Secret Menus: The Inside Scoop

Ever heard of the Pink Drink or the Chicken McGriddle? Maybe the Flying Dutchman or a 4×4? If so, you’re part of the inner circle—a secret menu guru. Talked about in hushed voices despite its popularity on social media, the secret menu is the “back room” menu some restaurants have that isn’t necessarily written down and is often created via customer requests or an inspired chef. Secret menus are a thrill for diners who love the special status of knowing which dining spots have one and what’s on it. And for restaurants the secret menu is on-the-spot R&D as customers are literally telling them through their customized orders how they like to eat the restaurant’s food. Here’s your fast pass to the secret menu and some you’ve just got to check out.


It’s no secret that people like to know what’s going on and the mere existence of a secret menu for some diners brings out major FOMO (fear of missing out). The juxtaposition between the assembly-line driven fast food business and the customer or chef customizing menu items is hard to ignore. Restaurants know this and many capitalize on the secret menu because it’s just good for business. One of the most famous secret menus is that of In-N-Out Burger. With a cult following, In-N-Out’s secret menu isn’t super difficult to find as it’s right on the menu board with a “Not So Secret” header. This now published “secret” menu evolved from customer requests as far back as the 1960’s and grew via word-of-mouth to now being on the official menu. While the “Not So Secret” menu contains only 6 published items, we’ve heard there are upwards of 50 variations of the brand’s burgers, fries and shakes including a Mustard Grilled Patty and Animal Style Fries (fries topped with cheese, onions and the shop’s famous sauce). One to try is the 4×4®, which is four patties, four slices of American stacked on a bun with condiments, tomato and lettuce, with optional onions. And the Flying Dutchman (two patties, two pieces of cheese, no bun) was created by former CEO Guy Snyder back in 1995. One more secret—every ln-N-Out location has their own secret menu item that only employees of that location know about and can order. In-N-Out taco, anyone?

Customer Driven

Sometimes the secret menu evolves from customers’ custom requests that linger or travel by word-of-mouth and become well-known with servers. Starbucks secret menu isn’t official but supposedly has over 170,000 iterations all from their customers’ creative license. Next time you’re in, order a Grasshopper (Mocha Frappuccino with Java Chips and peppermint syrup). If at McDonald’s (who denies the existence of a secret menu), ask for a Chicken McGriddle (the product of combining a McChicken and a Bacon, Egg and Cheese McGriddle) or a Pie McFlurry which takes the famous Apple Pie slice and puts it in a cup layered with soft-serve vanilla ice cream. And we thought dipping French fries in a Frosty was creative.

Fancy Secrets

Fine dining isn’t exempt from playing in the secret menu space. Recently, NYC’s Fine and Rare launched a secret menu centered around vintage spirits complete with an $80 cocktail called the White Star Line. The cocktail, an homage to the shipping company that owned Titanic, had a champagne meringue floating in the midst of 21-year-old Appleton rum and 25-year-old Delord Base Armagnac. Another sweet offering was the Porcini Chocolate Dessert that actually looks like a porcini mushroom growing in the woods on top of chocolate soil and sugar-spun grass.

Spotted and Seen: Secret Menu Items on Instagram

Wild Chive / Long Beach – Cornbread Belgian waffles surround ham and cheese and served with strawberry jam and maple syrup bring a gluten-free secret menu we’d be telling everyone about. Guess Wild Chive beat us to it.

Off the Menu / Instagram – With a whole Instagram account dedicated to secret menu items, Off the Menu has enough drool-worthy images that are #travelgoals. We figure we can make a cross-country road trip starting with the Classic Half Tiger from Fork in Aussie Pie (L.A.) followed by the Noodle Burrito from YuXiang (Las Vegas) and then head east for Sriracha Mac n’Cheese Chick’nCone at Chick’nCone (NYC). If the idea of chicken tenders covered in creamy mac n’ cheese and poured into a handcrafted sriracha waffle cone doesn’t do it for you, we can’t help you.

While our product menu isn’t a secret, we’re here to help. Contact us today to create your secret blend of our real food ingredients for your next application.