What do Burger King, McDonald’s, Del Taco, Sonic and Chick-fil-A have in common? All offer a breakfast burrito on their breakfast menus, and they are not the only quick-service restaurants (QSRs) serving a spicy breakfast treat. According to Mintel Menu Insights, approximately 10% of QSR chains offer a breakfast burrito, making it the second most popular breakfast item on QSR menus. Through the premiumization of quick-service menus, these dishes are expanding past the ordinary to the extraordinary. 

Chick-fil-A offers a sausage breakfast burrito with chunks of pork sausage mixed with scrambled eggs, fire-roasted onions and peppers, and a blend of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, all wrapped in a soft flour tortilla and served with spicy salsa.

Quick-service menus are not the only restaurant segment spicing up the morning. Fast casual, family mid-scale, casual and fine dining chain restaurants all serve spicy south-of-the-border dishes in the morning. Mintel’s research shows popular southwestern/Mexican breakfast dishes in chain restaurants include omelettes, breakfast pizzas, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast tacos and southwestern breakfast skillets. Mimi’s Café serves Huevos Con Tortillas, which are breakfast tacos with three scrambled eggs, diced tomato, cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, fresh-cut salsa, black beans and chipotle sauce with warm flour or corn tortillas.

On a Roll

Egg rolls and spring rolls are quickly becoming staples on appetizer menus in casual dining restaurants, but contemporary egg/spring rolls are anything but Asian. The crispy starters are being filled with southwestern, southern and other American flavors. Mintel Menu Insights names the top 10 egg roll fillings as chicken, black beans, corn, spinach, cheese, onion, cilantro, pork, red pepper and avocado.

Chili’s filled its Southwestern Egg Rolls with smoked chicken, black beans, corn and jalapeño Jack cheese with red peppers and spinach. All the ingredients are wrapped inside a crispy flour tortilla and served with avocado-ranch dipping sauce. During the summer of 2006, Bennigan’s created promotional cheeseburger menu items ranging from a cheeseburger salad to cheeseburger egg rolls. The promotion earned Cheeseburger Egg Rolls a place on Bennigan’s permanent menu. The rolls are filled with ground beef, American cheese, pickles, onions and mustard, and they are served with a side of salsa cream sauce for dipping.

While egg rolls are exploring flavors from other lands, spring rolls are sticking to their Asian roots. Spring rolls often are served chilled and as a lighter appetizer option. These light starters are filled with the fresh flavors of shrimp, cilantro, mint, corn and carrots. The Cheesecake Factory offers Vietnamese Summer Rolls, which are chilled, delicate rice paper rolled around asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, rice noodles, green onion, cilantro and shrimp.