One of the reasons why people love to eat out is that they can get the same thing at the same restaurant, regardless of where that restaurant is. If you have a favorite burger place, you can bet that the menu will have the same items at all locations. Same goes for a favorite seafood place or steak house.
But what if you are the type of person who likes the same thing but occasionally craves something different? How about those individuals that have their favorite restaurant and menu items but sometimes want something different?
This list is all about items at a number of restaurants around the world that are secret menu items. The twenty restaurants on this list may seem very familiar to a lot of people, although there are are few more localized selections, but each restaurant on this list is in here for the very reason that they have at least one secret menu item, if not a complete secret menu.
Are you looking for a special new menu item to try the next time you go to your favorite diner? Perhaps you will find that when you are traveling abroad or around the United States you come across a great restaurant, but find yourself not craving the traditional menu items. Hopefully, you will find that the items on this list open your eyes to the world of secret menu items at these restaurants and give you the courage to ask at other restaurants about the possibility of a secret menu.
20 Liholiho Yacht Club
We start our list of top 20 secret menu items in San Francisco, California at the Liholiho Yacht Club. This restaurant is known for a lot of things, but especially for its Hawaiian roots, which has really inspired the menu. There is an extensive menu of fresh dinner items (they are only open for dinner), cocktails, wine, and desserts. But one thing that you may not know about the Liholiho Yacht Club is that they make their own SPAM. Not the kind of spam in your email inbox, but the kind that you eat, made from the leftover bits and pieces of pork and ham that is something (oddly) that Hawaii is known for. The chef of the Liholiho Yacht Club is from Hawaii, and he brought that influence with him. And part of that influence is to make his own SPAM, just not in a can. Now, whether it can actually be called "SPAM" or if it should be known as something different is entirely up to you as the diner. You will find this meat concoction goes great with the bowl of rice it comes with. But you should really try it on top of the sticky rice with the Sriracha aioli.
19 Red Robin
Our next restaurant is a place that many people are probably quite familiar with, Red Robin. Home to gourmet burgers and endless fries, Red Robin is a great restaurant to visit for a good burger. But many people may find that the sheer size of the burgers at this family-friendly casual dining establishment is quite daunting. After all, who really needs a half-pound burger for dinner, especially with endless fries? Red Robin has thought of this, and so
they offer an off-menu burger option: the Petite Burger. This is the same quality meat that you expect on all of Red Robin's other burgers, but only half the size.
That means that you are able to get a quarter-pound hamburger but still with endless fries. This burger is only 136 calories, making it perfect for someone on a diet or looking to curb calories at the end of the day. You will not find this item on the menu, though, so you will need to ask for it if it's something that you want to try. And once you try it, you are sure to go back to it again and again each time you visit any Red Robin restaurant.
18 Joe Fish
Heading up to Chicago, Illinois, we find a little diner-style place simply called Joe Fish. This restaurant has received a number of accolades over the years for their seafood and seafood-inspired menu items. And by all means, if you are in the mood for seafood and you are in Chicago, stop in at Joe Fish for some of the best. But there is something that Chicago is known for that you would not expect to find in a fish restaurant—Chicago-style hot dogs. Yet, believe it or not, Joe Fish is serving one up. But theirs is quite different and only available by request.
The Joe Fish version of the Chicago-style hot dog is a Kobe beef hot dog wrapped in more beef and topped with caramelized onions on a brioche bun.
And it comes with fries. This is a "dinner only" option though and, like most of the items on this list, is only available by special request. So, if you are in Chicago and someone asks you for a recommendation on a great hot dog, you now know that Joe Fish will serve up the best Kobe beef hot dog in Chicago alongside your buddy's plate of fish and chips.
17 By Chloe
by Chloe, in New York City, is unlike most vegan restaurants out there. Sure, it is chic and trendy and upscale and very New York. But, it also has a side that most people would not expect from a vegan restaurant. No, it will not serve you a secret steak if you ask for it. But if you are dying for chili cheese fries, by Chloe has you covered 100%. It is still a vegan dish, and it is something that you have to ask for as it is another off-menu item. Dubbed as "Oh So Fancy Fries," you would find it hard to believe that they are vegan. They include Seitan chorizo, whiskey onions, white mozzarella sauce, and garlic aioli. And they are better than they sound. Yes, you can eat a great vegan meal that tastes like the non-vegan option and still really enjoy your meal. These fries are more than a meal, though, and you will probably need to have someone to share them with. Only in New York City would you find a restaurant like by Chloe that offers so much for the vegan diner and also has something on the menu that you would not necessarily expect to find at a top vegan restaurant.
For anyone that has ever been to Chick-Fil-A, you know that they have great chicken sandwiches. But did you know that there are several locations which offer up a secret menu item that you have to ask them to make specifically for you? Yes, Chick-Fil-A offers a blueberry cheesecake milkshake. And the way to get it is to ask for a slice of blueberry cheesecake in a vanilla milkshake. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, as stated, this is not available everywhere, so do not be surprised if it is not something you can get at your local Chick-Fil-A. If you are lucky enough to live next to a restaurant that can make it for you, rejoice and invite all of your friends to come visit you.
The blueberry cheesecake milkshake is not for the faint of heart, as it is a whole slice of blueberry cheesecake mixed into a whole vanilla milkshake.
It is a dessert in and of itself and should probably not be consumed with a chicken sandwich. There are a lot of great things that can be enjoyed at Chick-Fil-A, but the blueberry cheesecake milkshake is something that anyone who enjoys their chicken sandwiches will find to be their new favorite menu item.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, there is a little place known as Galatoire’s. They serve traditional NOLA food and staples, from fish to gumbo, and all of it is great-tasting and worth the visit. But Galatoire’s has a special menu item that you have to ask for to get. Like many items on this list, if you are not in the know about the secret menu, you are really going to miss out on a whole different perspective on dining at that particular restaurant. For example, at Galatoire’s, you can ask for the fried chicken. One would not expect that fried chicken would be available at a place that primarily serves up gumbo and seafood. Yet, if you happen to be in New Orleans and are craving for some of the best fried chicken that you can find in the area, then stop into Galatoire’s and ignore the traditional menu items. At Galatoire’s, the fried chicken is brined in traditional Cajun seasonings, breaded, and then fried, for an extra special and spicy twist on this American classic comfort food. Lesson here: Do not be deceived by the traditional menu that is put in front of you at any restaurant. If you want to branch out, take a gamble, and ask for something like fried chicken at a place like Galatoire’s that is mainly known for its seafood and gumbo.
Herringbone, in Los Angeles, may seem like your typical West Coast seafood joint. Well, it is a little more upscale than your typical West Coast seafood joint, but it is still a place on the West Coast where you can get some great seafood at a great price. So why is Herringbone on this list of secret menu places? Well, because they have a hole secret menu that they only offer you if you ask.
Known as the Pearl Menu, it features a vast selection of local, fresh, and seasonal grilled fish. What more could you ask for in a place on the West Coast that is already serving up some of the best seafood in the region?
Herringbone offers you both—a fresh seasonal selection and a regular menu of outstanding items to choose from. But, if you are going to visit a restaurant with a "Pearl Menu," you should probably go ahead and ask for that special menu to order something off of. There are a number of restaurants in Los Angeles that serve seafood, and a lot of that is going to be fresh. But Herringbone makes this list with its secret menu that offers up some amazing fresh seasonal grilled fish options.
13 Area Four
Area Four, in Boston, has been featured as a "Best Ever," which should be reason enough to make it on other food-related top lists. But this list is about secret menus, so it would be appropriate if Area Four had a secret menu that you could dine off of. Well, they happen to have a semi-secret menu that you can choose to eat off of. In this case, it is a secret pizza that the chef comes up with each day. While this is not a standing secret menu or secret menu item that you can choose from, it is something that you will need to ask for. So, what can you expect from a secret pizza menu? At Area Four, they tout their pizza as real food, and they stand behind that claim with a number of great Boston-style pizza pies that fully represent the gamut of Boston cuisine, in pizza form, of course. And with a number of awards and accolades under their belts, you can be sure that they know how to put together a great pizza, which means that you should have no fear in ordering the secret pizza of the day. Who knows what you will wind up with?
Chipotle was one of, if not the, first fast food Mexican grills. Started in Denver, Colorado, the restaurant quickly became a staple on the upscale fast Mexican food scene. The traditional Chipotle menu offers a number of choices, from burritos to fajita burritos to tacos and just about everything in between. They tout their food as better for you, thanks to offerings that include antibiotic-free meats and fresh vegetables. Yes, Chipotle really does have a lot to offer the average consumer. But for the above average consumer, the one seeking the unthinkable,
Chipotle offers something more—the quesorito. As the name implies, this is a combination between a quesadilla and a burrito.
Think of it this way, a traditional Chipotle burrito of your choosing, wrapped up in a quesadilla. A burrito surrounded by cheese and another tortilla. Well, if that is not something to drool over, what is? While any Chipotle will make you a quesorito, you will need to ask for it by name. Hopefully, not one will ask you to spell it, though. The Chipotle quesorito is something that one would think a lesser burrito chain would come up with because something like this seems so off the wall. But, in fact, Chipotle was the one to popularize this secret menu item.
While many of the places with secret menus and items will be found all over the place, the next place is only found in London, England. Boisdale is best known for its modern British cuisine. While they have a pretty extensive menu, they are probably mostly a brunch place. Brunch is one of those odd meals where breakfast meals combine with lunch meals to form...well...brunch meals. A meal characterized by egg dishes and special drinks, Boisdale really knows how to lay a spread for brunch. So, what secret brunch item do they offer? How about eggs with Perigord Truffles? Truffles are a rare treat and should only be consumed on special occasions, simply because they are so special. At Boisdale, the truffles will either be in house or not, so be sure to ask. If they are available, then go ahead and ask for this very exotic meal. Yes, putting truffles on things is starting to become more widespread. But truffles are still relatively rare, making them an expensive commodity. That means that they are still somewhat of a status symbol, and Boisdale really knows how to treat a status symbol by putting it with the humble egg to create a knockout secret dish.
Everyone has heard of Starbucks, even if they have never been to one of the iconic coffee shops. Most people have heard of Harry Potter, even if they have never read the books or seen the moves. So what if you could combine the two favorites into one great thing? If you have ever wondered what it would be like to enjoy the famous Butter Beer of Harry Potter's world, now you can experience it at Starbucks coffee stores. You just need to know that it is available and ask for it. Yet another great secret menu item, the Butter Beer Frapuccino is a classic creme-based Starbucks Frappuccino with four pumps of toffee syrup and three pumps of caramel syrup. While no one really knows exactly what Butter Beer tastes like, Starbucks seems to have come across a recipe for a Frappuccino that a lot of people think fits the bill pretty close. So, if you love Starbucks and are a big Harry Potter fan, you now know that you can combine the two things into a Butter Beer Frappuccino. You just need to ask for it. Leave it to Starbucks to come up with something like this for Harry Potter fans everywhere.
9 2nd City
2nd City in New York City is known as being one of the best Filipino restaurants in the city. They are serving up fast casual Filipino food, courtesy of a second-generation American Filipino that really knows what he is doing. If this were a list about great food in New York City, 2nd City would make that list. But this is a list about secret menu items, so what is this restaurant doing on this list? If you walk into 2nd City and ask for the secret menu, the servers will look at you as if you are crazy.
This is not because they know nothing of the secret menu, which changes on a regular basis, but because they are supposed to act as though they know nothing. But if you know about the secret menu, then you are one of a select group that gets to indulge in it.
All you need to do is talk to someone who knows about it or look on the restaurant's social media pages for details. Once you know about the menu and what is on it, feel free to order from it. And of course, be sure to share the details of that menu with someone else.
8 Apple Pan
If you happen to be in Los Angeles, California and you are craving for a good old-fashioned American-style comfort food-style sandwich, then The Apple Pan should certainly be a place that you consider. They have been serving up great American food like burgers, sandwiches, and pies for over 70 years, so you can be sure that they know what they are doing. However, there are a number of things that are not on the menu at The Apple Pan.
If you are the type of person to be reading a list of top secret menu items, then you are going to really like the fact that you can order what seems like a simple tuna melt at The Apple Pan.
Now, a tuna melt may seem like a pretty humble sandwich, something that is simple to put together. However, at The Apple Pan, they have elevated this seemingly simple sandwich to new levels. Their tuna melt is made with either cheddar or Swiss cheese paired with tuna salad and the possibility of caramelized onions on the bread of your choice. And this particular tuna melt really elevates the standard for tuna melts everywhere. So, the next time you are in Los Angeles, visit The Apple Pan and ask for the secret tuna melt. You will not be disappointed.
7 Shake Shack
Shake Shack, a restaurant chain that is maybe not as widespread as some other burger joints but still relatively well-known, is actually known for its secret menu items. They have been serving up secret menu items as long as they have been around. Many of these items are thanks to the thoughtful ideas of some of their more famous patrons. And while many have fallen out of favor, there is one item on the Shake Shack secret menu that is so secret it is not actually on the secret menu anymore. The Peanut Butter and Bacon ShackBurger was a favorite from the moment it hit the menu. However, due to allergy concerns, the secret item was removed from the secret menu. Yet, fear not. If you want to order this, feel free to order a bacon burger with a side of peanut butter sauce. As with many items on this list, one needs to ask for them in a specific manner. With crispy bacon and rich creamy peanut butter sauce, the Peanut Butter and Bacon ShackBurger at Shake Shack really defines what a secret menu item should be—something that is hard to imagine but so simple to produce.
There are a plethora of options when it comes to a burger, with a lot of different options for toppings, regardless of which restaurant you go to. Whataburger is a fast food burger place that is primarily in the southern United States. They have been serving up amazing beef patties and fries since 1950. While many of their menu items have stood the test of time, they are not above a little experimentation to see if they can come up with something that will help continue to define the chain. A couple of these items are on the regular menu, but one item on the secret menu is something that you will need to ask for my name, but it is something that has really helped to differentiate Whataburger from other burger chains.
The veggie burger is loaded with vegetables and hash browns, and the patty replaces the traditional beef patty.
So really, you just need to ask for a veggie patty, or patties, on whatever Whataburger you are looking to enjoy. This is a great twist on the classic burgers that have been cooked up for so long at this iconic fast food joint. And they are not just recommended for vegetarians, as they are also a slightly more healthy alternative to the beef patties.
5 Whitewater Snacks (Disneyland)
Disneyland is a great place for people to experience a wide variety of things, with food being tops for a lot of people. There are a number of great places for someone visiting Disneyland to get something to eat, whether they are looking for a quick bite or a full meal. Whitewater Snacks is a Disneyland staple that has a range of menu items to choose from. However,
for those in the know, there is a secret menu item. Pork nachos with avocado. While this may not seem like a bold choice, considering the proliferation of nachos in California, the version created by Whitewater Snacks is a special twist on a classic.
They load their nachos up with mouth watering pork and then top it with mashed avocado. Disneyland offers visitors from all over the world the chance to try new experiences. And while many people will arrive in Disneyland with the expectation that they are there for the rides and amusements, there are a few people that really crave the food. The menu at Whitewater Snacks is great, just like most of the places to eat inside Disneyland. But if you are a true lover of food, you will gather up the courage to ask your server for the pork nachos with avocado.
4 The Local Craft Food & Drink
The Local Craft Food & Drink is pretty much a Miami stable when it comes to great pub food. They may be best known for their rotating selection of on-tap beers and brews and wines, but they do offer up some good food as well. And if you like burgers, then The Local Craft Food & Drink is one of the places that you should check out, especially if you like your burger with a little twist to it. At The Local Craft Food & Drink you can order any burger "secret style" just by asking for it. But what exactly makes a burger "secret style?" The good folks at The Local Craft Food & Drink will be happy to throw some extras on the burger for you. A fried egg on top and a potato bun slathered with pimento cheese to hold it all together. Now, a secret-style burger at this pub may not be for everyone, but if you are a lover of pimiento cheese or you like the added heartiness of a good potato bun, then you should probably consider upping your game and ordering your burger this way at The Local Craft Food & Drink.
3 Five Guys
If you have ever been to a Five Guys restaurant, then you know that they are serving up some of the best burgers around. Oh, and what is not to love about their fries? If you have never been to a Five Guys or you have never heard of it, then you are really missing out. But did you know that there is a secret menu item at this outstanding fast casual burger chain?
It may not be on the menu, but Five Guys is willing to build you a custom patty melt, just the way you like it.
Start by ordering a grilled cheese sandwich, then add a burger patty and finish it off with the vegetables that you like. The freshness of their ground beef patty plus the melty cheese and crisp vegetables allows Five Guys to pull off an amazing patty melt that you would expect to find in a high-class joint. Not that a patty melt is high class or Five Guys is not a classy place. It is just that you would not expect a patty melt of this caliber to be served up in a place best known for hand-cut fries and world-class hamburgers. Or would you?
2 Mastro’s Steakhouse
Mastro’s Steakhouse is an upscale chain of steak and seafood restaurants that looks to raise the bar when it comes to elegant dining. They offer some of the country's best steaks and meals, no doubt about it. But they also have a side that one may not expect. It is a little daring, a little "out there," and perfectly suited to the kind of restaurant that Mastro’s Steakhouse is. If you are a fan of bacon and steak and all things that combine the two, then when you visit a Mastro’s Steakhouse, be sure to ask about the Bacon Steak. This is not your typical bacon-wrapped sirloin that you can grill up yourself. No, this is a classic Mastro's steak wrapped in thick-cut bacon, coated in brown sugar, roasted, and coated in maple bourbon cayenne sauce. Certainly not for the faint of heart when it comes to delicious awesomeness. But Mastro’s Steakhouse really knows how to make a steak, and they really know how to elevate a steak above what you would expect from your typical steak place. So, if you are up to the challenge of the gastronomic experience that is the bacon steak, be sure to order one next time you are in a Mastro’s Steakhouse.
1 Buffalo Wild Wings
The good folks at Buffalo Wild Wings are constantly experimenting with new ideas on how to make the humble buffalo wing better. They have a bunch of outstanding wing sauces and a number of different sides and ways you can try your wings. But one item that they have come up with really stands out. And it is a secret item that you will need to ask for by name.
They call it "El Loco." As you can probably imagine, it is a slightly crazy take on typical Buffalo Wild Wings wings. The chef starts with the wings of your choice, although boneless wings are recommended, and the sauce of your choice, the hotter the better. From there, things get messy with a smothering of queso and a topping of sliced jalapenos and pico de gallo.
Buffalo wings may have their roots in upstate New York, but this particular dish takes them into the Southwest where they are given a special treatment. As with everything at Buffalo Wild Wings, you are free to customize with your choice of sauce or rub, so you can control the final flavor. And as with everything on this list, you can only get "El Loco" from Buffalo Wild Wings by asking for it.
Hopefully, this list of twenty secret menu items at a variety of restaurants around the world will give you an idea of what you can get if you just ask for it. Some of these menu items are customer creations that have been adopted by the establishment, and many of them have been created exclusively by the chef to help showcase their individual style. Whatever the reason for the creation, these menu items are now no longer a secret.