A friend wanted me to meet her yesterday at Islands. I have never been to one and ordered the regular burger and side of french fries. The burger was cooked medium, was huge and very good. Also the fries were done perfectly, crispy and hot. My friend had the burger with mushrooms and cheese and she said it was better than the one she and her husband BBQ'd the night before. Since I usually avoid chains I may have to change my mind about Islands.
It all depends on which one. They're consistent within the branch -- meaning that the Burbank and Woodland Hills Islands are consistently terrible and the West LA and Glendale Islands are dependably good... but going to a new one is a crapshoot.
I've posted elsewhere about the hell that is Burbank Islands.
Agreed, Islands is one of the "good" chains. The burgers are reliable--although it's difficult to get anything pinker than medium; the fries are pretty good; they have some decent salads; the tacos are better than you'd expect; and the roast chicken is MUCH better than you'd expect--usually, it's quite succulent and crispy. Friendly for both kids and their TV-watching parents (if you can find a seat with a view of the TVs in the bar.) Some of them tend to be way too crowded, others not so bad. I do have to note that prices have risen notably in recent months and it's not quite the bargain it used to be, but it remains just about the only chain that we frequent.
I've posted on this before, but they have a great low carb menu that I ordered off of a few weeks ago with my SO. We split a half roasted chicken and iceberg wedge, both delicious. You can also order two hamburger patties with your choice of burger toppings with a side salad as well. A woman sitting next to us did this and had hers topped with a mound of bacon and melted chedder, the burgers looked so juicy and divine!
Islands is a good chain, heck, it's a good restaurant.
Nothing fancy, but good hamburgers and fries, as you noted.
They also have pretty good fish tacos and very good tortilla soup.
They've also got a full bar and cold beer in frosted mugs.
When faced with eating in an unfamiliar neighborhood with no obvious chow prospects, Islands is a solid, familiar choice.