Not so long ago, American menu writers were chiefly focused on a handful of big flavors — Caesar, Cajun, barbecue and Buffalo. At the same time, they looked to such “big” ethnic cuisines as Italian, Mexican and Chinese for inspiration. But experts say that lineup is changing as consumers increasingly seek new points of differentiation at restaurants. Data from The NPD Group indicate that the popularity of those big mainstream — or “It” — trends is ...

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