#949 Ordering off the menu at fast food restaurants

McDonald's Neopolitan Shake

Ever had a neopolitan milkshake from McDonald’s?

One where they layer the chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla flavors in the same cup, creating a thick, icy, slow-moving light-brown-swirls-with-pink-flecks taste sensation? Yeah, my friend Chad was a regular customer of those. Of course, when he was working at McDonald’s he got sick of the regular menu pretty quickly and started tinkering in the back like a mad scientist with his coworkers, developing exotic, unstable, and unpredictable meal creations with the ingredients on hand. Yes, there were failed attempts, like the Chicken McNugget Flurry, but sometimes they struck gold and created a new off-the-menu line extension. I guess this is fairly common, because there are reports of online McDonald’s employee communities, where insider recipes such as the McBrushetta and McPancakeBatterFunnelCakes are shared.

Now, my world opened up when I first realized with Chad that you could order off-the-menu at fast food restaurants. Since that time I’ve learned about a few other secret options around. Like for instance:

Wendy’s – The Grand Slam. If the single, double, or triple hamburgers at Wendy’s just don’t cut it for you, just go all out and order the massive four-patty grand slam. Also known as the Classic Quadruple or The Meat Cube.Freshly squeezed and piping room temperature

McDonald’s – Fries with Big Mac Sauce. Lots of people put fries right on the burger, which I agree tastes delicious. But this technique allows you to switch things up a bit and put some of your burger’s best feature right on your fries. Try to ignore protests from your arteries, and just ask for that a little cup of Big Mac Sauce on the side for dipping.

Starbucks – The Red Eye. A cup of coffee with a shot of espresso dumped in. Now, I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but apparently you can even upgrade this to two shots which is called a Black Eye.  I presume upgrading to three shots is called a Jumpy, Unblinking Eye.

Most Fish & Chip places – Batter Bits. I knew a girl who was all over these. She’d lean in and guiltily ask in a hushed whisper and the guy behind the counter would nod slowly and hand over a wet, greasy paper bag full of all the batter drippings that fell into the oil by accident. Yeah, this is the bottom of the barrel of off-the-menu stylings. It ain’t always pretty out there.

In N' Out's famous animal-style burger

In-N-Out Burger – Animal Style Hamburger. The well-known ‘secret menu‘ at In-N-Out features this heavenly gem — their regular burger patty cooked in mustard, then topped with extra pickles, extra spread, and grilled onions. Yessir, In-N-Out will whip anything up — including messy Animal Style Fries or even a 100×100 order (100 patties and 100 slices of dee-licious cheese.)

Subway – The Pizza Sub. Apparently this one’s like sasquatch. There are scattered sightings everywhere and a few grainy videos that may have been tampered with. Another favorite from Subway, though not technically a menu item, is simply ‘the old cut’, where they dig a trench in your bread instead of just slicing it, leading to better cold cut and veggie distribution. Also known for causing The Wing Effect, where your bologna hangs out the sides of your sandwich for some tasty pre-nibbles.

McDonald’s – Big Mac with Quarter Pounder patties. One last McDonald’s fixture — the ol’ bun-heavy Big Mac surgically altered to become a meat-heavy Big Mac with Quarter Pounder patties instead. Now you’re much less likely to get that dreaded All-Bun first bite.

Starbucks secret short cup

Starbucks – The Short Cup. Even though the smallest size on the Starbucks menu is a ‘Tall’, they do offer a secret ‘Short’ size behind the counter. Perfect for that between-coffee-breaks coffee.

Now, I’m only one man, so I’m sure there are hundreds of great off-the-menu gems that I’ve never heard of or know about. But that’s the beauty! There are all these little surprises just waiting to be discovered. What possible fast-food mouth love will we discover next?

Ordering off the menu at fast food restaurants is a great deal. Maybe you’re the loyal customer looking for that new taste. Maybe you have strict dietary restrictions so it’s either off-the-menu or no-menu-at-all. Or maybe you’re just a grumpy guy who makes flippant off-the-menu requests with a deep scowl and a foot-stomp.

But whatever the case, whatever your background, whatever your taste, I think we can all agree that it sure is nice getting a little something special for lunch now and then.


A 100x100 burger at In 'N' Out

 Photos from: here, here, and here

358 thoughts on “#949 Ordering off the menu at fast food restaurants

  1. @ AnbroK

    I have a vegetarian friend that frequents Taco Bell, and no matter what he orders, he always modifies his request with a simple “beans, no meat”. Cheesy Gordita Crunch- beans, no meat. Crunchwrap Supreme- beans, no meat. Mexi-Melt- beans, no meat. Double Decker Taco- beans, no meat. Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean that you should be stuck eating boring bean burritos when you only have time for fast food.

    But, the order isn’t always filled as requested and he ends up with a mouthful of moo, and has to go back and explain the error, which they apologetically replace, and then he usually gets his food free and/or coupons for his next meal.

  2. Didn’t see if anyone suggested this but try a “surf and turf delux at McDonalds. Take a fish patty and put it on a QP.

  3. You can order extra grilled chicken breasts for salads at mcdonalds. Chicken nuggets with cheese kicks butt too.

  4. I just tried the trick of replacing the big mac paddies with those found in the quarter pounder.

    Here are some pictures. Great idea, as long as you don’t mind paying almost 5 dollars for the sandwich alone! (They added 2 dollars for the extra patties, but still charge you for the original big Mac patties, .. even though you don’t’ get them!)


  5. As a McDonald’s employee who loves experimenting myself, I’d just like to say that I don’t mind if you order off-menu. In fact, I love hearing the different combinations you come up with, and I’ve starting using some of them myself. This isn’t as big a deal as some other things, but in Ontario at least the chicken salads come with a lot of lettuce. Most people don’t know, but you can order the smaller side salad, and add cheese for 50 cents, and a grilled or crispy chicken patty for $2. This saves money if, like most people, you don’t eat the whole salad anyways.

  6. I worked at a Pizza Hut with a salad bar during college and we always made veggie pizzas with all of the veggies and sunflower seeds with ranch dressing instead of sauce. Sounds crazy but I made it for my wife years later and now we have to make it at least once a year.

  7. yummm… off-the menu foods sounds awesome indeed, i’m salivating already *drools*

    it’s a shame we don’t have such things at the fastfood restaurants here in Malaysia.

    … or maybe we do, just that no one knows it? *shrugs*

  8. We used to use the power sprayer at Arbys and spray off the breading of chicken breasts. Then marinade in Italian salad dressing. Also marinated chicken in orange juice. Serve with extra blueberries from the muffins. Oh yeah baby.

  9. I’ve gotten every Dunkin’ in Hoboken, NJ to make this… you just need to pay for the donut up front so they don’t feel bad about screwing it up… Sausage, Egg & Cheese on a Boston Creme Donut. The creme actually splits right in half. No mess. Salt and sweet, meat and chocolate. Delish. We’ve been doing it for about 5 years… longer than those stupid krispy kreme donut burgers which you can’t even order at the store.

  10. this is awesome. i hate how wendys doesn’t have the texas menu everywhere. same with dq. i know they have stuff that is basically the same but a texas double cheeseburger sounds better than something junior. I don’t know why they decided to make it so small when naming it texas though.

  11. Try taking crushed snickers like what you would put in a milk shake and wrap it in a tortilla, stick toothpicks in it to hold it together and deep fry it. Comes out like some kind of pastry crispy flaky with melted caramel and chocolate excellent with cinnamon butter. also Carl’s Jr has a Hawaiian teriyaki burger, much better with grilled chicken than beef.

  12. Dude, at In-N-Out, you can order such artery-clogging off-the-menu specials like a 3-by-3 (3 patties and 3 slices of cheese), 4-by-4, or even X-by-X!

    Just make sure you chase that down with some fiber bars or something…

  13. God, I love White Castle. I’ve always wondered if there’s a secret menu to that, but I’m lobbying for it to be an awesome entry in itself.

    It does, however, make me pine for In-N-Out. Living on Long Island, I have none. I have heard of its wonders, its animal style, and the rest of the secret menu, but I’ve never been there.


  14. My husband brings his own bottle of hot sauce (Captain Redbeard’s brand, of course) where ever we go to eat. He can never be sure they will have one hot enough for him. And they general don’t! He puts hot sauce on everything. I sweat just watching him eat!

  15. @science: i live in hoboken, and am amazed by your idea! im going for an egg and cheese on a boston creme tomorrow!

    i’m a vegetarian, and before burger king started making real veggie burgers, i would order a “veggie whopper” which was a whopper without the meat. There was even a button for it on the register. Throw some onion rings on that baby and you’re in fast food heaven…

    now if only they would actually pay attention when i said extra pickles…

  16. Unfortunately Tracey, whether or not you can nab a Chantico at Starbucks isn’t up to rule-bending baristas at all. Stores simply don’t stock the product anymore. Chantico can’t be “made” with what we have behind the counter. :( -Ex-Barista

  17. I’m always interested in items that are already on the menu but only in certain regions. It’s too bad you can’t get poutine at fast food restaurants in the US, too bad. Fries, gravy and cheese… but a specific kind, white but not mozzarella?

    On the East Coast/ Maritimes you can get a McLobster sandwich (ew) and same with Subway…(ew) and what’s up with this.. I heard that Subway’s costs like $30!?

  18. You can also ask McDonald’s for a “double-cheeseburger dressed like a Big Mac”, which is basically a Big Mac without that awful middle slice of bread in there…tastes even better seeing as it’s a whole heck of a lot cheaper than a Big Mac.

  19. As a former Burger King employee, my favorite was a BLT – order a whopper junior (or whopper) with no meat, add bacon. I made mine with extra onion and pickles – yum!

  20. I’ve worked at BK and Subway, and the Pizza sub is an actual item, it’s just pepperoni and marinara on bread, as for making pizza with the dough… yeah you could do it, but we’ve got real pizzas now.
    There’s also the subway quesadilla where you use a wrap, cheese, chicken, onions, and green peppers then toast it.
    At burger king they used to sell tacos, so that’s no secret item.
    But I started a trend at the one I worked at where you make Navajo tacos or pizza, they’re both made by thawing frozen biscuit dough.
    for the navajo tacos, you stretch the dough out, then fry it till it’s dark brown, then cover it in chili, onions, lettuce, diced tomato, and whatever else you want.

    For the pizza, you stretch it out, put some italian chicken sauce (marinara) on it, then cheese, crumbled bacon, hamburger, breakfast ham, onions, tomatoes, sauted onions and or whatever else you like then bake it in the oven.

  21. I work at a Tim Hortons in Canada, and an off menu choice is making an Ice Cap without cream or milk, but asking for them to whip it with our whipped cream topping. Or be more creative with the whipped Cap and ask for it with brownie pieces, and chocoloate drizzle. Mmmmm…
    Oh yeah, got an idea for a donut, as for it, you may get a baker that will make it then and there. At Christmas time we have a candy cane hot chocolate, but you can order it all the time. Try a toasted cinnimon bun. There a lots of things to try. Believe me, I’ve seen a lot of strange requests. I even had someone come in and ask for our used coffee grinds for the garden. We just filled a foundant bucket up and handed it over at no cost.

  22. If you go to Olive Garden, we can make a lot of old menu items that aren’t offered anymore; some might be slightly different, but generally the same. I.E: Sausage and Peppers Rustica, Chicken Vino Bianco, and the Mediterranean Shrimp Scampi can all be (pretty closely) recreated. We don’t, and won’t, have the chocolate lasagna back, so don’t ask. And as always, make sure you tip your server.

  23. At the Local A&W, they make a “monster burger”. Its a Mozza burger with 7 Patties.
    When I used to work at Pizza Hut, we sold sub sandwiches, one that was really good but not on the menu was the Meatball sub. It was different from the Subway one because of different meatball recipes.
    Great ideas on here, My wife works at the local Mcky D’s so I think I’ll get her to make me the Big mac with Quarter Pattis, and try the neo shake….

  24. A big mac with quarter pounder patties is called the McKinely Mac, named after Mt. McKinely and can only be ordered off the menu in Alaska; just an interesting fact for you all.

  25. bah.. Brad beat me to it… I order a McKinely Mac at least once a week here in Anchorage, Alaska.

  26. I want some Jack in the Box off the menu suggestions. I love their spicy chicken sandwich with a side of Franks red hot dipping sauce… drench that sandwich with the sauce and THAT’S A SPICY CHICKEN SANDWICH… Also take the chicken strips and dip them in the Franks then the ranch… nothing better.

  27. For vegetarians -you can order any of the burgers at McD’s or BK w/o the burger. At McD’s order the big mac w/o the burger and put the fries in instead – mmm. The McD’s fries with the special sauce to dip in is awesome! At some BK’s you can even get a veggie burger. You can order the veggie burger instead of meat on any of the specialty burgers, plus they they don’t charge extra for extra pickles, tomatoes, etc. just cheese. If no veggie burgers available, order the whopper w/o meat and ask for extra stuff.
    At taco bell try ordering rice instead of meat in any of the items. I recommend the crunchwrap supreme with rice instead of meat.
    At subway, try the veggie sub w/cheese, the sweet onion sauce and mayo. (they also have veggie burgers)

  28. I used to work at Sonic Drive In and we would come up with all sorts of concoctions that turned out rather tasty.

    You know our ‘famous’ onion rings? Add cheese to those. They’re amazing. Oh, and dip in ranch.

    We used to have this on the menu for Halloween but they eventually took it off. It’s called the Boo-Berry shake. Get a strawberry shake and add Blue Coconut flavoring too it. It tastes amazing. It’s the only shake I ever get there, and all the car hops look at me weird when they deliver it. It’s my favorite off menu item.

    If you want a cheap (and smaller) sonic burger with mayo or mustard, order a junior burger dressed as a sonic burger. They should do it for you.

    For drinks — root beer with grape flavoring. It tastes like purple skittles. Oh, and green apple with mellow yellow is ridiculously tasty.

    One day we also got bored and made our own wrap. We put down a tortilla, fried chicken strips, ranch dressing, bacon, and extra cheese. We then put it in the warmer for a minute or so, and man was it good!

    Oh the corn dogs dipped in honey mustard are good too!

  29. when i worked at Subway i would add pizza sauce to chicken tikka, pepperoni, lots of cheese and bacon and have the mother of all pizza subs. it was fabulous. either that or just have a full meat extravaganza…all the meats! mmmmmm.

  30. Oh man! I’ve worked on different fast food places and I’ve come up with different recipes. When I was working on Burger King, I used to put BBQ sauce on the pattie before cooking it on the broiler… MMMm!

    On Long John Silver’s I grab the jalapeños, open them up and put one of the cheese sticks inside, then dip them in the batter (the same one for the chicken and fish) and fry them for a few minutes, the result? a mini version of Chile Rellenos.

    On Pizza Hut, I was more creative. I started eating P’Zones (calzones) way before they had it on the menu, I grab a personal pan pizza dough, stretched a little and put ingredients on one side only, then just closed the other half by putting it over the top (like a taco) made some holes so it won’t inflate in the oven and there you go. I also made a personal Stuffed crust pizza by stretching the personal and using a couple of the Mozzarella sticks that are using for the large stuffed crust, then I will put BBQ sauce, then 2 packets of crushed peppers, a layer of cheese, a layer of Pizza Mia cheese (it has 3 different types of cheese) and then the toppings. The crushed peppers add a kick to the pizza.

  31. Have anyone ever noticed that if you order a hamburger on McDonald’s (On Drive Thru and on those ones with the little screen that shows what are you ordering), they ring it as a cheeseburger, no cheese?

  32. How come no one said anything about the Buffalo Chicken sub at Subway? They took it off the menu here, but you can still order it.

    The best way to get it, is to get the chicken they use on the chicken and bacon sub and then add your cheese and what have you and ask for Buffalo sauce and then maybe some Ranch. I love it.

    Then again, does Subway count as an “off the menu” place considering it’s a sub place so you could really put whatever you wanted on your sub and they’ll just charge you accordingly.

  33. i have always ordered the chili, chips, and cheese at Wendy’s…but i get it on fries. i am also familiar with the pizza sub at subway, it was my fave for years!

  34. Point of fact: A three-shot espresso dumped into a cup of house coffee is called a “JFK”.

  35. Stan Wingson’s comment was the funniest thing I’ve read in ages. I almost barfed from laughing so hard.

    I used to work at Subway years ago (1990) and we’d grub on the frozen cookie dough balls used for making the cookies. So good. You prob can’t order those- unless you know someone working there.

    McDonalds will do a sundae with half caramel and half fudge.

    My fave DQ treat: Blizzard with cherry dip and Heath.

  36. Oooh- one more thing..I always rock the Cherry Limeade from Sonic (you can get it diet too) and bring home to add vodka.

    The Powerade slushy at Sonic is also deeeelish with vodka. Try any drink and syrup combo with vodka! Too bad they don’t sell booze right there!

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