America’s landscape is painted with national and regional chain restaurants everywhere we look. Many consumers avoid fast food restaurants at all costs, with their notoriously unhealthy menu items, and instead gravitate to the large, sit-down style, family restaurants, in hopes of finding a satisfying meal at a reasonable price.

What many eager diners don’t realize is the whopping calorie counts of many of the dishes at these restaurants. Next time you’re in the market for a reasonable and decently nutritious meal, make sure to cross these items off the menu list.


While an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a meal from Applebee’s every day will only keep your doctor in business. It’s easy to indulge when the menu prices reflect a high value, but try to avoid items like the Quesadilla Burger, which drips a fattening 1,820 calories. The burger is also off the charts in its sodium content and saturated fat content. Search around the menu for healthier options, or try splitting it with a friend and ordering a side salad.

Cheesecake Factory

A usual suspect in this category, the Cheesecake Factory’s extensive menu and nearly endless list of desserts are notoriously laden with calories. From the Brulee French Toast at brunch (with a staggering 2,780 calories) to the new Pasta Napoletana, which touts bacon, sausage, pepperoni, and meatballs atop pasta enrobed in cream and butter (2,310 calories), the Cheesecake Factory’s infamous cheesecake isn’t its only indulgence.

Treat yourself to this option for a fraction of the calories.


Known for its flavorful tex-mex cuisine, Chili’s is also gaining a reputation for the exorbitant calorie counts on many of its offerings. It’s Ultimate Smokehouse Combo includes the selection of three meat offerings, and a handful of classic sides, totaling 2,440 calories. If you’re in the mood for a satisfying meat entree, opt for the chain’s Sirloin Dinner for a third of the calories.


America’s favorite pancake house stacks its calories almost as high as its iconic pancakes. Surprisingly, the chain’s most caloric item isn’t even its pancakes, its the cheeseburger omelette, which when paired with a side of pancakes comes in at a total of 1,990 calories. If you’re craving an egg, meat and pancake mix, opt for a combination platter with Scrambled Eggs and Harvest Grain and Nut pancakes for nearly half the calories. 

Ruby Tuesday

Ruby Tuesday is an anomaly in the calorie arena. A surprise to many health-conscious diners, the salads at Ruby Tuesday are the menu items with the greatest share of calories. The Carolina Chicken Salad will fill you with a total of 1,100 calories, and the Fried Chicken Ceasar Salad will leave you 1,060 calories more stuffed than you needed. A flatbread or an order of Shrimp Skewers will keep your calorie count lower and probably leave you more satisfied too.

Keeping in mind that the average daily caloric intake for most Americans should hover around 2,000, these popular and nationally ubiquitous dishes are offering far more calories than recommended in one sitting. So next time you find yourself at one of these notable mainstays, try to avoid these dishes, or at least adapt them or share with a friend. Your health will thank you.