What you should never order from Hooters

Love it or hate it, Hooters has been a fixture of the American dining landscape for over 30 years. While the restaurant might be best-known in the public image for its waitresses, the food — particularly the wings — has certainly garnered fan attention too. Nobody heads to Hooters looking for a healthy meal, but even in the land of deep-fried bar food, some entries on the menu should really be a hard pass. Hooters does offer a light menu for its patrons who aren't trying to fit their entire daily calorie intake into one sitting, but we're not here to critique those items.

No, today it's all about what you should absolutely not order next time you find yourself on a Hooters barstool. From mediocre desserts to salads that make a mockery of veggies, and yes, even the wings, you'll want to avoid these Hooters menu items. Consider this your Hooters menu education so that you can order with confidence when the server in the too-tight tank top asks what you'll be having.  

Original style wings

You read that headline correctly, right off the bat we're going to tell you why you should avoid the menu item that made Hooters famous. We're not messing around here and while these wings have been a restaurant favorite for decades, there are better wing choices to be made. While some may tout the wings as "the best in the universe" we suspect that's only because they've allowed their judgement to become clouded by their attraction to the serving staff. Other reviews have merely said that these wings are a better product than the wings of Papa John's and Pizza Hut — which ain't sayin' much.

A breaded 15-count of these wings comes with 2,050 calories and 29 grams of saturated fat — and that's without the sauce or dressing. That's way over the recommended 13 grams of saturated fat a day, suggested by the American Heart Association. On the bright side, if you do eat 15 of these wings you'll be good on your saturated fat intake for a couple days. Oh wait, nutrition doesn't work that way.

Bacon wrapped wings

If Homer Simpson worked for Hooters, this most certainly would have been one of his ideas. That said, Homer isn't the sort of guy you want to emulate your diet after and these wings are best avoided. Yes, the smell of bacon can be rather hard to resist, but it's probably a good idea to swear off pork in this case.

Hooters uses their non-breaded naked wings, but the bacon pretty much cancels out any sort of benefit from opting out of using a breaded wing. Fifteen of these bad boys are loaded with 1,750 calories and 4,330 milligrams of sodium. They do have one less gram of saturated fat than the 15 of the original wings though. Woo-hoo?

Alright, so perhaps you're thinking "How dare you tell me not to eat any wings at Hooters." Slow your roll, bro, that's not what we're saying. Break free from the boring world of breading and opt to order the Hooters smoked wings. The wings are smoked over hickory chips and available in both dry rub or with a sauce. Plus, a 10-count of them is just a mere 660 calories.

Tex Mex nachos

Alright, so asking somebody not to eat a plate of nachos while watching a football game is basically sports blasphemy. We promise that we're not trying to make your friends hate you, but you may want to think twice about suggesting this Tex-Mex hot mess. Yes, the "gooey cheese and chilli" that Hooters loads up these nachos with is delicious according to numerous people on Twitter, but healthy, eh, not so much.

The Tex Mex nachos have 1,300 calories, but where they really leave a mark is the 4,510 milligrams of sodium that comes with them. Spoiler alert, that's way more than any person should have in one meal. According to Healthline, the human body only needs around 186 milligrams of sodium to function properly and adults shouldn't eat more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. While it's true that nachos can actually be a healthy snack, it all depends on what you load them up with, and something tells us that Hooters isn't about to swap out the sour cream for Greek yogurt anytime soon.

Lots-A-Tots

Hey, we get it, tater tots are a nostalgic treat that bring back fond memories of elementary school lunches. Here's the thing, you're not in elementary school anymore and some things are best left in the past. It's hard not to be pulled in by the allure of a basket full of deep fried tater tots loaded up with bacon, cheese, and sour cream, but these aren't your grade school potatoes. Nope, these tots bring with them 1,310 calories, 3,140 milligrams of sodium, and 22 grams of saturated fat.

There's a good reason your school cafeteria didn't pile all those excess toppings onto their tater tots. Had they done so, you'd have to spend over two hours running back and forth on the playground to burn off those calories. What's that, you're not the running type? Well, friend, you could opt to burn off those calories by cleaning for eight hours straight. Fun! Then again, you could also avoid that sort of punishment altogether and order a food that's not on a third-grader's lunch tray.   

Fish n' chips

Hooters might be best-known for their wings, but that doesn't mean that they can't deliver a hefty fish and chips order. After all, dropping some breaded fish fillets in the fryer really isn't any more complicated than doing the same with some breaded chicken wings.

If the fish n' chips platter catches your eye and you think that by going the seafood route you'll somehow be taking the higher healthy road, think again. Like we said — it's fried. Plus, french fries, duh! This seafaring meal weighs in at 1,350 calories, with over half (800) of those calories coming from fat! That seafood choice doesn't seem so healthy anymore, does it? Hooters does give diners the option of substituting those chips for a side salad — but of course, if you drench those leafy greens in creamy Caesar dressing you might not be that much better off.

If you're really looking for a seafood alternative but don't want to completely abandon your love of fried fish, opt for the Baja fish tacos. Even fried, they're still just 850 calories.

Fried chicken caesar salad

OK, we know what you're thinking. "How can a salad be on the forbidden food list?" Granted, an order of 20 bacon-wrapped wings or very loaded gooey nachos have a higher calorie count, but allow us to lay out this salad's calorie crimes. There's a reason Hooters left it off their "Wise Choice" section of the menu — ordering this salad is anything but wise if you're trying to be healthy. The salad is available with grilled chicken (890 calories) but if you opt for fried chicken version, the salad is a whopping 1,040 calories with 2,190 milligrams of sodium. Not exactly what you probably think you're getting when you order a salad, whether it's fried or not.

Still not convinced that your fried chicken with lettuce is anything but a heart-healthy choice? Chew on this next time you're at Hooters and your eyes zero in on ordering a Caesar salad with fried chicken. A McDonald's Big Mac only has 540 calories. You could eat two Big Macs and still be roughly in the same calorie boat as eating this salad from Hooters! If that's not enough to convince you to avoid this salad, we don't know what is.

Onion ring tower

Onion rings are a bar food staple and it can be hard to pass up those battered deep-fried golden rings of deliciousness. Be wary, hungry Hooters' patron, for within this tower of fried onion lurks enough sodium and fat to send you into a food coma before the second quarter of the game. Unless your friends have put you up to some sort of cruel fried food challenge, this is probably going to be an appetizer that most people aren't going to order just for themselves. Considering the fat content lurking in this foot-high tower of onion, it's a dangerous item if you plan on following it up with beer and an entree — and be honest, those were totally your plans, right?

The onion rings themselves top off at a towering 1,400 calories (with 970 of those calories being fat), and have 3,320 milligrams of sodium stacked into them. The rings are served with two dipping sauces, and to the best of our knowledge (and according to their nutritional information), Hooters hasn't invented a zero calorie form of ranch. If you simply must have something fried for an appetizer —and you're determined not to share — the fried mozzarella sticks are a more sane 620 calories, and offer less than half the calories of the onion rings. Wait... did we just recommend fried cheese sticks as the healthier alternative here? Yes, it appears we did.

Twisted Texas melt

You may not know this, but Hooters serves a lot more than wings and appetizers. In fact, they have a pretty nice selection of sandwiches — though some of them, you'd be smart to avoid. Let's take a closer look at this sandwich that might possibly have more sodium than the state of Texas has cowboys. You know that a sandwich is going to be greasy when you can literally see the grease glistening in the photo. Patty melts are never going to win any awards for heart health, but Hooters seems to be aiming pretty high for just how unhealthy they can make this burger. The half pound burger is piled up with cheese, bacon, grilled, onions, and barbecue sauce on buttered up Texas toast. All in, this bull is 1,490 calories and 3,800 milligrams of sodium. Remember that sodium recommendation we talked about earlier? Well, this one burger should hold you over for two and half days. Yee-haw?

Still not convinced that this patty melt is best left in the corral? Well, cowboy, to burn off all the calories after eating this burger you would need to walk for for than six and a half hours. No word on how many calves you'd have to rope to burn off those calories, but it's probably enough to make you think twice about ordering this twisted Texan.

The Big Hootie

Upon first glance, this burger from Hooters seems pretty unassuming, however reading its description raises a few eyebrows. The Big Hootie is a burger with two patties, cheese, lettuce, onion, and tomato. Hmm, why does that sound familiar? Oh wait, the DD burger! The DD was also a burger that included two patties, cheese, lettuce, onion, and tomato. However, the DD is no longer on the menu and we have an itching suspicion about possibly why. The DD came under fire in 2018 when it was named one of the "saltiest restaurant meals on the planet." Yuck. That's not the sort of accolade any restaurant wants associated with their burgers. Could the DD just be the Big Hootie under a different name?

We can't be 100 percent certain that the Big Hootie is the DD, but you'll definitely be taking your nutritional chances should you order the Big Hootie, just the same. Hooters doesn't even acknowledge the Big Hootie's existence on their nutritional guide! Meanwhile, its doppelganger was a 1,510 calorie and 4,950 milligrams of sodium beast. Perhaps, Hooters' food wizards found a way to engineer the DD's health hazards out of the Big Hootie. Then again, maybe the Big Hootie is just a big burger cover-up.

Philly cheesesteak, chicken

A well-crafted Philly cheesesteak sandwich is a thing of beauty and something the city of Philadelphia takes a lot of pride in. Seriously, they place importance on everything from onion selection to the particular bakery the rolls are from. Do you really think a chain restaurant like Hooters is going to honor the historic formula of a true Philly cheesesteak sandwich? Doubtful.

Besides the fact that you'll be getting some corporate attempt at the real deal, this Philly is packing an offensive amount of calories between its buns. Eat This, Not That! listed the sandwich as the worst possible option one could order from Hooters. Oddly enough, the chicken version of this sandwich is 80 calories heavier than its beef cousin and comes in at 1,320 calories. According to Dr. Daniel V. Vigil, a professor David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, you can burn about 100 calories during a mile run. Hmm, better take the long way and jog home from Hooters after eating this cheesesteak. If you ask us, that's a lot of work for a sandwich that doesn't even do it up right and use Cheez Whiz!

Fajita chicken quesadilla

¡Ay, caramba! Hooters fajita chicken quesadilla is the absolute worst offender on Hooters' appetizer menu. While the buffalo chicken quesadilla won't be getting any nutritional gold stars, its 1,310 calories are still less eyebrow-raising than the fajita chicken quesadilla. This south of the border appetizer totals out at a cheesy 1,520 calories. It's recommended that an adult male eat around 2,500 calories a day, so if you put this thing away on your lunch break, you might want to think about limiting dinner to just a bowl of Cheerios.

While the Hooters quesadilla has almost double the calorie count of the quesadilla Applebee's offers, the real crime hiding in those toasted tortillas at Hooters are the 4,650 milligrams of sodium. We hope anybody who makes the mistake of ordering this thing is part camel, because this salt bomb is guaranteed to have you asking for water refills. Do you heart a healthy favor and pass on this quesadilla.

Chocolate mousse cake

So maybe you're thinking "Hey, dessert is supposed to be decadent." Fair enough, but it's also fair to argue that any dessert with so much sugar that just eating might cause your dentist to wake up in cold sweat and call you in the middle to the night to chew you out isn't a good thing. Hooters chocolate cake is exactly that sort of dessert. The cake is loaded up with a ridiculous amount of frosting and chocolate chips and is likely to have you questioning your judgement by the fourth bite.

The cake's 1,070 calories are packed with 116 grams of sugar, which is basically the equivalent of drinking three cans of Coke. Have you ever chugged three cans of Coke? It's definitely not the sort of thing that has somebody saying "Yeah, I'm glad I did that."

Should you cast any sense of shame to the curb and order (and finish) this chocolate mountain alone, it's going to take some effort to burn off those calories. Better put on your swim cap, because you'll have to do laps for about 89 minutes before you burn off all those chocolate calories.

Caramel fudge cheesecake

If you were thinking that the cheesecake would be a smarter option than the chocolate mousse, we're sorry to burst your bubble, but it's really not. The cake does have a 170 fewer calories, so it is a little less heavy in that sense, but the issue is more about taste here. Hooters is of course best-known for the wings and apps. This means that the dessert generally takes a back seat and what your waitress brings out probably isn't going to be anything to write home about.

A 2018 review of Hooters desserts described the cheesecake as "very underwhelming" and without "much flavor." If that wasn't bad enough, the reviewer went on to say that you'd probably be better off picking up your dessert at a gas station. Burn! It looks like the Cheesecake Factory can rest easy on their product, because Hooters cheesecake certainly doesn't pose any sort of threat.

If you really want a sweet treat to top off your meal, then go for the tastier key lime pie. It's only 740 calories and it regularly receives rave reviews from customers. One patron even tweeted that it compared to the real deal in Key West. Not too shabby, Hooters.