There was a time when secret menus were unusual, a unique way of letting regular customers feel like insiders. Now the list of chains that offer one includes much of the chain sector, from upstarts to established giants, and there’s little secrecy left about what’s on the rosters.
Yet some operations are trying to bring the mystique back to the secret menu with new approaches and different sorts of hush-hush items. We've compiled a sampling, but please keep it to yourself.
Seasonal secrets: Moe’s Christmas Burrito
Just in time for the holiday season, customers can grab a Christmas burrito if they know to ask for one. The burrito is topped with red chile and Hatch green chile sauce to add a festive touch to the meal. Although intended for the holidays, the chain plans to keep this secret menu item available throughout the year.
Live-only secrets: Beerhaus’ Rarities and Unusuals
There’s not much secrecy to the secret beer list of Beerhaus in Las Vegas—once you actually visit. Those in the know can find the roster on a chalkboard, but the lineup isn’t posted anywhere else, including on the operation’s website. Dubbed Rarities and Unusuals, the list features six rotating rare brews on tap that change daily.
Canine secrets: Shake Shack’s Pooch-ini
Shake Shack’s secret menu is not just for humans. Man’s best friend can enjoy a Pooch-ini: vanilla custard topped with dog biscuits and peanut butter sauce. The chain’s dog-friendly secret menu also includes homemade dog biscuits served in a doggy bag to-go.
High-frequency secrets: Velvet Taco’s WTF
Secret menus were once never-changing, permanent features, as any fan of In-N-Out can attest. That's no longer the case, as showcased by Velvet Taco, which changes its off-menu option every week. Hence its name: WTF, or Weekly Taco Feature. Customers can find out about what taco is being offered by looking on the chain’s social media channels.
Independent secrets: Alden and Harlow’s Secret Burger
Chains aren’t the only operation featuring secret menus today. Chef Michael Scelfo developed a secret burger when he worked at Russell House Tavern in Boston. The burger was a hit, and after starting his own restaurant, Alden and Harlow, Scelfo made sure to include it in the menu. The burger features toppings such as bread and butter pickles as well as a nameless secret sauce. To encourage guests to try other things on the menu and make it more exclusive, Scelfo only makes around three dozen hamburgers per day, some of which are saved for the restaurant’s late night menu.