From Starbucks to Chipotle, many of our nation's most popular eateries offer "secret" dishes that aren't on the menu - if you know what to ask for.
My favorite sushi restaurant knows the way I take my Mexican roll – finished with their special volcano topping. It’s a topping normally reserved for their volcano roll, but after curiosity got the better of me, I asked if it were possible to add a topping from one roll to another. They didn’t hesitate.
If you think restaurants are limited to their menus, consider being a little more creative. As long as they have the ingredients, many will make whatever you want. Since my sushi restaurant already had the special topping made, using it elsewhere was simple.
While restaurants don’t advertise menu variations, some have gone mainstream after being discovered. If you’re looking to save a few bucks (or calories), check out this list of hidden menu items…
1. Starbucks: Short
Starbucks has a multitude of things that don’t appear on their menu, from a cake batter Frappuccino (vanilla Frappuccino with both vanilla and almond flavoring) to a “green eye” (a coffee with three shots of espresso). And while their standard sizes are venti, grande, and tall, you can also order a short – an 8 ounce option.
A short cappuccino holds the same amount of espresso as a tall, but it’s stronger. You can get a short latte or regular coffee too. If that’s not enough of a jolt for you, order a double shot of espresso, iced, and throw in some brown sugar. Also known as a “cheapo.”
2. Chipotle: Quesadillas
One item not found on the Chipotle menu is the quesadilla – but they’ll make it for you. It’s a large tortilla filled with cheese, chicken, steak, or anything else you want inside. One review said it costs them less than $5 for their meal – lower than even the veggie menu options. You can also order a taco salad or nachos, but the meals and chips are charged separately.
3. In-N-Out: Protein Style
This west coast chain has their “not so secret” menu on their website, so it’s not well hidden. Included are “animal style” (a mustard-grilled burger with extra spread) and “protein-style” (your burger is wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun). And if you want to skip the meat, you can order something else not on the menu: a grilled cheese.
4. Burger King: BLT
Don’t limit yourself to burgers at BK. If they’ve got the ingredients, odds are they’ll make it. For example, try a simple bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. You can probably even make it a meal with fries and a drink.
5. McDonald’s: All American
Remember the days a burger consisted of a patty, pickles, and ketchup? McDonald’s does. Order it “All American” and you’ll revisit the days when the condiments didn’t take over your burger.
6. Shake Shack: The Shandy
While Arnold Palmer may have gotten dibs on the half iced tea/half lemonade concoction, that doesn’t mean we all aren’t trying to make our name famous with drinks. The Shandy is half lemonade, half beer.
7. Popeye’s: Naked Chicken
If you love Popeye’s chicken, but not their calorie count, you can get the taste without the breading. Simply ask for your chicken ‘naked.’
Did we miss any? Tell us your favorite “hidden” menu on our Facebook page.