The Dish You Should Always Avoid at Chain Restaurants
Some people see lists like these and take them as a way to figure out what's "tasty," what's "not going to suck," and what's "okay to eat once in a while." But these items are literally the least nutritious, most caloric, most horrifying choices on menus that—generally speaking—aren't exactly known for keeping people slim.
We understand that it's practically an art to eat out and remain relatively healthy. But we're here to help you out a bit so you know exactly what not to order at all of your favorite restaurant chains.
And for more, don't miss these 15 Classic American Desserts That Deserve a Comeback.
Applebee's: Oriental Chicken Salad Wrap
Attack of the beige! Whenever your dinner is monochromatic (in this case, the off-brown hue of deep-fried stuff), you know you're in trouble. Choosing a dish like this is easily one of the bad habits that make you sick and fat. A coating of crispy batter and a heaping pile of deep-fried potatoes is no way to treat your chicken that is served up in a wrap, adding on more calories.
Bob Evans: Double Meat Farmer's Choice Breakfast (Three hotcakes, two freshly-cracked eggs, two sausage patties, three strips bacon, and homefries)
What has over a day's worth of calories and two days' worth of saturated fat? This sneaky, diet-derailing dish. Where all that fat and sodium come from, we may never know, but we can tell you this: This is one breakfast that will offer no benefits to your day. Stay far, far away—especially if you've been trying to cleanse your body of junk!
O'Charley's: Top Shelf Combo Appetizer with Spicy Jack Cheese Wedges, Chicken Tenders, and Overloaded Potato Skin
When it comes to contributing to our nation's ever-expanding collective waistline, O'Charley's is certainly doing its part. And this dish is no exception. Sitting down to a giant plate of nutrient-void cheese wedges, chicken tenders, and "overloaded" potato skins is a recipe for disaster if you're trying to improve your health—even if you consider it one of your weekly cheat meals.
Buffalo Wild Wings: 30-Piece Blazin' Traditional Hot Wings
Even if you divide this 30-piece platter into two portions, you'd still consume a ton of and more than your entire daily recommended intake of sodium! Wings may be tasty, but there are far better ways to spend your salt allowance.
California Pizza Kitchen: West Coast Burger
If you think getting a burger at a place that specializes in pizza might be a fun idea, you might want to think again. This burger clocks in at more than 1,400 calories and way too much sodium for one sandwich. Plus, 25 grams of sugar? There are no upsides here. And none in the 50 Most Caloric Dishes in America either!
Carrabba's: Fettuccine Weesie with Whole-Grain Spaghetti
Shrimp! Mushrooms! Fresh basil! When you read the list of ingredients that go into this dish, it's hard to imagine it would be such a nutritional nightmare. But this is the restaurant industry we're talking about here. Would you expect anything less? If you're looking for carbs that won't derail your weight loss progress, check out these healthy carbs instead.
The Cheesecake Factory: Pasta Carbonara with Chicken
We give the The Cheesecake Factory props offering up lighter options, but its menu is still home to some of the most caloric fare in the nation. This creamy pasta dish, which is just cream, pasta, and chicken, is brimming with saturated fat.
Chili's: Crispy Honey-Chipotle Crispers & Waffles
With over a day's worth of calories and more fat than eight hot dogs, this Southern-inspired, fried chicken and waffles will pop the button right off your skinny jeans! Polish off the whole plate, and you'd be consuming three times the American Heart Association's recommended daily intake of saturated fat.
Another word to the wise? Make it a rule to avoid anything with the word "quesadilla" in the title when you're at Chili's (yes, even the salads). None of the options have fewer than 1,400 calories per serving—not what you should be eating if your goal is to lose belly fat.
Denny's: Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast (includes 2 pancakes, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 bacon strips, and hash browns)
"It's just pancakes, how bad could it be?" You ask. "Pretty bad." We say. Not only is this one of the highest-calorie breakfasts on Denny's menu, it's also one of the sweetest. These pancakes have more sugar than 13 servings of Breyers' Natural Vanilla Ice Cream. Eat at your own risk!
Friendly's: Clam Strips Platter
The word "platter" is often code for "way too many calories, carbs, and fat." Don't believe it? This bland bowl of beige serves up more carbs than 19 chocolate chip cookies and more calories than 122 small clams. Proceed with caution at the not-so-friendly restaurant—and be sure to steer clear of these restaurant foods with crazy-high amounts of sugar, too. They'll all undo all of your valiant weight loss efforts.
IHOP: Appetizer Sampler with Ranch Dressing
Just look at that plate of crispy brown nastiness! "Monster" mozzarella sticks, onion rings, and chicken strips all on one plate? This dish is a giant fat bomb tainted with trans fats and sky-high levels of salt. Even if you split it with a friend, you'd still offset an entire day of smart eating!
Maggiano's: Gnocchi & Italian Sausage
It might not be the most caloric pasta on the menu (that honor goes to the Rigatoni "D" at 1,610 calories), but the Gnocchi & Italian Sausage comes pretty close. This dish does, however, take the cake for being one of the highest-sodium menu items we've seen. Eat this entire thing, and you'll consume two and a quarter days' worth of sodium—or the equivalent of 25 one-ounce bags of Kettle Brand Salt & Vinegar chips.
Plus, this meal is just half a gram shy of your day's worth of trans fat. Not convinced you should add it to your "do not eat" list? Consider this: A 150-pound woman would need to run for nearly three hours to burn it off. And this is only the entrée! Add your appetizer, dessert, and a drink, and it's easy to amass half a week's worth of calories in one meal at Maggiano's.
Bonefish Grill: Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos with French Fries
In their purest form, shrimp are some of the healthiest proteins you can buy. But despite their innocent appearance, these shrimp are not in your average taco. After the chefs at Bonefish doused these guys in a seasoned batter, the dinner platter became your body's worst nightmare, serving up more than a half day's worth of trans fat and nearly a day and a half day's worth of sodium!
On The Border: Dos XX Fish Tacos (3) with Rice
On the Border will give you a full day's calorie intake, over two days of salt and three days of fat in the form of their beer-battered, deep-fried fish tacos. Remember when fish was actually healthy? In your kitchen, it still is, if you pick the right kind!
P.F. Chang's: Korean Bulgogi Steak
There's nothing wrong with enjoying a piece of steak every now and then. But here, the meat is swimming in a glaze, served with fried onion straws on top. And there are potatoes in the mix here too, making for a meal that is dangerously high in sodium and sugar.
Red Lobster: Admiral's Feast
It's hard to mess up a plate of roasted lobster tail, shrimp, sea scallops, and mussels. But by adding linguini and a fatty garlic-and-white-wine sauce, Red Lobster manages to transform a protein-rich plate of seafood into one that can give you an instant heart attack. Just say no to this deep-sea diet bomb.
Romano's Macaroni Grill: Macaroni Grill Chicken Parmesan
Beware: This isn't your bubby's classic chicken parm! The massive serving of capellini under the poultry is doused in a thick sauce, and the Milanese-style chicken is piled high with fatty mozzarella. And even if you split this dish with a friend, you'd take in half the day's calories, salt, and saturated fat.
Ruby Tuesday: Crispy Chicken Mac & Cheese
This mac and cheese is topped with breaded fried chicken tenders and shredded Parmesan cheese, and the result is a dish that's high in calories and sodium. You're much better off making homemade mac and cheese!
TGI Fridays: Signature Whiskey-Glazed Ribs, Full-Rack (with coleslaw & seasoned fries)
Four words sum up this T.G.I. Fridays' dish: salty, sugary, fat-laden disaster. You'd be better off having two McDonald's Big Macs than this monstrosity. It's hard to imagine, we know, but you'd actually take in fewer calories, fat, carbs, sugar, and blood-pressure-spiking salt.
Olive Garden: Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara
This is one dish from Olive Garden's menu you'll surely want to skip. Not only does it pack nearly a day's worth of sodium, but it also serves up a day's worth of trans fat, an artificial fat that's been linked heart disease. All of this is before you tack on the breadsticks and salad.
Cracker Barrel: Sunday Homestyle Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, Biscuit
Steer clear of this meal when dining at Cracker Barrel. The chain restaurant breads and deep-fries its chicken tenders, lending the dish a lot of fat. Because the portion is oversized, you can split the dish with your fam and still get your fried chicken fix.
Outback Steakhouse: Bloomin' Onion
It's one of the most iconic dishes on Outback's menu ,but that shouldn't encourage you to pick apart the Bloomin' Onion.
Longhorn Steakhouse: Full Rack of Baby-Back Ribs
Baby-back ribs sound like a hearty meal, but the nutritional info of this dish proves it's one to avoid.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill: Deep Dish Individual Chicago Meat Market Pizza
This individual pie packs a ton of calories, fats, and sodium. And yes, just to reiterate, this is meant for one person to eat. No, thanks!
Burger King: Bacon King Sandwich
This two-patty, bacon-topped sandwich is by far the worst burger on Burger King's menu, surpassing all others in waistline-demolishing ingredients. The quarter-pound patties, bacon, cheese, and mayo alone deliver a whopping 79.1 grams of fat—worse than a few of the King's classic hamburgers. It also comes packed with more than 30 grams of saturated fat, which is more than you should have in an entire day.
McDonald's: Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese
A remnant from the days when "super-sizing" was cool, this sandwich takes a perfectly fine burger and multiplies it by two. There's no reason to eat a half-pound of beef for lunch (unless, of course, it's 2004 and you're making a documentary about getting fat).
Moe's Southwest Grill: Homewrecker Burrito with Chicken
Homewrecker? More like an ab wrecker! This burrito has not one, not two, but three major sources of carbs (tortilla, rice, and beans) and two major sources of fat (cheese and guac), so it's really no surprise it has such a scary nutritional profile. Watch out for your, sides too. The monster burrito also comes with an additional 390 calories of chips and salsa (not included in the nutrition information above).
Chick-fil-A: Cobb Salad with Chick-n-Strips and Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing
It may not look too dangerous, but this salad is not what you should order when dining at Chick-fil-A. The sodium count alone is ridiculous for a salad, a meal that is supposed to be healthy. The one thing that cemented this salad's place on the "Worst" list? The Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing. With inflammatory soybean oil as a leading agent, you can bet that the 32 grams of fat this dressing contains are a major reason why the small packet climbs up to 57 calories.
Arby's: Roast Turkey Ranch & Bacon Sandwich
When made in the safety of your own kitchen, a turkey sandwich isn't a half-bad lunch option. But tread carefully in the land of greasy-spoon finger foods. This sandwich is over-packed with carbs, fat, and sugar. Yes, sugar, which is most likely coming from the honey wheat bread.
Chipotle: Carnitas Burrito with White Rice, Black Beans, Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa, Queso, Sour Cream, Cheese, and Guac
This fully loaded burrito from Chipotle has a day's worth of salt and more than a day's worth of saturated fat. Yes, seriously. But that's not all: This dinnertime disaster serves up more carbs than you'd find in nearly six whole-grain dinner rolls! Although almost everything in this burrito is carb-heavy, with the tortilla and white rice tipping the scales.
Taco Bell: Nachos BellGrande
By now, it shouldn't really be much of a secret that nachos are a risky meal choice. And at Taco Bell, you're in for a dish that is packed with sodium.
Pizza Hut: Meat Lover's Large Original Pan Pizza
You can love meat without taking in half a day's saturated fat with one slice of pizza. Specialty pies are an excuse to go crazy with a ton of high-fat toppings that do virtually nothing for flavor and increase your calorie load considerably. At Pizza Hut, don't be a lover, be a fighter with the less caloric pepperoni slice. Or better yet, make one of these healthy homemade pizzas instead.
KFC: Famous Bowl
The KFC bowl screams comfort, as it's a dish made up of mashed potatoes, corn, and crispy chicken all mixed together with gravy and cheese. But this is one rather scary mix, thanks to the amount of sodium and fat it's packing.
Papa John's: Pepperoni, Sausage & Six Cheese Extra Large 16" Original Crust Pizza
This pizza features pepperoni, sausage and six different types of fatty cheese. Just like how Papa John's cut its founder John Schnatter out of the business, we recommend you cut this pizza out of your life.
Wendy's: Double Bacon Jalapeño Cheeseburger
Here, two beef patties are topped with pickled jalapeños, Applewood smoked bacon, American cheese, crispy fried onions, a savory cheese sauce, and a smoky jalapeño sauce that come together for the most caloric burger on the Wendy's menu.
Jack In The Box: Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger
Jack in the Box's menu has come a long way, but a few major changes still need to be made, including banishing this bacon-topped beef burger. If the double helping of meat wasn't bad enough, Jack adds garlic herb butter, Swiss cheese, and globs of bacon mayo to his signature bun—and your buns will pay for it if you indulge. Just say no to this rear-expanding dish.
Sonic: Large OREO Peanut Butter Shake
One former Sonic employee may have told the Reddit community to never order the Steak or Grilled Chicken, but we found something else you should back away from. This super-sized sip has more calories than 24 chocolate chip cookies, more fat than 22 strips of pan-fried bacon, and more sugar than six Snicker bars! Stay away if you want to protect your hard-earned flat belly.
Popeye's: Spicy Chicken Sandwich
If you want something fried and starchy at Popeyes, go with the Loaded Chicken Wrap and skip this calorie bomb of a sandwich.
Boston Market: 1/2 Rack St. Louis Style BBQ Ribs with Fresh Steamed Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes, Zesty BBQ sauce, and Cornbread
You knew ribs weren't exactly healthy, but did you realize that they are filled with so much fat and sugar?! To keep 660 calories and 55 grams (!!!) of fat off of your plate, ask for the Quarter Skinless Rotisserie Chicken with Zesty BBQ Sauce, Fresh Vegetable Stuffing, and Garlic Dill New Potatoes. Wouldn't you rather enjoy a big plate of variety instead of one rack of ribs?
Carl's Jr.: 1/3 lb. Guacamole Bacon Thickburger
We're usually on board with guacamole, mainly because avocados are made up of healthy fats like heart-protective monounsaturated fats. But this burger, which is topped with bacon, pepper jack cheese, and Santa Fe sauce, is an exception to the rule. Not only does it fill your belly with almost half a day's worth of calories, but it also has more salt than 70 saltine crackers!
Whataburger: Triple Meat Whataburger with Medium Fries and a Drink
Steer clear of this beefy monstrosity-based meal. Everything about this meal is off-the-charts excessive.
Jimmy John's: The J.J. Gargantuan on Wheat Bread
Jimmy says that this sandwich is "huge enough to feed the hungriest of all humans!" And we think he hit the nail on the head—1,100 calories is a lot to down in one sitting. Thanks to the salami, sliced smoked ham, capicola, roast beef, turkey, and provolone combo, you'll also get a day-and-a-half's worth of fat. Plus, you get a hefty 13 grams of sugar when you order it on (what you thought was healthy) wheat bread!
Long John Silver's: 2 Baja Fish Tacos
Fat in the breading, fat in the sauce, fat in the tortillas—and none of it's the healthy kind. It all adds up to a half day's worth of the stuff, plus over a full day's allotment of salt. While Long John Silver's has come a long way in recent years, there are still plenty of fried dishes that could sink your battleship.
Dairy Queen: Honey BBQ Glazed Chicken Strip Basket, 6 pieces
Picking the worst dish at DQ was pretty tough. Though a nearly 1,000 calorie burger is borderline unethical, that's nothing compared to the chain's six-piece Chicken Strip Basket. Skip it at all costs.
Hardee's: Monster Double Thickburger
If the fat count on this burger has you wondering what Hardee's piles on this thing, take note of the thick pile of bacon peeking out from between its buns. But what really burns us up is how much sodium they back into a meal you can eat with your hands: more than what you should eat in an entire day!
Sbarro: Roman 16" Meat Primo Pizza
Almost each nutritional is in the triple digits or above—just look at that scary sodium count! Sure, you're not eating the entire pie in one sitting, but even that doesn't justify ordering this meaty monster. If you're taking a shopping break at Sbarro, go for the NY Mushroom Pizza Slice, which packs in a more approachable 360 calories and only six grams of saturated fat.
Einstein Bros.: Chorizo Sunrise 2-Egg Signature Sandwich
Einstein Bros' sandwich packs in a decent amount of protein and fiber, but the calorie count is way too high. Bite into this chorizo egg sandwich, and you'll start your day with almost a thousand calories. Talk about a food coma!
Smashburger: Chocolate Oreo Malt
Whether you're pairing your cheeseburger with a shake or stopping in for a post-dinner malt, the chocolate Oreo option is your worst bet. The shake packs in over three day's worth of added sugars for a truly button-busting dessert.
Noodles & Company: Alfredo MontAmore, regular
Alfredo sauce—whether you buy it in a jar, make it from scratch, or order it in a restaurant—will always be ultra caloric and fatty, and this creamy dish is no exception. Skip the massive calorie and sodium counts and go for one of Noodles & Company's red-sauce-based dishes.
Corner Bakery Café: Pancakes, Bacon & Eggs
With such a lowly fiber content that won't help stabilize your glucose levels after you eat up 57 grams of sugar, this breakfast sampler is the worst way to start your day.
Bojangles: Chicken Rice Bowl
This jumbo bowl is spiked with roasted chicken, dirty rice, Cajun pinto beans, and cheddar for a lunch that should be last on your list of options. Spoon into this hearty bowl, and you'll get the salt equivalent of more than eight orders of McDonald's fries, large-size.
Johnny Rockets: Route 66 Double Burger with Regular Bun
This stacked sandwich is bursting with cheddar cheese and crispy bacon, which lend the meal more than 1,000 calories and about a day's worth of belly-ballooning sodium.
Hooters: Philly Cheesesteak, Chicken
Smothered in grilled onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and Provolone cheese, this pick is teeming with fat and calories.
Quiznos: Classic Italian, 12-inch Sub
Folks in Italy stay skinny by steering clear of this classic sammy. A slew of deli meats is piled atop a footlong sub, which explains the preposterous amount of blood-pressure-spiking sodium. If you order this, split it with a friend, and don't forget to refill your water glass.
A&W: Cheese Curds, large
A&W is quite infamous for its root beer, but its restaurant chain is well-known for its cheese curds. While we hope you're not indulging in a large version of this side on the regular, even ordering the "regular" size won't be doing you any favors. The smaller version still has 570 calories, 1,220 milligrams of sodium, and 21 grams (a day's worth!) of saturated fat.
Auntie Anne's: Mini Pretzel Dogs
Picture this: You're strolling through a shopping mall until the wafting fresh-baked dough aromas lure you by an Auntie Anne's. Whatever you do, don't order these guys!
Steak 'n Shake: Country Skillet
This skillet comes with shredded hash browns, sausage patty, sausage gravy, cheddar 'n jack cheese, and a buttermilk biscuit topped with two fried eggs.
BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse: Hickory Brisket and Bacon Burger with Fries
With bacon, mayo, BBQ sauce, and brisket, it's no wonder this sandwich from BJ's lands on our list of the unhealthiest dishes from your favorite popular restaurants.
Checkers: Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings, 10 pieces
If you're cooking chicken wings in the comfort of your own kitchen, they can be a solid meal option that's packed with protein. But if you fry and smother them with a creamy parmesan sauce, you're looking at a meal packed with over a thousand calories and a whopping 27 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat.
Waffle House: Papa Joe's Pork Chop (3) & Eggs, Meat Lovers
Three pork chops, eggs, hashbrowns, and Texas toast ring in a whopping 1,620-calorie dish. While pork is one of our best proteins for weight loss, the triple order won't do any wonders for your waistline.
Perkins: Double Catch
Perkins' Double Catch is no catch for your weight loss goals. The seafood nightmare features breaded shrimp, Milwaukee-style breaded cod fillets, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and a heaping mound of French fries.
Shoney's: Country Fried Steak Breakfast with Biscuit
If you're looking for a heart-harming dish, this Country Fried Steak Breakfast is it. With an unbelievable 10 grams of trans fat—yes, 10!—this dish marks its spot as one of the worst offerings on any restaurant menu around.
Rally's: Baconzilla Burger
When a chain names its burger after a monster, you know it's no good. This outrageous sandwich packs in two giant hamburger patties, four slices of bacon, two slices of cheese, melted cheddar, ketchup, and mayo on a hefty bun—a combo that reflects the seriously high fat content.
Little Caesars: 3 Meat Treat Pizza, Large
Little Caesars is known for its hot-n-ready pies, but this three-meat treat is nothing to carry out. The large round pizza piles pepperoni, Italian sausage, and bacon high for a pie that packs in an outrageous 139 grams of fat and more than 6,000 milligrams of sodium.
Huddle House: Double Mushroom Swiss Burger
Fifteen grams of sugar in a burger? That's more than half a day's worth of the sweet stuff! You're better off sticking to the short stack.
Church's Chicken: Cob Sandwich
The famous Chick-O-Breast Sandwich delivers double the amount of fat of a Big Mac and more sodium than a salted soft pretzel.
White Castle: Hash Round Nibblers, Sack
Yup, White Castle offers a sack of its battered and fried bite-sized hash browns. While the sack is offered for sharing purposes, it can be a dangerous treat if you allow yourself to reach in for seconds, thirds, and fourths. If you need the potato fix, opt for the small serving, which contains 360 calories.
Potbelly Sandwich Shop: Ice Cream Sandwich (Sugar), Original
While we're all for the once-in-a-while dessert, ending your lunch with this loaded ice cream sandwich is not worth the calories. The treat is crafted with two sugar cookies (that clock in at 530 calories each) and hand-scooped vanilla ice cream in the center. Talk about a sugar crash!
El Pollo Loco: Chips & Queso, Regular
Pass around the chips and queso from El Pollo Loco, and you'll end up munching on more than 1,000 calories just from this simple appetizer.
Shake Shack: Lockhart Link Burger, Triple
This Austin-exclusive cheeseburger is topped with a griddled jalapeño sausage link. While this may sound mouth-watering, it's nothing but trouble for your waistline.
Zaxby's: Buffalo Chicken Finger Plate (6 Fingers)
Buffalo chicken fingers meet Crinkle Fries, Texas Toast, coleslaw, and creamy ranch sauce in this belt-busting dish.
Wingstop: Louisiana Voodoo Fries, Large
This Southern side slaps Cajun seasoning, ranch, and cheddar cheese on fresh-cut fries. And this "side" boasts enough calories to be considered a cheat meal, so forget pairing it with the wings.
Tim Hortons: Farmer's Breakfast Grilled Wrap
This breakfast wrap serves up more than 50% of the recommended max of saturated fat and 50% of the recommended daily max of sodium. And all of that's in just one wrap! Yikes.
Qdoba: Steak Fajita Quesadilla
Qdoba tries to lure you in with this option. But with the high calorie and sodium counts, you're better off skipping this cheesy finger food.
Firehouse Subs: Large Tuna Sub
We love tuna because it's an affordable protein that's packed with brain-boosting omega-3s and works well in a sandwich and salad alike. However, ordering this large tuna sub won't help you reap the fish's countless benefits, thanks to the sandwich's sky-high counts across the board.
For more, check out these 108 most popular sodas ranked by how toxic they are.