These may be delicious, but they're loaded with calories
The majority of menu items at Applebee's are not for the health-conscious, like this cheese-stuffed meatball.
Not only are Americans eating out more, we’re simply eating more than we have in decades past, and chains are doing all they can to keep up: more calories, more fat, more sodium, and excess portions. From the "Tour of Italy" at Olive Garden to a BBQ burger at TGI Fridays, we’ve tracked down the most fat-, calorie-, and sodium-laden dishes on the menu at 15 leading chains, and the numbers are jaw-dropping.
America’s 15 Unhealthiest Chain Restaurant Dishes (Slideshow)
Restaurants don’t seem to be holding back in terms of the fat and calories they're packing into their offerings these days, despite the requirement to post calorie counts on menus. Many dishes come laden with cream, butter, and most of all salt, designed to tickle our taste buds without considering what they're doing to our waistlines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises everyone to limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day, and the average adult should consume around 2,000 to 2,400 calories per day; some of these dishes pack more than that onto one plate, and that doesn’t even include appetizers and desserts!
So with all these terrifying statistics in mind, it’s more difficult than you might think to find healthy options at readily available chain restaurants. Even meals you thought were healthy on the surface can turn out to be disastrous; heck, The Cheesecake Factory’s grilled portobello mushroom on a bun contains a whopping 1,130 calories. That doesn’t even include a side, and who can eat a veggie burger without some fries?
It turns out that this dinner minefield is a common occurrence at most chain restaurants. So if you want to learn which dishes are the worst of the worst (ranked according to the amount of calories), read on.
This article was originally published December 2, 2013.
The Most-Popular Dishes at America's Top Chain Restaurants
Find out if your go-to order tops the menu at each of these tried-and-true chains.
Applebee's: Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp
For customers of this iconic and ever-evolving chain, nothing embodies "eatin' good in the neighborhood" quite like the Bourbon Street Chicken and Shrimp &mdash a heap of Cajun-seasoned chicken and blackened shrimp in garlic butter, served on a sizzling cast-iron platter along with sauteed mushrooms, onions and crispy red potatoes. Since December 2015, Applebee's has served more than 46 million of these dishes.
Red Lobster: Ultimate Feast
Come for the often-imitated, never-duplicated Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Stay for the Ultimate Feast, Red Lobster's fan-favorite entree. In this case, "feast" is not hyperbole: It's a platter heaped with tender Maine lobster tail, steamed North American snow crab legs and garlic shrimp scampi &mdash in addition to butterflied, hand-breaded, golden fried shrimp. Remember to save room for the parade of all-included salad, coleslaw and biscuits.
California Pizza Kitchen: Original BBQ Chicken Pizza
California Pizza Kitchen offers over 20 different pies on its menu &mdash four of them gluten-free! But the most popular, hands down, is the Original BBQ Chicken Pizza, invented at the chain's first location in Beverly Hills in 1985. The hand-tossed crust, made from a top-secret recipe, is a canvas for CPK's legendary BBQ sauce plus smoked Gouda, red onions and fresh cilantro.
LongHorn Steakhouse: Rib-Eye Steak
LongHorn serves more than 10 million fresh (and never-frozen) rib-eye steaks annually &mdash and this item's popularity is no surprise. Each location nationwide has a team of certified Grill Masters who specialize in selecting the right cut, pairing it with one of six signature seasoning blends and grilling it to each guest's taste. Diners can order the rib eye either of two ways: the hand-trimmed, 12-ounce rib eye or the signature fire-grilled Outlaw Ribeye &mdash an 18-ounce, perfectly marbled bone-in cut.
Carrabba's Italian Grill: Chicken Bryan
Carrabba's isn't your typical red-sauce Italian joint. First and foremost, it's a grill &mdash and each of the menu's meaty entrees, from steak and chops to chicken and veal, gets the wood-fired treatment. Take the Chicken Bryan, for example. This fan favorite is lightly brushed with Carrabba's signature grill baste made up of olive oil and 14 different herbs and spices. Once grilled, the rustic white meat is topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and a lemon butter sauce.
TGI Friday's: Cajun Shrimp and Chicken Pasta
TGI Friday's frequently refreshes its menu, so the most-popular entree changes with every rotation of brand-new dishes. Most recently, the Cajun Shrimp and Chicken Pasta has been dominating order slips according to a spokesperson, it's the most-commonly ordered dish per store, per day. This flavor bomb features sauteed, all-natural chicken, shrimp and red bell peppers tossed with fettuccine in a spicy Cajun Alfredo sauce.
P.F. Chang's: Mongolian Style Beef
The sheer volume of menu options at this Asian-themed casual-dining restaurant is dizzying, encompassing everything from sushi to street fare &mdash and let's not forget the separate Dim Sum menu featuring traditional Chinese-style rolls and dumplings. Still, P.F. Chang's patrons have managed to identify a clear favorite: the Mongolian Style Beef, garlicky soy-glazed flank steak topped with snipped green onions.
Golden Corral: A Blue-Plate Tie
It doesn't get much more "Sunday supper" than fried chicken, pot roast or meatloaf. It's no coincidence, then, that these quintessential blue plates are all tied for the most-popular spot on the menu at Golden Corral, a big American buffet chain known for its comforting, stick-to-your-ribs classics.
Arby's: Traditional Greek Gyro
With a slogan like "We have the meats," it's no surprise that the reigning No. 1 overall order at Arby's is the Classic Roast Beef &mdash with small fries and a fountain soda, of course. Recently, though, fans have been migrating toward the new Signature Sandwiches &mdash specifically, the Traditional Greek Gyro. This hearty newcomer features sliced gyro meat (a blend of ground beef, ground lamb and Mediterranean spices) in a warm flatbread along with lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, tzatziki sauce and Greek seasoning. After Arby's sold 6.5 million of them in April 2018, the fan favorite became a permanent menu item in May 2018.
Carl's Jr.: Famous Star with Cheese
What started in 1941 as a humble Los Angeles hot-dog cart, manned by husband-and-wife team Carl and Margaret Karcher, would ultimately grow into a multinational destination for charbroiled burgers and fries. Customers' favored dish is true to Carl's Jr.'s all-American roots: To date, the chain's most-frequently ordered menu item has been the Famous Star with Cheese, a beef patty and gooey American cheese with lettuce, tomato, onion, dill pickles, mayonnaise and special sauce on a seeded bun.
Cracker Barrel: Momma's Pancake Breakfast
At Cracker Barrel, all-day breakfast is more of a birthright than a lifestyle choice. It's also the reason why Momma's Pancake Breakfast is the restaurant chain's most-popular dish. This plate is nothing short of an ode to breakfast: Three hot-off-the-griddle buttermilk pancakes come outfitted with butter and syrup plus two eggs and thick-sliced bacon or sausage on the side.
Outback: Center-Cut Sirloin
The philosophy "Less is more" is anathema to devotees of Outback Steakhouse, a chain famous for big, meaty, over-the-top plates like its filet mignon and steamed lobster-tail entree. However &mdash and this may surprise you &mdash the most-popular main dish at this internationally known temple of red meat is none other than the simple, lean and seared Center-Cut Sirloin. Pair it with a house salad and Outback's signature baked potato and you've got yourself a well-rounded plate.
Olive Garden: Chicken Alfredo
With dozens of mix-and-match pasta possibilities (or, should we say, pastabilities), it's the big, creamy bowl of Olive Garden's Chicken Alfredo that continues to top the restaurant's list of most-popular entrees. Sliced grilled chicken is served over tender fettuccine pasta and doused in OG's signature homemade Alfredo sauce, which is made from scratch daily. We think that's exactly what the restaurant's iconic breadsticks are for &mdash mopping up all that rich cream sauce.
Chick-fil-A: Chicken Sandwich
In 1961, restaurateur and Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy set out to create a flawless chicken sandwich. After years of experimentation, he cracked the code to what would ultimately become the No. 1-selling entree at the nation's largest chicken-restaurant chain. Five decades later, Cathy's cooking method hasn't changed &mdash and his Chicken Sandwich recipe is still a secret. All we know is that pressure-cooking boneless, hand-breaded chicken breast in refined peanut oil, and adorning it simply with dill pickle chips and a toasted, buttered bun, is central to the magic.
Panera Bread: Broccoli Cheddar Soup
At Panera, the hands-down fan favorite is a no-brainer: Broccoli Cheddar Soup. The recipe features chopped broccoli and shredded carrots simmered in a velvety smooth cheese sauce with a top-secret blend of seasonings. The iconic soup is available in a cup, bowl or bread bowl. Let's face it &mdash you want the bread bowl. We all want the bread bowl.
Chipotle: Chicken Burrito Bowl
We were relatively surprised to discover that it's not the Burrito but rather its lower-carb alternative, the Burrito Bowl, that tops the popularity chart at Chipotle. Specifically, it's the Chicken Burrito Bowl &mdash a flavor festival of rice, beans, fajita veggies and other essentials, such as salsa and sour cream (and guac, if you're willing to cough up the extra $1.95), united around a foundation of smoky, spicy adobo grilled chicken that's deliciously charred for subtle caramel flavor.
When McDonald's introduced the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders in October 2017, many people speculated that the good old-fashioned McNugget eventually would go the way of the dinosaur. However, according to a McDonald's spokesperson, the golden-crusted nuggets we all pined for as youngsters continue to shine as customers' favored meal, regardless of their age. Made with 100 percent white meat and no artificial preservatives, the nuggets have more in common with their healthier-seeming cousins than you might have imagined.
The Cheesecake Factory: Chicken Madeira
With a menu that boasts more than 250 items, it's unbelievable that The Cheesecake Factory has been able to identify a definitive favorite. And yet, somehow, a clear winner has emerged: The Chicken Madeira, according to a Cheesecake Factory spokesperson, is the most-frequently ordered entree on the menu. Smothered with fresh mushroom Madeira sauce and melted mozzarella, the tender chicken breasts come topped with fresh asparagus and a side of fluffy mashed potatoes.
KFC: Original Recipe Fried Chicken
It seems as if KFC customers around the globe live by the old mantra "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." According to a KFC spokesperson, despite the regular introduction of new menu items, the Colonel's most-prized offering is the Original Recipe fried chicken, seasoned with an oh-so-secret signature blend of 11 herbs and spices. Despite operating roughly 21,000 locations worldwide, the megachain prides itself on the fact that its cooks meticulously inspect each individual piece of chicken before it is seasoned, floured and pressure-cooked.
Burger King: The Whopper
True, at Burger King you can "have it your way." But it seems as though customers are more than happy sticking to the fast-food chain's tried-and-true Whopper formula. This straightforward quarter-pounder comes with all the classic fixins: juicy tomatoes, fresh lettuce, creamy mayonnaise, ketchup, crunchy pickles and sliced white onions on a soft sesame-seed bun.
Denny's: Build Your Own Grand Slam
It turns out the breakfast-all-day crowd spans far and wide. At Denny's, where the most-popular menu item is the Build Your Own Grand Slam, diners customize their plates around the clock with a choice of two fluffy buttermilk pancakes, two eggs cooked to order, two sizzling bacon strips and two sausage links. No wonder it's been said that all the best things in life come in twos.
Taco Bell: Crunchy Taco
Of the roughly 2 billion tacos ordered at Taco Bell each year, the most-popular item is the Crunchy Taco, which can be ordered a la carte and famously cost just 19 cents on the original menu in 1962. Though it's been served the same way since then (a basic trio of seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar and chopped lettuce), it has spawned countless variations, such as the Doritos Locos Tacos, which launched in 2012.
Wendy's: Dave's Single
Dave's Single is Wendy's most-popular main, not to mention an all-around classic and menu staple. Just as Wendy's founder, Dave Thomas, intended, Dave's Single is made with a juicy quarter-pound of fresh beef. The burger is dressed with crinkle-cut pickles, sliced tomatoes, sweet onions, lettuce, melted American cheese, and ketchup and mayonnaise, all on a warm toasted bun &mdash the same way it's been served since its introduction in 1969.
These are the most unhealthy meals in America, ranked
If you've ever wondered what four days' worth of fat content in one meal looks like, you finally have your answer.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has put together a list of the unhealthiest meals in America, known as the "Xtreme Eating" list. These highly calorific, artery-clogging meals make a KFC family bucket look like child's play.
The list is collated by nutrition experts who reviewed menus at 200 restaurant chains in the United States to find the meals heaviest in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the daily recommended intake is 2,000 calories, 20 grams of saturated fat, 2,300 milligrams of sodium, and 50 grams of added sugar.
Unfortunately for the chains on this list, chain restaurants nationwide are now required to list calories on all menus and menu boards.
18 Quiznos - It Isn’t Just Fries
When most people think of fast food restaurants they think of places that sell burgers and french fries. This is usually accompanied by a misconception that burger restaurants are more unhealthy than other types of fast food. This is not universally true. A good example of this is Quiznos. Quiznos is often compared to Subway but this is only because they both sell subs. While Subway has consciously made its food increasingly healthier, however, Quiznos product is anything but.
Their food is incredibly greasy and the way that they prepare their subs is meant to harness all of this grease.
8. Steak 'N Shake's Sausage Gravy and Biscuits
The bad news: Trans fats are responsible for clogging arteries, including ones that are in your brain. Which, according to Zinczenko, will affect your cognitive performance ability, effectively making you dumber.
The American Heart Association suggests you limit your daily trans fat intake to 2 grams a day, and this dish has 8 grams, making it 4x the daily recommendation.
Customers who bought this item also bought
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America's Least Healthy Fast-Food Chains
24/7 Wall St. analyzed nutritional information for each of the country’s largest fast-food restaurants based on publicly available nutritional information for each chains menu. Specifically, we examined the levels of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, carbohydrates, sugars, and calories in each menu item and compared them to the typical levels found at the nation’s most popular fast-food chains. More menu items exceeding those levels resulted in a lower rank. Based on our rank, these are the least healthy fast-food restaurants in the country.
We chose these six nutrient components because nutrition experts widely agree that high consumption of these nutrients — above the recommended values — is unhealthy. These nutrient components are also among the most likely to appear in unhealthy amounts on America’s fast-food menus.
Christine Palumbo, RDN, FAND, a nationally recognized nutrition expert, discussed the problems with some of the worst fast-food menu items. “When I think of extremely unhealthful fast-food items, they tend to be large, meat-heavy sandwiches,” Palumbo said. “They are high in calories, sodium, and saturated fat.” Those are the nutrients that are linked to cardiovascular disease, she said. In fact, seven of the ten least healthy restaurants identified by 24/7 Wall St. primarily served hamburgers.
However, it is possible to both eat at fast-food chains, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. “I would not ever want to dissuade someone from eating at a Wendy’s, a Taco Bell, a KFC, a McDonald’s, or Chick-Fil-A,” Palumbo added. “You can eat well, you can eat very, very poorly, or somewhere in between. It all boils down to the choices you’re going to make.”
Indeed, when we conducted our review of the largest fast-food restaurants, we wanted to acknowledge that consumers have a choice to avoid the worst items on the menu. In order to account for this, 24/7 Wall St. penalized restaurants based on the extent to which the menu is unhealthy as a whole, rather than on the most egregious item on the menu.
For example, Popeye’s Chicken Livers sandwich, which has nearly 1,200 calories, 34 grams of saturated fat, and 4.5 grams of trans fat, is one of the least healthy items on any fast-food menu. Yet no other meal item on Popeye’s menu has more than 690 calories or 22 grams of saturated fat. Popeye’s, therefore, did not rank as one of the least healthy restaurants because it offers many healthier options. Restaurants that offered many unhealthy options and few healthier ones ranked lower.
Speaking with 24/7 Wall St., Jim White, RDN, ACSM HFS, spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios, explained how difficult it can be for Americans to determine what is healthy on their menus. “You could have a meal that is fairly low in fat, and most people would think it is healthy.” However, he said, all nutritional measures should be considered. “It’s really hard for the consumer, because it’s a balance. Most measure calories, or fat or carbs, but looking at all of them is important to get the equal value for these items.”
Toby Amidor, dietitian-nutritionist and author of “The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day,” explained that poor health consequences occur when popular restaurants have items that exceed daily recommended levels in more than one category. Indeed, the least healthy fast-food restaurants have items above the recommended levels of multiple nutrients. In the case of Quizno’s, for example, more than 35% of the restaurant’s meal items had among the highest levels in all six categories. In many of the healthier restaurants, none of the meal items were above normal levels in all six nutrients we considered.
America's best Tex-Mex restaurants
.24 and tacos, tostadas and fries for .19. Fast-forward to today and, although prices are different, these items and more keep customers coming back. There are American-style tacos like the beer-battered fish taco or more traditional choices like the tacos al carbon with carne asada or chicken, cilantro and onions in a corn tortilla. There are even breakfast options like breakfast burritos to satisfy that Tex-Mex craving early on in the day." />
Interested in this topic? You may also want to view these photo galleries:
15. Pappasito's Cantina: As the Tex-Mex outpost of Pappas Restaurants, Pappasito's does this cuisine justice. According to their website, more than 3.5 million pounds of tortilla chips are served at the chain's locations each year. Holy guacamole! And speaking of guacamole, Pappasito's is prepared tableside with fresh avocado, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños and lime juice. What began as a family-owned restaurant business in 1976 has grown to include other cuisines like Greek, steak and seafood. Pappasito's stays true to its roots, with the majority of its locations in Texas. (Photo: Flickr/dionhinchcliffe)
The votes have been tabulated, and The Daily Meal is pleased to announce the 15 best Tex-Mex chain restaurants in America.
We rounded up a list of 50 top Tex-Mex chain restaurants around the country and asked you to determine which one is the best based on several criteria: the variety of menu options offered, the best rice and beans, the use of fresh ingredients, the most authentic/unique dishes, the best chips, salsa, and guacamole, and the most flavorful cuisine overall.
Now, we have narrowed it down to the top 15 based on your votes.
Americans love Tex-Mex. There is a reason why there are thousands of these restaurants around the country. But what are the origins of this cuisine, and why do we care so much?
The concept of Tex-Mex is relatively new. The first trace of it popped up in the 1940s, according to Food Timeline. But it didn't gain momentum until the 1970s when it was deemed trendy.
Tex-Mex gets its name from the restaurants that opened in Southwestern cities with large Mexican populations, and is a take on regional cuisine in Mexico. Some may also argue that it is a version of Mexican food prepared by Texan cooks.
Fast forward to today, and Tex-Mex is available all around the world.
While there's no debate that there's a big difference between authentic Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex (you won't find a hard-shell taco in Mexico), both Tex-Mex and Mexican foods rely on the same basic ingredients: tortillas, rice, beans, beef, chicken, pork, sauce and cheese (though traditional Mexican fare is a bit more subtle flavor-wise, and usually includes fresh white cheese instead of shredded cheddar).
Even if their menus might be similar, some chains are arguably better than others. And this is why we asked you to be the judge, and put it to a vote. From the rice and beans to the burritos, chips and salsa, Americans are undoubtedly hooked on Tex-Mex.
Founder Steve Ells knew that he wanted to create a restaurant with affordable, fresh ingredients when he opened the first Chipotle store in Denver in 1993. What he didn't realize was how large and successful it would be, with more than 1,500 locations in four countries. In the late '90s and early 2000s, Ells made a big change that revolutionized the company: he ensured that all pork and chicken used was naturally raised. Eventually, this led to no trans fat on the menu, the use of naturally raised beef, and more. Today, Ells leads a great effort to push for meat and produce to be raised responsibly. And if that weren't enough, Chipotle is delicious. They are famous for their burritos, burrito bowls and guacamole. The food is fresh and tasty, but the best part is that you know where all of the ingredients for your meal came from.
This California-based chain opened in 1990 and, as their name suggests, emphasizes fresh ingredients. Everything is handmade and unprocessed. You will never see a can opener, microwave, lard, MSG or freezers at any of the more than 200 locations of Baja Fresh. Try the Baja Bowl filled with rice, beans, roasted vegetables, onions, cilantro, salsa verde and a choice of either chicken, pork carnitas, steak, line-caught ono fish or grilled shrimp. Or, try one of their premium burritos.
This Mexican grill opened in 1995 in Denver under a different name. Qdoba used to be called Zuma, then Z-TECA Mexican Grill. But because these names were too similar to other restaurants, founder Anthony Miller and partner Robert Hauser settled on the name Qdoba. There are more than 600 locations today and the chain is best known for its Mission-style burritos, a concept from San Francisco. These are customizable burritos with options like roasted chile corn, shredded beef, fajita vegetables, ancho-chile barbecue sauce and a three-cheese queso. Fun fact: It took the folks over at Qdoba 47 attempts to create the perfect blend of the three-cheese queso.
4. Moe's Southwest Grill
Known for their crazy menu names and high-quality ingredients, Moe's is great all around. They promise cage-free chicken, steroid-free and grain-fed pork, grass-fed steak and organic tofu. Also, there are no microwaves, trans fats or MSG to be found. It's something to be happy about when you take a bite of their Homewrecker Burrito, with rice, beans, cheese, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and your choice of meat. Or, try the Funk Meister tacos. It has almost the same ingredients as the burrito, but is served on a flour or crispy corn tortilla. Moe's has been around since 2000 when the first location opened in Atlanta. Now, with more than 460 locations around the world, Moe's quirkiness and good food continues to be shared.
This restaurant epitomizes the culture of Tex-Mex with its name and beginnings in 1986 in Dallas. All dishes are inspired by the tastes of Mexico and Southern Texas, with items like chicken flautas, achiote chicken tacos, homemade guacamole and hand-pressed tortillas. The chain that was originally based on sizzling fajitas and margaritas now has more than 160 locations and serves a wide variety of true Tex-Mex cuisine.
This the largest and most known of all the Tex-Mex chain restaurants. A former Marine named Glen Bell created the concept of Taco Bell in San Bernardino, Calif., when he opened a hot dog stand but realized the real interest was in the alternative menu items, tacos. There are more than 4,600 Taco Bell franchises around the world today. From Crunchwrap Supremes to Chalupas, Taco Bell has created some innovative Tex-Mex. But, the one that has taken the world by storm is the Doritos Locos Taco, with more than $1 billion worth of these gems sold. The genius taco is made of ground beef, lettuce, and cheese stuffed in a Doritos-seasoned crispy taco shell.
Unlike a typical Tex-Mex restaurant, El Pollo Loco started out in Guasave, Mexico, as a roadside chicken stand in 1975. The first American restaurant opened in 1980 in Los Angeles. In English, "El Pollo Loco" means "The Crazy Chicken," which is what this chain specializes in. The chicken is marinated in herbs, citrus juices and spices, then fire-grilled. Served in burritos, salads and as an entrée, El Pollo Loco's chicken has customers coming back for more time and time again.
Three brothers founded this chain in 1988, taking inspiration from various cultures around the world. Wing, Ed and Mingo combined their love for surfing with a mix of Mexican, Brazilian, Hawaiian and Asian flavors to create the menu. Surfing companies donated stickers and adornments to the first outpost, opened in Orange County, Calif. There are more than 50 locations today, with the most popular menu item being their Citrus Slaw Tacos with fish (of course).
As the second-largest Tex-Mex franchise in California, Chevys promises that all of their food has been made from scratch. Founded in 1986 in Alameda, Calif., dining at this restaurant chain is designed to resemble the experience of dining in a cantina or border town café in Mexico. One of the best dishes is the sizzling fajitas with chicken, steak, shrimp, portobello mushrooms or pork carnitas. The best part of the dining experience, however, is Chevys' in-house tortilla maker, dubbed El Machino. Watch your tortilla being made in this machine, which just adds to the freshness and fun at Chevys.
Chuy's first came about in 1982 when Mike Young and John Zapp wanted to turn an abandoned building into a restaurant in Austin. When it opened, the restaurant was run-down, with multi-colored tiles, a dirt parking lot, an outdoor restroom and the only adornments on the walls were velvet paintings of Stevie Wonder and Elvis Presley. Although the décor has changed, one thing that has remained consistent throughout all of these years is their South Texas, New Mexico and regional Mexican cuisine. Some of Chuy's popular items include the chile relleno, which is a stuffed fire-roasted Anaheim pepper with either cheese, ground sirloin, chicken and cheese, or shrimp and cheese. There is also the Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken, which is breaded with Lay's potato chips and served with a green chile sauce and Cheddar cheese.
When this taco joint opened in 1964 in Yermo, Calif., it served burgers for .24 and tacos, tostadas and fries for .19. Fast-forward to today and, although prices are different, these items and more keep customers coming back. There are American-style tacos like the beer-battered fish taco or more traditional choices like the tacos al carbon with carne asada or chicken, cilantro and onions in a corn tortilla. There are even breakfast options like breakfast burritos to satisfy that Tex-Mex craving early on in the day.
Although Chili's is known today for its sizzling fajitas, premium burgers and baby back ribs, the restaurant was first inspired by a chili cook-off. Founder Larry Lavine attended a cook-off in Terlingua, Texas, and then decided to open a restaurant in Dallas in 1975, serving burgers, tacos and chili. More than 1,200 locations later, Chili's has expanded to 24 countries and broadened its menu to include American favorites like the Philly cheesesteak sandwich and Chicken Crispers.
The California-based franchise first opened in 1954 and continues to serve a taste of Mexico with a modern twist. The Street Taco Trio is one of the favorites, with adobo chicken breast, adobo steak or grilled halibut options and served with beans and rice. Or for a bolder taste, the fire-roasted pasilla chile relleno will set your mouth on fire with the pasilla chile pepper.
From its beginnings in Alamo City, Texas, in 1978, Taco Cabana has come a long way with more than 160 locations near and around Texas. The restaurant was originally intended to be a casual place to hang out. Now that it has expanded, the Tex-Mex cuisine is a hit. There's nothing better than sitting on Taco Cabana's patio catching up with friends. Order the Cabana Sampler, which includes favorites like cheese enchiladas, crispy tacos, chicken flautas and guacamole served with rice, beans and flour tortillas. The conversation with friends will never end.
15. Pappasito's Cantina
As the Tex-Mex outpost of Pappas Restaurants, Pappasito's does this cuisine justice. According to their website, more than 3.5 million pounds of tortilla chips are served at the chain's locations each year. Holy guacamole! And speaking of guacamole, Pappasito's is prepared tableside with fresh avocado, tomatoes, onions, jalapeños and lime juice. What began as a family-owned restaurant business in 1976 has grown to include other cuisines like Greek, steak and seafood. Pappasito's stays true to its roots, with the majority of its locations in Texas.
30. Worst Canned Fruit
Del Monte Peach Chunks Yellow Cling Peaches in Heavy Syrup
100 calories - 23 g sugars
Peaches themselves aren&rsquot bona fide junk food they are, after all, still fruit. But why manufacturers feel the need to can, packaged, and bottle nature&rsquos candy with excess sugar is a question we will never stop asking. In this case, the viscous sugar solution clings to the fruit like syrup to a pancake, soaking every bite with utterly unnecessary calories. Looking for cheap sources of fruit to have on hand at any time? Opt for the frozen stuff&mdashit&rsquos picked at the height of season and flash frozen on the spot, keeping costs low and nutrients high.
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