The Most Underrated Dishes at All of America's Biggest Chains

You may not know about these apps, entrees, desserts, and drinks—but you should.

When you sit down at your favorite restaurant, you probably know exactly what you are going to order. It's the alfredo pasta at Olive Garden or the Double Double at In N' Out. But what about the underrated dishes at chain restaurants across the country?

Sure, it's fun to go for the food that these restaurants are known for, but in choosing the well-known options, you could be missing out on some really killer dishes that often go under the radar.

Here, we've compiled the 30 most underrated dishes at America's biggest chain restaurants. How many have you tried?


TGI Friday's Oreo Madness

tgi fridays oreo madness ice cream dessert
Courtesy of TGI Fridays

With a wealth of apps and burgers galore, it's easy to fill up before making it to dessert—but don't. The Oreo Madness features two larger-than-life Oreos with cookies and cream ice cream sandwiched in between and chocolate sauce drizzled on top. It's big enough to share, but you probably won't want to.


Chili's Skillet Queso

bowl of chilis skillet queso with basket of tortilla chips and salsa
Courtesy of Chilis

You probably know all about the Big Mouth burgers and fajitas, but there is a gem in Chili's appetizer section: the skillet queso. It's a creamy cheese peppered with seasoned beef and perfect for dipping tortilla chips in until your entrée arrives.


Applebee's Brisket Tacos

applebees bbq brisket tacos on white plate
Courtesy of Applebees

You may consider Chili's the go-to chain restaurant for Tex-Mex, but Applebee's has a taco that is not to be missed. The BBQ Brisket Tacos entrée features three flour tortillas loaded with mouthwatering brisket and topped with crispy onions. It's the perfect bite.


Dairy Queen Frozen Hot Chocolate

dairy queen frozen hot chocolate

Skip the blizzards and go straight for the secret menu's Frozen Hot Chocolate the next time you're at Dairy Queen. The fast-food chain takes its slush mix and combines chocolate fudge and soft serve for an excellent creamy treat.


The Cheesecake Factory Avocado Egg Rolls

cheesecake factory avocado egg rolls on white serving dish with green dip
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory

Sure, most people probably go to The Cheesecake Factory for, well, cheesecake. But they're missing out on the greatness that is the Avocado Eggrolls. An egg roll wrapper is stuffed with avocado, sun-dried tomato, onion, and cilantro, and fried for ultimate crispiness.


Grand Lux Cafe Asian Nachos

grand lux cafe asian nachos on white plate
Art G./Yelp

As at The Cheesecake Factory, the extensive menu at Grand Lux Café can be overwhelming. Go in with a plan and order the Asian Nachos. It's listed as an appetizer, but the loaded "chips" (made from fried wontons) are the perfect portion for a meal.


Arby's Buttermilk Chicken, Bacon & Swiss Sandwich

arbys chicken bacon and swiss sandwich on wooden block
Courtesy of Arbys

Sure, you could go the normal route and get a roast beef sandwich, but why be like everyone else? With crispy chicken and bacon and tangy Swiss cheese and Dijon honey mustard, these ingredients stack together for a great sammie.


Outback Steakhouse Bloom Petals

outback steakhouse bloom petals on white plate with chipotle dipping sauce
Outback Steakhouse/Twitter

You know about the Bloomin' Onion at Outback. Everyone knows about the Bloomin' Onion at Outback. But just a few rows over on the menu is its better brethren: the Bloomin' Petals. You don't have to do the work of pulling apart the onion, and each onion piece is completely breaded and crisped, ready for dipping.


Olive Garden Toasted Beef and Pork Ravioli

olive garden toasted beef and pork ravioli in serving tray with plate of three ravioli and tomato sauce
Courtesy of Olive Garden

A dish made popular in St. Louis, toasted ravioli is just like it sounds: ravioli that's breaded and fried. And it's delicious. Some Olive Gardens offer it as a standalone appetizer, whereas at others, you'll have to get as part of the Sampler Italiano. It's worth the splurge!


McDonald's Sausage Burrito

The McMuffin and McGriddle get top billing on McDonald's breakfast menu, but the simple sausage burrito is the right choice. It's a flour tortilla, American cheese, and scrambled eggs with sausage and peppers. Grab two, and you can't find a better fast-food breakfast.


Red Lobster Lobster and Langostino Pizza

It might feel odd ordering a pizza at a seafood restaurant, but just trust us. Fresh lobster is added to a crispy thin crust alongside juicy tomatoes, sweet basil, and a thin layer of mozzarella. Don't let the "appetizer" name fool you—order it for yourself as a meal.


Checker's Loaded Fries

checkers loaded cheese fries
Courtesy of Checkers

Checkers (or Rally's, depending on your area) has incredible fries. They're incredibly crispy and perfectly seasoned, but add cheese and bacon or chili on top for an out-of-this-world treat. You may want to order two.


Burger King Hershey's Sundae Pie

Burger King Hershey's sundae pie
Burger King Philippines/Facebook

The Whopper. Chicken fries. Onion rings. You know the classics at Burger King, but take a gander at the desserts. The Hershey's Sundae Pie starts with a chocolate cookie crust topped with chocolate and vanilla cream. It always comes slightly chilled to the point where it seems like ice cream.


Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Panera broccoli cheddar soup
Courtesy of Panera

With its fresh bread, a sandwich may seem like the go-to move at Panera. But we recommend a classic: the Broccoli Cheddar Soup. It's a simple dish of just cheese and broccoli. But it's rich and creamy, and it pairs perfectly with a baguette.


Carl's Jr. CrissCut Fries

Carl's jr. crisscut fries
Carl's Jr./Facebook

Skip the overly complex burger and just double up on an order of CrissCut Fries for your next visit to Carl's Jr. The waffle-style fries are a favorite of Chrissy Teigen's, so you know they're good.


Subway Cookies

When you walk through the doors of Subway, you probably recognize the fresh bread smell. But there's something even better baking in those ovens: cookies. The fresh baked cookies are soft and are worth the trip to the chain even if you don't want a sandwich.


Chick-fil-A Peach Milkshake

chick-fil-a peach milkshake
Courtesy of Chick-fil-A

What is Chick-fil-A known for? Well, it's right there in the name. Yes, the chicken is their claim to fame, and their waffle fries definitely have their fans as well. But the overlooked item on its menu is the Peach Milkshake. Be sure to mark your calendar: It's only available in summer.


Hardee's Biscuit 'N' Gravy

hardees biscuit n gravy
Andy V./Yelp

For being a fast-food restaurant, Hardee's has surprisingly great biscuits. They're buttery and flaky. Top one with Hardee's hot sausage gravy, and it's a breakfast that rivals any of the chain's morning sandwiches.


Red Robin Arctic Cod Fish & Chips

red robin arctic cod fish and chips basket
Courtesy of Red Robin

We know—it's strange to go into a place famous for burgers and order the fish. And the fish and chips, no less! But this battered cod is fried to a golden crisp and served alongside the restaurant's Bottomless Steak Fries. The Dill'd & Pickl'd Tartar Sauce is a perfect complement.

RELATED: No-sugar-added recipes you'll actually look forward to eating.


Steak 'N Shake Classic Steak Frank

steak n shake steak frank with fries on a white plate
Courtesy of Steak 'n Shake

Steak 'N Shake is famous for its steakburgers, but there's something incredibly satisfying about the plain Steak Frank. There's not much to say other than that it's a tasty hot dog with a buttery bun, and you won't be disappointed.


Domino's Stuffed Cheesy Bread

Stuffed cheesy bread with bacon and jalapeno
Courtesy of Domino's

Domino's recently dropped "Pizza" from its name, and with this Stuffed Cheesy Bread as good as it is, we can see why. The bread comes in three flavors and holds up to even Domino's critics.


Dunkin' Hash Browns

Dunkin Donuts hasbrowns
Courtesy of Dunkin' Donuts

They come as a side to breakfast sandwiches, most people probably skip them—but you shouldn't. Each order of hash browns at Dunkin' is seasoned with a proprietary blend of spices and cooked to order. They serve as a great snack any time of day, too.


Popeye's Red Beans and Rice

bowl of popeyes red beans and rice side dish
Courtesy of Popeyes

Cajun fast food at its finest, the Red Beans & Rice is an oft-overlooked side at Popeye's. Skip the seasoned fries or mashed potatoes for this protein-packed starch instead… or get it in addition. We won't judge.


Taco Bell Beefy Fritos Burrito

Taco bell beefy fritos burrito
Courtesy of Taco Bell

The not-so-secret ingredient behind the Beefy Fritos Burrito is the Fritos chips, which give it a nice crunch. If you get two, it's a sizable meal that will keep you full. Plus, you can get it without the beef for a vegetarian option.


Sonic Dr Pepper Blended Float

America's Drive-In is known for its limeades, shakes, and burgers, but you can't go wrong with its blended floats when you want a creamy treat. Think of it as a shake made with your favorite soda (we recommend Dr Pepper); it might sound weird, but it doesn't taste it.


Wendy's Chili

wendy's menu chili

Sure, you could get the Junior Bacon Cheeseburger with fries and a Frosty. But why be basic? Opt for the chili, which rivals anything you could make at home. Plus, you can still get the fries and a Frosty!


Texas Roadhouse Fresh-Baked Bread

Texas Roadhouse Rolls with cinnamon butter
Texas Roadhouse/Facebook

Why spend money on a steak when you can fill up on the free bread? Okay, yes, they will probably make you order something. But get a salad and triple up on these buttery, fresh, warm rolls that are served with cinnamon butter. Who needs surf and turf when you have this combo?


KFC Famous Bowl

Chicken put KFC on the map, but the Famous Bowl is the way to go. Creamy mashed potatoes are topped with gravy, corn, shredded cheese, and popcorn chicken. We know it sounds crazy, but you'll thank us later.


Cracker Barrel Apple 'n Cinnamon Oatmeal

cracker barrel apple n cinnamon oatmeal
Courtesy of Cracker Barrel

Pancakes are the star of the Cracker Barrel breakfast menu. But this slow-cooked oatmeal is just as delectable. (And you can still order it with one of those signature mini syrup bottles, too.)


Jamba Juice Turkey Sausage 'n Cheese Breakfast Wrap

jamba juice turkey sausage wrap
Courtesy of Jamba Juice

Sometimes a smoothie just doesn't cut it for breakfast—and that's when the Turkey Sausage 'N Cheese Breakfast Wrap comes in. Jamba Juice makes this wrap (but it's basically just a burrito) all day. It gets a crunch crispy exterior that elevates the whole dish.

It's always fun to get the popular menu items, but sometimes it's nice to branch out of your comfort zone, too. Consider trying out these menu options the next time you're at these chains—you might just be pleasantly surprised.

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Dalene Rovenstine
Dalene Rovenstine is a freelance food and lifestyle writer specializing in restaurants and food product coverage. Read more