Taco Cabana, Border Grill, Chevys, Pollo Campero and Salsarita’s introduce new menu items
This summer, Latin-themed restaurant chains are parlaying the trendiness of their cuisine to new levels of popularity by incorporating other trends into their summertime offerings, from authenticity to superfoods and better-for-you ingredients.
Taco Cabana is highlighting authenticity with its new Steak Asadero Tacos, which the 163-unit chain said originated in the northwestern Mexican state of Chihuahua. The taco is served in a flour tortilla typical of the region and filled with diced sirloin, grilled onions and Asadero cheese, which is frequently used in quesadillas. The new taco is available for $2.59.
Also new to the menu is a classic Mexican sweet, the caramel-flavored custard flan, which joins the dessert menu at $1.49.
"This latest menu option, along with flan, was inspired by our trip to Mexico last year and continues to showcase the authentic ingredients and tastes which our guests have come to expect from us," Todd Coerver, chief brand officer at the San Antonio-based chain, said in a press release.
Border Grill, the three-unit concept of celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger in Los Angeles, is featuring authentic Latin ingredients such as the Peruvian grape-based spirit pisco, the mildly anise-flavored Mexican herb hoja santa, and trendy ingredients such as blueberry and ginger in its summertime line of cocktails:
• Fire/Water/Melon: Peruvian pisco with serrano chile, watermelon and lemon
• Silver Surfer: Silver tequila, celery mint shrub and sparkling water
• Summer Santa: Cachaça, raspberry, orange, lemon and hoja santa
• Andean Stallion: Pisco, Fernet Branca, lime, agave nectar and angostura bitters
• Ginger Summers: The name comes from the Gilligan’s Island characters Ginger Grand and Mary Ann Summers. The menu description reads, “Ginger Grant was the spicy one, but everyone loved Mary Ann Summers and her girl next door appeal. Spicy yet sweet, this margarita is the best of both.”
It contains reposado tequila, orange liqueur, ginger and blueberry.
• Cava Guava: Cava sparkling wine, silver tequila, guava and lemon.
Chevys Fresh Mex is working on the better-for-you angle with the debut in July of new kids’ menus at its 42 company-owned restaurants that comply with the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program.
New kids' meals include:
•Fajita: Served with carrots, celery sticks and apple wedges and water for beverage
• Soft Beef Taco: Served without cheese, with grilled veggies, and carrots and celery sticks, plus apple juice for beverage
• Soft Chicken Taco: Served with one tablespoon of cheese, sweet corn tamalito, grilled veggies and pineapple juice for beverage.
Union City, Calif.-based Chevys also has launched a Kids Eat Free on Tuesdays promotion, allowing one guest under age 12 to have a free kids’ meal with the purchase of one regular adult entrée every Tuesday except for holidays.
Guatemala-based chicken chain Pollo Campero in July started competing in the growing snack segment at its 50 locations in the United States with the introduction of three empanadas that sell for $1.49 each, or three plus a side dish for $6.99.
The spicy chicken empanada is filled with Pollo Campero’s signature chicken along with green tomatillo salsa, Monterey Jack cheese and cilantro.
The citrus chicken combines chicken with grilled onions, tamarind sauce and shredded Monterrey Jack cheese.
The chain’s vegetarian empanada combines black beans with Monterey Jack cheese, cilantro, diced onion and chipotle.
Salsarita’s, an 80-unit casual-dining chain based in Charlotte, N.C., has rolled out a line of four Mexican-inspired, handheld tortilla pizzas called Cantizzas for $5.99 each.
The pizza choices are BBQ Pork; Chicken Fajita, with vegetables and signature salsas; Steak Nacho, topped with tortilla chips; and Beef Taco.
To promote the new items, Salsarita’s has introduced a Mexican-inspired dice game. After placing an order, guests are allowed a roll of the dice. If they roll a pair of maracas, they get a card for a free Cantizza on their next visit.
Editor's note: This story updates the details of Chevys' Kids Eat Free promotion, and corrects the chain's spelling and headquarters location.