Plant-based burgers were a vegan entry point for many eateries, but now plants are growing in many new directions on restaurant menus. Taco Bell has started testing a taco filled with a proprietary pea-chickpea blend, and Dunkin’ keeps expanding its nondairy milk selection with new varieties. Operators are subbing plant-based meat in everything from Italian beef sandwiches to hot dogs. And as in noncommercial concepts, fresh vegetables are showing up in a big way, too. Click through to see what's hitting menus.
Nathan’s Famous is launching a plant-based based hot dog formulated with the same flavor profile as the chain’s original. Meatless Farm, a plant-based food company, was able to replicate the recipe of Nathan’s iconic hot dog using all vegan ingredients. Consumers can currently purchase the plant-based hot dogs to cook at home through Shopify. In May, the new item rolls out on the menu at restaurants in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida. For a limited time, select locations will give away one free Nathan’s Meatless Farm hot dog to all customers who wish to try it.
The Chicago-based Buona restaurant group, built on the popularity of its Original Italian Beef Sandwich, is launching a meatless version of the signature. The Plant-Based Italian Beefless Sandwich swaps in seitan for the beef, sourcing it from Upton’s Naturals, a Chicago supplier. The seitan has the same savory flavor profile as Buona’s beef, and the sandwich mimics the original in its build, subbing veggie gravy for meat-based and layering the ingredients on the same French bread topped with hot or mild giardiniera. Giardiniera is a Chicago condiment made with pickled vegetables.
Customers at Dunkin’ can already opt for oat milk or almond milk with their coffee and other beverages—now they have the choice of coconut milk, too. The chain introduced its third plant-based milk in three new Coconut Refreshers: Pink Strawberry with strawberry and dragonfruit flavors; Golden Peach, flavored with peach and passion fruit; and Purple Pomegranate with blueberry and pomegranate. From Wednesday through May 25, customers can purchase the refreshers for a promotional price of $3 each. Also launching is Coconutmilk Iced Latte.
Plant-forward Mediterranean cuisine is at the root of Cava’s menu, and the concept’s Spring Lamb + Feta Bowl is the latest addition to the lineup. It’s composed of roasted eggplant, arugula, herbaceous lentil tabbouleh, spicy green skhug sauce and braised lamb, topped with pickled onions and cucumbers. A drizzle of garlic sauce ties the flavors and ingredients together. Lamb is Cava’s second most popular meat-based protein after chicken and an important cornerstone of the brand’s Greek heritage and health-focused menu.
A new classic salad menu at Mod Pizza expands the chain’s offerings beyond pizza. Four salads are making their debut: Caesar, Garden, Greek and Italian Chop. All feature Mod Pizza’s signature, house-made dressings. The Italian Chop, a mix of arugula, romaine, mozzarella, Parmesan, salami, red onion, black olives, green bell pepper and chickpeas, is tossed with zesty Roma dressing, while the basic Garden salad gets a sherry Dijon vinaigrette and the Greek is paired with a Greek herb and tahini vinaigrette. Caesar dressing naturally goes with the Caesar. Like Mod’s pizzas, the new salads are completely customizable with unlimited toppings for one price.
Donatos is another pizza concept adding salads. The Green Goddess Entree Salad is composed of iceberg lettuce, baby spinach, green bell peppers, Roma tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, bacon and grilled chicken, tossed with green goddess dressing, a creamy blend seasoned with an assortment of herbs. It’s also available in a larger size by the name of Green Goddess Party Salad, designed to serve 10. A Green Goddess Side Salad is on offer as well, minus the grilled chicken.
Wingers Restaurant & Alehouse
Salads are coming out of the kitchen at Wingers Restaurant & Alehouse too. The casual-dining brand known for its wings, burgers and beers is running three new salads for a limited time. The Lime Salmon Caramelo features lime-caramelized salmon over spring mix, cabbage-cilantro mix, fried jalapeno coins, pico de gallo and lime-chipotle dressing. Buffalo Blue Salad combines the flavors of Buffalo chicken in a bowl over lettuce, and Grilled Chicken Ava-Keto Power Bowl is a mix of grilled chicken, avocado, garlic-chili broccoli, bacon, hard-cooked eggs, queso fresco, cilantro-cabbage mix and romaine lettuce.