Gone Fishin’
One of the biggest trends on menus in 2010 seems to be weathering both the recession and the Gulf oil spill: fish tacos are here to stay. Beginning as a West Coast trend, they are heading east at record pace, according to USA Today (June 9, 2010).

In keeping with consumers’ interest in cutting both costs and calories, these delicious, deep-sea delights are anchoring many a restaurant menu. Although some consumers may be hesitant to eat fish due to the recent Gulf spill, it does not seem to be affecting sales of fish tacos.

California Pizza Kitchen, The Cheesecake Factory, BJ’s Restaurants and El Pollo Loco are just a few of the chains that feature them, and Taco Bell has plans to test fish tacos next year. Fresh Fish Tacos were The Cheesecake Factory’s top sellers in June. In fact, the dish ranked among the top 20 of its 200 entrees, according to marketing chief Mark Mears.

Wahoo’s Fish Taco franchises are now in eight states, including one in Houston, opening this year. Staying on-trend, the chain also offers Tofu Tacos.

In keeping with the push for more low-calorie options on menus, fish tacos are nutritious and great-tasting. Typical ingredients and directions range from complex to simple, yet almost all include cabbage or cole slaw, some type of white, flaky fish, cilantro and tomato salsa or pico de gallo--all wrapped in a flour or corn tortilla.

Still Top Dog
As baseball season steps into high gear and the playoffs approach, major league parks are stocking up on menu items. Although many of the newer ballparks offer elaborate dining options--from waiter services to brew pubs to designer dining destinations--hot dogs still reign supreme throughout the world of baseball, according to a July 13, 2010, New York Times story.

Even at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, right in the middle of New York City’s calorie-count and reduced-sodium campaign, the hot dog is still top dog in most fans’ minds--and stomachs. However, they may not always be the worst choice.

Brian Elbel, assistant professor of medicine and health policy at New York University, opines, “From a calorie perspective, a hot dog and a light beer might be one of the better options.”  Even the introduction of a veggie-dog at some venues has done little to hurt the standard all-beef or beef-pork dogs.

It could be a matter of practicality and economy. A hot dog is still the easiest thing to hold, while watching the action. It is also one of the less-expensive menu options--an important consideration, with ticket costs alone for a family of four well over $100 at most parks. 

At Boston’s Fenway Park, the busiest time is from a half-hour before the game until the third inning, says Rich Roper, chief of concessions for Aramark. Fans there prefer hot dogs steamed or grilled, served on a bun with the edges shaved off and topped with relish, mustard and diced onions.

Tradition is another important consideration. Some attendees simply do not think of any other food item. To them, not eating a hot dog at the ballpark seems downright un-American.pf