1. Gluten Free

Once seen only in health food stores, gluten-free foods began popping up on restaurant menus a few years ago, prompting industry insiders to wonder whether they were a passing fad or trend worth tracking. Most experts now agree that gluten-free seems here to stay and the statistics explain why. Approximately 18 million U.S. residents suffer from gluten sensitivity, according to University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Celiac Research. Fast casual chains such as Zoup!, Mad Greens and Moe's Southwest Grill are responding to the growing demand by refining gluten-free recipes to enhance their menus.

According to Packaged Facts market research, sales of gluten-free products reached $2.6 billion in 2012 and are expected to top $3 billion by 2014.

Download the complete 2012 FastCasual Top 100.

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