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Good alternative to P.F. Chang's: Stir Crazy

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As much as I don't like chains for the most part, I have to give a decent grade to Stir Crazy, though it isn't available throughout the country. Basically, it's east of the Mississippi (10 stores in 6 states, 4 in Illnois), but I've found it to be consistently good. You can do it one of two ways: order off the menu, or make your own in the style of Mongolian BBQ, though I don't think I've ever bothered to do that. The menu selection is pretty darned good, from the Thai Curry Chicken (or the very similar Thai Curry Bowl), to the Sweet & Spicy Chicken, to the Wasabi Salmon, to the other things I've had or sampled from people I've dined with. As well, worth mentioning, is the handmade ginger ale, which is also good.

Anyway, it's cheaper than P.F. Chang's, I've never had to wait for a table at the Michigan location, and while service can sometimes lag, the food is quite good.

For those that like it, they offer a variety of starches with their entrees, from the traditional white rice, to brown rice, to several different types of noodles, all of which work well.

Good place in its own right, and for a chain, that's saying something, especially coming from me.

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  1. I'll agree to that. At least at Stir Crazy, you can control what goes into your dish if you choose the make-your-own stirfry option. Unlike at PF Chang's, where you'll invariably get stuck with a dish that's drowning in sesame oil / soy sauce / etc.

    1. We go to Stir Crazy a few times a year, the one in Oak Brook and the one in Warrenville. Both nice locations, Warrenville being bigger and newer. We have only done the do-it-yourself and enjoy that because we can select what goes in to our meal. I don't like rice so I am always offered an extra helping of veggies instead, I also like the sauces that you can mix if you want. We made one vist to PF Chang and were not impressed, far better food at my local East China Inn at half the price.

      1. When I lived in the Chicago area, I frequented the Northbrook location. It was quite good at the time, I usually created my own stir fry. Their menu seems to have changed immensley since I have last been there, I wish I could go now! It sounds great!

        1. I love Stir Crazy. They have a good happy hour daily (er, not that I go every day, or even every week), and I love the Asian Caesar Salad. The dressing is so yummy.

          1. I heartily agree that Stir Crazy seems to be an exception to my usual distaste for chain restaurants. I love the market bar concept of creating my own stir fry and the food tastes so fresh. Our visit to our Cleveland area location gave us the good fortune to meet our waiter who is also a national trainer for the Stir Crazy chain. I am just hoping they will open a West Side Cleveland location soon.

            1. Never heard of it. How is it different from your typical Mongolian BBQ place?

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              1. re: Suzy Q

                From its website, it's an Asian-themed casual dinner house, run purely by Americans with experience at every casual chain you can think of. It was acquired a couple of years ago by a private equity firm and is rapidly expanding, now with locations in Florida as well as the Midwest, with NY state and the West coming along. Stores are 250-300 seats. It has an extensive menu including the build-your-own thing, but easy to prepare dishes that won't tax the capability of new hires. Market target appears to be the same demographic as every other casual dinner house, i.e. suburban families etc., not Chowhounds. Those who go often to Cheesecake Factory and want to do something a bit daring. Based purely on the website, the food seems to have the promise of being fairly decent for its genre, but I haven't been myself, so can't say.