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Jun 26, 2006 12:21 PM

Best chain overall?

I've always been pleased with Houston's. In the higher end, I think The Chart House is very consistently good and most locations have great views. Since I have little to eat--fish-eating vegetarian--at most of the big steakhouse chains, they hold little allure for me.

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  1. We live in Sarasota during the winter, and have been to Outback which we like very much, but their higher end steak house known as "Flemings" is truly excellent in every respect. We also love their fish restaurant known as ""Bonefish". These are both high-end restaurants with excellent food, service, atmosphere, and waiters who aim to please.

    1 Reply
    1. re: irwin

      I agree, Bonefish Grill is a great choice if you already love the Chart House. A little less pretentious but still appropriate for a special occasion, and you can get your fish several different ways.

    2. My favorite of the chains is easily Texas Roadhouse. Their steaks and ribs are consistently wonderful, sides are top notch, and the margaritas are pretty darn good. Now if only it wasn't so damn loud in there.

      1. I had a meal at an Outback in Fort Lauderdale and I was very disappointed , not up to the usual standard for OB

        1. Everytime I eat at Outback I am consistently disappointed. I find it impossible to get a rare steak at this establishment. I get medium, well done, if I'm lucky medium rare. If steaks are their core-competency and they can't get that right how good can they be. Service is also consistently bad.

          Decent Chains in Southern California:
          Buca de Beppo
          Claim Jumper
          Mimi's Cafe (Fair)
          King's Fish House

          8 Replies
          1. re: davinagr

            I'll put a second on King's Fish House. I had a fantastic meal there with my family at their Oceanside location - at the time I didn't even realize it was a chain.

            My step-mother raved about their honey mustard salad dressing and when we mentioned it to the waitress she brought out a copy of the recipe for us. Later, after leaving the restaurant, I wished I had made a similar request for the recipe for their grilled artichoke appetizer (it involved a marinade prior to the grilling) and called them up - the manager emailed me the recipe. That's just not the kind of service you get at your run-of-the-mill chain restaurant. I was (and am) impressed with them.

            Kathy/Kuisine (formerly KathySK)

            1. re: Kuisine

              Would you be willing to share either of the recipes? How nice that they did that for you. I have never heard of any restaurant that would accomodate such a request. Thanks.

              1. re: dimsumgirl

                I don't have the recipe for that honey mustard (my step-mom has it). I do recall it was fairly involved, and not really practical for the home cook - it was one of those things that called for ingredients that were only worth dealing with in mass amount, and it didn't hold for more than 2 days or so.

                The artichokes though - it was more of a short summary of their process than an exact recipe, so here goes:

                Start about a day ahead of time. Starting with whole artichokes, with stems as long as you can find, begin by peeling off the toughest outer leaves, trimming the pointy parts of the leaves that remain, trim the stem of the artichoke, peel the outside of the stem. Then quarter the artichokes and remove the thistly part. Marinade them in an oil-and-vinegar mix with whatever spices appeal (I wimped out since I made it for a large party and used pre-done Italian dressing - worked fairly well, but probably left a little more oil on the artichokes than ideal).

                Then, the next day, take them out and let them drain a bit, then grill until you get some nice charry marks and the leaves come off the base easily. (I broiled them instead, since I'm grill-less, using essentially a metal cooling rack over a sheet pan to catch the dripping oil - worked just fine). That's pretty much it (I couldn't believe there wasn't more involved), serve while hot with dipping sauce.

                And the dipping sauce was the part that completely cracked me up. My family utterly *devoured* it when served at the restaurant, and I was floored to discover it was simply pesto and mayonnaise mixed 50/50. This makes a surprisingly (to me) delicious dipping sauce. (My suggested even shorter cut - the pre-jarred pesto sauce from Costco sold in their cooler/freezer area is really, really good so just use that and mayo.)

                Kathy/Kuisine (formerly KathySK)

                1. re: Kuisine

                  Sounds easy and delish! Thank you for taking the time to post it; we'll try it this weekedn!

            2. re: davinagr

              I'll second Buca di Beppo.

              Some other chains I will visit without qualms:
              Marie Callendars
              Cheesecake Factory
              Elephant Bar
              Tony Roma's
              Red Lobster
              Round Table Pizza
              Rubio's Baja Grill

              Ones I avoid at all costs:
              Macaroni Grill
              Johnny Carino's
              Baja Fresh

              1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                What's wrong with Baja? Maybe yours is bad, but the one around here is wildly popular. Their food is really good; the meat fresh and tasty, and they always get my order right :)

                1. re: juliehf

                  I admit I'm a big Rubio's fan and was expecting to be more like that - and it's not. Except for fish tacos, they have no seafood, and the quesadilla was one of the worst I've ever had! The only good thing were the chips and salsa, and that's not good enough to go back for...

                  They should call it not-Baja, Stale!

                2. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                  I've had mixed experiences at various Chile's (family favorite, what can I say?) But, I have to own up to it - I'm completely addicted to their Southwestern Eggrolls. Every once in awhile I have to have a fix.

                  Kathy/Kuisine (formerly KathySK)

              2. I love Chipotle! I find their ingredients to always be fresh, and I love the "subway-esque" set-up, so you can see exactly what is going on your burrito.

                I also think their atmosphere is very amusing (Small mexican statues of Aztecian gods and the workers wearing shirts that say Master of the Grill, I made the Guacomole this morning, etc)