Burritos and enchiladas were the fastest rising items on menus at UK restaurants and pubs in the fourth quarter of 2014, as Mexican food evolves into barbecue-inspired and other fusion formats, new research from Technomic shows.

The number of burrito items on UK menus grew 45% between Q4 2012 and Q4 2013 as the number of operators serving them grew by 31%. There was also double-digit growth in enchilada sales.

Meanwhile, Techmonic noted the trend of Mexican-inspired foods that incorporate barbecue flavours.

“Among these are the BBQ Chicken Street Burrito at Chiquito and the BBQ Pulled Pork Burrito at Pitcher & Piano; both selections debuted in Q4,” said Technomic associate editor Christine LaFave Grace.

“We’ll look to see more Mexican-fusion fare, melding ingredients and flavours from the Southern US, East and Southeast Asia and more into Mexican and Tex-Mex staples such as tacos and quesadillas.

“At the other end of the Mexican culinary spectrum, as UK diners become more acquainted with the range of fresh flavours that authentic Mexican cuisine has to offer, we expect vegetarian and more health-focused Mexican choices to gain prominence. At Wahaca in London, the recently menued Winter Vegetable Taco, for example, featured savoy cabbage, mixed mushrooms and borlotti beans sautéed in a rich pasilla chili salsa.”

Technomic’s MenuMonitor database also found that there was growth in sales of tacos as shareable appetisers.

Chicken is the most popular protein for Mexican-inspired food in the UK, the research found, with around 40% of Mexican entrées on the menu in Q4 2013 featuring it. “Beef, pork and prawns follow in popularity; at breakfast, egg-based dishes with chorizo are gaining momentum,” said LaFave Grace.

 

Some Mexican-inspired menu items

Mexican flavour ‘mashups’

1) Mexican Tortilla Burger, Chimichanga: Prime Scottish beef wrapped in a flour tortilla with chipotle mayonnaise, guacamole salsa, jalapeno, peppers and Jack cheese; served with Mexican rice, house fries or mixed salad

2) BBQ Pulled Pork Taquito, Chiquito: Barbecued pulled pork, fajita vegetables, grated cheese and homemade salsa wrapped in a flour tortilla and baked; served with sour cream

3) Pulled Pork Taco, Tiger Tiger: With barbecued pulled pork and Asian slaw

Breakfast

1) The Breakfast Torta, Wahaca: A toasted sourdough bap filled with avocado, frijoles, crema, roast chipotle salsa, lettuce, Roma tomatoes and feta; available with British chorizo or streaky bacon

2) Huevos Rancheros Mexican Breakfast, Giraffe: Free-range fried or scrambled eggs, chorizo sausage, melting cheese, adobe sauce, avocado and tomato salsa on a warm soft corn tortilla

3) Breakfast Burrito, Balans: Spiced scrambled eggs, toasted tortilla, pepper Jack cheese, salsa fresca and sour cream

4) Poached Egg with Chorizo and Saucy Beans, Leon: A gluten-free, low-glycemic-load choice

Very Veggie

1) The Full Enchilada, Las Iguanas: Titanic tortilla on a bed of spring onion, garlic and coriander rice; sunk over refried beans and filled with roasted butternut squash, roasted red peppers, spinach and gooey cheese; topped with smoky chili and tomato sauce and sprinkled with white cheese

2) Spicy Vegetable Enchilada, Yates’s: Topped with cheese and served with fresh salsa and mixed leaves

3) Cajun-Spiced Vegetable Quesadilla, T.G.I. Friday’s: Colby cheese with onions and mixed peppers folded in a soft spinach flour tortilla and served with Cajun-spiced rice, pico de gallo and Southwestern sour cream

4) Sweet Potato and Feta Cheese Quesadilla, Chiquito: Veggie bean chili, fresh spinach, spiced Mexican rice and melting Jack cheese folded and baked in a flour tortilla; served with green rice

5) Farmers’ Market Burrito, Giraffe: Soft corn tortilla filled with roast vegetables, black beans, feta and herbed rice; topped with smoked cheddar, adobe sauce and tomato salsa with an iceberg wedge and jalapenos salad in a tequila-lime dressing.