Everyone has their guilty pleasure junk foods that they have to have from time to time. A lot of these junk foods are located at established fast food restaurants. Now as everyone knows, fast food restaurants don't always offer the highest quality with their food. Regardless of this fact, people still frequent these establishments and navigate the menus with hardly any restraint.
The best way to know if eating this stuff is a good idea or not is to get the perspective of the people who are actually preparing the food. These fast food restaurant workers point out the things you should absolutely not order from their place of work.
Stay away from items containing beans or steak. The beans are made from a rehydrated mix of ingredients and when the steak sits too long then it starts to take on the consistency of hair gel.
There have been some changes to the menu in the last 4 years, but you should order anything from Wendy's except for the baked potatoes. Only because they're hit and miss. You never know how fresh the potato will be. Also don't order the chili. It's made from hamburger meat from the grill that has not been used. The meat gets collected in a container until there is enough to make a batch of chili with rehydrated beans and water.
Former Starbucks worker here. Please don't order anything off the 'Secret Menu.' It doesn't exist. If you want a snickerdoodle, Nutella, or Captain Crunch Frappuccino (or whatever other overly sugary thing someone has since come out with), know the base drink and the modifications, and order that. If you just say the name, it's up to the barista to come up with what's in the drink, and it may not be what the last barista you ordered from put in there.
The BBQ sandwich from KFC is actually made from chicken too old and stale to give to the homeless shelters, so they soak it in BBQ sauce until it can be pulled and then they keep it on the heater for a month.
Make sure everyone that matters to you never orders anything that comes out of the "McCafe" machine as these are routinely neglected, in practically all of the McDonalds. All McCafe beverages run through a horrifically dirty machine (5 plus inches of uncleaned, liquid junk making up its inside parts) and the smoothies have glass cleaner in them. Employees try to play it off like these machines are in their 'automatic cleaning cycles' and can't be used, but really they can't morally justify serving people this dangerously bad stuff.
Don't order the pasta; it's all microwaved (this includes mac and cheese). Don't order smoothies or frozen drinks either; they all use this nasty base stuff that smells and it's sticky. Cupcakes and coffee cakes all come frozen. Soups are all pre-made and frozen too. Best items are the real sandwiches, paninis and salads. They use real ingredients and are usually fresh. But whatever you do, don't order the steak & blue cheese salad or the lobster sandwich.
Sonic is actually a really clean place--ice machine cleaned daily, oil replaced daily. The burgers seem to be good quality - they grill them and put them in bins, and if they've been sitting for like 30 mins they just threw them out. The chicken on the other hand, well, first of all it isn't real chicken; and it sits for much longer because of lack of orders and lack of stocked up chicken in general. All the fries and popcorn chicken are prepared well. The only thing along those lines is the corndogs; you could certainly get one that really isn't fresh. Their hotdogs are prepared on one of the roller things and you won't get one that has been sitting for more than 20 mins because they just burn up.
Don't order the complimentary salad at Olive Garden. It's the only thing in the restaurant that comes 95% pre-made, with the exception being the tomatoes, which are cut at 8:30 - 9:00am and are expected to last all day. Everything is technically 'refrigerated,' but the fridge is always left open, since we go through salad so fast. Chicken anything is a risk as well. They go through chicken really fast, so if a particular kind isn't thawing fast enough in the walk-in, they leave a whole tray of it sitting underneath an oven (raised oven; it's not on the floor), sometimes up to 3 hours. On the other hand, all of the breadsticks are made no more than 15 minutes before you consume them and are kept warm until your waiter picks them up. They're also 140 calories each, WITHOUT butter, but they're amazing so whatever.
All of the soups are quite fresh, and all of the vegetables in them are fresh. 90% of them have been cut that same day. Sauces like pesto, Tuscano tomato, garlic hummus and the aioli will always be quite fresh. The pesto, and all of our tomato sauces sans marinara sauce are made from scratch in house. The breaded eggplant will ALWAYS be the freshest thing on the menu. It's the only item that MUST BE USED THE SAME DAY IT'S MADE. Overall, it seems like Olive Garden is one of those places that's really determined by management.
The short answer is not to order anything, but if you absolutely have to buy something, don't buy the hotdogs. Do. Not. Buy. The. Hot. Dogs. They made it out of the package okay, and might even have been edible after they finished grilling them--and then they went into the water. They keep three pans of water at the back of the grill that held the hot dogs. Any hot dogs left at the end of the day went back into the fridge and came out again the next day.
If you're allergic to fruit, don't order the milkshakes at Jack In The Box. They do not clean the mixer very well, and it's used for smoothies and milkshakes. Like, they're TOLD to just barely clean it it. The training video specifically tells employees not to bother cleaning too much. It's absolutely ridiculous.
Pretty much the only thing you should 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 4 strips of bacon (8 pieces when broken in half) but nobody does this, usually due to managers trying to invisibly cut costs.
Don’t EVER get the breadsticks at Little Caesar’s. Literally tons of day old butter are painted on to the bread. I’ve seen employees pick up breadsticks off the ground and put them back in the bag just because they are in a rush.
The soups are frozen (and people have found maggots in them before), the sandwiches are alright but it's iffy most of the time. I suggest sticking to the bagels and butter/cream cheese. Those aren't made in store, but they're better than pretty much anything else.
You should never order orange chicken. It might be the most popular item, but sometimes when it isn't busy, and the food get dried up, employees put uncooked sauce on it to make it more moisturized. Even they managers say it's okay, as long as employees don't do it in front of the customers. Panda Express is disgusting.