Things you should absolutely never order from IHOP

IHOP: The International House of (Just About Anything Else Besides) Pancakes. They do offer pancakes, but they keep trying to dress them up, dye them, disguise them as clowns or cupcakes, or drown them under layer after layer of overly-sweet toppings. Plain old pancakes are apparently valued so low that IHOP frequently runs all-you-can-eat specials and just gives these pancakes away free.

In IHOP's seemingly continual quest to keep veering even farther out of its own lane, it recently trolled an entire nation with an egregious (if temporary) rebranding in an attempt to — what, become the next Red Robin? Needless to say, that didn't work, but nor did its less-than-enthusiastic reception stop IHOP from pulling even sillier stunts (we're looking at you, Pancizza).

You do realize, by eating there, that you're just encouraging them, don't you? It's all on your head if they decide to change their name to International House of Avocado Toast (although IHAT does kind of have a ring to it). If you can't do without your IHOP fix, though, just be careful out there, as some of the menu items can be a little… scary.

The Ultimate Steakburgers fail to live up to the hype

The main reason you shouldn't order a burger is because you do not want IHOP thinking we're all over that whole IHOB debacle. Nope, we're with Wendy's here, agreeing the name change thing was juvenile. Even IHOP themselves admitted it was just one big fake out, and seriously, who needs to be pranked by a pancake house? Even if you're the forgiving type, you may still want to avoid the chain's Ultimate Steakburgers because, despite the overblown name, they're really not all that good. Not terrible, but for the most part, pretty underwhelming.

The Washington Post's reviewer was disappointed that IHOP policy mandates burgers be cooked to 158 degrees, which, while close to USDA recommendations, limits your options to well-done or… well-done. He also decried the fact that ketchup must be requested, and remarked upon IHOP's lack of steakhouse ambience. The reviewer for Inc. noted that it's impossible to order that classic burger accompaniment — a cold beer — as most IHOPs don't serve alcohol. Although he found that his burger "wasn't awful," he compared the accompanying fries to "a drunken inebriated uncle lying on the dance floor at a wedding," so we're guessing he didn't enjoy them. Observer's reviewer actually tried several steakburgers, declaring the Cowboy to be the biggest loser due to its overly-sweet sauce. When you consider that the burgers aren't even all that cheap, with most hovering around $10, there's no reason to take your burger business to IHOB/P.

The eggs might not be cooked enough

You'd think an egg would be just about one of the easiest things for a breakfast-centric restaurant to cook, right? One complaint made rather frequently by IHOP customers is that the eggs are often undercooked, which is nasty in and of itself since an egg that's not cooked enough tends to be pretty gross and slimy. What's worse, though, is that some IHOP customers have claimed that these less-than-well-done eggs have actually made them sick — and it turns out, they could be right about this. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that, in order to kill off any salmonella bacteria, all eggs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. At this temperature, both yolks and whites should be firm and not runny. 

When one New Jersey man felt his IHOP eggs weren't cooked to his satisfaction, he didn't settle for venting about it on Facebook or leaving a bad Yelp review. Instead, Julio Diazvaroas decided to live-tweet his experience minus the Twitter platform, shouting out his negative opinion to customers in the Hackettstown IHOP's waiting area until he was removed by the police.

​ The syrup might make you sick

For a place whose signature dish is supposed to be pancakes, IHOP sure has some sketchy syrup. While the standard old-fashioned syrup is fairly decent, the fruit-flavored syrups, particularly the now-discontinued boysenberry, have been described as tasting like cough syrup. There is just one, and only one, IHOP anywhere that offers something different for pancake lovers picky about their toppings — when Burlington, Vermont got its first IHOP in 2009, the franchise owners petitioned to be able to serve their state's real deal maple syrup. Although the product came as an add-on extra at an additional charge, it proved so popular that it is evidently still being served (and upcharged).

Dubious flavor isn't the only issue with IHOP's syrup. One location in Amarillo, Texas was closed down on three separate occasions for salmonella outbreaks that made more than 125 people ill. Local health inspectors spent months tracking down a possible cause, finally realizing that it was the syrup that was contaminated due to an infected hot water bath used to warm the pitchers. Employees also revealed that the pitchers were not washed or sanitized before being refilled. Lawsuits followed, costing IHOP over a million dollars in settlements.

The sirloin tips might be a no-no for keto dieters

Imagine this: You're a body-building, carb-shunning, health-conscious kind of guy, but you're still willing to hang out with friends who aren't quite as dedicated as you are to the pursuit of good nutrition. Your friends suggest you hit the local IHOP for breakfast, and you say sure, hoping there might be something on the menu you can eat. Your friends happily dive into huge stacks of sugary-sweet pancakes, but you're pretty pleased to find the sirloin tips breakfast platter, which comes with two eggs, grilled onions and mushrooms, and… okay, maybe your friends might like the accompanying buttermilk pancakes and hash browns. Or you could take them home to feed to your carb-loving cat, or… whatever.

Anyway, here you are chowing down on those scrumptious steak tips, pleased and surprised that they're actually really, really good. Awesome, in fact. Just so amazing that you've got to flag down the waitress and ask how IHOP cooks them. Then, OMG, the horror… she reveals the steak tips are cooked in… Coke syrup! So much for today's carb count. At least, though, you can post to your favorite forum revealing the shocking truth to your fellow body builders so none of them will have to make the same mis-steak (which is how we got this info, so take it with a grain of salt).

The all-beige appetizers might make you fat and gassy

An appetizer is supposed to be something that whets your appetite, right? Kind of a warm-up for the larger meal to follow. Well, this is obviously not the case with the sampler platter at IHOP, as how could 1500+ calories of deep-fried monochromatic mess possibly make you do anything other than swear off food for life, or at least the rest of the day? The sampler, which consists of mozzarella sticks, chicken strips, and onion rings, comes with marinara sauce, plus a choice of honey mustard or ranch. No matter which sauce you choose, though, the verdict, according to this succinct Trip Advisor review, is "not good".

Erin and Jarrett from Clevver Style did a mukbang featuring the appetizer sampler as the first course, or "amuse bouche," as they kept calling it, for a massive all-IHOP lunch. They didn't share too much info about the platter itself, other than commenting that everything was the same color, preferring instead to chat about appetizing subjects like Ariana Grande and Pete Davison's pooping habits. Erin did share, however, that the appetizer platter made her very gassy, and belched on camera to demonstrate.

The Cheeseburger Omelette: just why?

Who thought up this monstrosity? Is there anyone, ever, who thought, "Wow, pickles on an omelette, wouldn't that be great?" Redditors found the very idea of such a thing disgusting, and posited pregnancy as the only possible reason why someone would want to combine pickles and eggs.

A closer look at IHOP's cheeseburger omelette, however, has us wondering if it wasn't just plain madness that led to them inflicting this objectionable omelette upon unwary customers. Cheese and onions in an omelet, classic. Ground beef, okay. Tomatoes, why not? But squirting ketchup and, ugh, mustard all over the top, not to re-mention those distasteful dills?

Even if the ingredients don't put you off, a quick peek at the nutrition data might deter you from ordering this omelette. It packs in 1240 calories, 88 grams of fat, 905 milligrams of cholesterol, and 3030 milligrams of sodium. Wow, the news just keeps getting worse and worse. What's more, that info appears to apply to the omelette alone, without including any side dishes. In fact, the Center for Science in the Public Interest lived up to its name by awarding this dietary disaster a 2017 Xtreme Eating Award as a dish guaranteed to "add a notch to your belt and a blow to your heart."

The tilapia is not only boring, but bad for you

Could there be a more boring type of fish than tilapia? And not only is it dull, it's also really pretty gross. According to The Washington Post, a 2009 USDA report on Chinese imports admits that farm-raised tilapia may well "feed on waste from poultry and livestock." Ew.

Which brings us to IHOP's Tilapia Florentine. Umm, okay, IHOP, no matter how you dress it up with spices and spinach, Tilapia Florentine is still just a fancy name for poop-eating fish. To add injury to insult, it doesn't even taste all that good. According to one Trip Advisor review, the tilapia "smelled very fishy" and "the taste was weird too." Another reviewer characterized it as "disappoint[ing]… very dry," and yet another agreed, calling it "a disappointment… so thin that it became shoe leather in the oven."

If you need any more reasons to pass on this supposedly healthy menu item (and why else would you be ordering tilapia from IHOP?), it's that the fish really isn't so healthy after all. A study by Wake Forest University revealed that tilapia is quite high in the bad kind of fat (omega-6), while low in the good kind (omega-3). Researchers went so far as to call tilapia "detrimental," pointing out that the average serving of farm-raised (and potentially poop-fed) tilapia may have higher levels of harmful fats than bacon or even doughnuts.

The Harvest Grain 'N Nut pancakes aren't even that good for you

IHOP's Harvest Grain 'N Nut pancakes might sound like they'd be one of its more nutritious menu options, but it turns out that all those hearty grains and wholesome oats pack quite the caloric wallop. The pancakes alone, with no sides, butter or syrup, come in at 800 calories a stack, which is 110 calories more than the chocolate chip pancakes and even 10 calories more than the cupcake pancakes. Holy whole-grain hypocrisy, Batman!

If you're not ordering these pancakes for their so-called healthiness, you sure wouldn't want to order them for the taste, either. Blog Sweety High taste-tested nine different types of IHOP pancakes, and Harvest Grain 'N Nut came in dead last, with reviewers explaining, "… we just can't back the decision to dice up nuts into a batter that's notably soft and fluffy." Extra Crispy also rated nine pancakes (almost the same ones, the only difference being they had raspberry white chocolate chip on their list, while Sweety High had cupcake), and Harvest Grain 'N Nut didn't come in dead last, but was close to the bottom. The review described these pancakes as too chunky and not sweet at all, so what, exactly, are you getting for those 800 calories anyway? A heaping plate of disappointment, that's what.

The frozen drinks might make you gag

There is one place you can get a beer with your plate of pancakes, and that's at the new IHOP at the Camelback Colonnade in Phoenix, Arizona. It is the first non-airport IHOP in the country to have a full bar, although depending on how things go, some IHOP franchisees might just consider adding bars to their restaurants, too. They've even come up with a cutesy name for their bar menu, the "Rise and Shine" (salute to day drinking?), as well as a range of specialty cocktails such as the Mulemosa, the Blue Roof Bloody Mary, and the IHOP-iest cocktail of all, the Frozen Rooty Rita.

So are these cocktails worth a trip to Phoenix? For the novelty factor, absolutely. But as far as the taste factor goes… not even worth a trip across the parking lot should you already be in Phoenix and cruising the Colonnade. A writer with the Phoenix New Times tried four different cocktails. While he found the Irish coffee to be fairly decent and the Mulemosa (ginger beer, orange juice and sparkling wine) tolerable, the frozen drinks were a whole different, and much sadder, story. The Frozen Cookies & Cream made him gag, but the worst of the worst was that darn Rooty Rita, "the nastiest thing [he had] ever consumed." Okay, then. Maybe the world really isn't ready for the International House of Booze.  

The T-bone steaks are a joke

If you're going to order a steak from this pancake (or burger) house, you're going to have to understand one thing: Ruth's Chris they ain't. They're not even Sizzler. Nope, they're just IHOP, and you can pretty much expect to be disappointed. Don't be surprised if your steak is either overcooked or raw, if it looks horrible, if it appears to be colorless or more gray than pink, if it seems like it might have been cooked in a microwave, or boiled, or even created on a 3-D printer. But then, you should have known better than to order it in the first place.

Comedian Leonard Ouzts' stand-up routine on Conan where he talked about his stint as an IHOP server, and what he had to say about the steak was a bit disconcerting. "Just because something's on the menu doesn't mean you need to order it. Like, IHOP sells T-bones but if you don't have health insurance, turn the page… you want your T-bone from IHOP anything other than well done, I'm going to need you to sign this health waiver." His reason for warning diners off was that the steaks allegedly came out of the trunk of some guy's car. Perhaps a bit of comedic license, but nonetheless, if you want a steak that tastes anything like a steak, or at least a near-relative of something that might once have come from a cow, survey says… IHOP's not the place.

The Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity pancakes might not be so fresh after all

What's in a name? If that name is something as ridiculous as Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity, it's a name of shame. As in, too embarrassing to order these pancakes. And think of the poor IHOP servers who probably have to say this name multiple times a day. That's got to suck.

Please, please, IHOP PR people, can't we agree on a name change for these? Maybe just a nickname, like RTFF? Surely you realize that Urban Dictionary has some, um, unsavory alternate definitions for your pancake name. Or do you really think any kind of publicity is good publicity? Because some of this stuff isn't exactly what you'd want associated with a family restaurant, just sayin'.

If you somehow make it past the name, or just point to the menu picture and order these without speaking, you're still in for a pretty mediocre pancake. Both the Sweety High and Extra Crispy IHOP pancake taste tests ranked the Rooty Tooty Fresh 'N Fruity pancakes eighth out of nine kinds tested. It seems they're nothing more than IHOP's original buttermilk pancakes ruined by a syrupy canned fruit topping. They may be rooty, they may be (or cause you to be?) tooty, they are regrettably fruity, but they are anything but fresh.