Kitchen Think: Top 5 Most Unhealthy Chain Restaurant Dishes


The Golden Globes kicked off awards season on Sunday so, not to be left out of the mix, the Center for Science in the Public Interest is ready with its “Xtreme Eating Awards.”

The nutritionists at CSPI have been out scouting America’s chain restaurants in search of the worst meals… but not from a “taste” point of view. No. I’m sure all of these meals are amazingly delicious because they are loaded with saturated fat, sodium and sugar.

Some of the components of the meals do have nutritional value (like the eggs), but it’s just the massive combination of food that makes this, well, obscene. (Ever seen the TV show “Man vs. Food”? Those are the kind of meals we’re talking about here.)

These “Awards” present the best argument yet for requiring calorie-labeling rules for all chain restaurants.

Here’s the list, in no particular order of extreme-ness. What do you think?

  • Johnny Rockets: Bacon Cheddar Double Burger, Sweet Potato Fries and Big Apple Shake (which actually contains a slice of apple pie). 3,500 calories. Nearly two days worth of total calories in one meal.
  • Uno Chicago Grill: Deep Dish Macaroni & 3-Cheese. Cheddar, Parmesan and Romano Cheese, Alfredo sauce with a Ritz Cracker Topping. 1,980 calories. That’s like eating an entire Stouffer’s Family Size Mac and Cheese with a half a stick of butter melted on top. Yum.
  • The Cheesecake Factory: Bistro Shrimp Pasta (shrimp, mushrooms, tomato, arugula). 3,120 calories. You might think you were “eating healthy” if you ordered this, but there’s enough saturated fat in there to equal three orders of Olive Garden’s Lasagna Classico AND a Tiramisu for dessert.
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy: 18 oz. Veal Porterhouse, drizzled butter sauce, half pound roasted, fried and garlic buttered Crispy Red Potatoes. 2,710 calories. Add a slice of Zuccotto Cake, and you can tack on an additional 1,820 calories. And that doesn’t include the Ciabatta Roll that comes with the meal.
  • Chili’s: A Full Rack of Baby Back Ribs with Shiner Bock BBQ Sauce and Homestyle Fries with Cinnamon Apples. 2,330 calories… and more than a 4-day supply of sodium.

If restaurant menus had calorie labeling, would that help you make wiser choices? Or would you fall back on the “Well, I’m eating out and it’s a special occasion” excuse? Remember, the choice, ultimately, is YOURS!


I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: