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Admit it... There's Some Dishes at Chain Restaurants You Like

  • k

Yes, chain restaurants can hurt the character of neighborhoods and the ability of smaller restaurants to gain a foothold. But sometimes you have a craving... and that craving can only be satiated at a chain restaurant.

Admit your deepest darkest secret and tell what dishes at chain restaurants you like (and please don't forever ban me from the boards ;)

Here are mine:

Chevys
--chips (not very greasy or salty) and salsa (slightly brown the way it should be)
--fresh tortillas of El Machino
--beans a la charra (pinto beans with pork)

Spaghetti Factory
--spaghetti and meatballs
--creamy pesto salad dressing

Fuddruckers
--hamburgers (you order it medium and it comes out really flavorful and not dried to a crisp) & fries

California Pizza Kitchen (and even cheaper - CPK ASAP)
--chicken sesame dumplings
--roasted garlic chicken pizza

Chili's
--honey lime salad dressing

Fuzio
--firecracker pork fusilli
--chicken sausage penne

Boston Market (a.k.a. BoMart)
--chicken is quite good and moist (believe it or not my friends and I went here for Thanksgiving last year - it was a very White Trash Thanksgiving(tm) and fun)

In San Diego, I like Pick Up Stix, and in Texas I enjoy Rudy's BBQ & Chuy's.

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  1. I love the slider burgers and artichoke/spinach dip at Cheesecake Factory. And Wendy's Biggie Fries are pretty awesome too. =)

    1 Reply
    1. re: HKL

      Big Mac (no onions) - hangover helper !

    2. Chevy's:
      Pork Tamales
      Poblano Chile Relleno
      Chips and Salsa
      P.S. I have the recipe for the salsa if anyone wants it

      Outback Steakhouse:
      Ribeye Steak with sauteed mushrooms and mashed potatoes

      Pasta Pomodoro:
      Spaghetti Frutti di Mare

      4 Replies
      1. re: Nancy Berry
        k
        Kathleen Mikulis

        Believe it or not I also have the Chevys recipe. When I finally sat down to make it I realized it was to make a gallon! I didn't actually make it though (don't remember why...) Where did you get your recipe?

        The Spaghetti Frutti di Mare is my favorite dish at Pasta P. That and the now extinct chocolate mousse.

        1. re: Nancy Berry

          I would love to have the recipe, thanks!

          (And I'm so glad to find out I'm not the only one around here who likes some of Chevy's stuff.)

          1. re: Nancy Berry

            Please share your Chevy's salsa recipe. Thanks!

            1. re: Wendy Lai

              Whip out the food processor and fire up the grill because you’ll need these essential tools to clone one of the best restaurant salsas in the business. The key to recreating the flavor of the real deal is to fire roast the tomatoes and the jalapenos, and to add a little mesquite-flavored liquid smoke. The restaurant chain uses a mesquite grill, so these steps are crucial to getting the same smoky flavor as the addictive restaurant version. Chevys uses chipotle peppers, or smoked red jalapeno peppers. But unless you grow your own jalapenos, it may be difficult to find the riper red variety in your local supermarket. For this recipe, the green jalapeno peppers will work fine.

              6 medium tomatoes
              10 jalapenos (red is best)
              1/4 of a medium Spanish onion
              2 cloves garlic
              2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
              2 tablespoons white vinegar
              2 teaspoons salt
              1 1/2 teaspoons mesquite-flavored liquid smoke

              1. Preheat your barbecue grill to high temperature.
              2. Remove any stems from the tomatoes, then rub some oil over each tomato. You can leave the stems on the jalapenos.
              3. Place the tomatoes on the grill when it’s hot. After about 10 minutes, place all of the jalapenos onto the grill. In about 10 minutes you can turn the tomatoes and the peppers. When almost the entire surface of the peppers has charred black you can remove them from the grill. The tomatoes will turn partially black, but when the skin begins to come off they are done. Put the peppers and tomatoes on a plate and let them cool.
              4. When the tomatoes and peppers have cooled, remove most of the skin from the tomatoes and place them into a food processor. Pinch the stem end from each of the peppers and place them into the food processor as well. Toss out the liquid that remains on the plate.
              5. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and puree on high speed for 5-10 seconds or until the mixture has a smooth consistency.
              6. Place the salsa into a covered container and chill for several hours or overnight while the flavors develop. (http://www.topsecretrecipes.com
              )Makes approximately 2 cups.

          2. I second that Fuzio fire cracker pork

            1. I have never found a patty melt I like as well as the ones at Dennys.

              1. b
                Burke and Wells

                The French have a term for this: "L'aime de la boue," or "Love of the mud." It means the greatest gormets often have a secret addiction to food even they must admit is crappy.

                Here are some of mine (which drive Burke to distraction!):

                At White Castle: Extra-steamed (you have to ask for it) cheeseburgers
                At Chili's: their "queso" dip (though I can't find any cheese in it)
                At Boston Market: Love their chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes (with BEEF gravy) and Nestle Toll-house cookies (in the microwave for ten seconds and they rule)
                At Carrow's: Their chicken strips (lovely crisp breading)
                At Dairy Queen: Vanilla Blizzard with Reese's Peanutbutter Cups and Oreos
                At Friendly's: Peanutbutter topping (so salty!)
                At Starbuck's: Mocha Frappacino
                At Cinnabun: Cinnabun with extra frosting
                At MacDonald's: Sausage biscuit with egg and cheese, hashbrowns
                At Roy Rogers: Fried chicken
                At Spoons: Chili with lots of scallions
                At Applebee's: Applebee Club (grilled ham and cheese), spinach-artichoke dip, "chocolate sin" dessert

                FOR BURKE: I know he loves the flabby, horrible all-you-can-eat breadsticks at Olive Garden. Me, I don't really like them much.

                More if I think of them!

                Peter
                wells@emusic.com

                Link: http://www.burkeandwells.com

                20 Replies
                1. re: Burke and Wells
                  k
                  Kathleen Mikulis

                  I forgot about Chili's chili con queso dip. I dig that, too.

                  And I do like Olive Garden breadsticks, along with their all-you-can-eat soup and salad (as their entrees all leave something to be desired). Their pasta e fagioli soup is pretty darn good.

                  1. re: Kathleen Mikulis
                    s
                    Shep aka 2 Cheap Hungry Guys

                    Wow, yeah, Olive Garden. That sausage soup justifies slogging through the rest of a meal there.

                    And hey, Flint's is a chain, too. Three locations. What's not to like?

                    1. re: Shep aka 2 Cheap Hungry Guys

                      Are you talking about the zuppa Toscana? If so, I have a pretty decent copycat recipe. It's a little time-consuming, but it's easy.

                        1. re: theferlyone

                          I wouldn't mind the Zuppo Toscana recipe either! My sister LOVES that stuff!
                          Thx

                          1. re: KDeeA

                            Here's a link, supposedly from someone that worked there...
                            http://www.tuscanrecipes.com/recipes/...

                            1. re: Emme

                              Trust me, it is a valid copy of the recipe. It turns out EXACTLY the same. OMG and it is SOOOO yummy!

                      1. re: Kathleen Mikulis

                        I love Chili's chicken crispers and their mashed potatoes with that orange paprika like spice on top. Also their southwestern chicken rolls and avocado sauce yummmmm....

                      2. re: Burke and Wells

                        Fascinated by your quote, "L'aime de la boue." The version I always have heard was "Gout de l'egout"--taste for the gutter! But the implication was more about social than culinary preferences!

                        1. re: Burke and Wells

                          I love your handle -- assume you're Aussies -- and hope you're more successful than the originals.

                          1. re: Burke and Wells

                            Chili's "queso" dip is made with Velveeta (or at least it used to be.)

                            1. re: Burke and Wells

                              Yes ... yes ... I must confess that I too have a weakness for McDonald's Sausage Egg Cheese Biscuit with hash browns (sometimes I order an extra 2 HBs for a dollar extra). Real gluttony.

                              1. re: Burke and Wells

                                I second the sausage egg and cheese biscuit from McDonalds. Someone somewhere on these boards posted putting grape jelly on it, I'm going to try that one of these days.
                                I also get a craving for a Big Mac about twice a year. If it comes out fresh and the fries are very hot and salty, I love it!
                                Another thing I used to love, I don't know if they still serve it is the cheese and crackers at the "99" restaurants. Eaten alone, the crackers tasted something like dog biscuits, but with the salty orange cheese and a beer... yummy!

                                1. re: patmatw

                                  sausage biscuit with grape jelly. not with egg and cheese.

                                    1. re: alkapal

                                      I totally do the grape jelly if I'm getting a sausage biscuit. however I don't on my sausage mcmuffin. I don't know why.

                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                        i agree. it just isn't *right* on the mcmuffin.

                                    1. re: buttertart

                                      Please, I beg of you, insert a warning notice when you are going to post a witty and very funny comment.

                                      Trust me, when you snort hot coffee up your nose, it burns.

                                      1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                        Hard to know what will strike who funny. Glad it tickled you! Sorry about the coffee.