menu trends to watch

September’s top restaurant menu trends to watch

By Aaron Jourden

What are Canadians interested in eating this month? Here’s a hint: Mexican flavours are flourishing on menus, while vegetarian food has wide appeal and seafood is being presented in new and unique ways. Here’s a look at some of the leading menu trends to watch on Canadian menus this month.

Mexico’s flavours flourish

About the trend: Tacos and burritos have been on trend at the chain level in recent years, and now some of Mexico’s signature flavours are making their way into more and more dishes beyond the nation’s traditional cuisine. Mexican ingredients like avocado, chorizo, jalapeno, chipotle and queso can add bold, assertive, fresh and vibrant flavours to a wide variety of dishes outside the country’s cuisine traditions.

  • Ethnic excitement
  • Fresh appeal
  • Bold and assertive

Menu Examples:

  • McDonald’s Canada—Guacamole & Jalapeno Chicken Sandwich with chicken breast, guacamole, jalapenos, mozzarella, lettuce, tomato and red onions on a brioche-style roll
  • Lone Star Texas Grill—sweet potato fries served with tomatillo-pepper ranch dipping sauce
  • New Orleans Pizza—Chorizo Supreme Pizza with chorizo, jalapenos, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions

Veggie indulgence

About the trend: Veggies are en vogue menu stars as chefs aim to showcase fresh produce in creative and craveable ways that attract all types of diners, not just vegans and vegetarians. We’re now seeing veggies like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and zucchini take the place of proteins and starches in riffs on traditionally indulgent dishes like Buffalo wings and burgers.

  • Plant-based diets
  • Showcase chef skills
  • Seasonal and local

Menu Examples:

  • Kelseys Original Roadhouse—“No Meat” Portobello Burger with a breaded Portobello mushroom, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, spinach and sun-dried tomato aioli
  • Louis Bar & Grill—Not Your Mom’s Cauliflower featuring fried cauliflower topped with wing sauce and green onions, served with ranch dressing
  • Good Earth Coffeehouse—Maple Chocolate Baby Cake featuring chocolate zucchini Bundt cake topped with maple cream cheese icing, camino sugar and marbled chocolate curls

Seafood showcase

Operators are showcasing seafood in new and creative ways that range from the ethnic to the highly indulgent. Standbys like shrimp, crab, salmon and lobster are being featured in everything from melts and tacos to bowls and pastas.

  • Health halo
  • Light and filling
  • Decadence

Menu Examples:

  • Edo Japan—Smoked Salmon Poke Bowl with poke sauce, sushi rice, cucumber, carrot, avocado, masago, ginger, nori strips, sesame seeds and a drizzle of mayonnaise
  • Red Lobster—Crab Melt Sandwich featuring a blend of crabmeat and five cheeses on toasted artisan bread
  • The Keg Steakhouse + Bar—Lobster Yorkies featuring a trio of Yorkshire puddings filled with lobster, carrot, celery, onions, sweet peas and veloute

About the author:

Aaron Jourden is the managing editor – global & distribution at Chicago-based Technomic Inc., a Winsight company. 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