Xtreme Eating Awards: The worst things you can eat at chain restaurants

CLEVELAND, Ohio — When it comes to pigging out, not all meals are created equally.

Chain restaurants particularly are notorious for huge portions and unhealthy food. But there are several dishes at some of the most popular chains in the country that are so over-the-top, they’re being called out by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The Xtreme Eating Awards are given annually to dishes that not merely exceed, but obliterate the recommended daily allowances for calories (2000), sodium (2,300 mg), saturated fats (20 g) and added sugar (50g).

“These meals are extreme, but even the typical dishes served at restaurants are a threat to Americans’ health because they increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more,” CSPI Senior Nutritionist Lindsay Moyer says in a statement.

Starting with breakfast, this year’s “honorees” include IHOP’s cheeseburger omelette that comes with a short stack of pancakes. The belt-busting meal contains just about an entire day’s worth of calories (1,900) and added sugar (100), plus double the amount of saturated fat (45 g) and sodium (4,580 mg), and a whopping three-days worth of cholesterol (1,005 mg).

The Cheesecake Factory, which has appeared on the list every year since it began in 2007, is on the list this time twice: for worst cocktail for its Flying Gorilla, and worst pasta dish for the Pasta Napoletana. The entree, which includes Italian sausage, pepperoni, meatballs and bacon, is basically like eating a Pizza Hut Meat Lover’s Personal Pan Pizza plus three cups of pasta and a cup of heavy cream, the CSPI says.

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The awards also include worst appetizer, Dave & Buster’s Carnivore Pizzadilla, a pizza-quesadilla hybrid that packs 67 g of saturated fat and 4,440 mg of sodium.

In the burger category, the macros on Buffalo Wild Wings’ Cheese Curd Bacon Burger with a side of fries are eye-popping: 53 g of saturated fat and 4,700 mg of sodium. That’s the the equivalent of about five Burger King Bacon Double Cheeseburgers. 

Rounding out the list, Texas Roadhouse’s Loaded Sweet Potato (770 calories) was named worst side, while Uno Pizzeria’s aptly-named Ridiculously Awesome, Insanely Large Chocolate Cake (168 g of added sugar) was singled out as worst dessert.

But the worst offender of them all might be Chili’s Smokehouse Combo, which asks diners to choose three meats from a list that includes baby back ribs, jalapeno-cheddar smoked sausage and fried chicken crispers, plus four sides. That’s 2,440 calories, 41 g of saturated fat and a ridiculous 7,610 mg of sodium.

Finally, the CSPI saved special recognition for Domino’s, giving the pizza chain its Xtreme Putting Profits Before Public Health Award for successfully lobbying against requirements for restaurants to post calorie counts on menus.