Dripping in diamonds, Frosties and Diet Coke: The high-lows of “Real Housewife” Lisa Barlow’s tastes

This past weekend, 160 Bravolebrities and 30,000 of their screaming fans descended upon Las Vegas for BravoCon, a now-annual, three-day celebration of shade, glam, outrageous wealth, stilted and scripted jokes, panels and general hilarity. 

Prior to one of the panels, “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” star — and one of my favorite housewives across all franchises — Lisa Barlow stood atop the escalator to the panel stage, holding a tray of Wendy’s Frosties as a whole crew of people dressed in Wendy’s uniforms began to descend the other escalators nearby. 

While it was quite the production, this isn’t exactly just schtick: Barlow is often seen schlepping around an enormous Big Gulp, numerous cans of Diet Coke or fast food galore. She is a tried-and-true fast food aficionado. And this isn’t her first collaboration with Wendy’s; she’s currently part of the company’s “Who’s Beefing” campaign, a cutesy tie-in of the “beef” between arguing housewives and the beef in Wendy’s burgers.

Of course, Barlow is also very wealthy and very privileged. In the first episode of the current season, as the ladies head to California for a girls’ trip, Barlow loses a $60,000 ring in the bathroom of the Palm Springs airport. This (and the ring’s eventual replacement) becomes a major storyline, and a source of conflict between her and new housewife Monica Garcia, throughout the season. This high-low juxtaposition — much like the caviar-potato chip pairing seen on the series — is another example of why “Housewives” is so alluring and topsy-turvy. Lisa Barlow eats McDonald’s, Wendy’s and 7-Eleven with a $60K ring on her hand. It’s simultaneously maddening and hilarious — a perfect encapsulation of all that makes Lisa Barlow such a fan favorite.

Of course, the “Housewives”-fast food crossover universe doesn’t start and stop with the Barlegend. Many Housewives have been shown in their fast food era, from fellow “RHSLC” cast member Mary Cosby hanging back during an activity and having a producer fetch her very specific McDonald’s order (a 6-piece McNugget, a Filet-O-Fish and large fries) to Kyle Richards including a fast food burger tent at her annual white parties on the Beverly Hills franchise. 

And while fast food isn’t exactly cheap anymore, as Salon Food pointed out recently, it doesn’t necessarily have the same cultural cache as Nobu. That said, many Housewives love to lean into the “I’m rich! I’m ostensibly famous! But look — I’m just like you!” aspect of consuming fast food on camera. I think this often falls flat. 

For Barlow, though? Her love for fast food strikes me as genuine.

In her first-ever confessional on the premiere of “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” Barlow explicitly notes her love for fast food. In another of LB’s most recognizable scenes, she picks up her younger son from school, greets him as “baby gorgeous,” and then heads to various fast food drive-thrus before driving home to feast. 

In addition to fast food, she’s also a proponent of Kit Kats, which she once claimed that she “needed” to eat to feel better post-conflict. Barlow is also fond of Sonic, Del Taco — which she once touted during a fishing scene on RHOSLC — and Taco Bell. Mary Cosby, arguably the funniest and most chaotic of current casts, once famously told Barlow that she “doesn’t eat enough vegetables.”

Earlier this year, Barlow was featured in New York Magazine’s The Strategist, detailing her favorite items. One was Diet Coke.

“I’m actually sipping on Diet Coke right now. I’m a 7-Eleven fountain-drink girl,” Barlow said. “I grab one every morning in a Styrofoam cup with pebbled ice. I never grew up drinking sodas because my parents only had water or fruit juice in the house. But when I went to college in Utah, it was the thing to drink. Like everyone went to the Hart’s Gas Station and got a Diet Coke with lemon. That stuck with me.”

As Tom Smyth puts it in a profile of Barlow for The Cut: “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.” 

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However, in speaking with Smyth, Barlow indicates she didn’t anticipate her drive-thru orders being a focal point of the show, though she is particular about her orders. 

“I never really thought anything about my eating habits or my restaurant choices,” she said. “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.”

She continues: “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.” 

Her ideal Diet Coke comes from Sonic with “pebble ice and a Styrofoam cup,” by the way. 

Clearly, Barlow’s adoration for the various fast food empires is genuine, though I don’t necessarily “stan” her because of her love for fast food, which I generally don’t eat. I just genuinely get a kick out of Lisa Barlow as a person and a character. Barlow’s matter-of-fact approach, droll nature, deep voice and utter lack of a poker face never fail to crack me up. (I’m also especially fond of her riveting and oddly earnest rendition of “Away in a Manger.” Mariah Carey, who?)

Essentially, I just love how much Lisa loves herself — she once yelled “Lisa Barlow is an amazing human being!” mid-argument. But for those who seek out relatability via their Housewives viewing habits, enjoy Barlow’s dichotomous epicurean tastes or are just immense fans of fast food, it doesn’t get much better than LB. And if that doesn’t sum up one of the distinguishing factors that make Housewives such a fun, all-consuming universe, I don’t know what does. 

As Barlow herself would put it, “I love that!”

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