According to a recent meat & poultry industry report, the price of meat, particularly beef, will increase dramatically in the United States during 2013. These price spikes will likely affect not only what people eat at home, but also how restaurants create their menus. At the same time Mintel Group Ltd., a market research firm, predicts that restaurants will offer more vegetarian dishes containing more cost effective sources of protein. In fact, Mintel reports that vegetarian menus options in American restaurants have already increased by 22 percent.
Many restaurants are planning even more. A case in point is Chipotles. The Chipotle Mexican Grill is expanding its test market for a new menu item called Sofritas to seven San Francisco Bay Area stores. Sofritas are a vegetarian menu option that features shredded tofu, chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos and a blend of spices. The Hodo Soy Beanery, Oakland, Calif., a processor of tofu and yuba, supplies the shredded tofu to Chipotle.
“We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” said Steve Ells, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Chipotle. “Sofritas is a very different menu item not just for Chipotle, but for any fast food or fast causal restaurant. It was really conceived with vegetarians and vegans in mind, but it’s so delicious that we believe it will have a broad appeal on taste alone.”
Sofritas will be available in burritos, tacos, burrito bowls and salads and may be combined with other ingredients, including white or brown cilantro-lime rice, pinto beans or vegetarian black beans, salsas and guacamole, and cheese or sour cream.
Not to be outdone by California, and always one step ahead, Washington already has Mexican style restaurants featuring tofu. Check out the tofu burritos and fajitas at Gorditos in the Greenwood section of Seattle and in Everett. All we can say is yum meets healthy in every bite!