Is it rude to order from a secret menu at your favorite restaurant or fast-food chain? The answer depends on what you’re ordering. Let me explain.
The terms “menu hack” and “secret menu” are often used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two.
A secret menu is a list of unofficial and unadvertised selections that fast food chains will make when ordered but that do not exist on their regular menus. These items are well recognized by the restaurant and passed on by word-of-mouth.
The best example I can think of is when you could order a “secret menu” item at In-N-Out Burger by asking for your fries “animal style,” which means they will be cooked with mustard, grilled onions, and extra pickles. You can get this secret menu item anywhere even though it’s not actually much a secret.
Chocolate Chip Cookies at BK. The secret is out.
On the other hand, a menu hack is a non-standard method of ordering food that offers a different result than what is explicitly stated on the menu. For example, the “Quesarito” at Chipotle is not listed on the menu, but it is a popular item that is made by asking for a quesadilla with a burrito inside of it.
You can find literally thousands of menu hacks like this across social media sites like TikTok and Instagram. Most of these were created by fast-food customers themselves. Unfortunately, if you order a menu hack, not every fast-food employee may know what you’re talking about. If you try ordering it during the dinner rush, you might get some nasty looks from employees and customers alike as you try to explain the order.
In general, a menu hack is a specific modification to an existing menu item, while a secret menu is a list of recognized menu items. However, the two terms are often used interchangeably so things can get confusing. Here is a table that summarizes the key differences between menu hacks and secret menus.
|A non-standard method of ordering food that offers a different result than what is explicitly stated on the menu.
Unadvertised, but well-known selections that fast food chains will make when ordered.
|Often created by customers and passed on by word-of-mouth.
|Can be created by the restaurant or by customers and adopted by restaurant.
|Not officially recognized by the restaurant.
May or may not be officially recognized by the restaurant.
|Chipotle’s “Quesarito”, Taco Bell’s “Enchirito”
|In-N-Out Burger’s “animal style” fries, Starbucks’ “Pink Drink”
- Pink Drink from Starbucks: This pink colored drink is made with strawberry refresher, coconut milk, and vanilla syrup. This is popular cold beverage at Starbucks, but it is not listed on the regular menu.
- Harry Potter Frappuccino from Starbucks: This is a green-colored drink made with matcha, vanilla syrup, and whipped cream.
- Animal Style Fries from In-N-Out Burger: These fries are cooked with mustard, grilled onions, and extra pickles.
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- The Flying Dutchman from In-N-Out Burger: This is a grilled cheese sandwich with two beef patties and two slices of cheese.
- Quesarito from Chipotle: This is a quesadilla with a burrito inside of it.
- The Meat Mountain from Arby’s: The Meat Mountain is a towering sandwich that contains eight different types of meat, including roast beef, brisket, chicken tenders, and ham.
The Whopper Meal at BK.