9 Most Horrifying Chain Restaurant Concoctions
It’s an honor that no restaurant wants to win. (Although, if we’re being honest, most probably take perverse pleasure in receiving it.) Awarded annually by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Xtreme Eating Awards single out the biggest and baddest of unhealthy menu items — entrees, platters and desserts that can top 3,000 calories, and which come packed with enough fat, sodium and sugar to (arguably) kill you outright.
In a way, the “winners” seem to be almost unfairly singled out — it’s not like anyone who orders Red Robin’s A1 Peppercorn Burger with Bottomless Steak Fries and a Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake doesn’t know what they’re getting into. And does anyone really go to the Cheesecake Factory, a restaurant whose name references one of the most fattening types of dessert and the industrialized food system, and expect to have a light lunch?
Still, when one “small” deep dish pizza can be equated to three personal pepperoni pies from Pizza Hut — themselves each more meal than you probably ever need — it seems fair to argue that chain restaurants have passed the point of self-parody. As CSPI dietitian Paige Einstein put it, “it’s clear that caloric extremism still rules the roost at many of America’s chain restaurants.”
The nine meals deemed biggest and baddest are broken down below:
1. Red Robin
A1 Peppercorn Burger with Steak Fries and Monster Salted Caramel Milkshake
One meal, 3,540 calories, 69 grams of saturated fat, 6,280 milligrams of sodium and about 38 teaspoons of added sugar. The unlimited refills mean that technically, you could just keep adding to those numbers forever.
2. Cheesecake Factory
Bruléed French Toast
Brunch that could feed you for a week, with 2,780 calories, 93 grams of saturated fat, 2,230 milligrams of sodium and 24 teaspoons of sugar. Bacon optional.
3. Cheesecake Factory
Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic
Bow-Tie Pasta, chicken, mushrooms, tomato, pancetta, peas and caramelized onions are an okay start, until you get to the cream sauce. It clocks in at 2,410 calories and 63 grams of saturated fat -- but "only 1,370 milligrams of sodium.
4. Cheesecake Factory
Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake
Setting aside what it means to indulge in this after already eating the pasta, this signature dish boasts 1,500 calories, 43 grams of saturated fat and 21 teaspoons of sugar. CSPI is especially concerned that the menu recommends customers try all 40 cheesecake varieties.
5. Famous Dave's
"The Big Slab"
With the promise of one and half pounds of meat, you probably already know where this is going. Throw in two sides and a muffin, and this spareribs combo carries 2,770 calories, 54 grams of saturated fat, 4,320 milligrams of sodium and 14 teaspoons of sugar.
6. BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse
Small Deep Dish Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza
Don't let the "small" throw you off from the long list of adjectives that follow: this is the pizza that, with 2,160 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat and 4,680 milligrams of sodium, is roughly equivalent to three Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pepperoni Pizzas. (Pictured: Buffalo Chicken Deep Dish Pizza)
7. Chevys Fresh Mex
Super Cinco Combo
A beef enchilada, a chicken enchilada, a beef taco, a pork tamale and a "handcrafted Chile Relleno" -- all atop rice, a "signature sweet corn tamalito" and beans -- boasts 1,920 calories, 36 grams of saturated fat and 3,950 milligrams of sodium. And that's if you skip the free chips and salsa.
8. Joe's Crab Shack
The Big "Hook" Up
The only plausible excuse for this monstrous platter of fried seafood is that it's made to be shared. Bring a lot of friends: you've got 3,280 calories, 50 grams of saturated fat and 7,610 milligrams of sodium to split.
9. Maggiano's Little Italy
Prime New York Steak, Contadina style
It's like five McDonald’s Quarter Pounder beef patties, with extras, for a total of 2,420 calories, 66 grams of saturated fat and 5,620 milligrams of sodium.