Top Flavor Trends Emerging in Mexican Cuisine

Mexican cuisine is a mainstay when Americans choose where to go for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yet, megatrends toward family farmers, sustainability, and a more vegetable-centric diet among consumers can’t be overlooked. A quick look at the fastest-growing trends in Mexican cuisine offers a glimpse at where Mexican menus are heading in the U.S. The information is from analysis of thousands of menu mentions since 2005 by Datassential. The numbers that we share demonstrate growth over the past four years.

The Most Popular Menu Items

Across all segments of the foodservice business, the taco, quesadilla, burrito, and fajita are still the most popular. More than 25% of American restaurant menus include the mention of a taco, up by 15% in just the past four years.

What are the Fastest Growing Items?

Chilaquiles have seen a meteoric rise of 27% since 2013 on U.S. menus. Tacos (15%) and tortas (11%) are other items enjoying double-digit growth over the past four years. By the way, chalupas have been the biggest loser since 2013, down 16%. Among proteins, mahi mahi has seen a 65% increase in menu mentions, followed by chorizo at nearly 20%. Bacon has also experienced double-digit growth, along with tilapia, pork, and shredded chicken.

Sauce and Flavor Winners

Salsa verde (up 41%), cilantro (up 26%), ranch (22%), and BBQ (20%) mentions indicate a focus on bold, inspired flavors and a fusion between American and Hispanic influences. Other growing mentioned ingredients in dishes include jalapeño pepper, baja, chipotle, garlic, and salsa fresca. Among taco sauces, aioli (up 78%), salsa verde (55%), and BBQ (51%) are winners.

What Else is in the Taco?

Menu mentions of slaw, green onions, chips, mango, jalapeño pepper, and avocado are up between 40% and 50%. Menu mentions of olives, refried beans, beans, and rice are down the most despite their position as a staple of any self-respecting taco. Cheese mentions show phenomenal growth for goat cheese, up 161%, cojita (up 118%), and pepper jack (up 100%).