6 Restaurants to Watch

Aimee Harvey, Managing Editor, Technomic

1. Five on Black

five on black

Five on Black

Segment: Fast casual

HQ: Missoula, Mont.

Units: Four

Hook: Mexican and Asian-style bowls have been around for a while, but Five on Black provides a new twist on the popular meal format with Brazilian flavors and ingredients. Bowls filled with beef, chicken, chorizo or Brazilian feijoada are dressed with mango barbecue, spicy coconut and chimichurri sauces.

2. JuiceLand



Segment: Fast casual

HQ: Austin, Texas

Units: Three

Hook: JuiceLand pairs a colorful, high-energy concept with a service format focused on speed and grab-and-go programs. Healthful, vegan offerings are the hallmark of the menu, along with unique blends of signature smoothies, such as the Xtra Holla Pain Yo, featuring a fruity and fiery mix of carrot, orange, lime, cilantro, turmeric, sea salt, jalapeno and habanero.

3. Juan’s Flying Burrito

juans flying burrito

Juan’s Flying Burrito

Segment: Fast casual

HQ: New Orleans

Units: Three

Hook: This quirky eatery’s menu branches out from its Louisiana culinary roots into Mexican flavor influences. Mexican-Creole inspirations are applied to standard favorites such as nachos topped with jerk chicken, pulled pork, bacon, mango salsa or chipotle sour cream.

4. Busboys and Poets

busboys and poets

Busboys and Poets

Segment: Casual dining

HQ: Washington, D.C.

Units: Six

Hook: An eclectic coffeehouse concept, Busboys and Poets showcases a globally inspired menu that takes its cues from Latin America, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, including specialties such as mekhleme, a traditional Iraqi hash entree made with ground beef, tomato, onion, potatoes and poached eggs.

5. Milk Gone Nuts

mllk gone nuts

Milk Gone Nuts

Segment: Retail/c-store

HQ: Miami

Units: One

Hook: Routinely lauded as one of the best c-store restaurants in Miami, Milk Gone Nuts boasts an entire menu built around nut milks. It specializes in smoothies such as the Peanut Butter & Jelly Shake and the Green Apple & Fig Shake, and beverage options flavored with acai, pitaya and shots of turmeric, ginger and pineapple.

6. Magic Carpet

magic carpet

Magic Carpet

Segment: Food truck

HQ: University of Pennsylvania

Units: One

Hook: A top-rated campus food truck that’s a fixture on UPenn’s campus, Philadelphia-based Magic Carpet Foods specializes in “whole world vegetarian cuisine” that highlights big flavor profiles. Signature items include tofu meatballs, seitan pepper steak, falafel, tempeh salads and veggie chili, along with sweet vegan breads and sauces.