There’s a dark joke circulating around that COVID-19 actually refers to the number of pounds that people have gained during the pandemic. The new year is always a time for rolling out menu items intended to help people meet their resolutions to eat more healthfully, and that mission has perhaps an added sense of urgency this year. Chipotle Mexican Grill, El Pollo Loco and Freebirds World Burrito are all doing their part by adding the option of riced cauliflower to replace actual rice.
Fazoli’s, Subway and Your Pie have also introduced low-carbohydrate options.
Juice it Up! is offering new options intended to boost immunity, Yogurtland has a new dairy-free option and Peet’s Coffee is leveraging the “golden latte” trend that started a few years ago by adding turmeric to some new drinks.
Conversely, breaded and fried chicken sandwiches continue their apparent mission to take over the world with new options from Golden Chick, KFC, McDonald’s, Shake Shack and Sonic Drive-In, and Whataburger has extended the availability of its spicy chicken sandwich and upgraded its bun.
Elsewhere in indulgent sandwiches, Frisch’s Big Boy has new grilled cheese sandwiches, and Krystal is celebrating the new year with its Hangover slider.
Dog Haus has a deep-fried hot dog.
New plant-based protein options are available at Dunkin’ and Pizza Guys, and Starbucks is finding new things to do with almond milk.
Baskin-Robbins flavor of the month has three kinds of chocolate, Torchy’s Tacos’ taco of the month is a play on lox and bagels, and Velvet Taco’s weekly taco feature is its version of a French dip, complete with au jus.
Taco Bell is bringing back its Nacho Fries and other favorites, Daphne’s has new wraps, TooJay’s Deli has a vegetable-forward pasta and First Watch has a new açaí bowl and avocado toast.
Voodoo Doughnut has several new Cannolo flavors and Wayback Burgers is building up to Mardi Gras with two New Orleans-themed items.
Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary