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Menu Tracker: Healthful items, deals dominate in January Fresh&Co
Fresh&Co's pho bowl

Menu Tracker: Healthful items, deals dominate in January

New items from Red Lobster, White Castle, Dunkin’ and more

As we roll into 2019, restaurant brands are kicking off the new year with menu items and offerings that aims to break customers out of the post-holiday haze. A number of brands, including Fresh&Co and Sweetgreen, are cashing in on the classic New Year’s resolutions for healthful eating with vegetable-packed dishes. Others, including Red Lobster and IHOP, are offering value-driven meals for people who want to get back on track financially after an expensive holiday season. And for those whose healthful resolutions may have already fallen by the wayside, there are new indulgent treats inspired by classic comfort foods.

Take a look at the dishes and deals hitting menus this month in this special edition of Menu Tracker.

HealthfuI items

Fresh&Co is introducing its first pho bowl made with Impossible Food’s plant-based meatballs for $12.50. The bowl — which also includes zucchini noodles, organic mint, micro cilantro, green cabbage, scallions, and is garnished with a lime wedge — is available until March 25.

Vitality Bowls has remixed some of its salad and panini offerings by “supercharging” them with superfood ingredients like turmeric, açaí, goji berries, and avocado. Revamped offerings include the kale salad, spinach salad, sirloin panini and veggie panini. The new salads will range in price from $9.99 to $10.99, while the paninis are $6.99 to $7.99 each.


Sweetgreen's buffalo chicken bowl

Sweetgreen is changing its seasonal menu to feature winter bowls like a maple squash salad topped with squash, caramelized onions, apples, leeks, basil, parmesan, walnuts, mixed greens and maple-mustard vinaigrette. It is also introducing a buffalo chicken bowl made with chicken thighs, vegetables, blue cheese, kale, hot sauce, blue cheese and Caesar dressing. The bowls range in price from $11.95 to $12.75 and will be available until the end of March.

As Dunkin’ officially leans into its name change, the chain is rolling out a Power Breakfast Sandwich to give customers “energy they need to start the morning right.” The sandwich is multigrain bread stuffed with an egg white omelet made with spinach, peppers and onions, turkey sausage and American cheese, at a suggested retail price of $3.99. Dunkin’ will also introduce an Energy Cold Brew: Its signature cold brew coffee with a shot of espresso, at a suggested retail price of $3.78.

Taco Cabana

Taco Cabana's Southwest Taco Salad

Taco Cabana is introducing a new Southwest Taco Salad made with ground beef, black beans, pico de gallo, corn, guacamole, cheese tortilla chips and lettuce for $5.39 at participating restaurants for a short time. Participating restaurants will also be introducing six tortilla soup pairings including tortilla soup with a ground beef taco, chicken flautas, a brisket taco, and more ranging in price from $5.19 to $6.69.

Slater’s 50/50 is rebranding itself as a “rebel gastropub” with a slew of new vegetable-forward, menu items to match its updated brand. They include Sweet & Spicy Cauliflower tossed with Asian BBQ sauce, ginger cilantro slaw, and sesame seeds for $8.99; a power bowl made with a quinoa patty, edamame, blueberries, greens, carrots, tomatoes, quinoa, avocado, pumpkin seeds and a wildflower honey vinaigrette for $14.99; and a Turkey Harvest Bowl, made with a turkey patty, blue cheese, dried cranberries, quinoa, green apple, greens, pecans, and balsamic vinaigrette for $14.99.  

Value offers: Bundles and bottomless pancakes

Del Taco

Del Taco's flatbread tacos

Del Taco is updating its popular mix-and-match 2 for $5 deal this month by creating new 2 for $4 items, including a chicken flatbread taco topped with chipotle sauce, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes; a chicken street taco topped with roasted chile salsa, onions, cilantro, and avocado in a corn tortilla; a beer-battered fish taco made with cabbage, pico de gallo, and secret sauce; and a cheese quesadilla.

Red Lobster

Red Lobster's Admiral's Feast

Red Lobster has added a different offering for every weekday as part of the chain’s new Weekday Win Menu, in which every weekday special is $15. Specials include Endless Shrimp Monday, where customers can mix and match shrimp menu items; Admiral’s Feast Tuesday, a classic fish fry of shrimp, scallops, clam strips and flounder; 4-course Feast on Wednesday and Thursday where guests can choose a soup, salad, entrée, and dessert for $15; and Jumbo Coconut Shrimp Friday.  

IHOP is bringing back its all-you-can-eat pancakes deal, and this year, customers will be able to get free refills of the breakfast brand’s buttermilk pancakes with any classic breakfast combination (prices vary) or get a stack of neverending pancakes for $4.99. Refills are unlimited, but pancakes will be served two at a time. The deal is available through Feb 24. 

Comfort foods and indulgences

Taco Bell

Taco Bell's Orange Cream Pop Freeze

Taco Bell is bringing its Orange Cream Pop Freeze — a twist on the classic orange creamsicle — for $2.39 for a regular or $2.59 for a large. The price of the freeze will be reduced to $1 during the chain’s Happier Hour from 2-5 pm. The frozen drink will be on the menu until April.

White Castle

White Castle's Sloppy Joe slider

White Castle is introducing its version of a Sloppy Joe to locations nationwide. The Sloppy Joe slider — topped with ground beef in a vegetable-forward sauce and smoked cheddar cheese is available for 99 cents now through February 24.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack's Tiramisu shake

Shake Shack’s newest addition to its shake menu is the Tiramisu shake: a blend of mascarpone, coffee and vanilla frozen custard topped with amoretti cookie crumbs and a dusting of cocoa powder. The shake joined the menu Jan. 2 at a suggested retail price of $5.69.

Whataburger’s mushroom swiss burger topped with au jus sauce has returned. Starting Jan. 1, this menu item is available for an unspecified limited time. Prices vary by location.

El Pollo Loco has introduced a new menu of chicken nachos for a limited time: double chicken nachos topped with grilled chicken, guacamole, sour cream, queso, jalapenos, pinto beans, pico de gallo, and tortilla stripes; shredded chicken nachos with the same toppings; and Loco chicken nachos topped with grilled chicken, guacamole, corn, queso, cilantro sauce, fried serrano pepper, and tortilla chips. Prices vary by location. 

Potbelly is adding new sandwich and dessert selections to its underground menu, available starting Jan 8. The new sandwiches include the Barnyard: topped with ham, turkey, roast beef, salami, bacon, meatballs and swiss cheese, and the cheeseburger, which will be topped with meatballs, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. The new desserts include the Dream Bar Sundae: a Dream Bar topped with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and a cherry; and the Cookie Collision Shake, blended with Oreo and butter cookies. The cookie shake can also be made into a frozen yogurt smoothie instead. Prices vary by location.

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]  

Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi

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