July 23, 2024


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18 Secret Menu Items and Hacks from Your Favorite Restaurants

Red Lobster cheddar bay biscuits

Amanda R./Yelp

When it comes to menu options at your favorite chain restaurants, there’s often more than meets the eye. Whether it’s a tasty variation on a classic dish or secret items ordered only by those in the know, most chain restaurants are happy to let diners deviate from the standard options to order off-menu meals that are often surprisingly delicious. To help liven up the dining experiences at favorite family restaurants, we’ve compiled some of the best secret menu items and hacks.

Related: Fast Food Copycat Recipes You Can Now Make at Home

Jamba Juice smoothie

Theresa Y./Yelp

Satisfy your sweet tooth and sense of nostalgia with this well-known secret menu item, which packs the flavors of the popular cereal Fruity Pebbles. If the Jamba Juice staff don’t know how to make this sugar-loaded smoothie, simply ask for one scoop each of lime sherbet, raspberry sherbet, pineapple sherbet, and orange sherbet, and 12 ounces of soy milk.

Related: Childhood Cereals We With They’d Bring Back

Olive Garden Pink Sauce

Cristine B./Yelp

Can’t decide to get red or white sauce with pasta at Olive Garden? Get the best of both worlds by asking for a combination — sometimes called “pink sauce.” Chain Italian restaurants such as Olive Garden typically have basic pasta sauces ready to go at all times, so it’s usually not too much trouble to ask that the cook combine two.

Related: The Best Value Meal Deals at Chains Across the Country

McDonald's biscuit and cheese

Luna Q./Yelp

“One cheeseburger, hold the burger.” That’s how simple it is to order a grilled cheese sandwich at McDonald’s, which used to offer the sandwich on children’s’ menus at some locations, but discontinued it due to nutritional concerns. One YouTube reviewer recently ordered his McDonald’s grilled cheese in the Big Mac format, with melted cheese packed between three slices of bread. But given how easy it is to craft this sandwich, you can probably order any size if you ask nicely.

Related: Weird and Wonderful McDonald’s International Menu Favorites

Arby's Meat Mountain

Clyde E./Yelp

For an eating challenge that doesn’t require getting out of the car, pull up to a participating Arby’s drive-thru and order the Meat Mountain sandwich: two slices of cheese packed between eight kinds of meat, totaling 1,030 calories. How will you feel after? As one reviewer wrote: “I felt like I was hit by a truck that was followed by a clubbing by that barbed wire bat Negan uses in ‘Walking Dead.'”

Related: These Gut-Busting Burgers Have More Than 1,000 Calories

Wendy's burger and chicken sandwich

Franklin M./Yelp

Slightly less decadent than Arby’s Meat Mountain sandwich is Wendy’s Barnyard Burger, which comes with a beef patty, spicy chicken patty, bacon, and cheese, in addition to desired toppings. This sandwich used to be even meatier with a serving of ham, but today bacon is the only pork product Wendy’s offers.

Related: We Tasted Wendy’s Breakfast Sandwiches and This Is the Best

Chipotle Quesarito

Peter K./Yelp

The quesarito is essentially a burrito wrapped in a cheese quesadilla. This secret menu item might sound simple, but Chipotle employees have called it relatively hard to make compared with other items. That’s probably why the chain began charging an extra $3.50 for this calorie-heavy combination, which is best to order when the restaurant isn’t busy.

Related: Fast Food Items Overdue for a Comeback

Burger King

Burger King/Yelp

Not all Burger King staff may be familiar with this beefy monstrosity, known to some as the “suic*de burger.” But it’s no matter, because while this secret menu item may lack nutritional value, at least its recipe is simple: just four burger patties, four slices of cheese, special sauce, and bacon. You can also try asking for a Quad Stacker, which is similar to the Triple Stacker that Burger King used to offer on its official menu.

Related: The Biggest Fast-Food Flops of All Time

Five Guys Patty Melt

Glenn A./Yelp

Few people go to Five Guys for the grilled cheese sandwich, but it’s fortunate that some do; it means the rest of us are able to order a patty melt — essentially a cheeseburger on toast. Order it with caramelized onions and Swiss cheese to complete this classic American sandwich.

Related: Celebrity Chefs’ Favorite Burger Recipes


Sandra K./Yelp

Similar to Starbucks’ Birthday Cake Frappuccino, Dunkin’s secret menu offers a Birthday Cake Coolatta, which you can get by ordering a Vanilla Bean Coolatta with a pump or two of Hazelnut Swirl, and whatever other sugary toppings you want — it is (theoretically) your birthday, after all.

Related: Dunkin’ vs. Krispy Kreme — Who Has the Better Tasting Doughnuts?

Subway sandwich

Crystal D./Yelp

Subway serves its sandwiches with the bread cut horizontally, leaving one side closed. Older patrons might remember that Subway used to have a U-shaped cut, in what the company called the “U-gouge” cut. “Our current cut is better for allowing you to pile on the ingredients you want,” Subway tweeted in 2016. This is more of a forgotten technique than a secret menu item, but you’ll likely have no trouble ordering this old-style sub — as long as you’re not holding up the line.

Related: Secrets for Better, Cheaper Meals at Your Favorite Chains

Panera frozen caramel

Vicki O./Yelp

For some extra flavor in a frozen coffee at Panera, order a Frozen Caramel or Frozen Mocha and ask an employee to blend in one of Panera’s cookies. It’s not an official secret menu item, but Panera employees have said it’s not too much trouble to whip up this cold, sweet treat.

Related: The Best Fast Food Deals to Grab This Month

IHOP Onion and French Fry Omelet

Daniella C./Yelp

Eating a super healthy meal probably isn’t your main goal when you dine at the International House of Pancakes. So, why not go all in and order an omelet made with french fries and onions? It’s a far cry from the fruit bowl, but this custom combination is a cinch for the cooks to fry up for your early morning indulgence.

Related: This Chain’s French Fries Beat McDonald’s in Our Taste Test

P.F. Chang's Mongolian Chicken

Sara R./Yelp

Mongolian Beef, a classic Chinese-American dish featuring a savory brown sauce and chili peppers, is one of the most popular menu items at P.F. Chang’s. Many don’t know it can be made with pan-fried chicken instead of beef. A chef told us this is one of the most popular substitutions that diners request, and it’s no problem for the kitchen.

Related: Popular Restaurant Dishes You Can Find in the Freezer Section

Starbucks coffee and beans


Starbucks offers many secret and seasonal menu items; one of the best hacks is to ask for coffee made with a French press. Many coffee aficionados prefer this brewing method because it doesn’t use paper filters, which can change the taste of coffee by absorbing fats and oils. Most Starbucks will brew coffee with a French press upon request — just be aware that it’ll take longer and cost more. If your local Starbucks doesn’t have a French press, you can ask the staff to grind take-home coffee beans specifically for a French press.

Related: How to Satisfy Your $5 Starbucks Habit at Home

Red Lobster cheddar bay biscuits

Mariel V./Yelp

One of the most beloved menu items at Red Lobster is the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, which are delicious on their own but also go well with other dishes. Next time you’re ordering shrimp at Red Lobster, consider asking for some cheddar biscuits so you can make yourself a simple, cheesy shrimp po’ boy.

Related: Eat These Gut-Busting Appetizers at Your Own Risk

Starbucks Puppuccino

Mita S./Yelp

Starbucks’ Puppuccino might sound like a fancy coffee drink for dogs, but it’s really just whipped cream in an espresso-sized cup. The best part about this simple, non-caffeinated treat is that, unlike many secret menu items: It’s free.

Related: Free Perks of Owning a Dog

Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread Club

Elizabeth S./Yelp

One of The Cheesecake Factory’s most popular items is completely free: brown bread, referred to as wheat bread within the company. Given to diners before their orders arrive, brown bread has become so popular the restaurant now offers it in some grocery stores. At most restaurant locations, you’ll have no problem requesting your sandwich be made with this soft, sweet bread instead of what’s listed on the menu.

Related: Cheesecake Factory Dishes With More Calories Than the Cheesecake

Blueberry milkshake at Red Robin

Blueberry milkshake at Red Robin

Famous for bottomless fries and gargantuan burgers, Red Robin doesn’t skimp on portion size, and milkshakes are no exception. When you order a milkshake at Red Robin, you essentially get two shakes: one in a glass and another in a metal cup, amounting to about 1,000 calories. If that sounds like too much ice cream, ask for your milkshake in two glasses so you can easily share it with a friend.