The Best & Worst Menu Items at Red Robin
Red Robin is known for its bizarre (yet cherished) burger combinations, bottomless steak fries, and tall, creamy milkshakes. But we wanted to take a deeper dive into nine sections of the Red Robin menu to separate the healthier menu options from the least healthy of them all.
We called on Kelli McGrane MS, RD, for the food tracking app Lose It! to give us some ideas. She directed us to some of the best and worst options you can get at the burger chain. Hopefully, after reading this, you can make more health-conscious orders at Red Robin and reserve the splurge-worthy options for special occasions.
When you look at this heaping plate of nachos, it's hard to gawk at it and think "OMG." Crunchy tortilla chips are covered in two different kinds of cheese, Red's Chili Chili, guacamole, tomatoes, diced red onion, salsa, and sour cream.
McGrane advises steering away from this Red Robin menu item due to its monstrous size and high fat and sodium contents. "NachO.M.G has the most saturated fat of the appetizer options—three times the amount that's in the onion rings—and more than twice your daily sodium needs."
Best: Guac, Salsa, and Chips
The majority of fat in this appetizer comes from the guacamole because the only other ingredients topping this plate of tortilla chips are vegetables.
"Unless you're open to sharing the Wedge Salad with the table, your best bet is the Salsa, Guac, and Chips," says McGrane. "It's relatively low in saturated fat and high in fiber [with] an impressive 21 grams. Plus, the avocado provides some healthy monounsaturated fatty acids."
Red Robin's Finest Burgers & Fire-Grilled Burgers
Worst: Southern Charm Burger
"One of the worst options is The Southern Charm Burger, which provides more than half a day's worth of calories, 21 grams of saturated fat, and nearly as much sugar as a raspberry cream soda," says McGrane.
Worst: Red-Eye Rambler
One of the newest additions to the Red Robin menu is the Red-Eye Rambler. Is it just us or does this burger look more terrifying than appetizing? Complete with a patty rubbed in brown sugar, black pepper, and coffee (um, what?), gooey Meunster cheese, candied bacon, and a fried egg, it's hard to believe this massive burger doesn't have larger protein and sugar contents. Still, McGrane says that this burger contains as much sugar as a kid-sized soda.
Best: Keep It Simple Beef Burger
"The Keep It Simple Beef burger proves that simple is often best as it's the lowest calorie non-vegan burger option and one of the lowest in sodium and saturated fat, yet still provides 34 grams of filling protein," says McGrane.
Best: Wedgie Burger
The Wedgie Burger? They couldn't have thought of a better name, huh? Despite the foolish pun, this burger is one of McGrane's top picks from the Red Robin menu.
"If you love toppings, the Wedgie Burger is the way to go, as it's high in protein, low in carbs, and has a moderate amount of saturated fat. Another bonus is that unlike the other burgers, it automatically comes with a salad rather than fries," she explains.
Worst: The Big Pig Out
This burger earned its name for a reason. It appears that The Big Pig Out Burger is just the upgrade from the Pig Out Tavern Double, which already has two patties and bacon smooshed between the bun. McGrane says to steer clear from this ginormous burger to save your waistline from the beating it will take from the excess fat, sodium, and sugar.
Best: Red's Tavern Double
McGrane says that "Red's Double Tavern is the lowest in calories and one of the lowest in saturated fat, sugar, and sodium" of all the Tavern burgers on the Red Robin menu. However, the sodium content is still high, so be mindful of that as you order and make sure to drink plenty of water.
Best: Sear-ious Salmon
"The Sear-ious Salmon has a reasonable 410 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat, 4 grams of carbs, and is the only entrée with less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Plus, it's filled with healthy omega-3 fatty acids," says McGrane.
We'll take a plate of this heart-healthy salmon!
Worst: Clucks & Fries Buffalo Style
It's interesting how this platter of chicken tenders out beats the calories in Red Robin's burgers. The addition of blue cheese absolutely cranks up the fat, calories, and carbs in this dish. Still, the normal Clucks & Fries also clocks in at a whopping 1,330 calories.
"The Clucks & Fries Buffalo Style is by far the least healthy entrée option with over 1,600 calories, a day's worth of saturated fat, and nearly twice the amount of sodium you should have in a day," says McGrane.
Wraps and Sandwiches
Worst: Whiskey River BBQ Chicken Wrap
"The Whiskey River BBQ Chicken Wrap has half a day's worth of calories, sodium, and a high amount of saturated fat as well as 20 grams of sugar—and that's all before you add in a side of fries."
We can't say we're surprised this wrap houses so much sugar—it's drizzled with BBQ sauce. For comparison, two tablespoons of Heinz Classic Original Barbecue Sauce contain 16 grams of sugar, a strong majority of which are added sugars. (Cane sugar is the first ingredient in this product.)
Best: BLTA Croissant
"Out of the three wraps and sandwich options, the BLTA Croissant is your best bet, as it's the lowest in calories and sodium. However, it's far from [being] a low-sodium option," says McGrane. "To keep this sandwich on the healthier side, go with a side of Freckled Fruit Salad rather than the Steak Fries."
A croissant will always contain more fat than a traditional bun because it's traditionally made with lots of butter.
Worst: Clamdigger's Clam Chowder
"With 0 grams of fiber, 40 percent of calories from saturated fat, and only 11 grams of protein, a bowl of the Clamdigger's Clam Chowder is easily the least healthy soup option," says McGrane.
Note that this bowl soup comes with a piece of warm garlic toast, so that's also factored into the nutrition facts.
Best: Red's Chili Chili
"While all bowls of soup are high in sodium, Red's Chili Chili will keep you full with 6 grams of fiber, an impressive 30 grams of protein, and 400 calories for a bowl," says McGrane.
Worst: Southwest Salad
"The Southwest Salad is the least healthy option with 910 calories, a whopping 19 grams of saturated fat, nearly a day's worth of sodium, and 12 grams of sugar. Regardless of the salad you choose, steer clear of the Honey Mustard Poppyseed Dressing, a 3-ounce serving of which provides as many calories as a meal," says McGrane.
Best: Simply Grilled Chicken Salad
"For an entrée, the Simply Grilled Chicken Salad is the healthiest option at 280 calories and only 3.5 grams of saturated fat. While higher in sodium and calories than the House and Caesar Salads, the Simply Grilled Chicken has 33 grams of protein to help keep you full, compared with just 6 and 4 grams, respectively," says McGrane.
As for the dressing, the dietitian suggests picking the 2-ounces of the Balsamic Vinegar (100 calories) to keep the calories, saturated fat, and sodium contents low.
Substitutions & Sides
Worst: Chili Chili Cheese Fries
"The Chili Cheese Fries contain almost as many calories, saturated fat, and sodium as some of the burgers and entrées," says McGrane.
Pro tip: No side should be even remotely equivalent in calories to the main meal.
Best: Steamed Broccoli
From the Mac 'n' Cheese to the Sweet Potato Fries, the least caloric and good-for-you side you can order from the Red Robin menu is the steamed broccoli.
"Broccoli is a great source of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamins K and C," says McGrane.
Milkshakes and Malts
Worst: Monster-Sized Salted Caramel Milkshake
"The Monster-Sized Salted Caramel Milkshake contains more saturated fat than many of the burgers and 155 grams of sugar. That's more sugar than any of the options on the dessert menu and as much as 13 glazed donuts," says McGrane.
Best: Classic-Sized Oreo Cookie Magic Milkshake
If you're going to splurge, might as well go for a fun flavor, right? To keep the calories in check, order the classic/kid-sized version of the Oreo Cookie Magic milkshake. However, keep in mind this smaller-sized milkshake is still jam-packed in excess sugar. In fact, you'd have to eat about 14 Oreo cookies to consume that much sugar.
While it's fine to indulge on occasion, it's worth knowing what's in the meals you choose to eat. Armed with this guide to the Red Robin menu, you can make the best decision next time you hit up the burger chain.