Top restaurateurs know that pork is the perfect way to create menu excitement. From pulled pork and crave-worthy bacon, pork is a standout in new dishes that highlight its flavor and versatility.
“The pork buzz is strong in foodservice, and pork has become a menu must-have at restaurants around the country,” said Stephen Gerike, director of foodservice marketing for the Pork Checkoff.
Restaurants that have been making the most of their menu with pork recently include to these national sandwich restaurants:
• Subway. The chain tested a Kung Pao Pulled Pork sandwiches in select Midwest markets. The sandwich featured pulled pork in a Kung Pao sauce, a savory blend of garlic and ginger for a sweet-and-spicy flavor.
• Wendy’s. Select restaurants in Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts tested a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. There were three BBQ sauce choices: spicy, smoky, or sweet. The sandwich was topped with slaw and comes on a brioche bun. Customers could also get the pulled pork on cheese fries, or a burger.
• Firehouse Subs. For a limited time, Firehouse Subs featured its new Sweet Thai Chili Pork Sub. The sandwich showcased premium 12-hour smoked pulled pork, Wisconsin pepper Jack cheese, sweet Thai chili sauce, and mayonnaise.
• Cousins Subs. This Wisconsin-based chain brought back its popular Cubano and Pulled Pork & Slaw subs for a limited time only. The Cubano featured ham, genoa salami, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, mayo, brown mustard, sliced dill pickles, onions, and tomatoes on Italian bread. The Pulled Pork & Slaw offered pulled pork, barbecue sauce, and coleslaw piled high on Italian bread.
• Quiznos. The chain rolled out a line of Toasty Pastas at participating locations. Options included Bacon Mac & Cheese, featuring cavatappi macaroni with Romano, Parmesan, provolone and fontina cheeses, topped with bacon and breadcrumbs. Customers could also enjoy Spicy Sausage Marinara Pasta, cavatappi topped with light basil-marinara sauce, mozzarella and spicy pork sausage. A third option included Meatballs Marinara Pasta, with cavatappi topped with mozzarella, marinara sauce and pork-and-beef meatballs filled with grated Romano and ricotta cheeses and a blend of Italian seasonings.
• Togo’s Eateries Inc. This California-based chain introduced the #16 Primo Italian, a flavor-packed Italian sandwich with four premium hand-sliced Italian meats – Fiorucci hot capicola, Margherita pepperoni, Fiorucci dry salami, and Hormel ham. The meat was topped with provolone cheese and Togo’s Italian vinaigrette and served on artisan bread with shredded lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickles and pepperoncinis.
• Taco John’s. Pork is hot at hundreds of Taco John’s restaurants, thanks to the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Burrito. Packed with spicy chorizo, melted nacho cheese, sliced jalapeños and chile de arbol salsa, these burritos also included a generous layer of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
• Whataburger. Customers could try a new spin on an old favorite with the brand’s new Jalapeño Cheddar Biscuit, available for a limited time. The biscuit sandwich was served with sausage or bacon, egg and cheese.
Pulled Pork Maintains Momentum
Pork continues to make a flavorful statement on restaurant menus this summer. Through September 30, Togo’s Eateries Inc. is featuring a Cuban Sandwich with pulled pork, Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese and tangy pickles with a tangy Cuban mustard dressing on classic white bread.
BBQ is back at Quiznos, which is featuring two new sandwiches. The Southern BBQ Pulled Pork showcases slow-roasted pulled pork, mozzarella and cheddar cheese, pickles, yellow mustard and Quiznos’ signature BBQ sauce served on a choice of artisan breads, including white, wheat, rosemary parmesan or jalapeno cheddar. The Spicy BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich includes slow-roasted pulled pork, smoky bacon, aged cheddar, cilantro-jalapeno slaw and BBQ sauce on jalapeno cheddar bread.
“Pork’s flavor and versatility make it a top performer in restaurants nationwide,” Gerike said. “We’re onto something big with pork’s potential throughout foodservice.”