“Hi baby gorgeous! Wanna go to Wendy’s?” are not just the words that I hope to hear God say when I arrive at the pearly gates, but also how Lisa Barlow greets her youngest son at after-school pickup. The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star has positioned herself as a fast-food maven from the very first episode of the series, in which she jetted from Sonic to Taco Bell to Wendy’s to satisfy her and her family’s cravings. An unapologetic lover of Diet Coke and junk food, Barlow hasn’t let the show’s drama-filled second season keep her from the drive-through lane for long.
After all, food has always been a staple of the Real Housewives franchise, with Bravo leaning into the intrigue by deliberately including the women’s orders during restaurant scenes. But typically, the show’s culinary offerings are more lavish, like Heather Dubrow’s NOBU-catered affairs, Kathy Hilton’s caviar pie, and even the several lobsters that Ramona Singer once tried to haul out of someone else’s party in a to-go bag. That’s part of the reason Lisa Barlow’s meals of choice stand out so much, and why none of the above delicacies is quite as gripping as the sound of her melodic New York drawl ordering a Baja Blast from the comfort of her Porsche.
The Cut talked with Bravo’s resident fast-food ambassador about her love of drive-throughs, branching out into the condiment market, and her go-to fast food meals (all of which are ordered with a precision rivaled only by Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally).
Your appreciation for fast food is something that immediately resonated with viewers. Did that surprise you? And why do you think people were so interested?
I never really thought anything about my eating habits or my restaurant choices. When we went to the drive-through in season one, that was just us being us. So it surprised me that it was such a thing with the audience. I think that when people see Housewives, they think, Oh, they’re just eating lettuce and kale and omitting every carb from their diet, and maybe some do. But I think any mom that’s on the go probably is doing the same thing I’m doing.
Has the response been positive, for the most part?
I think some people are like, “Do you actually feed your kids that every single day?” And, no, we don’t. I don’t cook at all, I couldn’t even make eggs if you asked me to, but my husband, John, is an amazing cook, and we used to own a restaurant, so I have a sophisticated palate. But I also enjoy a Sausage McMuffin or a Cheesy Gordita Crunch or fried chicken.
A lot of fast-food places have started launching celebrity meals, like McDonald’s has done with Mariah Carey and BTS. If you had a signature meal at any fast-food restaurant, what would the official Lisa Barlow Meal be?
I know people are gonna expect me to say tacos because of my Cheesy Gordita Crunch, but it would definitely have to be one thing that I always want. I would have to say it’s a great burger with cheese, no onions. I love onion rings though. And I always get that as a side. I have to have a dipping sauce, so it would have to be a fabulous dipping sauce. Sometimes I’ll even bring my food home and make my own dipping sauce, like a great béarnaise sauce. But I would definitely go for the burger: lettuce, tomato, no onion, and cheese. And I actually love two different kinds of cheeses. But it would definitely be a burger, onion rings, and a great dipping sauce, with my Diet Coke easy ice with lemon.
According to your expert opinion, who has the best fountain Diet Coke?
Sonic all the way with its pebble ice. It set the trend with the pebble ice, the Styrofoam cup, and then what you can do with Diet Coke at Sonic is amazing.
I’m also a Diet Coke drinker, so I loved the scene recently where you’re all having this really serious conversation about Mary’s church, but you’re all pounding cans of Diet Coke. What’s your ranking of can, bottle, and fountain?
Fountain is No. 1, can No. 2, bottle No. 3, for me.
We’ve gotten to see some of your business ventures like Fresh Wolf hair products and Vida Tequila — do you think we’ll ever see a venture that ties into your fast-food expertise, maybe a line of gourmet ketchup or something?
You know what? When John and I first started Vida together, one of the things John was doing was importing great hot sauce from Mexico. So I definitely think that is in our future, 100 percent. Some very fancy, very cool, unique condiment is in our future.
Oh, incredible. Of all your drive-through trips on RHOSLC, my favorite is the one where you picked Henry up and said, “Hi baby gorgeous!” That, of course, has since caught on with fans. Does it surprise you to see what people latch onto?
100 percent, it shocks me every time. Because that’s just what I call Henry. So, to me, I’m just being his mom. And then when I’m tagged in cute memes, I’m like, Oh my gosh, that’s so funny. Henry’s like, “Mom, why is everybody saying ‘baby gorgeous’? Do they know that’s just me?” I’m like, “I think everybody thinks they have a baby gorgeous, Henry.”
Are there any discontinued items from anywhere that you wish would come back?
Carl’s Jr. had a Pop-Tart dessert with ice cream in the middle. That was so crazy good; I wish that would come back.
So this is a little bit of a lightning round: I’m going to name a restaurant, and you tell me what your go-to item is at each. McDonald’s?
Double cheeseburger, so I get two. Fries. Diet Coke, large.
Their fish tacos are unbelievable. I stan their fish tacos. I always get two of those and then I do not get my drink from Del Taco. I actually go to the gas station to get a fountain Diet Coke after.
I love the Cheesy Gordita Crunch. Taco Supremes are like an easy go-to, I get two of those. And I like it because I like the crunchy shell with sour cream.
I like their jalapeño poppers, mozzarella sticks, and they do have great hot dogs. They’re huge, but they have great hot dogs, and their Diet Cokes are not comparable.
What would your last meal be, if you were able to pick and choose different items from any fast-food restaurants?
We have a Freddy’s by us. So I would do — oh, this is gonna shock people — a hot dog from Freddy’s with relish and onions, finely chopped, sliced down the middle with relish and the onions in the middle. I would get my fries from Burger King. I would get a side of slaw from KFC. And then my Diet Coke from Sonic. And my dessert would be from Freddy’s, and it would be one of their sundaes with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on it, chocolate, caramel, extra cherries on top, with extra whipped cream.