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Top 5 breakfast trends for restaurants

Ethnic flavors, healthfulness and portability are expected to drive breakfast traffic this year, the National Restaurant Association found in its recent What’s Hot in 2015 chef survey.

Breakfast remains the industry’s fastest growing daypart, with visits rising 2 percent in the year ended in December 2014, according to NPD Group/Crest foodservice market research.

Take a look at the top five breakfast trends for 2015, according to Nation’s Restaurant News and industry expert, Bret Thorn.

Breakfast burritos

Portable, flavorful, a little exotic but not intimidating: that’s why restaurants keep adding breakfast burritos to their menus. Chefs pointed to this trend the fifth-most frequently in the survey.

Jack in the Box added two breakfast burritos to its permanent menu in August.

The Meat Lovers Breakfast Burrito has sausage, ham, bacon, scrambled eggs, and Cheddar and pepper Jack cheeses, rolled in a large Guerrero tortilla and served with a side of salsa. The Grand Sausage Breakfast Burrito has hash browns and creamy Sriracha sauce instead of ham.

Prix-fixe brunches

Brunch is a time for indulgence, and chefs say customers respond particularly well to fixed price, all-you-can-eat affairs. It’s the trend chefs pointed to fourth-most frequently in the survey.

One such deal is the $28 brunch at Catalonian restaurant Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago, which includes three courses of hot dishes that change every week, as well as all-you-can-eat Spanish pastries, meats and cheeses.

Recent dishes have included a poached egg with truffle hollandaise, chorizo, brioche, tomato and espellete chile; roasted pork shoulder with romesco and grilled green onions; and eggs over crispy potatoes and chorizo in Vizcaina sauce.

Egg white omelets and sandwiches

Leading nutritionists are in the process of rehabilitating the reputation of egg yolks, but that news has apparently yet to make it to many consumers, as chefs noted egg white omelets and sandwiches third-most frequently as a top breakfast trend.

If that’s what customers want, restaurants are happy to oblige, with items like Au Bon Pain’s recently introduced Turkey Sausage & Egg White Flatbread, which also includes spinach and sharp Cheddar cheese.

Traditional ethnic breakfasts

Authenticity is a buzzword among trendspotters these days, and “traditional ethnic breakfast” was a top trend noted by chefs second-most frequently in the survey.

The same holds true for brunch, according to Ray Tang, chef and owner of Presidio Social Club in San Francisco.

“Everyone who enjoys brunch enjoys something that is Mexican in origin,” he said.

One such dish that’s becoming increasingly popular, especially in the Southwest and West, is chilaquiles, or fried tortillas, salsa and eggs.

At Outpost in Goleta, Calif., chef Derek Simcik tops fried tortillas with avocado purée, crema, chorizo salsa and sunny side up eggs.

“I think it’s a great dish to have after a night of drinking,” Simcik said. “You have the tortillas to help absorb the alcohol from the night before and then the pork and egg to help fill up your stomach to tackle the day ahead.”

Ethnic-inspired breakfast items

Chefs have found that their customers are looking for variety and vibrant flavors in the morning, and noted the trend most frequently in the survey. Denny’s recently responded to that demand with the introduction of a Rio Ranchero Skillet, breakfast sausage mixed with seasoned red skinned potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers and onions, jalapeño peppers, pico de gallo and a new five-spice pepper sauce, topped with two eggs.

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