Restaurant menu trends to watch

By Kristin Menas

The following trends will continue to make a big impact on restaurant menus this year. Below we will highlight some of the leading menu trends to watch on Canadian menus.


About the trend: A number of operators are experimenting with pretzels beyond pretzel buns, including the use of this salty snack as a breading on proteins and in desserts

  • Pretzel mentions are up 13.2 per cent on Canadian menus in the latest year-over-year period
  • Often paired with caramel sauce to create a sweet-and-salty flavour profile
  • Adds crunchy texture
  • Fun and attention-grabbing on menus

Menu Examples:

  • Bier Markt’s pretzel-crusted calamari
  • Kelsey’s Sweet & Salty Chicken Fingers coated in caramel sauce and crushed pretzels
  • Shoeless Joe’s Caramel Pretzel Bites with caramel and vanilla sauces, sugar and sliced strawberries, served with white chocolate cheesecake mousse and caramel for dipping


About the trend: Waffles are being used in nontraditional ways, serving as the foundation for both sweet and savoury menu items

  • Waffle mentions are up 2.7 per cent in entrées on Canadian menus in the most recent year-over-year period
  • Dayparts are blurring with traditional breakfast ingredients and flavours appearing in lunch/dinner items
  • Waffles are hearty and complement everything from fried chicken to rich sauces

Menu Examples:

  • Louis Bar and Grill’s bucket of fried chicken with skewers of waffles with a sea salt-caramel sauce for dipping
  • Montana’s BBQ & Bar’s Chicken Waffle Club Sandwich with Southern fried chicken, maple Sriracha, lettuce, tomato, mayo and bacon, all served between two flame-grilled Belgian sugar waffles
  • The Pickle Barrel’s buttermilk fried chicken in a 12-spice dust blend with mini jalapeño corn waffles and maple butter

Unique bacon preparations

About the trend: Operators are finding new ways to spotlight bacon on the menu with unique preparations and applications, ranging from candied bacon to bacon-infused condiments

  • Bacon is among the top 10 flavours on Canadian menus
  • Interesting bacon preparations help differentiate a menu
  • Bacon is already familiar to diners, making them more comfortable with trying it in new ways

Menu Examples:

  • White Spot Restaurant’s Hawaiian 50/50 burger with a beef-and-bacon patty topped with candied bacon, bacon jam, pineapple, lettuce and red onion
  • The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro’s Wrecking Balls with bacon-wrapped cheddar potato tots served on a bed of bacon sticks with bacon roasted garlic aïoli
  • Denny’s Canada’s Triple Bacon Sampler with honey-jalapeño bacon, hickory-smoked bacon and turkey bacon, served with two eggs, hash browns and bread

About the author

Kristin Menas is the Associate Editor, Canada & Adult Beverage at Technomic Inc. in Chicago. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. For more information, visit

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