Hispanic Heritage Month continues until mid-October, but the opportunity to celebrate the influences of Hispanic and Latin communities extends throughout the fall and beyond.
A Toast to Tradition
Go beyond margaritas to tantalize diners’ taste buds and serve up other authentic Hispanic and Latin-inspired drinks. Shake up your cocktail menu by adding Peru’s classic, but trendy Pisco Sour. Distilled from grapes, Pisco is a Peruvian brandy that can have savory and grapefruit notes. By adding fresh lime, simple syrup, and egg white, this frothy punch is fit for an epic toast! Of course, boozy beverages will always be best-sellers, but mocktails are trending more than ever.
Consider adding Agua Fresca to your menus, an authentic, no-frills Mexican refresher that can be made with any fruit but is traditionally crafted with pureed watermelon or cantaloupe. Add water and sugar to the melon puree, and you've got an all-ages pleaser that you can pre-batch and sell in pitchers for the table. Leche con Plátano hails from Chile and is a decadent blend of milk, sugar, and very ripe bananas — popular at birthday parties and perfect for fests of any kind. Just top with a swirl of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon and this drink can cross over easily to dessert.
Speaking of dessert, Spain’s popular Horchata beverage would pair great with an after-dinner pastry or dessert bread. Made with rice, sugar, water, and spices—this creamy, mild, but sweet drink is light enough to serve on its own as well. It lends itself well to a variety of spices, so to make it seasonal, try adding star anise, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, coffee, or pumpkin.
While tacos are a staple across menus and definitely take center stage for their versatility, they aren’t the only authentic option, and it’s good to have other unique handhelds to set yourself apart. As a bonus, they can be pre-made ahead of service. Offer a family-style sharing platter of handheld options from a variety of Hispanic countries allowing diners to take a tour, so to speak, as they eat.
Empanadas are a great choice, because, like tacos, they’re a blank canvas. Think about ways you can make them your own and combine zesty new flavors with existing menu items like cheesy Buffalo chicken or pay homage with traditional flavors like pulled pork, or ground beef, onions, and spices. Pupusas are another coveted comfort food that fits in the palm of your hand. These pillowy Salvadorian pancakes made with corn flour are often filled with beans or meat and cheese, but of course, there's room to play. Try roasted squash and black bean for a combo that will please anyone, but especially your vegan customers. Tostadas and taquitos still score with consumers, too. The crispy snacks grew in popularity by 12% in 2021 compared to the year before. Finger foods for the win!
¡Salud! to Salads
No need to play it safe when it comes to your salads. Switch it up with a Latin-inspired option to test out as an LTO and depending on popularity, it could permanently land on your menu. For a taste of Central Mexico, consider Ensalada de nopalitos, a simple, flavor-packed salad combining nopal cactus strips, lime juice or vinegar, olive oil, oregano, onions, salt, and cilantro.
Salpicón, meaning "medley" in Spanish, is a type of salad that has many variations, but the Honduran version is exceptionally flavorful. Tender beef is stewed for hours with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and cilantro, then mixed with spices, peppers, and bitter orange juice. Heap the meat mixture over a bed of rice and steamed vegetables and serve with fresh tortillas.
Elote, or Mexican street corn, is a popular snack that’s found its way onto many menus, expanding beyond Mexican restaurants alone. Turn it into a salad, using Peak Fresh Produce® Corn, Contigo® Cotija Cheese, roasted green chilies, mayo, sour cream, and spices for a delicious twist on the street food snack.