Secret menus at chain restaurants are something most people know about but pretend not to — like bands leaving the stage when you’re sure they’re giving an encore, or Trump not being able to read. This air of mystery, even if it’s fake, is part of what makes secret menus fun.
Who doesn’t love to go up to the counter, wink, and ask the worker to make something that not everyone (but actually everyone) knows about. True, it’s even more fun if absolutely no one knows about the item (including the cashier), but you can only say “I’ll take the Cincinnati big purple dog whale,” so many times at McDonald’s before the teen working the register either calls the police or invents something spectacular then throws it at you.
As much as it pains me to be unoriginal, the following list consists of more conventional secret menu items that you can actually get. And I’ve ranked them scientifically from worst to best. Please note: This list doesn’t feature every secret menu item in the world (that would be a very long list, so don’t @ me). They’re just popular items at popular eating establishments ranked by a super popular writer who you all love and about whom you write long letters to the editor with the subject “Give Allison A Huge Raise.”
THE VERY BEST SECRET MENU ITEMS RANKED FROM WORST TO BEST
The “Animal Style” burger and fries (In-N-Out)
WHAT IS IT?
In the burger: A mustard cooked patty with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and extra spread with grilled onions.
In the fries: Cheese, grilled onion, and Thousand Island dressing.
According to popular belief, ordering secret menu items from In-N-Out has been around since the 1960s! And, of course, that explains why the animal style burger is widely believed to have been the true shooter in the Kennedy assassination. Everyone knows that the trajectory of the bullet proves that it could not have possibly originated from Lee Harvey Oswald’s location! And also that the bullet was a full-sized burger. Bit of history for you. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Yes, I’m ranking In-N-Out’s animal style offerings last. Yes, I know that California’s favorite burger joint has the quintessential “secret” menu items, and you love them. But the thing is, love can be wrong. Lots of people love things that they shouldn’t. There’s a whole show about it on TLC called My Strange Addiction. It reveals that love is not love if it’s with your car. Or a doll with sex holes. Or the Animal Style Burger at In-N-Out. Love does not always mean something is good, my friends.
Full disclosure: I do not like mustard. Or pickles. So if you like those things you may disagree with me. But I hope that at the very least you can agree that pickle juice leaking onto bread is the devil’s way of reminding you that life is filled with great horrors that you can never escape.
The Land, Sea, and Air Burger (McDonald’s)
WHAT IT IS: A combination of the Big Mac, a Filet-O-Fish, and a McChicken. This monstrosity has two beef patties (land), fish patty (sea), and a chicken patty (“air”).
This is a very gross thing. Right off the bat, it involves McDonald’s fish, which I would highly advise against. But even if you’re totally on board for this Frankenstein’s monster of cuisine, eating it feels like something you should feel deeply ashamed of. Like an activity that you should do in the middle of the night so you can say that you’ve been “haunted” in the event that your partner finds evidence of you consuming this monstrosity.
Grand Slam/Cube Burger (Wendy’s)
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Checkout Wendy's Meat Cube aka Grand Slam. It's a full found of patties (4 beef patties) with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes. How to order: Nicely ask if they can make you Dave's Hot 'n Juicy 1 Lb. Quadruple. #wendys #meatcube #grandslam #burger #patties #food #foodography #foodaddict #foodlover #foodporn #yummy #delicious #secretmenu #menuhack
WHAT IT IS: A full pound of hamburger patties (4 beef patties and all the fixings) on a Wendy’s bun
They say Icarus fell because he flew too close to the sun. But “they” are wrong. What really happened was that he worked in a Wendy’s and became overconfident. He had seen people combine two, even three patties, and he thought foolishly that if three patties were delicious then he should be able to combine four patties into one great burger — a feat no man or God had ever attempted. And though he was warned against the act many times, he didn’t listen. He made that disgusting burger. And as the terrible creation rose up onto the counter, Icarus sank deep into the fry oil, never to be seen again.
What I’m saying is that this is just too. much. burger. Even looking at it will burn your eyes out. You’ve been warned.
Frings (Burger King)
WHAT IT IS: Fries and onion rings mixed together.
No one wants to choose between fries and onion rings, so being able to order half and half is great. Is it life-changingly great? No. This is like realizing you have a coupon for three dollars off at CVS when you’re making a $50 dollar purchase. I mean you’re happy to have the coupon but you’re not going to throw a party about it. Plus, Burger King’s fries aren’t as good as McDonald’s fries. Literally everyone and their mother knows that.
Getting free ice cream instead of the toy in the kids’ meal (Chick-Fil-A)
WHAT IT IS: A soft serve ice cream cone.
For the young at heart (who are weirdly expected to “get a job” and “move out” and to “stop asking for allowance money-you’re 27 years old for God’s sake”), this is pretty great. If you love the kids’ meal portions but don’t necessarily need a Hot Wheels (although if you do, no judgment), you can ask for a soft serve ice cream cone instead! So much better and more delicious.
S’mores Frappuccino (Starbucks)
WHAT IT IS: A java chip frappuccino (or double chocolate chip if preferred), 1 pump of cinnamon dolce syrup, 1 pump of toffee nut syrup with whipped cream blended in, and all of it topped with whipped cream and Cinnamon Dolce sprinkles
This may have a billion calories, but it is pretty delish. Or maybe it’s so delicious because it has a billion calories. We may never know. But it’s like drinking the most decadent dessert in the world. Bring your own graham crackers to sprinkle on the top and you’ll be golden.
Mac N Cheese Bread bowl (Disneyland Pacific Wharf Café)
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I felt bad running to get this as they were closing, but the cast members were more than happy to have us and give us bountiful servings! And two free "magical cookies" (smaller than others and/or in a bag that someone changed their minds about)! #macncheesebreadbowl #disneymagic
WHAT IT IS: A BREAD BOWL FILLED WITH MAC AND CHEESE.
I mean, look, secret menu items aren’t rocket science. They’re about combining two amazing things that are already on the menu into something even more amazing. And here you go — Mac and Cheese plus a bread bowl. And I know what you’re thinking, “there’s no reason on God’s green Earth that Mac and Cheese needs to be in a bread bowl, there are already so many carbs. But life is a rich, mysterious tapestry filled with wonders one could never even imagine. And one of those wonders involves mac and cheese sitting in a bread bowl like your own personal fondue surprise. It is what it is, folks.
Double Grilled Cheese Burger (Five Guys)
WHAT IT IS: Two grilled cheese sandwiches with a hamburger patty between them and your choice of toppings.
You might think this would be too much cheese. You’d be wrong. It turns out the only thing better than a grilled cheese sandwich is two grilled cheese sandwiches lovingly cupping a hamburger. You live and you learn.
The Incredible Hulk (Taco Bell)
WHAT IT IS: A 5 layer burrito with guacamole instead of the usual nacho cheese sauce, and without the extra inner 6 inch tortilla shell or sour cream
This is a rare secret menu item because instead of adding a million new things, you’re actually subtracting some and adding something healthier. AND IT’S WAY MORE DELICIOUS THIS WAY. Guacamole makes everything better (it would make an old shoe taste great), sour cream is disgusting, and this is the perfect burrito that you never knew you needed.
God, I love Taco Bell. Whoever invented Taco Bell should win the Nobel prize. All of them actually. Peace, literature, chemistry. Shut it down committee, we have your winner.
Crispy Sofritas Quesadilla (Chipotle)
WHAT IT IS: A cheese quesadilla with Chipotle’s Sofritas
I don’t get the hate for Chipotle when it’s as delicious as it is. I especially don’t get the people who complain that it’s not authentic and that you should just go to a real taco stand. I mean, sure, it isn’t authentic. And sure, street tacos are delicious. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place at the table for Chipotle WHICH IS ALSO DELICIOUS.
Their quesadilla has always been a not so secret, secret. But what you may not have tried is adding the absolutely awesome sofritas to it. The bit of spice with the creamy cheese is perfect. This is an amazing secret menu choice and should be applauded as such.
Now tell me more delicious secret menu items in the comments. I like to feel like we’re all in some exclusive club.