The 10 Chain Restaurants to Avoid
So who are the worst offenders on the list? Here are the top 10 chain restaurants to avoid when you’re going out to eat.
1. Applebees. This chain restaurant specializes in overfeeding people, as quite a bit of their appetizers come in at nearly 1,000 calories. Their sweet potato fries, a food that should be relatively healthy, tops in at 1,160 calories before a main is ordered. Stay away!
2. The Cheesecake Factory. The Cheesecake Factory’s massive menu is overwhelming. The amount of cheesecakes alone is in the dozens. This chain restaurant makes an effort to appeal to health-conscious eaters with its Skinnylicious menu, where all the dishes are under 590 calories.
As long-time followers know, however, calories are only part of the story. Even this lightened-up menu is still full of refined carbs, pork and shrimp, some of the worst foods for you. And would you really go to a place named after cheesecake and not try a piece?
3. Chili’s. Another sneaky menu! A smoked chicken burrito with a quinoa blend sounds like it might be an okay option — but it’s 866 calories. A chipotle chicken bowl, another seemingly good-for-you option, comes in at 870 calories. And if you opt for the classic turkey sandwich, you’ll be enjoying 930 calories before the fries arrive.
4. Cracker Barrel. With the offerings on the menu, “homestyle” at Cracker Barrel is closer to “heart attack.” Unfortunately, it’s impossible to double-check, as Cracker Barrel’s website doesn’t offer nutrition or allergen information. A chain restaurant that’s unwilling to spill the beans on what it’s serving? Pass.
5. Denny’s. The late-night favorite is packed with processed ingredients, as evidenced by appetizers like “Red Velvet Pancake Puppies” served with cream cheese icing and bacon cheddar tots. The Slam Burger, one of the chain restaurant’s signature burgers, is topped with hash browns, eggs and bacon — to the tune of 1,010 calories. Do you really want fries with that?
6. iHop. This chain restaurant uses cute pancake faces made of whipped cream to get kids excited by its offerings. Parents won’t be as happy. With sodium levels that reach 50 percent of an adult’s daily recommended value, packed with sugar and very little fiber, you’ll want to keep the kiddos out of here.
7. TGI Friday’s. When a chicken salad comes in at over 1,000 calories, you have to wonder if there’s a better option. The burgers are a calorie bomb; even the turkey option comes in at 960 calories. Alcoholic cocktails are also a selling point in the menu, taking the first spot in the menu, but sadly, there’s no nutrition information if you want a beverage. Plus, the only seafood on here is shrimp. No thanks.
8. Olive Garden. Bowls of white pasta, unlimited breadsticks and no way of getting calorie counts before visiting? Stick to making your own Italian feast instead.
9. P.F. Chang’s. Kudos to P.F. Chang’s for having a gluten-free menu. Two thumbs down for the insane amount of calories, fat and sodium even in these “better for you” dishes. I’m not quite sure how a gluten-free vegetarian coconut curry dish managed to reach 1,270 calories, 90 grams of fat and more sodium than you’d need in a day, but you can find it at this chain restaurant.
10. Waffle House. The main offering here is waffles. Gluten-filled, syrupy waffles topped with processed meats like bacon, sausages and more. Simply avoid.