The #1 Worst Menu Option at 76 Popular 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 awhile." 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 this list isn't about that art — here, experts take a deep dive into the nutritional information of 76 restaurants and fast food chains and resurface with a definitive declaration: "If you go to this one restaurant, do not eat this one thing!"
Attack of the beige! Whenever your dinner is monochromatic (in this case, the off-brown hue of deep-fried junk), you know you're in trouble. Choosing a dish like this is easily one of the bad habits that make you sick and fat. Don't blame the fish—the seafood is packed with lean, muscle-building protein and heart-healthy fats. No, the trouble here lies with a massively unbalanced fish-to-fat ratio. A coating of crispy batter and a heaping pile of deep-fried potatoes is no way to treat the golden child of nutrition. When it comes to seafood, always abandon ship on fried fish and opt for grilled instead.
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 comes 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!
When it comes to contributing to our nation's ever-expanding collective waistline, O'Charley's — home of Free Pie Wednesdays and caloric Southern-inspired fare — is certainly doing their 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
Even if you divide this 20-piece platter into two portions, you'd still consume over 1,000 calories and more than your entire daily recommended intake of sodium! Not to mention, these also happen to be one of the highest sugar restaurant meals. Wings may be tasty, but there are far better ways to spend your salt allowance.
California Pizza Kitchen
Think "Thin Crust" always translates to "healthy option?" Well, think again. These slimmer slices have as many carbs as a traditional slice, but way more sodium. In fact, this personal pie has more sodium than 22 slices of Oscar Mayer Hardwood Smoked Bacon! Scary stuff, right?
Shrimp! Mushrooms! Fresh basil! When you read the list of ingredients that goes 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.
We give the Cheesecake Factory props for rolling out some lighter options as of late, 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, has more than a day's worth of calories and more saturated fat than 43 eggs!
With over a day's worth of calories and more fat than 8 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 taking in 3 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 less than 1,400 calories per serving—not what you should be eating if your goal is to lose belly fat.
"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!
Unless you're stocking up to hibernate for winter, there's no reason ever to order a menu item that contains the word "platter." More often than not, it's code for "way too many calories, carbs, and fat." Don't believe it? Consider: 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.
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!
It might not be the most caloric pasta on the menu (that honor goes to the Braised Beef al Forno at 1,760 calories), but the Gnocchi & Italian Sausage comes pretty close. This dish does, however, take the cake for one of the highest sodium menu items we've ever 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, it has 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.
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 a day's worth of trans fat and nearly a day and half's worth of sodium!
On The Border
For $14.99, 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? Us, too! And in your kitchen, it still is, if you pick the right kind.
Shrimp is a healthy protein, right? Wrong—when it's deep-fried and tossed in a sugary sauce. This seemingly innocent dish is one of the most caloric on the P.F. Chang's menu. This order also happens to contain your entire day's worth of added sugars. Looks like you got to have dessert for dinner after all.
It's hard to screw 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
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. But all hope is not lost, pasta fans; to eat your favorite Italian noodles without losing your figure, check out these 40 pasta tips to stay skinny!
Topped with chicken, broccoli, and layers of parmesan cream sauce and scampi butter, this grown-up twist on your favorite childhood pasta dish is one of the worst pasta dishes you can order when you dine out. In fact, all of the pasta dishes at Ruby Tuesdays carry more than 900 calories! Stay away if you want to stay slim.
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's menu is in desperate need of a makeover. The seafood is swimming in sodium, the cocktails are packed with sugar, and the average dinner-size plate of pasta packs a staggering 976 calories — thanks in part to the soggy plate of carbs pictured above. 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.
Steer clear of Cracker Barrel on Sundays: the only day this daily special is served. The chain restaurant breads and deep-fries its chicken tenders, lending the dish 92 grams of fat. Since the portion is oversized, you can split the dish with your fam and still get your fried chicken fix.
It might be one of the most iconic dishes on Outback's menu but that shouldn't encourage you to pick apart the blooming onion.
Who knew the classic combo of chili and cheese atop fries will cost you over two thousand cals? If you thought the calorie count was scary, just take a look at the amount of heart-harming trans fat in this pick. Yikes!
Uno Pizzeria & Grill
This individual pie packs a calorie, fat, and sodium punch. And don't even think about reaching for seconds; you'll get a double dose of Chicago Fire chicken tenders, jalapeños, gorgonzola, cheddar, mozzarella, and bleu cheese dressing.
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 grams of fat—worse than five of the King's classic hamburgers. It also comes packed with 3.5 grams of artery-clogging trans fats and 31 grams of saturated fat, which is more than you should have in an entire day.
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? 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 400 calories of chips and salsa (not included in nutrition information above).
It may not look too dangerous, but this is the absolute worst item you could order at Chick-fil-A. The sodium count alone is clucking ridiculous! 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 310 calories. (And, by the way, that's as many calories as a Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken 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! Where's all the sweet stuff coming from? Most likely the honey wheat bread, which is just blood sugar-spiking junk in disguise.
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, the tortilla (46 grams) and white rice (40 grams) tip the scales.
Watch out for terms like "XXL" and "Stuft"—they're both codes for "far from diet-friendly." This particular meathead burrito may offer up 32 grams of protein but it also contains a whopping 96 grams of carbs (about what you'd find in 6 slices of Ezekiel bread), and you're also holding a whole day's worth of salt in one hand. These are just two of the many factors that make this dish a "Not That!" Oh, and don't even think about washing it down with one of these 70 drinks that give you a soda belly!
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.
Chicken pot pie: The dish your mom makes for your dad on his birthday and the meal your grandma loved whipping up for your mom when she was a kid. Word of warning: This isn't anything like the homemade variety you know and love. Despite the fact that this is one of the only dishes at KFC that's stuffed with veggies and never touches the deep fryer, it's still the worst option on the menu. The main calorie culprit is its buttery shell, but the creamy sauce that binds the filling together certainly doesn't help matters either.
To save 200 calories and 15 grams of fat while enjoying 18 more grams of protein, order an Original Recipe Chicken Breast with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, and Sweet Kernel Corn. Or if you'd rather just enjoy come poultry at home, whip up one of these amazing healthy chicken recipes.
Formerly known as "John's Favorite," the Pepperoni, Sausage & Six Cheese pizza features pepperoni, sausage and six different types of fatty cheese. Just like how Papa John's cut their founder John Schnatter out of the business, we recommend you cut this pizza out of your life.
Dave's Triple is triple trouble! Start with three beef patties, and you're already skating on thin nutritional ice. To make matters worse, this dish has three pieces of processed cheese and fatty mayo. The result? A burger that has two days' of heart-harming trans fat and as much fat as nearly five orders of small fries off the Wendy's menu.
Jack In The Box
Jack in the Box's menu has come a long way in the past few years, 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.
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 6 Snicker bars! Need any more explanation as to why it made this list? Didn't think so. Stay away if you want to protect your hard-earned flat belly!
If you want something fried and starchy at Popeyes, go with the Loaded Chicken Wrap and skip this crustacean-filled calorie bomb. With a day's worth of salt and half a day's trans fat—the most dangerous fat in all the land—this is one nutritionally poor Po Boy.
You knew ribs weren't exactly healthy, but did you realize that they are filled with so much fat and sugar?! To keep 400+ calories and 73 grams (!!!) of waist-expanding fat off of your plate, ask for the Quarter Skinless Rotisserie Chicken with Zesty BBQ Sauce, Fresh Vegetable Stuffing, Garlic Dill New Potatoes. Wouldn't you rather enjoy a big plate of variety instead of one lame rack of ribs?
We're usually on board with guacamole, mainly because avocados are made up of healthy fats like heart-protective monounsaturated fats. But this burger topped with bacon, pepper jack cheese, and Santa Fe sauce is most definitely an exception to the rule. Not only does it fill your belly with half a day's calories, but it also has more salt than 73 saltine crackers—which is 310 milligrams shy of an entire day's worth! Next time you're at Carl's, order the All-Natural Burger sans mayo instead.
Panera's Steak & White Cheddar Panini contains 1,000 fewer milligrams of sodium than their Italian sandwich, but it earned our worst spot because it's higher in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, carbs, and sugar. If you can't bear to part with this sad excuse for a lunchtime classic, at least order the half-portion and pair it with a house salad—your waistline and blood pressure with thank you.
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—1,120 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 of fat—what a deal! Plus, you get a hefty 15 grams of sugar when you order it on (what you thought was healthy) wheat bread! (If you can't tell, we're being sarcastic.)
Long John Silver's
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 entrees that could sink your battleship.
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 1,250-calorie, six-piece Chicken Strip Basket. At the end of the day, though, the burger's massive trans fat count earned it a place on our Terrible 40 list. While the chicken has just a half-gram of the stuff, this bad-boy burger packs an entire day's worth. Skip it at all costs.
If the fat count on the 2/3 LB. Monster Thickburger 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: 136 percent of what you should eat — in an entire day!
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 6 grams of saturated fat.
Einstein Bros' sandwich packs in a decent amount of protein and fiber but the calorie count is just 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!
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 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 Cafe
With such a lowly fiber content that won't help stabilize your glucose levels after slurping up 57 grams of sugar, there's no way we condone starting your day with this breakfast sampler.
This jumbo bowl is spiked with roasted chicken, dirty rice, Cajun pinto beans, and cheddar for a Cajun-inspired lunch that should be last on your list of options. Spoon into this hearty bowl and you'll get the salt equivalent of almost 14 large orders of McDonald's fries.
This stacked sandwich is bursting with cheddar cheese and crispy bacon, which lend the meal nearly two thousand calories and over a day's worth of belly-ballooning sodium.
Smothered in grilled onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and Provolone cheese, it's no wonder why this pick is teeming with fat and calories.
Folks in Italy stay skinny by steering clear of this classic sammy. A slew of deli meats are piled atop a footlong sub, which justifies 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 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 many favors either. The smaller version still has over 500 calories, 1,200 milligrams of sodium, and a day's worth of saturated fat.
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 this loaded and spicy pretzel dog.
Steak 'n Shake
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
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 restuarants.
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.
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 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.
If you're looking for a heart-harming dish, this Country Fried Steak Breakfast is it. With an unbelievable ten grams of trans fat—yes, 10!— this dish marks its spot as the one of the worst offerings on any restaurant menu around.
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 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 165 grams of fat and almost 7,000 milligrams of sodium. That's more than you'd find in three teaspoons of salt!
Sixteen grams of sugar in a burger? That's more than half a day's worth of the sweet stuff and you can chalk that up to the Bull's Eye BBQ sauce Huddle House slathers on the patty. You're better off sticking to the short stack.
The famous Chick-O-Breast Sandwich delivers double the amount of fat of a Big Mac and more sodium than a salted soft pretzel.
Yup, White Castle offers a literal 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
While we're all for the once-in-a-while dessert, ending your lunch with this loaded ice cream sandwich is definitely not worth the calories. The treat is crafted with two sugar cookies—which clock in at 530 calories each—and hand-scooped vanilla ice cream in the center. Talk about a sugar crash!
El Pollo Loco
Pass around the chips and guac from El Pollo Loco and your fam will munch on almost 1,300 calories just from this simple app. Try making your own at home instead with avocado, lemon juice, jalapenos, and salt and pair the mash with crunchy veggies to hike up the fiber count.
The all white meat chicken tenders are glazed in a sauce made with honey and Frank's RedHot sauce for a sweet yet piquant treat. Gobble down a six-piece and it'll cost you about a day's worth of calories.
Buffalo chicken fingers meet Crinkle Fries, Texas Toast, coleslaw, and creamy ranch sauce in this belt-busting dish.
Wingstop recently debuted this southern side that slaps Cajun seasoning, ranch, and cheddar cheese on fresh-cut fries. This "side" boasts enough calories to be considered a cheat meal, so forget pairing it with the wings.
This pressed panini serves up 600 calories worth of bacon and cheese, which means you're better off sticking to a cup of their iconic coffee.
Qdoba tried to spice up its menu with an offering that will lure you in and fill you out. With that insane calorie count, you're better off skipping the cheesy finger food.
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 the large tuna sub won't help you reap the fish's countless benefits thanks to the sandwich's sky-high counts across the board.
Steer clear of this beefy monstrosity, jam-piled with bacon, grilled onions, cheddar, and a creamy steak sauce.