 calories (with 20 grams of whole grains and 24 grams of protein), consisting of a veggie egg white omelet with spinach, peppers and onions, turkey sausage and American cheese on a new multigrain sandwich bread topped with seeds and rolled oats. You can pair that with an energy cold brew, which combines Dunkin’s signature cold brew coffee with a shot of espresso.
Those not sweating the calories can enjoy the return of two treats from last year: the brown sugar chipotle bacon breakfast sandwich, serving up a double portion of caramelized brown sugar chipotle bacon along with egg and cheese on a flaky croissant; and the caramel chocoholic doughnut, a classic chocolate doughnut frosted with caramel icing, with semi-sweet chocolate curls and a drizzle of caramel icing.
And if you have yet to experience the chain’s new handcrafted espresso experience, Dunkin’ is offering guests a medium-sized Dunkin’ latte or cappuccino for $2 from 2 to 6 p.m. through January.
Other new and different options
Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill + Bar had brought back its all-you-can-eat deals on pork riblets and chicken tenders and has added a new player to the mix: double crunch shrimp. Starting at $14.99, the plates include your choice of three proteins along with a side of coleslaw and all-you-can-eat fries. On subsequent plates, you can mix and match your selections.
Wash it all down with a Captain and Cola, January’s neighborhood drink. The $2 beverage is the classic combination of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and Pepsi.
Olive Garden has a new option for its lunch duos menu: the shrimp scampi mini pasta bowl. Offered Monday through Friday before 3 p.m., the deal starts at $6.99, pairing a lunch entree with choice of soup or salad as well as breadsticks.
Creamistry now offers ice cream tacos, which come topped with whipped cream and choice of one free topping.
Taco Bell is bringing back its naked chicken chalupa now through mid-January, dining website Foodbeast reports. Served up in its “mild style,” the fried chicken taco shell is filled with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese and avocado ranch sauce. It’s available for $2.99 on its own or for $5 as part of a box with a crunchy taco, Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos tacos and medium fountain drink.
The Bell is also serving up $1 grande burritos, with your choice of chicken enchilada (shredded chicken, red sauce, seasoned rice, reduced fat sour cream and shredded cheese) or three cheese nacho (seasoned beef, nacho cheese sauce, red tortilla strips, reduced fat sour cream and three cheese blend). The burritos, which were originally tested in Birmingham, Ala., a year ago, are available on their own or in a $5 box.
Stefani Dias can be reached at 661-395-7488. Follow her on Twitter at @realstefanidias.