According to Datassential, Mexican cuisine is the third most popular cuisine in the U.S. and growing, particularly among younger adults. Street tacos are found on 2.9% of U.S. menus, an increase of 31% over the past four years, and are expected to grow another 40% in the next four years. The popularity of tacos is spilling into breakfast, new interpretations, and taco as a flavor.
TACOS FOR BREAKFAST
Tacos are not traditionally a breakfast food. However, quick service restaurants (QSR) are taking the liberty to create breakfast foods inspired by tacos. In the Spring, Dunkin’ released Breakfast Tacos for a limited time. The flour tortilla tacos were made with scrambled eggs, melted sharp white cheddar cheese, fire-roasted corn, and a drizzle of tangy lime crema. This summer, IHOP has turned its silver dollar pancakes into a limited-time menu of sweet and savory tacos. IHOP Pancake Tacos were offered in four sweet and savory flavors including Breakfast Pancake Taco, Caramel Banana Pancake Taco, Country Chicken and Gravy Pancake Taco, and Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake Pancake Taco. To celebrate National Taco Day on October 4, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Kellogg’s Eggo brand teamed up on a limited-time Eggo Taco. The new taco combined Moe’s Southwest Grill’s adobo chicken topped with bacon, shredded cheese, and chipotle ranch served on a fried Eggo waffle as the taco shell. On October 12, Taco Bell launched their new Toasted Breakfast Tacos, which combine eggs and shredded cheese in a grilled tortilla with either bacon or sausage or a veggie version with potato. To celebrate, Taco Bell offered these breakfast tacos free on Tuesdays in October.
UNCONVENTIONAL TACOS POPPING UP ON MENUS
Datassential reported that Birria taco (a Mexican meat stew) and chicken taco salad are among the 10 fastest-growing items on U.S. menus. Brands are branching out and crafting unconventional taco fillings and flavors. Taco John’s has introduced Beefy Loaded Cheddar Crunch Taco and Chicken Club Cheddar Crunch Taco. The taco shell for both varieties “features a one-of-a-kind crunchy flatbread shell coated in aged cheddar cheese and shredded potatoes dusted with the brand’s signature Potato Olés seasoning blend.” The Cheesecake Factory has added Avocado Tacos to its menus. The tacos contain fresh Jicama “Tortilla” shells filled with crispy avocado, tomatillo slaw, and cilantro. Taco/Social in Los Angeles is a new QSR, which features unconventional “freeform” taco flavors such as Banh Mi, Tikka Masala, and NOLA Po Boy.
TACO AS A FLAVOR
Tacos are being translated into a flavor in a variety of snacks. For example, Spicy Street Taco is one of Rivalz’s new flavors, and similarly Chex Mix introduced Chex Mix Remix Zesty Taco. Doc Popcorn launched Taco Te Amo, its first limited-batch flavor of the year. Taco Te Amo is self-described as “A fiesta of flavors featuring salt, garlic, chili peppers, and other taco seasonings.” Superpretzel Soft Pretzel Filled Knots dropped this summer and Taco con Queso is one of three flavors. Natural meat snack brand Chomps has added a Taco Beef flavor to its portfolio that features the flavors of a taco with paprika, cumin, and chili powder in a “portable and mess-free format.” Field Trip Snacks has added Carne Asada Seasoned Street Taco to its grass-fed beef jerky lineup. Sabra’s recent Southwest Hummus is “inspired by the delicious and popular flavor of tacos!”
Expect new taco translations in breakfast formats, unconventional flavor combinations, and taco flavor interpretations in snacks.
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