What You Should Absolutely Never Order At Steak 'N Shake

Despite the name, you won't be chowing down on delicious steaks alongside your shakes when you dine at Steak 'n Shake. Instead, the nearly century-old American fast-food restaurant is known for its menu filled with "steak" burgers and sugar-laden milkshakes, extremely affordable prices, and late-night dining.

While popular with those looking for cheap (and pretty good, if you're not watching your health) meals at any hour, Steak 'n Shake has had a rough last few years. In summer 2020, the restaurant closed more than 50 of its locations, citing financial problems related to the coronavirus pandemic, with parent company Biglari Holdings reporting a $7.9 million loss during Q1 2020. However, even before the pandemic hit, Steak 'n Shake was facing monumental problems, and in summer 2019, Steak 'n Shake closed 44 restaurants, with customer traffic falling 7.7 percent in Q1 2019.

So, if you hold a special place in your heart for your local Steak 'n Shake, you may want to pay it a visit soon — you never know when you might lose it, as the restaurant seems to be doing little to nothing to win its years-long battle to remain relevant, despite its one major promotion in 2020 giving free fries away with every order. When you're there, be sure to enjoy those (sometimes) free fries as well as the classic steak burgers that have made Steak 'n Shake famous, but steer clear from these ten items you should absolutely never order at Steak 'n Shake.

The Steak 'n Shake BLT sandwich is less B, more L and T

Imagine the perfect BLT sandwich. Toasty bread with just the right amount of crunch. Layers of cool, freshly sliced lettuce and tomato. Warm, slightly greasy bacon cooked to perfection and providing the ideal salty accent to your sandwich. Maybe there's a little slather of mayonnaise or mashed avocado.

The Steak 'n Shake BLT is not this sandwich. Unfortunately, locations of the chain have been reported to cut corners to save costs when making the sandwich, which results, quite predictably, in a lackluster experience for you.

According to Reddit user AdronScyther, who replied to a thread on fast food and what fast-food employees say one should never order, "I worked at Steak 'n Shake for a while. Pretty much the only thing I'd never order is a BLT. You're paying like $6 for two pieces of toast and two strips of bacon. The problem is that the BLT is supposed to be made with four strips of bacon (eight pieces when broken in half) but nobody does this, usually due to managers trying to invisibly cut costs."

The Steak 'n Shake Frisco Melt makes you pay

The Frisco Melt is arguably one of Steak 'n Shake's most popular menu items. These famous Steak 'n Shake steak patties are sandwiched between two buttery slices of grilled sourdough toast and layered with melty, gooey American and Swiss cheese along with a healthy helping of Steak 'n Shake's original Frisco sauce (which, when broken down and copied, is really just a mix of thousand island and French dressings, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce).

But for all that melty goodness, you'll pay. If you're watching your health in any way — calories, fat, sodium, sugar — you'll want to stay away from the Frisco Melt. Here's why. In the sandwich alone, not including fries, there are 960 calories, plus 21 grams of saturated fat, 1,440 milligrams of sodium, and 12 grams of sugar. Comparatively, for fewer calories, you could order a Bacon Lovers Steakburger or even two Original Double Steakburgers. If you're watching your saturated fat, you'd be better off with the majority of other sandwiches and burgers on the menu — the same goes for the sodium.

When you should really only have around 16 to 22 grams of saturated fat per day (for a 2,000-calorie diet), and no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, the Frisco Melt just really isn't worth it — unless that's all you're planning to eat in a day.

The Steak 'n Shake Chili Mac boasts a surprising ingredient

Steak 'n Shake's chili has a large following, as attested by the large amount of copycat recipes you can find via Google. Maybe it's the perfect blend of steak and beans, maybe it's the little oyster crackers that come on the side — or maybe it's the whopping pile of grease that the cooks add to the chili before it makes its way to your table.

According to Reddit user socolover14, who replied to a thread on restaurant workers revealing what they'd never order from their restaurant, "Currently employed at Steak 'n Shake. In my opinion, you should never order any kind of mac, chili mac, or mac supreme. We are told to put in more grease than beef. So if you are really craving it, specifically ask for it dry. You will get less grease and more beef."

A look at Steak 'n Shake's ingredients lists shows that the "grease" socolover14 refers to is likely beef fat, which, if you were making chili at home, you'd likely drain off before adding the beef to your chili mixture. However, even if you're fine with the idea of the grease to beef ratio in your chili being a little skewed, the chili mac is pretty high up there when it comes to calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. One serving of the chili mac comes with 1,200 calories, 16 grams of saturated fat, 2,710 milligrams of sodium, and 16 grams of sugar.

The Steak 'n Shake Wisconsin Butter Burger is likely more buttery than you think

The Wisconsin Butter Burger is one of Steak 'n Shake's specialty burgers that comes and goes every few seasons. It features two burger patties, American cheese, and grilled onions. However, despite the burger's very clear name, it's still surprising to some diners to learn that the Wisconsin Butter Burger is topped, in fact, with butter — and a whole lot of it.

According to Reddit user rgalzera, who replied to a thread on fast-food items employees recommend diners never eat, "I worked at Steak 'n Shake. The 'Wisconsin Butter Burger' has a quarter stick of butter on it, which is pretty gross. But I guess if you're even considering ordering a butter burger you really don't care how much butter is on it."

A quarter stick of butter is about an eighth of a cup — that's a lot.

The Steak 'n Shake 7x7 burger takes a top spot on the menu

The 7x7 burger was launched in 2013 as the anchor menu item for Steak 'n Shake's new late-night menu, available between 12 a.m. and six a.m. An effort to compete with the new late-night menus offered by competition like Denny's, the menu featured items that were more or less what you'd be craving after a long night of drinking, like nacho fries and this behemoth of a burger.

The 7x7 burger, which launched at $7.77, is as simple as it seems — seven steak patties and seven slices of American cheese between two buns. But for all this simplicity, the 7x7 burger takes the top spot on the Steak 'n Shake menu as the unhealthiest item, with 1,660 calories, 355 milligrams of cholesterol, six grams of trans fat, and 3,880 milligrams of sodium. For reference, that's more than double the recommended amount of sodium you're supposed to consume in one day and triple the amount of trans fat you're supposed to consume in one day, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the American Heart Association. So, if you are really craving a late-night item to soak up some alcohol in your stomach, do yourself a favor and just go with a regular burger. Your heart will thank you.

The Steak 'n Shake Chili Cheese Fries are a sneaky side dish

When you're out at a restaurant, you usually assume that your calories are all going to be wrapped up in your entree. After all, that's where you're getting the most food, so doesn't it make sense?

But that's not the case with this sneaky side dish on Steak 'n Shake's menu. A large serving of chili cheese fries comes with an additional side of 2,990 milligrams of sodium. Yes, that's nearly double the American Heart Association's recommended ideal sodium intake for one day. That's also more sodium than what you'll find in all of the burgers on Steak 'n Shake's regular menu, excepting the mammoth 7x7 burger. So, when it comes to picking your side at Steak 'n Shake and you're craving some fries, go with the regular fries or even the cheese fries for a healthier alternative. Even downgrading to a small fry will save you some calories and sodium.

The Steak 'n Shake Taco Salad packs an unexpected punch

Aiming to watch your waistline the next time you head out for dinner with the friends at Steak 'n Shake? It is possible, as there are actually a few healthy menu items on the Steak 'n Shake menu. Just don't make the mistake of thinking that you're automatically safe when you choose a salad.

With 880 calories, 77 grams of fat, and 1,400 milligrams of sodium, if you're choosing between the taco salad and a burger, you'd be better off going with a burger. There are multiple burgers on the menu that contain fewer calories, including the Bacon 'n Cheese Double burger, Bacon Lovers burger, and Triple Burger with Cheese. The healthier option would be to just go with the 310-calorie garden fresh salad, but if you have 800 calories or so to blow, you might as well go ahead and satisfy those burger cravings than settle for the admittedly sub-par taco salad.

Steak 'n Shake's breakfast seems more than sus

Some Steak 'n Shake locations offer a breakfast menu, on which you'll find diner-style classics, like a homestyle breakfast with eggs any style, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and your choice of bread, as well as all-you-can-eat pancakes. The breakfast menu also features some "skillets" and "scramblers," which are basically all a mixture of scrambled eggs with a range of ingredients thrown in, like cheese, sausage crumbles, onions, mushrooms, etc.

But when you take a closer look at the ingredients, things get a bit sus — and by "a bit," it's more like "a lot." For the plain scrambled eggs (which, if you're making plain scrambled eggs at home, requires about two or three ingredients, max), the Steak 'n Shake ingredients and allergen list documents almost 15 ingredients. Just for the scrambled eggs. No mix-ins, no add-ons. Just eggs. Except, it's not just eggs. It's eggs plus a range of artificial flavors, colors, and oils, that put together, produces something resembling a normal scrambled egg. It's all completely unnecessary. Just use a normal egg.

The Steak 'n Shake Pork Belly Steakburger seems too good to be true

In mid-2020, Steak 'n Shake introduced a specialty burger: the Pork Belly Steakburger. It features a patty topped with crispy pork belly, caramelized onions, maple bourbon sauce, and American cheese. This isn't quite surprising, given the fact that pork belly has been growing in popularity across restaurants of all clout, with the National Pork Board reporting in late 2019 that pork belly "is found on 8.7 percent of U.S. menus, a 59 percent increase in the number of restaurants serving products from the cut since 2014." What is surprising, however, is the price.

Coming in at under $7, it seems too good to be true. After all, pork belly isn't necessarily a cheap, budget-friendly item — over the last several years, pork belly demand and rising popularity have caused it to become one of the more highly priced cuts of pork. Of course, demand lessened following the beginning of the COVID crisis, which may have given Steak 'n Shake the perfect opportunity to take advantage of low prices.

Steak 'n Shake isn't the first fast-food joint to try out a pork belly sandwich. Arby's tested a similar offering out a few years ago for a similar price tag, with reviewers noting that the pork belly used was "far from a high-end indulgence." Bottom line? Don't expect the same pork belly experience that you get from a high-end dining establishment from a fast-food restaurant, especially for less than $7.

The Steak 'n Shake turkey club sandwich isn't as healthy as you think it is

Turkey club sandwiches appear on many menus, often as a safe bet for those looking for a healthier alternative to a burger or other heavier item. However, if you're keeping an eye on your sodium intake, you won't want to go with this Steak 'n Shake selection. Though it looks innocent enough, it can wreak havoc on your sodium intake for the day, with well above the recommended ideal amount of sodium for the average person per day, according to the American Heart Association.

Steak 'n Shake's turkey club sandwich comes with 1,860 milligrams of sodium. The oven-roasted turkey breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and Texas toast somehow combine for a meal that contains more sodium than quite a few of Steak 'n Shake's burgers. So, for those watching their heart health and sodium, skip the turkey club and go with literally most of the other burgers on the regular menu.