The Best and Worst Menu Items of 2020

Wendy's: Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple


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Wendy's: Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple
Burger King Now

Best: Burger King Reduced Methane Emissions Beef Whopper

This year, Burger King tried out the Reduced Methane Emissions Beef Whopper. By feeding the cows lemongrass, the company claims to have reduced methane emissions by 33%. Scientists say it was probably more like 3%, but it's a start. Even if you decline Burger King's invitation to "breathe the farts of change" (seriously), you can support a more environmentally friendly burger.

Related: 24 Earth-Friendly Habits That Can Save You Money

Worst: McDonald's Chips Ahoy McFlurry
Ryan M./Yelp

Worst: McDonald's Chips Ahoy McFlurry

Sure, vanilla soft-serve swirled with crumbled cookie chunks and a generous drizzle of caramel sauce sounds tasty enough, but there's no beating the Oreo McFlurry — except when it comes to calories: This somewhat pandering treat packed 620.

Related: The Biggest Fast Food Flops of All Time

Kale Salad

Best: Chick-fil-A Kale Crunch Salad

The Kale Crunch Salad, with 120 calories and no upcharge, is one of the best menu items of 2020. It's fresh, flavorful, satisfying, and a great way to get some veggies in while indulging in fast food.

Related: 19 Places Where Diabetics Can Safely Eat Out

Drinking Iced Cappuccino Latte Coffee
Dunkin Donuts & Coffee :)
Dunkin Donuts & Coffee :) by Rosa Hermosa (CC BY-NC-ND)

Best: Dunkin' Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut

The Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut was a limited-time menu item described by the press release as "a classic yeast donut ring, topped with a strawberry flavored icing that features a bold blend of cayenne and ghost pepper, and finished with red sanding sugar for a sizzling look." Folks who love and seek out spicy food know that it's almost an addiction.

Related: Can You Handle These 15 Hot and Spicy Dishes?

Fried Chicken and Donuts Sandwich

Worst: KFC Fried Chicken and Donuts Sandwich

Looking to eat more than half your calories and more than your required amount of fat for the day in one meal? Try the new KFC Fried Chicken and Donuts Sandwich. With 1,100 calories, 65 grams of fat, and 1,310 mg of sodium, you may want to enjoy it in front of your local ER in case of a heart attack.

Related: 20 Highest Calories Counts at Fast Food Restaurants (and How to Lower Them)

Best: Shake Shack Hot Chick'n Sandwich
John K./Yelp

Best: Shake Shack Hot Chick'n Sandwich

This year saw the return of Shake Shack's famous Hot Chick'n Sandwich, which the website describes as "a crispy, antibiotic-free chicken sandwich dusted with our own guajillo and cayenne pepper blend that took months to perfect." This is a treat for spice lovers, who can order it extra-hot.

Related: 19 Best Fried Chicken Sandwiches in America

Cajun Seasoned French Fries with Organic Ketchup

Worst: KFC Secret Recipe Fries

What's going on over at KFC? The potato wedges were great, even a highlight of the menu. Now, instead, there are fries seasoned to taste like chicken. This year was all about comfort food, yet KFC slashed an incredibly nostalgic item. Bring back the wedges!

Related: This Chain's French Fries Best McDonald's in Our Taste Test

Best: Canned Cocktails

Best: Canned Cocktails

The canned cocktail has been growing in popularity. This year more restaurants, from New York City to San Francisco, embraced the trend. Some, not content with serving the canned cocktails already on the market, even launched their own. Making good drinks more portable and accessible? Raise a can to that.

Related: Taste Test: The Best Canned Wine to Try

Papa John's: $6 Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia
Kristy C./Yelp

Worst: Papa John's Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia

There's plenty to like about Papa John's, starting with its garlic butter dipping sauce. But using the world "grilled" is not going to trick customers into thinking the food is healthy. At 920 calories and 2,860 milligrams of sodium, the Papa John's Grilled Buffalo Chicken Papadia is no better than anything else on the menu.

Related: Best Hole-in-the-Wall Pizza Joints Across America

Spicy Chicken McNuggets
Cindy Z./Yelp

Best: McDonald's Spicy Chicken McNuggets

Another spicy upgrade to 2020 was McDonald's Spicy Chicken McNuggets, a limited-time menu item. Seasoned with cayenne and chili powder and fried in a tempura batter, these were so popular that they sold out before they were scheduled to be removed from the menu. That's right, restaurants actually ran out.

Related: 17 Spiciest Foods Around the World

Wendy's: Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple

Worst: Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger

Does the Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger sound terrible? Well, no. It's a pretzel bun, for goodness' sake, topped with Muenster cheese, three strips of applewood smoked bacon, smoky honey mustard, and warm beer cheese. But, at 840 calories and 52 grams of fat, maybe best to pass on this one.

Related: The 20 Least Unhealthy Junk Foods

El Pollo Loco Patio
El Pollo Loco Patio by Cynthia Smoot (CC BY-NC-ND)

Best: El Pollo Loco Chickenless Pollo

El Pollo Loco's Chickenless Pollo marked the first time a chicken brand rolled out a plant-based chicken alternative throughout its entire business. While it's not necessarily a healthier choice than actual meat, quick-service restaurants could use more vegetarian options.

Related: 50 Fast Food Items You'll Only Find Abroad

A&W Sriracha Cheese Curds

Worst: A&W Sriracha Cheese Curds

Are Sriracha Cheese Curds a terrible idea? No. But the A&W Sriracha Cheese Curds just aren't spicy enough. Add hot sauce to regular cheese curds and you'd have a spicier dish.

Related: Local Burger Chains the Rest of the Country Needs

Taco Bell $5 Grande Nachos Box
Aileen C./Yelp

Best: Taco Bell $5 Grande Nachos Box

Many mourned the loss of Taco Bell potatoes this year, but the limited-time $5 Grande Nachos Box helped lessen the sting. It combines seasoned beef, refried beans, nacho cheese sauce, shredded cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, and guacamole on tortilla chips. Plus, it comes with a drink.

Related: Live Màs: 20 Spicy Secrets Behind Taco Bell's Success


Worst: Popeyes Raspberry Cheesecake Fried Pie

Okay, okay, so this was not the greatest offender on the list of 2020 missteps. But do you really want dessert from the Popeyes fryer? Maybe pass on the fried pie.

Related: 50 Foods You Have to Try at State Fairs Across America

Close up of Chinese take out food, family eating with chopsticks in living room
miodrag ignjatovic/istockphoto

Best: Family-Style Meals

One of the major restaurant trends this year: family-style meals. While that can be tricky for folks with special dietary needs, it makes prep easier on the restaurant end and works well for your average omnivorous family. This one's a win.

Related: Fast Food Deals to Feed the Whole Family

Domino's Chicken Taco Pizza

Worst: Domino's Chicken Taco Pizza

Hey, Domino's! If you're going to describe something as even taco-adjacent, that thing shouldn't have American cheese on it.

Related: Best Cheap Delivery Pizza

Mac and Cheese
Diane Labombarbe/istockphoto

Best: Comfort Food

It's been a rough year for most people. Comfort food was a hot item in 2020 and helped several restaurants survive dining restrictions. That puts this entire category of eats on the "best" list.

Related: Best Spot for Comfort Food in Every State

egg,sausage,and cheese croissant

Worst: Burger King Impossible Croissan'wich

Again, meat replacements are good. But if you're going to go the more humane route, shouldn't you at least ensure that the eggs are cage-free? Do better, Burger King.

Related: 20 Fast Food Restaurants Then and Now

Best: Wine and Cocktails to Go

Best: Wine and Cocktails to Go

Another highlight of the year was to-go wine and cocktails, no longer a novelty only to be found on New Orleans' Bourbon Street. It appeals to customers and also has helped a lot of restaurants stay in business.

Related: Where to Order Beer, Wine, and Liquor Online

Travis Scott performing at Glavclub in Moscow on 6th of December 2014
Oat Milk

Worst: Starbucks Oat Milk

After years of not giving in to the oat milk fanatics, Starbucks has finally added oat milk to its menu. So, what makes it one of the year's worst menu items? Anyone who's not over oat milk by now is still peeved at how long this took.

Related: 16 Things You Didn't Know About Starbucks

Queso Blanco or White Cheese Sauce with corn tortilla chips and fresh tomatoes. Extreme shallow depth of field with selective focus on cheese dip.

Best: Chipotle Queso Blanco

This year, Chipotle launched a new Queso Blanco to replace its previous queso, which was never all that loved, and it quickly garnered rave reviews. The press release touts "13 real ingredients," including cheese from family farmers in Wisconsin and serrano, poblano, and chipotle peppers to add a kick. 

Best: Panera BBQ Chicken Salad

Best: Panera BBQ Chicken Salad

An extra "best"? Everyone deserved some more wins in 2020 and the Panera BBQ Chicken Salad, at under $10, surely counts as one. Featuring chicken, romaine, black beans, and corn salsa with a barbecue ranch dressing, plus frizzled onions, this returning menu item is a relatively healthy, well-priced lunch. What more can you ask for from a chain?

Related: 23 Fast Food Items Overdue for a Comeback