Burgers remain a top menu item for fast-food restaurants, but even these are getting a bit of a makeover. Plant-based burgers are definitely experiencing a surge in popularity (and we’ll get to that trend in a moment), but the traditional meat patty that people know and love is also getting an upgrade in quality. Smashburger, for example, plans to launch three to four new premium burger options in 2020. “[They] will feature premium meats in addition to our certified Angus beef burger patty,” says Bachmann. “We believe the year will bring a higher demand for these dishes. We will continue to test many new premium meats in 2020 as a part of our ongoing menu innovation.” Here are some other ways fast food has gone gourmet recently.
The Chicken Sandwich Wars may have dominated the fast-food headlines of 2019, but the expansion of plant-based offerings at fast-food eateries also made a huge mark. The Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger wowed customers with their beef-like taste and texture, and they can now be found on most quick-serve menus in some capacity. While these plant-based options are already pretty commonplace, expect even more of these items in 2020, thanks to customer demand. For instance, Chick-fil-A is currently researching vegan and vegetarian items to add to its menu. “We’ve kind of been watching it (the trend), and now we are moving more from the watch stage and getting into that understand or really imagine stage,” Amanda Norris, the executive director of Chick-fil-A’s menu, told Business Insider. Ever wonder which state has the most fast-food restaurants in America? We’ve got the answer!
You can also expect to see more fresh-focused quick-serve chains expanding. Bok Bok Chicken, which opened its first location in Las Vegas in 2018, is a perfect example of fast-casual dining that is growing because of consumer demand for quality, good-for-you meals.
“I think people are putting more of a focus on eating healthy, real ingredients,” says Silva Chamanian, the chain’s chef and owner. “You’ve seen it for years with a number of fast-casual concepts, and we’re seeing the same interest at Bok Bok Chicken. Fast food and fast-casual have been evolving over the years to cater to a healthier palette, whereas our menu offerings—much of which are naturally vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free—cater to the healthy eater.” Contrary to the “chicken” in its name, Bok Bok serves up much more than poultry, really honing in on Mediterranean cuisine and offering items like Falafel Pita, Quinoa Eech, and Muttabal (which is eggplant, tahini, and garlic), to name a few.
If healthy eating is a priority, you need to be smart when you order, of course. Start by avoiding these 12 restaurant foods with more sugar than a candy bar.