Skip to content

13 Most Iconic Restaurant Chain Dishes of All Time

Every chain has a dish it does best. Here are some of the most popular options.

McDonald's is known for its Big Mac. Popeyes is famous for its fried chicken. Every chain has signature dishes that have become emblematic of their brand, and sit-down restaurants are no exception.

A trip to IHOP would be incomplete without ordering a stack of pancakes. And you can't visit BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse without sinking your fork into a Pizookie. These popular menu items are part of the dining experience, and chains continue to bring the excitement by releasing new spins on some of their most beloved classics. 

There's a reason certain menu items have earned their staying power. Fans have even tried to recreate these beloved dishes at home. If you're preparing to dine at a chain restaurant soon, there are some options you'll want to keep on your radar. From crispy onion appetizers to sizzling steaks, here are 13 of the most iconic restaurant chain dishes you can order right now.

Outback Bloomin' Onion

outback steakhouse's bloomin' onion with cup of bloom dipping sauce in the middle
Outback Steakhouse
Nutrition (Per Order):
Calories: 1,620
Fat: 126 g fat (Saturated Fat: 44 g, Trans Fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 4,140 mg
Carbs: 107 g (Fiber: 14 g, Sugar: 20 g)
Protein: 15 g

It would be an understatement to call this menu item popular, as Outback serves eight million of these every year. In fact, the signature dish accounts for one in every four appetizers ordered at the steakhouse chain, according to Outback. Created in 1988 by Outback founder Tim Gannon, the Bloomin' Onion weighs around one pound. The dish features 200 hand-carved, deep-fried onion petals, served with a spicy dipping sauce.

In addition to this dish, Outback offers a few Bloomin' Onion spin-offs, such as Bloomin' Fried Shrimp, Bloomin' Fried Chicken, and the Filet Sheila, which is topped with a "fried Bloomin' Carrot Crunch."

 I Tried Every Bloomin' Onion Spin-Off at Outback & the Best One Was Better Than Steak

Texas Roadhouse Rattlesnake Bites

Texas Roadhouse Rattlesnake Bites
Texas Roadhouse
Nutrition (Per Order):
Calories: 730
Fat: 52 g fat (Saturated Fat: 24 g, Trans Fat: 0.5 g)
Sodium: 1,650 mg
Carbs: 40 g (Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 6 g)
Protein: 27 g

Like Outback, Texas Roadhouse has a fried-onion appetizer, too—this one is known as the Cactus Blossom—but the chain also offers a unique starter of its own: Rattlesnake Bites. Essentially a jalapeño popper, each lightly fried sphere is made with diced jalapeños and Jack cheese. The cheesy bites come served with a Cajun horseradish dipping sauce.

In a previous Eat This, Not That! taste test of Texas Roadhouse appetizers, Rattlesnake Bites took the top spot and were described as "an easy-to-pop ball of fried goodness."

TGI Fridays Loaded Potato Skins

TGI Friday's Loaded Potato Skins
TGI Friday's
Nutrition (Per Order):
Calories: 2,120
Fat: 92 g fat (Saturated Fat: 26 g)
Sodium: 1,450 mg
Carbs: 283 g (Fiber: 48 g, Sugar: 10 g)
Protein: 44 g

Although there's some debate over who first invented loaded potato skins, TGI Fridays is often given credit. The chain claims to have created this cheesy potato dish in 1974.

"As legend has it, one of our cooks was making our mashed potatoes in the back of the house, and decided to drop the potato skin in the fryer. When it came out, he threw our proprietary fry seasoning on it, added cheddar and smoked bacon, and the rest is, as they say, history," Matt Durbin, former vice president of concept development at TGI Fridays, told Eater in 2017.

Customers can order this dish as an appetizer or as part of a combo platter that feeds four to six people. Fans of this dish can also purchase a frozen version in grocery stores.

 8 Restaurant Chains That Serve the Best Potato Skins

Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp

bonefish grill bang bang shrimp
Bonefish Grill
Nutrition (1 Serving):
Calories: 730
Fat: 56 g fat (Saturated Fat: 10 g, Trans Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 2,010 mg
Carbs: 29 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 30 g

This restaurant chain has a wide variety of seafood offerings, but if there's one dish it's best known for, it's the Bang Bang Shrimp. First launched as a special, this beloved appetizer eventually became a permanent menu offering, much to fans' delight. The menu item consists of crispy shrimp tossed in the chain's signature creamy, spicy sauce.

Applebee's Bourbon Street Steak

Applebee's Bourbon Street Steak
Courtesy of Applebee's
Nutrition (Per Serving):
Calories: 820
Fat: 47 g fat (Saturated Fat: 11 g, Trans Fat: 1 g)
Sodium: 1,940 mg
Carbs: 48 g (Fiber: 5 g, Sugar: 7 g)
Protein: 52 g

You rarely hear song lyrics about a restaurant chain dish, but country singer Walker Hayes gave Bourbon Street Steak (with an Oreo shake) a famous shoutout in his tune "Fancy Like." The popular Applebee's dish features a grilled eight-ounce USDA Select top sirloin covered in Cajun spices, buttery garlic, and parsley. The steak is served sizzling with sautéed mushrooms and onions, as well as garlic mashed potatoes.

Besides the steak, Applebee's also offers a couple of other menu items with the same flavors, including the Bourbon Street Chicken & Shrimp and Bourbon Street Mushroom Swiss Burger.

 The 10 Unhealthiest Menu Items at Applebee's, According to Dietitians

Chili's Southwestern Egg Rolls

chili's southwestern egg rolls
Chili's Grill & Bar / Facebook
Nutrition (Per Serving):
Calories: 800
Fat: 41 g fat (Saturated Fat: 10 g, Trans Fat: 0 g)
Sodium: 2,170 mg
Carbs: 82 g (Fiber: 8 g, Sugar: 9 g)
Protein: 28 g

At Chili's, customers can enjoy various dishes with Tex-Mex flavors—even egg rolls. Yes, the chain gives this Chinese-American restaurant staple some southwestern flair by filling crispy tortillas with chicken, black beans, corn, jalapeño Jack cheese, red peppers, and spinach. These handheld starters are served with an avocado ranch dipping sauce.

P.F. Chang's Lettuce Wraps

P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps
P.F. Chang's
Nutrition (2 Servings):
Calories: 330
Fat: 13 g fat (Saturated Fat: 3 g)
Sodium: 920 mg
Carbs: 33 g (Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 14 g)
Protein: 19 g

Before diving into your Mongolian beef, you might want to consider ordering this chain's fan-favorite appetizer: Chang's Lettuce Wraps. Referred to as the restaurant's "signature dish," this starter can be ordered a couple of different ways.

The chicken lettuce wraps include a mixture of minced chicken, garlic, scallion, sesame oil, and crispy rice sticks alongside iceberg lettuce wraps. For a vegetarian option, the chain swaps out the minced chicken for minced vegetables. As the chain notes on its website, restaurant guests can further customize this dish by requesting modifications, such as adding spice.

 10 Restaurant Chains That Serve the Best Lettuce Wraps

California Pizza Kitchen Original BBQ Chicken Pizza

california pizza kitchen the original bbq chicken pizza
California Pizza Kitchen / Facebook
Nutrition (1 Slice):
Calories: 190
Fat: 5 g fat (Saturated Fat: 2.5 g)
Sodium: 480 mg
Carbs: 25 g (Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g)
Protein: 11 g

California Pizza Kitchen is known for its California-style pizza, but there's one variety commonly associated with the chain: barbecue chicken. Invented in 1985 for California Pizza Kitchen's first menu, the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza is topped with barbecue sauce, smoked gouda, red onions, and fresh cilantro. CPK fans can also enjoy this menu item at home, as the brand offers a frozen version in its frozen pizza line.

LongHorn Steakhouse Outlaw Ribeye

Resting Outlaw Ribeye_courtesy of LongHorn Steakhouse
Courtesy of LongHorn Steakhouse
Nutrition (Per 20 oz. Serving):
Calories: 1,250
Fat: 87 g fat (Saturated Fat: 38 g, Trans Fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 1,670 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 94 g

LongHorn's signature offerings include a few different steak options, one being the Outlaw Ribeye. Called a "fan favorite" by the chain, this simple yet popular entrée received the top spot in an Eat This, Not That! taste test of LongHorn steaks and was previously described as the "absolute juiciest, most tender steak on the menu."

This 20-ounce bone-in ribeye is seasoned with a smoky, savory blend of spices and then flame-grilled. The steak also comes with a choice of two sides, such as broccoli, seasoned fries, or mashed potatoes.

 Texas Roadhouse vs. LongHorn Steakhouse: Which Has the Best Bone-In Ribeye?

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

red lobster cheddar bay biscuits
Photo: Red Lobster / Facebook
Nutrition (1 Biscuit):
Calories: 160
Fat: 87 g fat (Saturated Fat: 38 g, Trans Fat: 4.5 g)
Sodium: 1,670 mg
Carbs: 2 g (Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 0 g)
Protein: 94 g

Red Lobster is well-known for its range of seafood dishes, most notably lobster and shrimp. However, there's one option that's distinctly unique to the chain that isn't really a dish, but rather a complimentary menu item: Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Every entrée comes with two of these, though guests who want to load up can also order a dozen or half-dozen.

The famous Cheddar Bay Biscuits are so popular that Red Lobster even sells the biscuit mix in grocery stores for fans to enjoy the item at home.

The Cheesecake Factory Chicken Madeira

cheesecake factory's chicken madeira with asparagus, mushrooms, sauce, and a side of mashed potatoes
The Cheesecake Factory
Nutrition (Per Serving):
Calories: 1,300
Fat: 73 g fat (Saturated Fat: 35 g, Trans Fat: 2 g)
Sodium: 2,120 mg
Carbs: 72 g (Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 11 g)
Protein: 89 g

With a menu as extensive as the Cheesecake Factory's, selecting one iconic dish is no simple task. However, the chain makes it a little easier by calling out the Chicken Madeira as its most popular chicken dish, which is listed under the menu's "specialties" category. This sautéed chicken breast is topped with fresh asparagus and melted cheese, covered in a fresh mushroom Madeira sauce, and served with a side of mashed potatoes.

 The Best & Worst Menu Items at The Cheesecake Factory

Olive Garden Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks

person reaching for olive garden breadsticks next to a bowl of salad and chicken & gnocchi soup
Olive Garden / Facebook
Salad With Signature Italian Dressing (1 Serving):
Calories: 150
Fat: 10 g fat (Saturated Fat: 1.5 g)
Sodium: 770
Carbs: 13 g (Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 4 g)
Protein: 3 g

Simply reading the words "Olive Garden" is enough to elicit images of soup, salad, and breadsticks. Listed under the chain's "Signature Classics," this offering, as its name implies, grants dine-in guests unlimited refills of soup, salad, and breadsticks.

The salad is topped with croutons, tomato slices, black olives, pepperoncini peppers, and red onion slices. It also features an Italian dressing that's gotten so much love that it's available in bottles at the grocery store. But, if you prefer soup over salad, you can choose from four different options: Chicken & Gnocchi, Pasta e Fagioli, Minestrone, and Zuppa Toscano.

IHOP Original Buttermilk Pancakes

ihop pancakes with maple syrup
3 Original Buttermilk Pancakes:
Calories: 450
Fat: 18 g fat (Saturated Fat: 7 g)
Sodium: 1,560 mg
Carbs: 59 g (Fiber: 13 g, Sugar: 11 g)
Protein: 13 g

A dish doesn't need to be elaborate to be held in high regard. Among IHOP's various pancake options is one variety thats leverages the power of simplicity: original buttermilk. As the chain notes, it's "a true breakfast classic that started it all." Topped with whipped butter, these pancakes come as a short stack of three or a full stack of five. 

Brianna Ruback
Brianna is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies. Read more about Brianna
Filed Under