Popular items on Steak 'n Shake's menu, ranked worst to best

Today, Steak 'n Shake is one of America's favorite casual restaurants in the nation, particularly in the Midwest and the South. You might assume from their name that they serve steak, but it's actually their juicy Steakburgers and hand-dipped milkshakes that give this restaurant chain their name. With more than 550 restaurants in 28 states, chances are good that there's a Steak 'n Shake near you.

Steak 'n Shake dates its history back to 1934, when a man named Gus Belt opened the first restaurant in Normal, Illinois. Back then, to drum up business and prove his burgers were anything but normal, Gus would take a mix of T-bone, sirloin, and round steaks, grind them up in front of his customers, and then start grilling the Steakburgers. Today, guests don't get that sort of first-hand view of the process behind the making of the Steakburgers, but that bit of marketing genius is still paying dividends more than 85 years later.

Their menu features a large assortment of options, from breakfast foods like pancakes to unique spaghetti dishes, in addition to their iconic Steakburgers and milkshakes — but not everything they serve is worth your time. These are the items you should and shouldn't order from the Steak 'n Shake menu, ranked from worst to best.

14. Steak 'n Shake's grilled chicken sandwich

Steak 'n Shake has a lot of interesting options on their menu, but their grilled chicken sandwich is as boring as it sounds. Nothing about this sandwich is worth ordering. If you do order it, regret will hit you within the first bite. The chicken is dry, too chewy, and mostly flavorless. The bun can best be described as generic. While the lettuce and tomato are of decent quality, everything gets drenched with mayonnaise in order to impart some sort of flavor on this sandwich, and the veggies get lost in the mix. Add it all up and the grilled chicken sandwich is a hard pass, taste-wise. 

If you're really in the mood for a chicken sandwich when you visit Steak 'n Shake, go with the spicy chicken sandwich. It's not amazing, but the spiciness from the peppers used in the breading adds a lot more flavor. While it's spicy, it's not spicy enough to slow you down. Better yet, go somewhere else for a fried chicken sandwich instead.

13. Steak 'n Shake's breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos are a religion for those who love Tex-Mex food, especially in South and Central Texas. However, Steak 'n Shake is not a place to go to get your hands on authentic breakfast tacos. If you've had the real thing, these are actually a poor, nearly inedible imitation. Everything that could be wrong with these tacos is amiss, which is a bit surprising because this restaurant does have legitimately good breakfast options. 

Steak 'n Shake has three kinds of breakfast tacos: egg and cheese, sausage and egg, and potato and egg. None of the three are worth sampling. The problems begin with their tortillas, which are too rigid and seemingly stale. Eggs in proper breakfast tacos are fluffy and buttery, while these eggs are crumbly and too close to being scrambled. And though they do give you a side of fresh salsa, don't rely on it to mask the faults. The salsa is too mild, too watery, and will only add to the fakeness of this faux Tex-Mex meal.

12. Steak 'n Shake's Classic Steak Frank

Another swing and a miss on the Steak 'n Shake menu is their Classic Steak Frank. Don't be confused by the name and think this is anything but the type of hot dog you'd get at a baseball game. It's a normal tasting hot dog with nothing special about it at all. If anything, it's a little bit too fatty. There's also nothing notable about the bun that you get with the Classic Steak Frank.

Unless you specify otherwise, you'll get this hot dog with ketchup and mustard. Considering the hot dog itself isn't especially tasty, you might as well let them top it with a liberal amount of both. You'll also get fries on the side — and that will end up being your favorite part of this meal. 

For hot dog fanatics, it's necessary to upgrade to the Chili Cheese Steak Frank at Steak 'n Shake. This is the base hot dog topped with chili and a mix of shredded Monterey Jack and shredded cheddar cheese. This upgrade makes all the difference.

11. Steak 'n Shake's Western BBQ 'N Bacon Steakburger

There's a lot to like about the Western BBQ 'N Bacon Steakburger. You get two patties of steakburger, a thick slice of American cheese, smoked bacon, and onions. However, there's something very wrong with this burger: the BBQ sauce. Steak 'n Shake BBQ sauce is so bad that it's almost criminal. Why couldn't they have just used another sauce?

The BBQ sauce is described as sweet and smoky. In reality, it's way, way too sweet. It's so sweet that when you take a bite of the Western BBQ 'N Bacon Steakburger, you'll think that you accidentally ordered some funky type of meat dessert. But then it manages to get even worse than that, because the smokiness hits you in the aftertaste. What they call smoky is some sort of artificial smoky grossness that overpowers every single one of your taste buds. 

Overall, it's just a shame that the BBQ sauce ruins what is otherwise a really good burger. Do yourself a favor and order the sauce on the side — and then walk to the other side of the room and throw that horrendous liquid in the garbage.

10. Steak 'n Shake's chicken fingers

If you want an average, unmemorable meal at Steak 'n Shake, go with the chicken fingers. They're actually tasty and would be higher on this list but you only get three fingers. Talk about a disappointment — right when you get in a groove eating them, they're gone. Steak 'n Shake doesn't even offer a bigger platter with more fingers, so you'd have to ask for multiple orders of chicken fingers to get your fingers on more than three.

You will get fries on the side, which you can upgrade to seasoned fries or substitute for applesauce or coleslaw. However, the bigger decision you need to make is what sauce to pair with your chicken fingers. You have three options: honey mustard, buffalo sauce, and BBQ sauce. As we've already explained, their BBQ sauce is straight trash, so don't even consider that one. The buffalo sauce should be your choice if you want to add a kick to the chicken fingers. Otherwise, go with the honey mustard. It's totally run-of-the-mill honey mustard sauce, but it is good enough to serve its purpose.

9. Steak 'n Shake's Jalapeno Crunch Steakburger

If you're ordering the Jalapeno Crunch Steakburger, you should be prepared for a wide range of spiciness. While it's definitely a good burger, no two are ever the same. Each one comes with sliced jalapenos, yummy chipotle mayonnaise, a big slice of pepper jack cheese, onions that have been diced and then fried, and a slathering of fresh salsa. That's a lot of flavors to try to balance, and sometimes it can be almost too spicy with too much going on. However, if you get a good one, you'll believe the Jalapeno Crunch Steakburger is one of the best burgers available anywhere.

In case you get one that is too spicy, it's a good idea to order a side of creamy coleslaw. That's the perfect stuff to cool down your mouth between bites of the Jalapeno Crunch Steakburger. If you don't like coleslaw, consider a side of applesauce or the garden salad for the same purpose. Or, of course, order a milkshake with your meal.

8. Steak 'n Shake's Classic Egg Breakfast

If you go to a Steak 'n Shake for breakfast, the thing to get is the Classic Egg Breakfast. This meal comes with a choice of sausage or bacon, a choice of toast or buttermilk biscuit, and one or two farm fresh eggs made any style you wish. You simply can't go wrong no matter the combination you decide to order. The hardwood-smoked bacon is packed with flavor, but so is the Tennessee Pride sausage. The buttermilk biscuit is more filling, however the slice of toast is better if you want a lighter breakfast. This restaurant has good premium blend coffee, which will allow you to get your caffeine fix while you're chowing down on this tasty breakfast meal. 

Steak 'n Shake has a lot of pancakes on their breakfast menu — ranging from chocolate chip pancakes to banana pancakes topped with whipped cream. While these pancakes aren't bad, you can find better and more satisfying options at restaurants that specialize in pancakes.

7. Steak 'n Shake's Turtle Caramel Nut Milkshake

Don't overlook the fact that half of the Steak 'n Shake name is dedicated to their irresistible milkshakes. The shakes are made with real milk and are topped with whipped cream. Their variety of both classic flavors and specialty flavors is almost exhausting. If you want a classic like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or banana, you won't be disappointed. However, their specialty shakes are where they separate themselves from the competition.

Popular specialty shake flavors include Butterfinger, Kit Kat, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, and Nutella. The best of the bunch? That would actually be the Turtle Caramel Nut Milkshake. The mix of the peanuts and caramel fits perfectly in this thick shake. The only drawbacks are the 113 grams of sugar and the 810 calories. That's a whole lot of calories as a dessert to add on top of your meal. Then again, the counterpoint is that the Turtle Caramel Nut Milkshake is totally worth an extra hour at the gym.

6. Steak 'n Shake's Bacon Cheese Fries

The Bacon Cheese Fries at Steak 'n Shake are so scrumptious that they can be a meal all by themselves. You can order these fries as a small, medium, or large. If you're making it a meal, go with the large. The bacon is hardwood-smoked and a generous amount of American cheese is melted over both the fries and bacon. Compared to their regular fries, these fries cost about double — but you won't be sorry. 

These aren't the only upgraded fries that are amazing at this restaurant. Steak 'n Shake has fantastic Chili Cheese Fries starring their tasty chili. Both their Cajun Fries and Parmesan Cheese 'N Herb Fries are splendid. Is garlic Parmesan your favorite flavor of chicken wings? If so, go with these fries and you'll be delighted.

Steak ' Shake also has onion rings, but they can't really compare to their fries. They're not particularly bad but with such incredible fries options, don't settle for an inferior side. 

5. Steak 'n Shake's Patty Melt

There's nothing particularly unique about the Patty Melt at Shake 'n Shake. That said, if you're a patty melt connoisseur, you'll thoroughly enjoy their version of this American classic. It starts with a layer of perfectly caramelized onions and melted American cheese between two Steakburger patties. Regular burgers at Steak 'n Shake aren't known for their buns; the breads at this restaurant are average at best. But their Patty Melt features tasty rye bread that has been toasted on a grill. That takes this burger to the next level and makes it something you definitely need to try at least once. 

A similar option at Steak 'n Shake is their Frisco Melt. Instead of rye bread, it features sourdough bread grilled with extra butter. It also has Swiss cheese in addition to the American cheese. Plus, it has original Frisco sauce. It's not quite as good as the Patty Melt (it tends to get too soggy and the sourdough isn't as good as the rye) but it's close.

4. Steak 'n Shake's Butter Steakburger

Formerly known as the Wisconsin Buttery Steakburger and now known as the Butter Steakburger, the common theme in the name references the butter — and for good reason. This burger takes two patties of Steakburger, an extra thick slice of American cheese, and a handful of grilled onions. Then the most important part: salted Wisconsin butter is melted over the top of it. It doesn't sound like a notable culinary revelation but when you put it in your mouth, your taste buds will be blown away.

Before you start chowing down, be sure to grab a handful of napkins because the butter will get all over your fingers and face. If you don't have napkins, you'll have to resort to sucking the salted Wisconsin butter off of your fingers. Or, another option is to eschew the ketchup and use the overflowing butter as a dip for your fries. Once you taste the butter, you will probably find a way to get it into your mouth.

3. Steak 'n Shake's Chili 5-Way

While Steak 'n Shake doesn't have many surprises on their menu, one tasty concoction they've embraced is putting chili on top of spaghetti. It may sound weird and offend your Italian grandmother but it tastes awesome. The Chili 5-Way is spaghetti, their fabulous chili, extra chili sauce, another serving of chili beef, chopped onions, and shredded Monterrey Jack and cheddar cheese. Their Chili 3-Way is exactly the same but more meat heavy because it doesn't have the onions or the cheese. If you're on a meat diet, order a 3-Way. 

If you don't want the spaghetti, you can just order the Chili Deluxe. With this option, you get a cup or bowl of their chili with onions and shredded cheese. But, really, even if you are hesitant about the spaghetti, you should try it. It tastes better than it sounds. And any Italian ancestors that you have will eventually forgive you.

The rule of thumb at Steak 'n Shake is that if it has chili in it, it's going to taste good. That holds true from the Chili Cheese Fries. to the Chili Cheese Steak Frank. to the Chili 5-Way.

2. Steak 'n Shake's Original Double 'n Cheese Steakburger

Taste the Original Double 'n Cheese Steakburger and you won't be surprised to learn that it's Steak 'n Shake's most popular burger. Practice makes perfect, indeed. This burger has American cheese, a slice of tomato, pickles, diced onions, fresh lettuce, mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup. You may be tempted to omit one or two of those toppings but you really shouldn't, as the tried-and-true combination is what makes the Original Double 'n Cheese Steakburger so irresistible. At least order it with everything on it once before you start picking and choosing the toppings to keep. 

If you're not as hungry, you can go with the Single Steakburger. Be warned, though, that you will be wishing you had stuck with the original. If you're extra hungry, the Triple Steakburger may be calling your name. That's a lot of meat and it may be difficult to stop the burger from toppling over, however it will surely fill you completely.

1. Steak 'n Shake's White Truffle Prime Steakburger

If you want the best of the best at Steak 'n Shake, look at the section of their menu featuring the prime Steakburgers. The taste and tenderness of the beef is notably different than their regular Steakburgers. 

Of the three prime Steakburger options, the cream of the crop is the White Truffle Prime Steakburger. Not only does it use the upgraded beef, it has caramelized onions, grilled mushrooms, two large slices of Swiss cheese, and some truffle aioli sauce that is to die for. To bookend this marvelous creation, you get a brioche bun that has been gently toasted. The result is something that you would expect to find only at an expensive, fancy restaurant. It truly is a meal that you will be talking about for the rest of the day. 

The other two choices for these special burgers are the Original Prime Steakburger and the Frisco Prime Steakburger. No matter which one you get, you'll be happy that you paid a little bit more to get the best burgers available at Steak 'n Shake.