Life

My 10 Favorite Restaurant Side Items

At some of your favorite restaurants, the meal doesn’t seem complete without the sides you’ve come to know and love. Here are my favorite side items.

French fries or onion rings are a given when it comes to favorite side items, but some restaurants manage to offer something different or a different take on the old favorites.

Here are my favorites:

1. Outback Steakhouse’s Aussie Fries

They’re officially called Aussie Cheese Fries and are topped with melted cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheeses along with pieces of bacon. They come with a small cup of ranch dressing for dipping. And no, I don’t want anyone to tell me how many calories are in this!

2. Outback Steakhouse’s Onion Petals

The petals are an alternative to Outback’s famous “Bloomin’ Onion,” which is a cross-sliced onion that has been battered and fried as a single unit. The petals are individually battered and fried (so you get a bit more of the flavorful breading on each petal). They come with the spicy dipping sauce just like the larger Bloomin’ Onion does.

3. Zesto’s Cole Slaw

Zesto in West Columbia, South Carolina, is a longtime favorite of mine. Its cole slaw, unlike most other restaurants, isn’t sweet: it’s a salty, more savory, creamier version of chopped cabbage that is the perfect extra for their fried chicken or cheeseburger baskets, which also come with standard french fries.

4. Bojangles’ Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice is a Cajun tradition: it combines rice and sausage with various seasonings. The official recipe, I’m told, involves chopped chicken livers. That’s why I don’t eat the “traditional” version.

5. McDonald’s French Fries

It’s a basic one, but there’s something about McDonald’s fries that seems to stand out compared to all of the other fast food options.

6. Burger King’s Onion Rings

The thing I tend to like most about Burger King’s onion rings happens to be the thing a lot of people dislike about them: there are no full slices of onion in them. Burger King reportedly grinds their onions into a paste and then mix with the batter for frying. So you get the unmistakable onion flavor with less mess. (I hate biting into someone else’s ring of onion slice only to have the onion slide out of the batter coating.)

7. Olive Garden’s Breadsticks

An Olive Garden server once told me that he was able to avoid eating breadsticks all day after finding out the number of calories per stick. Mercifully, he didn’t tell me how many calories they contain, so I’m just going to go on blissfully unaware.

8. O’Charley’s’ Yeast Rolls

A visit to O’Charley’s means a basket of their yeast rolls. I certainly never turn these down!

9. Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

It’s been a while since I’ve visited a Red Lobster, but I have not forgotten how good those little buttery garlic biscuits they serve are. I don’t want the recipe: I would endulge in these far too often!

10. Arby’s Curly Fries

I visited an area Arby’s recently to try one of their big roast beef sandwiches — which, not surprisingly, was not nearly as “big” as the one in the commercials. I was pleasantly reminded of how good those seasoned curly fries are.


That’s my list!

Which restaurant side items make your favorites list?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.