Consumers are increasingly eating a wide range of international foods with little sign that interest will be waning in the near future. Not only are we trying more global flavors, but we want to know about the cuisines we’re eating. According to Mintel, even online conversations regarding the topic have increased 25%. Latin cuisine, a fan favorite, has gotten a lot of buzz and rightfully so. Already a familiar cuisine, in today’s food world we are seeing new Latin menu items based on real and natural ingredients, fresh finishes, artisan ingredients and in street food formats.
Global Flavors, including authentic ethnic cuisine and Latin flavors, were named a top trend by National Restaurant Association’s 2017 Culinary Forecast. In fact, 50% of chefs named global flavors as a top trend with 37% calling it a perennial favorite. With permission to experiment from restaurant audiences, chefs are playing with flavors from around the globe and presenting familiar forms in creative ways.
Latin cuisine offers a lot of inspiration and opportunities for menu application. For instance, breakfast is a perfect fit where Mexican dishes are up 9% compared to three years ago, according to Mintel Menu Insights. Many of our customer use spicy global flavors to bring the millennial breakfast skipper to the table or carry out window. Empanadas offer a handheld solution for an on-the-go consumer. Nachos are the perfect shareable appetizer. Latin flavors are a natural choice for mash-ups or combinations with Southern and Asian cuisines. For instance, at Bar Taco in Nashville, their globally inspired tacos can be served with an Asian cucumber salad and their meals are served with chopsticks showing their logo.
While Mexican food continues to reside in the top 3 cuisines, Millennials and Hispanic consumers, more than other groups, have indicated an interest in branching out. With awide range of Latin cuisines such as Cuban, Brazilian, and Peruvian, the points of inspiration are vast.
“TACOS ARE ALWAYS A FAVORITE. I LOVE MIXING UP THE INGREDIENTS AND TOPPINGS TO KEEP IT FRESH AND INTERESTING, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S AN UNEXPECTED COMBINATION OF FLAVORS.”
feels familiar on menus
“I already love Mexican and South American food and am always looking for something new that I haven’t tried before.”
Latin cuisine is much more than tacos, but the favorites are still getting attention. According to Datassentials MenuTrends, tacos appear on a quarter of all restaurant menus with street-style tacos up over 200% on U.S. menus in the past four years. Datassentials also shares that Huevos Rancheros have joined French toast, omelets, and pancakes as the most common breakfast dishes in the country. And burritos are a mainstay on most menus with Dunkin’ Donuts recently debuting their GranDDe Burrito nationwide, featuring a spicy omelet, cheese, rice, beans and sausage combination in a 10-inch tortilla. But while the entry points remain rooted in familiarity, the options for exploration are quite wide.
The growth comes from street food applications and authentic cues. Dough, a doughnut shop in New York City, demonstrates the versatility by offering an Alfajor doughnut inspired by Latin American flavors. La Gloria, San Antonio, TX, keeps it traditional by offering Elote, Mexican street corn that is typically grilled, topped with crema or sour cream, cotija cheese, cilantro, and lime, and served on the cob.