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Hot menu items this fall

From pumpkin to kale and farro, here are five culinary trends that are appearing on menus at chain and independent restaurants

Consumers’ appetites tend to grow as the weather cools down, and restaurants are responding with hearty dishes that speak to the season. Perennial autumn favorites, such as apples and pumpkins, are returning to menus, but some unusual ingredients like faro and kale are popping up, too.

Here are five menu trends that are warming up this fall.


Apples are getting a wide range of treatments, from the Sweet Home Apple Bourbon Crêpes served at the four-unit Wild Eggs in Louisville, Ky., pictured, to the Green Apple Mojito offered this fall at Havana Central, a three-unit chain in New York.

Other apple dishes this fall:

• Pizza topped with smoked beef tongue, Honey Crisp apple, spicy sage honey and Cheddar cheese at Russell House Tavern, Cambridge, Mass.

• Cider-braised pork belly, Honey Crisp apple, Cheddar polenta and tarragon honey at Grafton Street, Cambridge, Mass.

• Walnut tortellini with smoked hen ragù, apple and Caccicavallo cheese, at BiNA Osteria, Boston

• New England scallops with carrot puree, green apple and curry beurre blanc, at Tristan, Charleston, S.C.

• Bruegger’s, a 298-unit bakery café based in Burlington, Vt., is offering a seasonal “Baker’s Choice” pairing of a baked apple bagel with honey-walnut cream cheese and pumpkin spice coffee.


Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ Donuts is serving a line of pumpkin items at its 6,700 U.S. restaurants, including pumpkin-flavored coffee, doughnuts and muffins, pictured.

Pumpkin pie frozen yogurt is available through the end of October at 400-unit TCBY in Salt Lake City, and Edina, Minn.-based Dairy Queen’s Blizzard of the Month for October is pumpkin pie.

Other pumpkin items:

• IHOP’s “No Tricks — Just Treats” promotion in October features pumpkin pancakes flavored with classic pumpkin pie spices and topped with whipped cream, available at participating restaurants in its 1,512-unit Glendale, Calif.-based system.

• Day boat scallops with sugar pumpkin velouté, braised oxtail and black pepper caramel at American Seasons, Nantucket, Mass.

• Curried pumpkin soup with caramelized peanuts at 606 Congress, Boston


Kale has been a breakout hit at independent restaurants all year, especially served raw in salads, such as in the kale and apple salad pictured here from Beauty & Essex in New York.

Other kale items are:

• Four-unit True Food Kitchen has a new organic tomato and roasted kale pizza, as well as a Tuscan kale salad with lemon, Parmesan and breadcrumbs.

• Ale-braised pork cheeks with mascarpone polenta and black kale braised with bacon at Chicago Firehouse, Chicago

• Roasted chicken with cannellini beans, kale, tomato confit, lardons and vin cotto jus at Silhouette, New York


“Ancient grains,” a term that refers to a variety of nontraditional seeds from quinoa to teff, have taken on a health halo. Farro, a whole-grain wheat popular in Italian cooking, has broken out into the mainstream with such items as shrimp tikka masala at 145-unit Uno’s Chicago Grill, pictured. The dish is served with a salad of cooked farro tossed with diced plum tomatoes, cucumber and balsamic vinegar.


True Food Kitchen offers roasted chicken with farro, Brussels sprouts, cranberries and walnuts, as well as a kids’ menu item of grilled chicken with farro and apples.

• Sous vide beef rib with farrotto — farro made like risotto — hazelnuts, whiskey, gelée and Sangiovese jus at Tristan, Charleston, S.C.

Sweet potatoes, chestnuts and other seasonal items

An array of other seasonal products are being highlighted this fall, including the sweet potato gnocchi with scallops, mushrooms and spinach, pictured, at Kingston Station in Boston.

Also on menus across the country:

• Roasted chestnut soup with Bulgarian feta and honey caramel at Café Colette, Brooklyn, N.Y.

• Sauerkraut balls, made with local pork, brown butter, sage and eggs, rolled in rye bread crumbs and fried at The Sheppard Mansion, Hanover, Pa.

• Duck confit with mushrooms in orange and honey reduction at Alfama, New York

• Sautéed gnocchi with rabbit confit, leeks, shallots, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and Gorgonzola cheese at Panzano, Denver

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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