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Food Franchises That Don't Suck

Do you know of any? I'm thinking places that feel local, have fresh food, probably more high-end stuff.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Does In-N-Out count? All of their burgers are made fresh and inspired Chef Thomas Keller to open his own burger joint (he's an unabashed fan of In-N-Out).

    8 Replies
    1. re: SauceSupreme

      In-N-Out is entirely corporate, they won't franchise it because they know there will be loss of quality somewhere on the line.

      1. re: SauceSupreme

        Where is Keller's burger Joint? I have to go there.

        1. re: normalheightsfoodie

          burger bar is in mandalay bay in vegas ( or at least that's what i remember ). didn't get to try it because of reservations at his other restaurant, fleur de lys.

          1. re: ktown378

            thats actually hubert keller, i think thats his brother. thomas keller's place is bouchon at the venetian

            1. re: da_seuss

              Hubert and Thomas Keller are not related. Hubert Keller owns Fleur de Lys and Burger Bar in SF/Vegas. Thomas Keller owns French Laundry, Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery, Per Se, and his newest venture in Yountville Ad hoc.

              1. re: winonerd

                bouchon in vegas is not good. and dont expect a plate for your bread either

                1. re: foodwhisperer

                  Horsefeathers. Bouchon in Vegas is quite possibly the best breakfast I've had *anywhere*. And if you don't have a bread plate, Miss Manners says it's perfectly acceptable to put your bread right on the table.

                  1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                    I agree.... the breakfast here is great. We had a thick creamy crab bisque type soup with chunks of crab meat.... it was a special of the day. But definitely, breakfast here is very nice. Dinner's are nice here too.

      2. Dairy Queen Grill 'n Chill is pretty tasty. Tomatoes and lettuce on the burgers always seem fresh. Salads look nice. Some things aren't so great (buffalo chicken strips), but you can't go wrong with their burgers and fries. Only thing I really question is their approximation of garlic bread...

        Longhorn Steakhouse is nice for a higher-end experience, too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Heatherb

          Dairy Queen varies widely by location and management. The one near me is wretched.

          1. re: KCJ

            Don't order two burgers and 2 fries for 2 bucks fries ok burgers were like soy woodchip dogtreats.I like the ice cream stuff though.Higher end burgers ok.

        2. I'm a fan of Panera bread. It can get silly sometimes, but i like being able to order soup and a salad at a fastfood joint

          17 Replies
          1. re: sixelagogo

            But Panera has the WORST coffee in the word, and it's a crying shame....

            1. re: qzq

              Not to mention the carafe which maintains coffee at sometimes searing temps. I suffered a burn to the roof of my mouth from a small initial sip. I was in discomfort for over a week. Other than that, I too like Panera's.

              1. re: feelinpeckish

                Paneras started out in St. Louis as St. Louis Bread Company, and it was really pretty good even when they franchised locally. The quality has dropped a bit since they went national but I still like it.

                1. re: Phaedrus

                  Panera's breads are passable (though overpriced). Their soups, however, have to be the worst ever.

                  1. re: The Professor

                    If the choice is between fast food or Panera's, Panera's win hands down. I like their soups, well not all of them. But enough of them so that choosing one involves thought.

            2. re: sixelagogo

              Panera's portobello mushroom asiago sandwich is deadly good.

              1. re: Bunson

                One statement -- apple raisin crumb bagel. OHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

                1. re: mrsbuffer

                  I loved Panera's vegetarian garden veggie soup with a salad combo... now that they've taken it off the menu, I'll have to suspend my visits as I refuse to eat their new veggie soups: black bean or 'fiesta con queso'. Why Panera, WHY WHY WHY??

              2. re: sixelagogo

                I tried Panera the for the first time at Thanksgiving and then again on our trip down yonder for Christmas. Both times I thoroughly enjoyed my sandwich. Most recently I tried the tuna and had it on stone ground rye and it was just flat out good.
                It came with a bag of chips which even my 13 yo neice wouldn't eat.


                1. re: Davwud

                  I like Panera...but the one by me has been slipping service-wise. I had one guy who kept pretending to ring some fake bell and wouldn't listen to my order until I played the game. Too much egg-nog? Before that, DH went and they had both register areas open but neither of them would take his order either. By the time he was able to order, the line was out the door - one thing about chains - bad service doesn't turn people away.

                  1. re: TampaAurora

                    Quality and service is a bit hit or miss by specific location. I usually get the vegetarian soup of the day with another item as part of the combo. Soup is typically good (except for the time my vegetarian black bean had a nice big hunk of meat in it).

                  2. re: Davwud

                    I love Panera's bagels (when WILL they bring back the Pink Ribbon bagel? So good!) and also their grilled salmon salad. Never tried their sandwiches though, but given the usual good quality of their bread, I'm sure it's good.

                    1. re: FoodieKat

                      I eat their salmon salad because there arent any other great options sometimes, but it is so so so small. it is a good accompaniment with soup in a bread bowl though which is by far their best offering.

                      1. re: yankeefan

                        panera bread's bagels and pastries are top notch. i dare anyone to eat a cinnamon crunch bagel and come away dissatisfied--it is completely off the chain. sure, it's a little "desserty," and maybe a little cloyingly sweet for some people in the morning, but i think it's just perfect with a pat of butter. if you eat this stuff and come away thinking chains still suck, you've lost sight of what really matters where good food is concerned.

                        1. re: beelzebozo

                          I think chains suck in general, *but* I actually like Panera, albeit for different products than the ones you mention. If I'm in the 'burbs in need a casual lunch and wireless access, I will go to one of their locations (off peak hours...they get crowded!) for one of their sandwiches.

                          I've tried their bagels and a couple of their standards and they do *not* meet my standards. At all. But I haven't tried the cinnamon item you mention. I will, next time.

                    2. re: Davwud

                      I love Panera, their new ham and cheddar breakfast sandwich on ciabatta? is Awesome and I LOVE their hazelnut coffee. Whoever said their coffee sucks is much more of a coffee snob than me I guess ;) Of course, I do go half and half with the dark roast. Plus, their everything bagel and veggie cream cheese, orange scone, hazelnut crunch bagel and hazelnut cream cheese, and german choc brownie are all really tasty. I guess the disclaimer here is that I don't bake, so it is all way better than what I would make!

                      1. re: bamagirl30

                        Well, you're not drinking coffee. You're drinking hazelnut flavoring added to commercial-grade (not specialty grade) coffee beans. So the coffee really does suck, they're just hiding how bad it does.

                  3. Legal Seafood. Crazy-fresh fish, imaginative preparations, nice atmosphere.

                    Brio Tuscan Grill. I haven't had a meal there that I didn't adore -- though I usually order the same thing (gorgonzola-crusted strip steak).

                    Cracker Barrel. The service sucks, but the food never does. Comfort to the utmost. What deal did they make with the devil that enables them to make huge quantities of fried okra and it's always good?

                    Ruby Tuesday. I was never a fan, but I've been back recently and the changes they've made to their menu are encouraging. Really raising the bar.

                    Let the battles begin! ;-)

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: Covert Ops

                      I have to at least partially object to the all-encompassing idea that Cracker Barrel's service sucks. To me, it's just as prone to good/bad service experiences as any other chain place. I've actually found that, overall, CB's service tends to be more good than bad. It especially helps when, if I'm on the road, I indicate to the server that I'm in a hurry to get back on the road. Not only does it speed things up, but they do things like give you a to-go cup of your beverage and such. It's really a nice added touch that costs them practically nothing, but is, in fact, rather endearing.

                      Yeah, I suppose I'm a cheap date, but it's still better than many places, especially on the road. One of the better chains, in my opinion.

                      1. re: boagman

                        I would have to agree with you on the service at Cracker Barrel. Perhaps it is location based or how well they are managed but at our local Cracker Barrel, most of the time, the service is just fine.

                        1. re: Velma

                          I agree. We often stop at CB when traveling because they have clean bathrooms, a little shopping area to stretch our legs, and something better than fast food. I rarely meet poor service, and I'm probably more critical of service than of food at restaurants.

                          1. re: luv2bake

                            I've only been to Cracker Barrel once, and the service was so bad that we got the meal comped after complaining to the manager - and that's the only time I've ever done that.

                            1. re: addiegirl

                              For what it's worth: For years CB had a corporate anti-gay policy. In my part of the country (SE) employees found to be gay were fired and openly gay and lesbian people were refused service.

                              1. re: JohnFHall

                                For what it's worth, big deal.

                                The restaurant comped addie properly. I've enjoyed c&b the few times I've been there. They have some solid dishes. The chicken fried steak is passable. The biscuits and gravy are downright good. The hashbrowns are solid-plus. And I like the meatloaf.

                                As a patron I have yet to experience the poor service described by addie although I've eaten at many CB's along the east coast, but I could see how it would happen.

                                1. re: JohnFHall

                                  Is that still their policy?

                                  I've never had a problem with CB service or food, but I went with a friend who's trying to cut back on meat and pretty much everything (beans, black eyed peas, greens, stringbeans) had a big old hunk of bacon in it. And they're one of the few chains that serves a decent fried fish.

                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                    Cracker Barrell is not the first place I think of when I want to cut back on meat.

                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                      We were on the way back from Tennessee and the only other options were McDonalds, Taco Bell, and the International House of Meat.

                        2. re: Covert Ops

                          I'm so glad to hear good things about Legal Seafood on this site (finally!). I really enjoy Legal Seafood and like the fact that it's a chain -- in an unknown city it's a place I can go and be sure the food is good. The clam chowder is second to none and their Sangria is delicious! The seafood is always fresh, the rolls are always hot and overall the service is usually good. At the same Legal Seafood chain (Prudential Center in Boston) I have had the worst service of my life and the best service of my life. The best was so great, however, that it cancels out the bad service.

                          1. re: Boston Foodie

                            I agree. I have had very pleasant experiences at Legal Seafood. My relatives near Boston tell me the new "Flagship" operation on the harbor where Jimmy's Harborside stood for decades is really nice. You can choose your level of formality on the lower and middle floors and the upper open deck is very nice.

                          2. re: Covert Ops

                            I'm not a big fan of the entrees at Ruby Tuseday, but thr burgers & crabcake are usually good, and I do have a soft spot for a salad bar.

                            The food at Cracker Barrel has been going downhill the last few years, which made me want to cry. I LOVED their chicken fried chicken and their turnip greens!

                            1. re: Covert Ops

                              I do like LEgal Seafood.
                              Cracker Barrel isn't a favorite except I like their breakfast sandwich but I have to order it just the way I like it. Service is fine though.
                              Ruby Tuesday use to be a favorite but I have lost interest.

                            2. Just went to the Outback steakhouse and was surprised at how yummy the baby back ribs were. yum. also their steak was not bad and the shrimp on the barbie and deep fried mushrooms really hit the spot.

                              11 Replies
                              1. re: soypower

                                Loved the Outback bread...until I tried making the "Top Secret Recipes" version of it, which is even better.

                                1. re: momjamin

                                  Yah I eat Outback often love there rock salt prime rib and bread is out of this world!There secret in the bread is molassas I heard.

                                  1. re: momjamin

                                    Care to share the recipe?

                                    1. re: sunsuze

                                      It's available for sale at topsecretrecipes.com, but it looks like it's here, too: http://community.southernliving.com/s... (you'll see its wordiness and why I didn't try to retype it).

                                      I didn't bother with the coloring, so it doesn't come out as dark as the restaurant. Also, the version of the recipe I've printed out (in 2000) must have been v1.0 -- the intro to the version at southernliving (ca 2005) indicates they've refined it a bit, so YMMV.

                                      1. re: momjamin

                                        The KA flour whole grain baking book has a recipe for Dark and Soft Restaurant dinner rolls. In the intro it says " these dinner rolls replicate the soft, mildly sweet, deep chocolate-colored rools served at a variety of chain restaurants( particularly steakhouses) around the country.

                                        I've made them before and even though I've never tasted the rolls at Outback( I dont eat red meat), these rolls were fabulous. They also container no food coloring unlike the top secret recipe.

                                  2. re: soypower

                                    Fast foreword six years and Outback has fallen so far in quality of food that I almost don't want to go anymore.

                                    1. re: soypower

                                      I too have enjoyed a quite few good steaks at Outback and the potatoes are always great. I haven't been in a few years, but it'd be a shame if melpy's recent experience is universal

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        Based upon my experience and a long, recent discussion in another forum with folks all over the U.S., it's been in serious decline all over for several years now.

                                        A few folks still like it.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          Yea, it's been at least 3 or 4 years since I've been. Also, the wait for a table is awful usually.

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            Not nearly as much as it used to be, here. I really miss how large and delicious their Caesar salad was. Everything shrunk, the service was no longer attentive and charming, the quality was just not there... I am very nostalgic for their salad, though.

                                          2. re: mcf

                                            I stopped in for an early dinner after having avoided the place for nearly two decades. With suitably low expectations, I thought it was alright: service was attentive, steak cooked to order, decent sides. Nothing horrible but nothing to make me go out of the way.

                                      2. Baja Fresh, Moe's for quick, decent Mexican where the real thing isn't available. And I've never gotten sick!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: markabauman

                                          Finally visited a Moe's. Not bad. A bit of chaos behind the counter, but would be better as a drive through, IMHO.

                                          1. re: njmarshall55

                                            There's a Moe's in my area, was pleasantly surprised by the quality ingredients (fresh-- tasted good) and service. I'm a fan.

                                        2. Apart from Legal's this question may be an oxymoron.

                                            1. re: onthepicnic

                                              If you ever get a chance, Fins in La Jolla has shrimp burritos and tacos to die for..and of course cerveza. I ate there at least twice a month for 12 years when they had one in Mira Mesa. The cooked salsa is amazing.

                                              1. re: Lobstah

                                                Fins is great! We ate at the one in Rancho Bernardo for years. That was our Friday night request duing lent when I was younger.

                                              2. re: onthepicnic

                                                oh i do love rubios... Way too much! I think i could almost make a meal at their condiment table, lol (with beer of course). But other than that, Moe's (tasty vegetarian burritos? count me in!), panera (love the black bean soup and veggie sandwich)..... and i have an odd love for subway.... i think because i used to work there, but for some reason, it hits a chord in my heart...

                                              3. We go to our local Red Lobster once-in-a-while, and have done so for the past 20 years. I always get blackened fish (extra-spicy), cole slaw, and baked potato. Always good. That said, our place has had the same management for 20 years. After various bad experiences, I will not enter a Red Lobster anywhere else. The food I was served at the Red Lobster in Richmond, Indiana, was absolutely inedible! The manager couldn't have cared less when I complained.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  Red Lobster Mystery: how their portions can look so big in the TV commercial and so small in reality.

                                                2. Il Fornaio--an upscale Italian chain on the West Coast. Great bread, great oven baked pizza, decent pasta, good main courses, excellent tiramisu and espresso, and great breakfast muffins. Good wine list--including wines under their own label.

                                                  1. Is there something wrong with me, or am I just not a true chowhound? High end, I like Ruth's Chris or Flemings. (And Flemings has a great Sunday evening deal.) I've only been to P.F. Chang's once, but it was very palatable.

                                                    Medium, I think Carrabba's is (usually, depending on location) pretty good.

                                                    On the lower end of low food (i.e., not exalted but the lowly burger ) I have recently gotten hooked on Cheeburger Cheeburger.

                                                    I like Panera ok, but the original St. Louis Bread Company was better, and it's hard to compare the chain to the original without finding it lacking.

                                                    I HATE HATE HATE Olive Garden. I have yet to have one good experience at a single Olive Garden in the country. And some people love it, so I end up being there against my will far too often (meaning once every 3 or 4 years). It was suggested this summer by my husband's family on the way home from a vacation with them. My husband and I said we would just continue on our way and get home a little earlier! I'd rather eat at McDonald's 4 times than eat once at Olive Garden.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: luv2bake

                                                      Hmm.. I loathe Ruth's Chris. Partly because of the terrible, terrible idea of coating the damn thing in butter. Partly because of the only good for them decision to make you order all side dishes ala carte at unreasonable prices. But mainly because their steaks aren't very good.

                                                      1. re: luv2bake

                                                        I have only had great experiences at Ruth Chris. I know a lot of peopl have mixed experiences, but the filets I have had were always some of the best I have ever had. Outback, Carrabba's, and locally Puleo's and Calhouns are usually above average. I also have a soft spot for Chili's because we do a lot of happy hours, but their food has gotten too salty recently.

                                                        PF Changs and Bonefish are my normal go-tos though. Nice bar, good music and good lighting. Also, great food and you can get tasty healthy options. Also, I like places with good appetizers selections.

                                                        1. re: luv2bake

                                                          Always had awesome meal and service from Flemings.

                                                          Ruth's Chris in Richmond have had uneven service and wildly varying food quality.

                                                        2. Chilis is OK - good burgers. Fuddruckers is decent also. Carabbas and Macaroni are pretty good. Texas Road house makes a decent affordable steak. Are these places preferable to locally established places that creat their own menus? No way, but they remain in my rotation.

                                                          Olive Garden and Red Lobster are both horrible.

                                                          1. Pollo Campero is everywhere in Guatemala. When I finally agreed to go, I found that the green salads (with chicken) were good, needed given the lack of greens elsewhere, and that there were always tortilla ladies ouside of the door to help you complete the meal in a reasonoable way.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              ohhhh i love pollo campero!!!! "Lets go to pollo, pollow campero!" I ate there in guatemala and in DC and wow, so good... And on the flight from guatemala city to DC? Oh yeah, everyone had pollo campero..... Did they not know they could get it where they were going? the whole plane smelled like fried chicken! lol

                                                            2. Oceanaire. I had a very good NYE dinner there and was blown away when someone casually said to me "Oh, they are a chain..." They also have a great happy hr (at least at the San Diego location) with $1 oysters. The simply prepared seafood seems to be the best option there, and everything seems very fresh.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: JRSD

                                                                Oceanires is definitely a really good chain option. I went to the one in Seattle not knowing it was a chain and loved it. I then went to a place in Seattle that wasn't a chain by the piers and I went back to Oceanaire the next day.

                                                                1. re: JRSD

                                                                  I agree with Oceanaire. I've eaten in Orlando, San Diego and Northern VA. Always excellent and great wine list.

                                                                2. Houston's! Consistently good!

                                                                  Burgerville: Northwest only, but I have to go everytime I am in the NW.

                                                                  Ruth's Chris: Steak!

                                                                  Legal Seafoods is great too.

                                                                  Chipotle: great for the $$$$

                                                                  Taco Time: CRISP MEAT BURRITOS = FRIED CRACK

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Xericx

                                                                    Oh, yeah, I forgot about Houston's! The one in New Orleans closed, and I haven't been to another one since. I'll ditto that one.

                                                                    1. re: Xericx

                                                                      ohmigod, i thought i was the only one who was that addicted to the crispy beef/chicken burritos. yum. i'll have to pick some up this afternoon. just the idea has me jonesing...:o)

                                                                      1. re: Xericx

                                                                        Ditto on Taco Time. The crisp burritos are even better dipped in the hot sauce. And mexi-fries are so good. Deep fried tater tots for those outside of the PNW. I try to tell people it is nothing like Taco Bell. They actually grate the cheese in the kitchen themselves.

                                                                      2. Cosi.

                                                                        When, oh when, will there be one in LA?

                                                                        THEY SERVE S'MORES.


                                                                        Flatbreads and salads and soups, oh my!

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: julietg

                                                                          I have to put cosi on the not good list. When they first started appearing in New York and Boston 7-8 years ago, they were good, but the cubed chicken they put on their sandwiches is just plain bad. Their tossed salads are decent though.

                                                                          1. re: onefoodguy

                                                                            I think the Cosi signature salad is awesome. No chicken cubes involved.

                                                                          2. re: julietg

                                                                            I've gotten some truly awful salads at Cosi. Like, not just wilted but seriously spoiled greens...yuck!

                                                                          3. Around here:

                                                                            -Baja Fresh: A bit more expensive than the other big burrito places, but I find I actually like this one best of the four around here (Qdoba, Taco Del Mar, Chipotle, Baja Fresh)

                                                                            -Azteca: The food isn't all that special, but the service is exceptional at the one closest to my place. The wait staff is very dedicated (some have been there for the entire 12 years we have been going there) and friendly. My parents have a particular waitress who has been serving us for years now. She knows all our names, all our preferences, and she actually remembered my Dad's birthday this year (complete with the usual sonmbrero, song and dessert treatment) without anyone telling her!

                                                                            Red Robin: Again, nothing special, but reliable, and a diverse enough menu for everyone. Oh yeah, and endless fries with tartar sauce...

                                                                            Fatburger: Pretty decent for straight-up burgers, but expensive for what you get. There's a local place (Burgermaster, a small local chain) I like a bit better, but it's a drive-in, and the decrepitude of my car combined with the bad weather make a trip there a bit of a pain during this part of the year.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Vexorg

                                                                              I really like Qdoba. A nice alternative to Chipotle. THeir Queso dip is addictive.

                                                                              1. re: HungryLetsEat

                                                                                I tried Qdoba once and was really unimpressed. Mostly by the service, but the food was unremarkable, too. If I'm in the mood for chain burrito, I like Baja Fresh.

                                                                                1. re: HungryLetsEat

                                                                                  I'm addicted to Qdoba! Naked Burritos with tortilla on the side please.

                                                                              2. I forgot to mention 5 Guys. Not a nationwide chain, but they make a fine burger.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: GDSinPA

                                                                                  I'm going to have to second this. I really miss their burgers from my time in DC.

                                                                                  1. re: GDSinPA

                                                                                    May i ask what do you like about the 5 guys burger, i tried them last year when they came to the orlando area , and found it dry , bland, and generally not anything like i expected from the recs on the web.

                                                                                    1. re: jword2001

                                                                                      Sorry to hear your experience was so bad. The burgers I've had there were fresh ground, juicy and quite tasty. Cooked perfectly on a pretty good bun.

                                                                                      I guess not all locations are as good.

                                                                                  2. The "Top of the Chains" I like are:

                                                                                    -Bonefish Grill. The atmosphere is vintage Florida (think Bogart's "Key Largo") and fresh fish is nicely prepared. Good price points too.

                                                                                    -P.F. Chang. Although lettuce wraps are now the norm, they were something special when Changs brought them on-board. Decent interpretations of Asian flavors.

                                                                                    -California Pizza Kitchen. I have always liked the fresh flavors, creative toppings and sleek feel of the place. A trend setter that has settled into a comfortable place on my "to dine" list.

                                                                                    -Silver Diner. Delicious diner food in a fun, shiney atmosphere. Great brunches and delicious dinners, from Texas-sized French Toast to classic meatloaf. Only in the Mid-Atlantic.

                                                                                    Middle of the Road:

                                                                                    -Qdoba. Same concept as Moe's and Chipotle's, which I like as well. Fresh Mexican-esque flavors and good price points.

                                                                                    -Chick-Fil-A. My idea of comfort food is one of these delicious chicken breasts resting on a buttery bun with pickle accent and a large lemonade. Only in the East.

                                                                                    -Five Guys Burgers & Fries. An absolutely delicous burger and incredible french fries. Only in the Mid-Atlantic.

                                                                                    -Waffle House. Incredible Southern cooking, from fluffy waffles to hashbrowns spiked with grilled onions to Bert's chili. My alternative to the blatant homophobic Cracker Barrel. Generally only in the East.

                                                                                    Never in a million years:

                                                                                    -Applebees. An insult to the tastebuds. Shame on you, Tyler Florence. But you are still cute. I guess I am most upset with Applebees because, having grown up in Atlanta, I remember them before they were a chain (they were T.J. Applebees then) and they had some pretty good food.

                                                                                    -Olive Garden. Pastey pasta and sloppy sauces. The whole country of Italy should file a class action lawsuit for defamation of dining.

                                                                                    -Dead Lobster. Ooops, I mean Red Lobster. I think I've said enough already.


                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: basicfoodgroupie

                                                                                      I am so with you on the Chik-Fil-A except why do I always crave it on Sunday's?

                                                                                      1. re: basicfoodgroupie

                                                                                        Chick-Fil-A is in the west coast too. There are four in San Diego County. Ironically some replacing closed Krispy Kreme stores!

                                                                                        1. re: Sandy Eggo

                                                                                          There is a Chick-Fil-A in one of the malls in Torrance, California, too. I think it's the Del Amo Mall but it might be the South Bay Galleria ... I forget which

                                                                                          1. re: PaulF

                                                                                            Considering the price point of Chick-Fil-A, I'd call their food surprisingly good.

                                                                                        2. re: belgand

                                                                                          For the life of me, I've never figured out why so many people seem to think that Chik-Fil-A is so much better or healthier than any other fast food franchise. I think the emphasis on extremely clean-cut and polite service is part of it. Don't they recruit employees primarily through churches?

                                                                                          Waffle House waffles in no way hold a candle to Eggo waffles, belive it or not. But I do enjoy their hash browns once in a blue moon.

                                                                                          1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                                                            Agreed re Chick-Fil-A. It's deep fried chicken for gosh sakes, not much better than and certainly no better for you than KFC. Plus they're run by ultra-right-wing Christian conservatives who have gotten in trouble for forcing on-the-job prayer sessions on their employees, which I find reprehensible.

                                                                                            1. re: bachslunch

                                                                                              Just another reason for me to hate them then eh???


                                                                                              1. re: bachslunch

                                                                                                Chick-Fil-A has a good GRILLED chicken sandwich. They use peanut oil in my area for deep frying. No trans fat. Sorry about the very, very, small percent of folks that can't deal with peanuts. As for forcing on-the-job prayer sessions on thier employees, I'll have to ask a buddy of mine who is a Chick-Fil-A franchise owner about that. That would bother me too.

                                                                                                1. re: Stack8

                                                                                                  I pray the peanut oil wont make me sick! lol, geesh, praying what a horrible vile despicable thing to do on the job!, as for their food, i really enjoy the breakfast burrito, living in Fl, it is hard to get a good bb, Chick Fil A's is actually quite good! anyone had one of their milkshakes?,any good?

                                                                                                  1. re: jword2001

                                                                                                    Chick-Fil-A started in Atlanta. Don't know where the prayer rumor got started? Maybe because they are closed on Sundays?

                                                                                                  2. re: Stack8

                                                                                                    The stuff that triggers peanut allergies is in the protein, not the fat, so peanut oil shouldn't trigger allergies.

                                                                                                    1. re: Stack8

                                                                                                      It's generally accepted that commercially-produced peanut oil is fine for those with peanut allergies. You should avoid the "artisan", cold-pressed type peanut oil, however.

                                                                                                2. re: basicfoodgroupie

                                                                                                  Totally agree on Bonefish Grill! Five Guys places seem to be expanding to my area so I will have to give them a try. Also agree on your negative evaluations ( each one mentioned being worse than the one before).

                                                                                                  1. re: basicfoodgroupie

                                                                                                    RE: Silver Diner. This was true in 2007, but not in 2011. I remember going to the original store in Rockville when it first opened and liking it a lot. The focus was on simple diner fare and they did it well. Today, they seem to be taking the shotgun approach to dining and the menu is all over the map: pan-asian noodle dishes next to pasta primavera? And they still call themselves a diner? Little I've tried is all that good: the burgers which were once quite tasty are now sub-par, the country fried steak was abominable, the salads were drenched in horrible sauces; the fries were handcut, but not fried properly, so they were burnt AND greasy. They seem to be moving more towards "heart smart" menu items that are low-fat, low-sodium, and reduced flavor for the flavor intolerant. The interiors are cavernous and I've never seen them anywhere approaching capacity. Meanwhile, at the REAL diner up the road, there's a line to get in. No wonder this place has been in and out of bankruptcy for the past decade.

                                                                                                    Contrast this with, say, IHOP, of which I'm not a particular fan, but most of what they deliver is fairly solid. The breakfasts are consistent, the service reasonably snappy, the sandwiches decent quality. They also peddle a "heart smart" menu, but I've never seen anyone actually eating the stuff. Most of the seniors I know who those meals are targeted at don't go to IHOP to eat well in the first place.

                                                                                                    1. re: basicfoodgroupie

                                                                                                      I love the Waffle House hash browns with ham and onions and tomatoes and cheese. They make me so happy!

                                                                                                      1. re: basicfoodgroupie

                                                                                                        I quite like CPK too, although I've only eaten at their Hong Kong branches.

                                                                                                        Is Five Guys franchised? I always thought they were company owned for some reason.

                                                                                                      2. I think Outback in general does a great job. They're based here in Tampa so we usually get the test concepts. I like Outback, Carrabba's, Bonefish, and Roy's is amazing. They tried an upscale asian one here that did not go over so well. I *think* it was called Paul Lee's. They have now converted it to a Carrabba's.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: rhnault

                                                                                                          It was Paul Lee's Chinese Kitchen I think. I was working at Lee Roy Selmon's at the time. I still can't imagine someone wanting to pay that much for the food there, I ate there cause I either ate free or discounted. Lee Roy's rolls are amazing.

                                                                                                        2. Bonefish is good

                                                                                                          I find Outback inconsistent. Some places the food is good, others, not so much.

                                                                                                          Atlanta Bread Company - always fresh greens, good soups and decent sandwiches.

                                                                                                          Schlotsky's Deli - good fresh soups, good sandwiches, excellent chips.

                                                                                                          1. Chipotle is good. I love Schlotsky's, too--at least it was still good wen I last went to one several years ago.

                                                                                                            St Louis Bread Co/Panera is usually good.

                                                                                                            1. Oh, and I had a middling-to-crappy experience at Bonefish. I didn't like the atmosphere either--so loud.

                                                                                                              1. Maggiano's is a very upscale Italian chain--not a huge chain, but still a chain. They do a good job, IMO. WAY better than Olive Garden, which is disgusting IMO, and Macaroni grill, which is much better than Olive Garden but not nearly so good as Maggiano's.

                                                                                                                ETA: I guess I'm not sure whether it's an actual franchise, though. Carry on!

                                                                                                                1. I had a really great steak dinner at a Fleming's location in San Diego.

                                                                                                                  A perfectly cooked steak, some nice steamed spinach on the side, strong drinks.

                                                                                                                  If there was only one Fleming's in one city, maybe people would think it was a really nice local steakhouse. But, it's a chain, and if the SD location is typical, it's a really good chain.


                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: PaulF

                                                                                                                    The Flemings in our town closed after a short run. We went once and they managed to mess up three out of four steaks at the table. How do you miscook steak at a steakhouse? And when we complained the manager didn't seem to care.

                                                                                                                    1. re: lisaf

                                                                                                                      I went to the Fleming's in Boston once and found the food second rate and expensive, though the service was excellent. Best I can say about them is that they were better than the Boston area Morton's, which had much worse food, much higher prices, and lousy service. I'm in no hurry to go back, especially with so many other options available.

                                                                                                                  2. Flemings is wonderful. It's one of our regular places and we drink there several nights a week and eat there an average of once a week. The food is consistent and very good and our location (Richmond, VA) has the best service in the city, hands down..from the management, to the hostesses, to the bartenders, to the wait staff and the kitchen staff. I cannot give them enough kuddos.

                                                                                                                    Chick-Fil-A...original sandwich and diet lemonade is a great lunch and only $4.

                                                                                                                    Chipotle. Love the beans, guacamole and carnitas.

                                                                                                                    Carrabas...very good and consistent. Wonderful calamari.

                                                                                                                    Five Guys. Fresh, hot burger and not stingy with the condiments. Great service.

                                                                                                                    1. After numerous replies i will try to group others:

                                                                                                                      My not really sucko list - Legal (depends on the location); pf changs; roys, mortons, waffle house, ihop, white castle

                                                                                                                      My sucko list - Carrabas, Olive garden, mac grill, cheesecake factory, outback, applebees, cracker barrel, dq, mcd, bk, everything else i have tried and want to forget.

                                                                                                                      1. The 24 hour goodness of Jack in the Box and Del Taco are a superior experience.

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                          I miss JITB sooooooo much.I used to live around the corner from one.
                                                                                                                          Wish they'd come east.

                                                                                                                        2. Ruth's Chris
                                                                                                                          Corner Bakery

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                            I love Wahoo's. I wish they would come to the east coast!

                                                                                                                            1. re: sashimi73

                                                                                                                              I love Wahoo's grilled fish tacos, black beans and rice. Yummy!

                                                                                                                          2. Well, it's not high-end but I had lunch today at Steak n' Shake and it was tasty. The place was clean and smoke free and the service was prompt and friendly. The double steakburgers were fresh, hot and dressed the way I wanted them.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: steveb

                                                                                                                              oh yeah, Steak n Shake is great for burgers. The one near me is sparkling clean and has really good service.

                                                                                                                              1. re: steveb

                                                                                                                                Steak n' Shake is fabulous. Not to mention 24 hours. Good burgers, great shakes, and damn fine chili. One of the only things I'm going to miss about Kansas.

                                                                                                                                1. re: belgand

                                                                                                                                  I'm a fellow chili lover as well. If you go to their web site and click on "feedback", you'll see several division offices any of which should be able to tell you how their cans of chili can be ordered

                                                                                                                              2. The good: Ruth's Chris, The Capital Grille, Sammy's California Wood Fired, Moe's, Waffle House (country ham and eggs over easy with a double order of hash browns and a defibrillator on the side).

                                                                                                                                The bad: Olive Garden, Denny's, TGI Fridays, Landry's, Pizza Hut.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: srcusa

                                                                                                                                  I agree with your list. I've had a couple of phenomenal steaks the two times I've been to Capital Grille (as in a couple of the best I've had), and I used it really enjoy Sammy's, and went on a regular basis until the only location nearby closed (good salad options, especially).

                                                                                                                                2. steveb, thanks for reminding me of my childhood favorite (and still on top) - Steak 'n Shake. I do not think I have ever gone into a Steak 'n Shake franchise that didn't have good food. Now, I can say that some are cleaner than others, and I have (occasionally but not often) had a crabby worker. But the food is good.

                                                                                                                                  Of course, you've got to have a dark side that loves diner food. :)

                                                                                                                                  1. Plutos in NorCal, Wahoos in SoCal, In-N-Out. I'm okay w/Bucca di Bepo, too.

                                                                                                                                    1. Until recently I didn't know the "Old Spagetti Factory" was a chain. The one is San Diego was housed in an old brick building... My favorite chains are Ruby's for hamburgers and breakfast (at the end of many piers here in SoCal), The Birgantine for fish taco's, Islands for hamburgers too, The Hat for pastrami dip sandwiches, Roberto's for fast Mexican, and Chick Fil-A for chicken and biscuits.

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sandy Eggo

                                                                                                                                        Old Spaghetti Factory? <sigh> Not only does the original San Francisco location survive only in the form of the trolley car at the top of the menu, but my favorite dish on the original's menu has been deleted too. "Hot Naked Spaghetti" was lightly browned thinly sliced garlic in olive oil with wonderfully toothsome spaghetti then tossed in the hot pan; plated and served with great grated cheese and a sprinkle of parsley. Oh, and great fresh crusty bread. The chain locations are good, but no match for the original. Pity.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sandy Eggo

                                                                                                                                          (This thread may be 4 years old, but...)

                                                                                                                                          Our Spaghetti Factory was also in a brick building (an old mill office, I think) and had a real trolley car inside. When I was little I thought I didn't like spaghetti (since mom didn't), and this was the first place I tried it and discovered I loved it.

                                                                                                                                        2. Among the counter service sandwich places, I've got a soft spot for Zoe's. They're good about pointing you to the healthier parts of the menu, and have a solid selection if side orders.

                                                                                                                                          But then it could just be my love of their Mediteranian Tuna pita talking. It's just so nice to be able to buy a non-mayonaise tuna sandwich on the road (they use olive and caper for flavor instead of the evil white stuff. )

                                                                                                                                          1. -Baja Fresh (nothing is frozen or from a can)
                                                                                                                                            -CPK (not excellent, but consistently good and inventive options)
                                                                                                                                            -Houston's (love the spinach and artichoke dip, good ribs and an awesome burger)

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Newkie

                                                                                                                                              Baja was bought by Wendy's in 2002.

                                                                                                                                              I must say, I have noticed a big decline in their product.

                                                                                                                                              And while they do not use cans or freezers or microwaves, just where do you think their chicken and beef are coming from?

                                                                                                                                            2. Not mentioned yet -- Togo's for well-stuffed tasty sandwiches, particularly the hot pastrami or #8 -- turkey, roast beef and cheese. MUCH better than Subway or Quizno's.

                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: nosh

                                                                                                                                                Togo's is amazing. Pay the same as Subway/Quizno's, get a sandwich that's about 100X better.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Shazam

                                                                                                                                                  I totally agree, Togo's is one of the best. Miss that Number 9, on Onion with double Provolone.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: othervoice

                                                                                                                                                    I'm so shocked to hear that you three love Togo's! My school ordered them all the time for group luncheons and they were invariably beyond terrible. The bread was either chewy or soggy. And the fillings just tasted mushy. I'm interested in hearing if any of you have experienced the difference b/t getting it fresh from the store and having the party platters. Or maybe it was just the location?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Newkie

                                                                                                                                                      Well, they don't keep at all. They're actually pretty gross even after a few hours. So if they were made in advance, I could see how they were soggy messes by the time you got to eat them.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Newkie

                                                                                                                                                        Sorry to hear about that one. I've never had bad luck, but it does depend on the location and they definately need to be eaten immediately, or soggy doesn't begin to describe them.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Newkie

                                                                                                                                                          Totally agree with the other 2 posts. Togo's is to be eaten right after it is purchased. They also have more breads to choose from now.

                                                                                                                                                  2. We just took the kids to Cheeburger Cheeburger today, and I had a salad there for the first time. (My husband & I split a salad & burger.) We got the Salad Lover's Salad and topped it with banana peppers, black olives, grape tomatoes, pecans, sunflower seeds, mandarine oranges... I think that's it. And had the balsamic dressing. I thoroughly enjoyed that salad. Everything fresh (greens - primarily Romaine, tomatoes) was crisp and flavorful. The other pickled/canned toppings were new and "fresh" (in other words not sitting in the fridge forever).

                                                                                                                                                    Their black angus (the beef trend 'o the decade) is really good, and their fries & onion rings are crisp and fresh. Honestly, for a chain restaurant - and especially one serving diner food - they are really good. They might be tied with Steak 'n Shake, and coming from me, that's saying a lot!

                                                                                                                                                    1. can't believe i gave it up for rubio's and didn't mention el pollo loco. drive-thru rotisserie chicken!
                                                                                                                                                      il fornaio, too, if you have too.
                                                                                                                                                      but let's face it, homogenity only goes so far on a plate. if you crave the creative, you'll put up with some suckiness to seek out the unchained restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: onthepicnic

                                                                                                                                                        el pollo loco is a no go...really bad experience after eating there. A much better chicken choice is Charo Chicken or Zankou Chicken.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: onthepicnic

                                                                                                                                                          I totally miss El Pollo Loco. I loved it. Charo chicken is great too. I loved Koo Koo Roo but there arent that many around( In cali). Baja Fresh and Rubio's is great too.

                                                                                                                                                          Ate at Ruby Tuesday's yesterday( in the land of Chains, Port Huron, MI) and had a bad experience.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Calipoutine

                                                                                                                                                            Liked El Pollo Loco when I lived in Orlando 20 yrs ago ... felt almost healthy next to some other fast food! fub with tortillos & salsa

                                                                                                                                                        2. Add Soup Plantation. And El Pollo Loco.

                                                                                                                                                          1. The Melting Pot
                                                                                                                                                            Mon Ami Gabi

                                                                                                                                                            1. I'm going to have to (apologetically) put in my vote for Pizza Hut. I grew up on it.

                                                                                                                                                              Granted, they've gone downhill some since they got bought out and moved the HQ out of Wichita (where they started). I went to college in Wichita when they were still there, and got to try out all their test stuff. I remember being at a Pizza Hut in Wichita when the employees were learning how to make the brand-new Hand-Tossed crust.

                                                                                                                                                              Never having been anywhere that had a local specialty pizza, like New York or Chicago, I'm afraid that, to me, Pizza Hut is pizza.

                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                                                                Heh, I went to college in Manhattan, KS where we had the oldest, still operating, Pizza Hut location. I always felt they did a good job being one of the better (til Papa John's more or less tied with them) middle-of-the-road pizza places. Then again, Domino's and the abominable Little Caesar's are so bad how hard is it to be better than them?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                                                                  For me, Pizza Hut has been a fave for years. Loved the pan pizza. Yup. Past tense. Here in my little corner of Texas, they recently changed their dough and it doesn't travel well. It "unbakes" in the delivery car. The first time I got an underbaked pan pizza, I called the store. The manager was very friendly, aplogetic, and sent out a duplicate order. He called to tell me he had checked it and it was fully baked on leaving the store. I was soooo embarassed when it was as gummy and underbaked as the first order. Don''t know if the change is chain wide, but it's sent me scampering to find another favorite pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                  But maybe it's me. Since I moved here two years ago, I have had a continuing series of bad restaurant experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                  P.F.Changs: Injured my foot but wanted Chinese food. Hadn't been to PFC, but their on-line menu looked fabulous! Invited a friend to lunch, then sent her to pick it up. '-) They charged me for, but did not send a really exotic dish which was the thing I wanted to try most. I called, the manager apologized and sent me a gift certificate worth less than the dish I ordered and paid for. As for the other four dishes, they were singluarly blah.

                                                                                                                                                                  Taco Cabana is a regional chain. I loved it before I moved. Here they make their enchiladas with four tortillas (gummy enchiladas, anyone?) and when I ordered tortilla soup, they served it with flour tortillas too. blech! I get my bubble gum from the supermarket, thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                  I love good food and I love cooking. My cooking is still good, but I'm beginning to feel as if I've moved into the Twilight Zone for restaurants!

                                                                                                                                                                2. You've never had pizza in Chicago or NYC? Ever?

                                                                                                                                                                  Come on, you only live once.

                                                                                                                                                                  Visit Chicago (New York is good too, don't get me wrong). I'll take you to Lou Malnati's. It's on me.

                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bakeryqueen

                                                                                                                                                                    "Visit Chicago (New York is good too, don't get me wrong). I'll take you to Lou Malnati's. It's on me."

                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, Lou Malnati's. Good stuff, Maynard. The difference between that and Gino's East (my personal preference) is *so* minor, that it's hardly worth bickering about. When I was going to school there, I used to tell people who'd ask about the best Chitown pizza, "For the best *pizza*, go to Gino's East. For the best total pizza dining experience, go to Lou Malnati's." Their pizzas are so similar (as I said, Gino's gets the nod by maybe one or two percentage points), but the overall atmosphere at Lou's is just so much better/nicer, and Lou's has one absolutely fan-freaking-tastic thing that Gino's East has never had:

                                                                                                                                                                    Chocolate chip pizza, which *must* be tried to be understood. Wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                    Still, all things being equal, the best pizza I've ever eaten (and until I've tasted better, I'll continue to call it The Best Pizza In The World) is local to me right here in Hazel Park, Michigan at Loui's Pizza on Dequindre, just north of 9 Mile. I've been eating it nearly all of my 34-plus years, and have never tasted its equal, anywhere, ever. They've occasionally tried to expand to other locations, and they never seem to last, but the quality of the original location, whether dine-in or take-out, has never wavered.

                                                                                                                                                                    So, um, just wondering, here...if *I* happen to come to Chicago (which I do at least once a year), are you buying Lou Malnati's pizza for me? ;)

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bakeryqueen

                                                                                                                                                                      Nope, I've never been to Chicago or New York. My husband may be going to Chicago next summer with his grandson to see the Cubs play; if something happens and the grandson doesn't materialize, I may get to go with him. Closest to Chicago I ever got (and I know it's not actually close) is Carbondale, when a family friend from Japan was in college there. We did actually have some pretty good pizza there, much different from what I was used to.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                                                                        In case you don't have the chance to visit, you can still taste Lou Malnati's. Tastes of Chicago (http://www.tastesofchicago.com/) sells and ships it frozen. The taste is not exactly the same, because a lot of pizza making has to do with the oven, but it's still very good. My mom used to send them to me when I was away at college.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Rubio's has simple and great fish tacos.
                                                                                                                                                                      Chili's has good burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Chipotle. My Platonic meal: Chicken fajita burrito, no rice, hot salsa, chips and Nantucket orange-mango.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Legal Seafoods
                                                                                                                                                                          Chipotle - you can't get fresher-tasting burritos from a chain! Must be the cilantro-lime rice!
                                                                                                                                                                          In N Out (why California has burger bragging rights!)
                                                                                                                                                                          Abbott's Frozen Custard (a Rochester, NY institution!)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Baja Fresh and El Pollo Loco are a little on the healthier sides for fast food restaurants. You can't beat an In N Out double double.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. I think Papa Murphy's is good company for take n bake pizza. I used to work for them in highschool and know they use and care about quality ingredients and are a good corporation. I go to a Papa Murphy's at least once a month.

                                                                                                                                                                              Baja Fresh - pretty good go once in a great while. I don't feel bad after I eat their food :)

                                                                                                                                                                              Togo's isn't bad for submarine style sandwiches but I haven't been there in years, my dad really likes them.

                                                                                                                                                                              Burgerville for fast food.. i don't do fast food often (maybe once or twice a year), but after seeing this nightline story, if I ever do eat ff again it will for sure be from Burgerville http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerInd...
                                                                                                                                                                              (the story gives b.v. alot of props)

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: amopdx

                                                                                                                                                                                I thought my cousin was talking about some Papa John's knock-off when she was telling me about Papa Murphy's pizza. Then our aunt and I had some while I was staying with her a few months ago. WOW. When do they plan to expand to the east coast??? Take papajohns/pizzahut/dominos by storm??? They won't know what hit them! Talk about good take-out pizza! I'm willing to go and pick their's up! I'll even pay more!

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Finally thought of a chain I like (I do not place any Chicago Pizza places in the "chain" category):


                                                                                                                                                                                The one that reminds me of childhood and I still like those slyders is, you guessed it:

                                                                                                                                                                                White Castle

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                  I was just about to add White Castle myself. Sadly, we no longer have any around RI, at least not that I know of. Definitely a worthy contender.

                                                                                                                                                                                  For high end -- I've always had good meals at Capital Grill, though I've only been to the one in Providence (the original). On special occasions, I love to share the seafood tower there. I always request that the clams be cherrystones, not those tiny little necks, and they generally do their best to do that.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. I Like:
                                                                                                                                                                                  Texas Roadhouse, cheap above average food(the steaks are not prime, but still ok), and cheap beer

                                                                                                                                                                                  Steak and Shake, I like their burgers and fries, and of course the shakes

                                                                                                                                                                                  Portillos, good hot dogs, great chili dogs, good italian beef

                                                                                                                                                                                  Jimmy Johns, I am hooked on the Italian Night Club, mmm Capicola..

                                                                                                                                                                                  I dislike:

                                                                                                                                                                                  Chipolte, it was the worst lunch i have ever had, I am so glad I have taqerias that are excellent as an option as opposed to this place The food was bland, and I just hated it

                                                                                                                                                                                  Cheesecake Factory, terrible, large servings of bad food. I went once, and the service and food was the worst.

                                                                                                                                                                                  P.F. Changs, very bad, much like Chipolte, I am lucky once again to have good chinese food places as an option so I dont have to settle for this place.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Fridays, Chilis, Applebees, all about the same, not very good

                                                                                                                                                                                  Olive Garden, the pizza hut of italian food

                                                                                                                                                                                  Pizza Hut, the Mcdonalds of pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                  Panera, not very good, my wife likes it, and I dont order anything, I prefer to go hungry instead of eating here.

                                                                                                                                                                                  All the above are my humble opinions ... no offense

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                                                                                                                    RE: Jimmy John's. I just tried it for the first time today. I liked it. I liked the bread. My only complaint is they only had dijon mustard. I prefer yellow.

                                                                                                                                                                                    My opinion isn't really worth much because all I have to compare it to is Scrubway and Blimpy.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Sonic Drive in, decent burgers and oh my, peach smoothies. Not a lot of locations in the west, closest to me (in the Bay area) is in the Sacramento valley. Hot summer day, and I want a peach smoothie!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Given that most franchise food joints are good or bad depending on management, the following have been fairly consistently good for me:

                                                                                                                                                                                      Steak 'n Shake
                                                                                                                                                                                      Sonic (grilled chicken wrap, tater tots, peach and tropical smoothies)
                                                                                                                                                                                      Backyard Burgers (Black 'n Bleu burger, spicy curly fries)
                                                                                                                                                                                      Culver's (huge salads, malts, unique fast food albeit pricey)
                                                                                                                                                                                      Jimmy John's
                                                                                                                                                                                      Mr. Goodcents (subs)
                                                                                                                                                                                      Waffle House
                                                                                                                                                                                      McCormick & Schmick
                                                                                                                                                                                      Arctic Circle

                                                                                                                                                                                      The following are places that I have found to be generally mediocre but happen to have found an isolated one or two that excel:
                                                                                                                                                                                      Red Lobster

                                                                                                                                                                                      The following have disappointed me too many times in too many locations that I generally don't patronize any of them:
                                                                                                                                                                                      Carraba's (have never had passable service in any I've tried)
                                                                                                                                                                                      Cheesecake Factory (inconsistent food, impatient staff, warehouse atmosphere)
                                                                                                                                                                                      KFC (way too salty, poor supervision of lazy staff)
                                                                                                                                                                                      P.F. Chang

                                                                                                                                                                                      Believe it or not, though they exist in my vicinity and where I travel, I've never eaten at:
                                                                                                                                                                                      Ruby Tuesday, Chili's, Applebee's, Cracker Barrel, Bob Evans, Fridays, Fuddrucker, or Outback.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Kansas City recently got a Chick-Fil-A. I'm eager to try it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KCJ

                                                                                                                                                                                        Ruby Tuesday has great burgers and one of the few restaurants here in Massachusetts with a salad bar, (which was excellant, fresh and clean).

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I have found in Southern CA, that TACONE WRAPS and La Salsa are very good. They grill the chicken to order. They use a lot of fresh vegi's.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Morton's -yummy, consistent (is this a chain?)
                                                                                                                                                                                          McCormick & Shmidt's (?)
                                                                                                                                                                                          Truluck's (?)
                                                                                                                                                                                          Outback - family friendly, consistent, but salty comes to mind, fried too. Casual
                                                                                                                                                                                          PF Changs - not "authentic", very themey - but I'd go back and enjoy it - even the worthless mess of a sauce they make tableside. That I've grown fond of.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Bonefish - formulaic, but good for fish around here.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Red Lobster - I'd take my 3 yr old here comfortably and have just snow crab and biscuits
                                                                                                                                                                                          Granite City - Ok, family friendly but still feel like I'm out
                                                                                                                                                                                          Chili's -Choclate Shake to go
                                                                                                                                                                                          Macaroni Grill - I like the veal with butter sauce and capers -
                                                                                                                                                                                          Panera - the only soup/sand counter around and only a few items are ok for my taste.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Not my faves - Applebees (limp comes to mind), TGIF (it all seems overly salty sweet) Olive Garden (reminds me of bottled Italian dressing) our DQ is yucky if it's not ice cream, same with BK. Chipotle - only tried it once and would order sans tortilla and the meat had a fakey smoke taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: happygrrl

                                                                                                                                                                                            McCormick's & Schmick's. I miss them.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: revsharkie

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'd put McCormick & Schmick into the "wouldn't go there with a gun pointed to my head" category. First off, Legal is light years better for food, IMO. Second, the M&S guys are cancers to the markets they invade - really do a number on local competitors through hiring away best managers from the best local seafood places - then letting those same folks twist in the wind once the new M&S restaurant is established. Go read interviews with them sometime - they make Howard Schultz look like Ghandi in comparison. I'd sooner eat at Cheesecake Factory.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Good chains... hmmm:
                                                                                                                                                                                              Legal Seafood
                                                                                                                                                                                              Capital Grille
                                                                                                                                                                                              Baja Fresh
                                                                                                                                                                                              John Harvard's (appetizers & most beers, not necessarily entrees)
                                                                                                                                                                                              Red Lobster (it's my 84 y.o. Mom's favorite, so eat there at least once a year)
                                                                                                                                                                                              Outback (the meat, anyway)

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Il Fornaio is definitely a chain that does not suck. The bread is delicious, served with olive oil and basalmic. I'm a sucker for good bread and that alone makes this chain a cut above. I've only been to two, Coronado and Walnut Creek. Both have beautiful dining rooms. The one Coronado has a waterfront view. The food is good if not exceptional and the prices fair.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: EdwardAdams

                                                                                                                                                                                              My favorite Il Fornaio was the one in Downtown San Jose. I believe they also have one in Las Vegas.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Somewhat surprisingly, I loathe Ruth's Chris also...the coating everything in butter thing doesn't do it for me! (Nothing against butter, mind you)
                                                                                                                                                                                                The boyfriend loves it, and they just opened one in Providence where we live, so I suspect it will be on the list of go-to places. Went for the first time recently and my tuna was way too salty. Normally I add salt to things, even in restaurants, but this was almost inedible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I also hate Olive Garden, but that is nothing of a surprise. Can't think of any chains around here besides maybe Outback that is decent. Even the Capital Grill doesn't turn me on anymore. The ones in Providence and Vegas seem to have taken a turn for the worse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Wait a minute...I've always had a good experience at Legal Seafood (Providence, Boston, Chestnut Hill, Paramus)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sashimi73

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I came across Legal Seafood while waiting at Logan Airport and was astonished to find how good it was. The fried clams were ever-so-tender, and the coffee bon bons were to die for! I don't think I've ever been pleased eating in an airport before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Sorry - I meant Warwick!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Just getting a chance to read this board, thought I'd post some opinions. Being from Nashville (Cracker Barrel was created just outside town) I have to agree that the service is horrible and somehow manages to get worse everytime I am convinced to return, yet they are always packed. Someone remarked about Brio Tuscan Grille very early on, and my only experience here was with a butternut squash pasta dish that was unremarkable and left me feeling quite dissapointed, though the decor was beatiful. Houston's is a great chain, as is Chick-Fil-A, and I always crave it on Sundays as well. I have to confess that my typical order there consists of two 8-pack chicken nugget combos and two medium waffle fries. I would aslo like to add J. Alexander's. There are not many locations, but this is an upscale American chain that also started in Nashville and has since spread to 5 or 6 major cities. Solid food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Sonny's Barbecue in the South
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Portillo's Hot dogs in the Midwest
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Culver's Butterburgers (The midwest's analogue to In-N-Out)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: qzq

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sonny's? Ugh, horrible BBQ. Head to Texas for some good BBQ. If you want an In-n-Out analogue, I recommend Five Guys (eastern seaboard).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: qzq

                                                                                                                                                                                                              +1, Sonny's BBQ in the South. I usually get an affordable BBQ pork sandwich, beans, fries, and ice tea http://www.sonnysbbq.com/ NOTE: also enjoy Texas BBQ, while unable to think of a common chain there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Del Taco has good soft tacos and hot sauce (need to have one hotter). Good deal on soft or hard tacos especially on Tuesday nights after 3pm: http://www.deltaco.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dairy Queen burgers and tasty treats including blizzards, shakes, cones, cakes, and ice cream treats: http://www.dairyqueen.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Carl's Jr. Locally has a flame broiled $1.29 Big Burger doctored with fresh chopped onion, cilantro, chunky tomato salsa, with salsa from the Green Burrito bar in little cups on each bite: http://www.carlsjr.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sometimes crave Wendy's burgers, chicken burgers, chili, frosty, or if splurge a taco salad with ranch. They even special sandwhiches and decent selections for about a dollar. http://www.wendys.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Domino's has decent pizza made fast for cheap carry out. http://www.dominos.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Papa Murphy's take and bake pizza is decent: http://www.papamurphys.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I hate buffets, That said ,I ate at Ryan's Steakhouse and Buffet in Savannah recently. It was great. Beautiful fresh made salads .Turkey carved to order on the bone . All the Southern style veggies not greasy. The best baked potato I have had in a long time.Did not try the steak because I don't eat steak. This was on a bus trip and almost everyone on the bus raved about the food. Clean , bright and inviting. THE PRICE $8.95 OR $8.49 FOR SENIORS.. I had never heard of them before and was surprised that they were not mentioned on this thread.They are not a small chain . According to their web page they have over 200 locations. Anyone been there ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: albee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, in caving to my children when they were little, partly because we were BROKE and they ate cheaply, partly because sometimes it was just nice to let them eat something they loved that I didn't necessarily. I think they liked having the things they didn't usually get at home - very fattening rolls, huge baked potatoes, dispensing their own soft serve ice cream with a gazillion toppings, multiple refills of chocolate milk, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I find it to be like any other cafeteria/buffet place, and I'm just not a fan of those kinds of places. I must admit that the fattening rolls with honey butter were hard to resist, but I always kinda thought that was because the rest of the food wasn't anything I was interested in!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                You're obviously not alone, though, because they open up all over & stay in business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Which, from reading this thread, is kind of the summary - one man's dream is another man's nightmare!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. you cant go wrong with chipltles mexican food, that place is always a good choice, the food is always made fresh, the steaks are grilled almost before you order your food, so carne asada burrito and chicken burrito taste delicious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I would say Pizzeria Uno does a decent job compared to most casual theme places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Chick-fil-a for great yummy fast food chicken which is better than any other place, Chipotle and Baja Fresh for Mexican, Damon's for steak and ribs, and then Bravo's for Italian.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I've not heard anyone mention Bob Evan's here and I've never been to one. Is it worth watching for one on my travels? And if so, what's particularly good there?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Same with Machine Shed. Worth the trip to the south 'burbs for me to try it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KCJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thumbs down on Bob Evans. I've never even heard of Machine Shed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: KCJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bob Evans is equivalent to Dennys in my book. I never eat there unless forced by elderly relatives who like the place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HungryLetsEat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Bob Evans -- pretty good for breakfast, terrible for other meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Agree w/you 100% on Bob Evans: good for breakfast; avoid it like the plague for anything else IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Have only been to one Ruth Chris, and it was pretty good. I've had 100% good experiences with three Macaroni Grill locations, all of the others I've had at least one bad experience with. Nice thing with Cracker Barrel is low carb options, and the variety of kids meals. Most Chili's are good, one we've been to was horrible - food and service and cleaniness (what else is there?). Same thing with Olive Garden - first one was to die for (actually compared well with a few of the better local joints), some of the others were very sub par.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If you are on the road, stop in a place and smell. If it don't smell like good food, run! Since bad service can make any place awful, the chains suffer from the lack of oversight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Our favorite chain right now is Chipotle Grill, although it takes some customization to get low carb.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. we went to a place in joplin called Johnny Carino's, which I'd never heard of but my parents had been there a number of times and really liked it. It was pretty pricey but good. (We didn't have dessert because there was so much in the entrees that we were absolutely stuffed and took some home.) Didn't know it was a chain till I got home and looked it up on the internet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. We almost never go to chains--there are plenty of alternatives where we live, and we don't go out all that often anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              However, every so often, usually when I have a day off during the week, we go to our local Old Country Buffet for lunch. Did that yesterday. Most of the food at OCB is college cafeteria quality, but, the fried chicken can be really, really good. The trick is to find a table or booth where you can keep an eye on what's coming out from the kitchen, because you must get the chicken as soon as it's brought out. If it's been sitting for more than 5 minutes, it's cold and soggy, but hit it right, and the coating is crisp and flavorful, and the meat is steaming hot and succulent. Sides worth getting include the mac/cheese, and a potato/cheese/corn casserole that was very good, although I did feel my arteries slam shut. Cole slaw and potato salad were a little over-mayoed, but still flavorful. I also love their hot-fudge cake dessert; the apple/oatmeal crisp is way too sweet. The sweet potato pie was surprisingly good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Don't know how much I ate, but nothing fits today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. For what's available (semi) nation-wide and SoTex:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Palm
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Capital Grille
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                McCormick and Schmicks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                J. Alexander (just meets high-end criterion)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Baja Fresh (does not meet high-end criterion)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fat Burger (does not meet high-end criterion)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Regional favorites:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Truluck's (TX, FL)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Whataburger (S, SW, SE)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In-n-Out (SW)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                All of these can fill in the blank for, "Where should we eat?" I crave In-n-Out weekly, but it's not available in TX (although my pop and I drove 200 miles out of our way for one on a road trip a couple years ago). The regional faves do not meet your criterion for 'high-end' (save for Truluck's...maybe), but they are, in my mind, national treasures. Imagine a world without In-n-Out or Whataburger. Horrors!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. China Sun, a north Texas chain, makes the best hot n sour soup I've found. Food is generally pretty good too, and really cheap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I also really like Lawry's, I've had some incredible prime rib there although everything else is pretty forgettable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Woody's Barbeque
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fat Boy's Barbeque
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In N' Out
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bud's Seafood and Chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pollo Tropical
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lee's Chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Arthur Treacher's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Taco Tico (probably sucks, but I like 'em anyway)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes on Pollo Tropical! It's really too bad they're only in Florida and a handful of locations in New Jersey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The ever-shrinking Kewpee still makes a great burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Fibber McGee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I had a bad experience. Soggy wings and tasteless tostones. Waste of money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: LETTUCEINLOVE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I don't see tostones there. Are you sure it was Pollo Tropical you visited yesterday?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes. 100% positive. I didn't see it on the menu, but I asked for it since I saw a promo on youtube for it. It came with 3 as a separate dish (not included in their sides), something like $2.40. Not greasy, but was devoid of any flavor, not even salt. Waste of calories- the whole meal. Sauces were tasty, but I don't need to buy food just for the sauces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LETTUCEINLOVE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I usually get the same thing--1/2 grilled chicken, beans and rice, Caesar salad and sometimes fried yuca con mojo. For about 8 bucks it can't be beat. Real food at fast food prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Like:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Baja Fresh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pollo Loco
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      La Salsa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      El Gallo Giro
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Corner Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hof's Hut/Lucilles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Macaroni Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Zankou Chicken
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Polly's Bakery Cafe
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Carl's Jr

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Don't Like
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PF Changs (bland bland bland)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Red Lobster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Burger King
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Olive Garden
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BJs Pizza Brewery
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      McCormick and Schmucks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Neutral: McDs (admit it, the fries are good)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Need to try: Chipotle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mlgb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        McD's: I found that the fries were *great* when they used trans fats. I'm glad that they stopped, but am I the only one who notices a huge reduction in crispiness and taste now?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Le Pain Quotidien -- the quality in all of their locations amazes me.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jordana

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Le Pain Quotidien amazes me as well... and many of their patrons don't know they are worldwide... and I hope it continues to be that way...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Cosi's in Philly are good. Esp the one at 9th and Chestnut. The space is really great and the staff keeps things moving. The sandwiches are pretty goood and the salads even better. I've tried the square bagels for breakfast and was pleased but not wowed. But, in a bagel-challenged town like Philly, pleased is a pretty good place to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: newbatgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I really like Cosi salads and enjoy Cosi's in general, but you've got to be kidding about the bagels -- even Dunkin Donuts bagels are more bagelish than Cosi's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Adrienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Texturewise DD's bagels are OK but a little too big for me and the plain ones are pretty bland. I like Cosi's because they are more reasonably sized. And hey, I didn't say that Cosi's taste like a real good NY bagel because they surely don't but they're a decent bagel-ry riff on their bread, which is what they bill them as.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. The places I like the absolute best are the seafood chains, which are awesome:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Oceanaire
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mitchell's Fish Market
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Bonefish Grill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And pizza, here in the Chicago area:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Giordano's (stuffed pizza!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lou Malnati's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gino's East

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Here in the Chicago area, we also have a couple of large restaurant groups that have a variety of restaurants, including some of the very best in town:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lettuce Entertain You (Everest, Wildfire, Tru, Ambria, Shaw's Crab House, etc)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Levy Restaurants (Spiaggia, Bistro 110, Fulton's on the River)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Some people would not consider these to be chains because, with only a few exceptions, each restaurant is a different concept, rather than exact clones from location to location to location.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Others I enjoy:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cheesecake Factory
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              PF Chang's

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Went to Denver/Colorado Springs over the weekend and I have to say I was blown away by one chain - noodles & company (www.noodles.com).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you get all noodles obviously it's high in carbs, but they have a combo plate with salad and 1/2 portion of noodles with meat. It's perfectly sized. We tried the mac & cheese, pad thai and Indonesian noodles and all three were great. I was really surprised that even the pad thai stood up to most thai restaurant's versions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Now I wish they have branches in LA.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Noodles! I first tried them on a trip to Salt Lake City and loved their food. Very simple food, executed perfectly - not too many people can do that these days. I wish we had a branch here in Sacramento...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sacto_Damkier

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ok, i third the rec on noodles and company! I lived about 3 blocks away from one, and just grew to absolutely love it!! The perfect customizable, quick, tasty dish for minimal dollars :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Cheesecake Factory, Champps Americana, Bertucci's, Pizzeria Uno, Maggiano's, Buca di Beppo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. au bon pain on west madison had some good muffins, bagels + breads, and pastries

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Ruth's Chris, Mortons, Smith and Wollensky come to mind immediately. After that, the pickins are few. Five Brothers Burgers and Fries.. in the east, the burgers are first rate, but somehow the French Fry recipe got lost when coming from the midwest (they are usually over done, or soggy). Au Bon Pain makes some decent, if small sandwiches, but their soups are great. Coffee isn't bad either.. bagels would embarrass any one from NYC (too big, no sign of ever hitting the boiling water). There used to be a chain of Mexican Restaurant around New England.. called North of the Border... if they still exist anywhere they were much better than other so called mexican chains.. still couldn't hold a candle to a decent Mexican restaurant. I may get flammed on this, but Starbucks coffee is an addiction and the pastries are above average. The new hot breakfast sandwiches at some Starbucks are pretty tasty.. (egg florentine). D'Angelos makes some decent sandwiches as well. After that, it is downhilll fast. The take em' out of the freezer or refrigerator bag and nuke em restaurants (i.e. Applebee's, TGIF, Chili's, Red Lobster, etc) are pathetic excuses for bland, salty, uninspired food. Oh, did I mention the fat content?. Outback.. tastes good enough..except everything tastes the same. An hour later, I need to drink a gallon of water to dilute the salt. I never step foot in a most chain restaurants in my local area and if on the road, I try to find a decent diner or pub serving food.. and I try to find on that is busy.. usually a good sign. After that, I hit Zagat.com and find my next restaurant there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Biaggi's - I love the Chicken Pietro and the atmosphere is wonderful and relaxing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. The only ones I see that havent been mentioned here are La Madeline & Popeyes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. After thinking more about this. Especially after some debate over the quality of a local market, I'm starting to think that as far as chains go, it's all about gimmick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ya, there are the Morton's, etal of the world. The higher end chains that seem to have done a good job. For me though, what makes a chain good is usually something I can't get at home. I live in Canada and my wife's family is in Alabama. So every trip down there we have some or all of places Krystals, Sonic, Rosie's (A small Mexican chain), JITB and a few others.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Now I'm not saying that these places are great. What they are is unique. They can offer good things, bad things, kitsch, fun, interesting variations in standards.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It's just different and as such, seems better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just and observation.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ok so I was killing time and came across this board- felt I had to contribute to the ice cream chains thread. In Massachusetts, you can't really go wrong with JP Licks- I'm always pleased. Although why WHY would anyone ever order the 'kiddie' size- a shot glass sized dixie cup that costs $3.00- when you can get a generous small for $3.60. I just don't get it...but maybe thats just me

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Go Roma. A cup of soup, half a smoked chicken pizza, and soda all for under ten dollars--and it's actually GOOD.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Hmmmm...so many chains, and so little time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                High End - Flemings' by far. Totally underwhelmed my first and only time to RC, never done Morton's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Italian - We were very impressed with our first visit to Biaggi's, liking it better than Maggiano's. A little pricier than Macaroni/Carino's/Carraba's, but worth it. OG blows, except for the soup/salad/breadstick deal at lunch, but it's been years since I've had it, so maybe it blows too now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Casual - Gotta go with Mimi's Cafe and Chili's, with a nod to Ruby Tuesday's as an up-and-comer. Friday's used to be alright, but they have made many changes over the last couple of years, all for the worse. I've been going to Chili's since they first launched (went to high school with Norman Brinker's daughters) and they have maintained consistency while evolving their product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Quick Serve - In N Out, no doubt!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Seafood - McGrath's. And I'd include Pappadeaux if you don't do a separate category for Cajun or Southern. Red Lobster definitely provides a good value, and those damned cheddar biscuits are addictive, but overall the quality doesn't hold up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mexican - NONE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                BBQ - NONE!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I love Mimi's! We are finally getting one up here in Maryland. When we visit my parents in Orlando, it's the one restaurant my husband insists on visiting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Plenty, Culvers In-n-out Sonic Wattaburger Original Tommys (hamburgers) Tommies (donuts) Cheesecake factory(good for what it is) Brio Portillo's hot dogs Golden corral, dont laugh, was really suprised at the quality of food recently Olive garden, lotsa folks here say nay, but the new Og here in Altamonte is very good, not like the one i was used to in Albuquerque. Bahama Breeze(best keylime pie I've had,and I've tried a bunch!) Panera First watch Stuart Anderson's Black Angus Taco bueno,always fresh n tasty, and others, but thats enough for now.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: jword2001

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'll give you Culvers (only been a coupla times, but it was very good) and I am a huge Tommy's fan, especially for breakfast. Gimme their breakfast sandwich, double cheese, minus lettuce add mustard and I am in heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I tried First Watch several times in Phx, thought it was a lame Le Peep, and they've fallen off my fave list over the years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Will have to give Golden Corral a shot...the missus has yet to experience it, and I'd like to see how it stacks up against our local favorite ChuckARama (no steaks, but very good food for a steam table/boofay thang).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've only been to Le peep a few times, in the Denver area, it was ok, but honestly I'd rather go to Village Inn, or even Denny's, ,it just didn't "tickle my fancy", my uncle and his wife rave about Le Peep....as for Golden Corral, it surprised me , a friend offerd to pay for lunch and stopped there...glad we did now!,good luck when you try.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jword2001

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Always hated the potatoes at LP (I'm an extra-crisp guy, and those little cubes were alway mealy now matter how cooked they appeared), but I always dug the gooey buns and the big carafes of fresh OJ. Some of the egg dishes were pretty good, but the lack of decent potatoes had me looking for other breakfast haunts. My fave in Denver was Sunrise Sunset on the west side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As for GC,went last night. I was very pleased, and even moreso that the missus was rather impressed. I noticed a lot of upgrades over my last visit, including:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        * a decent little wedge salad
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        * bay shrimp on the salad bar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        * the asian salad and dried fruits

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The missus proclaimed her steak "best for $12" and I'm inclined to agree. Nice beefy flavor and toothsome texture. She also gave thumbs up to the fried shrimp and orange chicken from the asian section. And she pronounced her amazement at how nicely the salmon was prepared. I went with lots of pot roast and veggies and salads. Only the desserts continue to unimpress, althought the orange/vanilla softserve blend was pretty yummy by itself in a cone. The location near us is also doing weekend breakfasts, so I imagine we'll be giving them a try as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I thought LePeep passed away quietly years ago. I loved that place when I lived in Stamford and they were on Main St.. Oddly I remember going there specifically because a) they didn't overcook "over easy" like most of the diners did - even with the hot skilled, and b) the homefries were extremely crisp. Was about 1993 or so last time I ate there though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: GroovinGourmet

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Cool!, glad y'all enjoyed!, yes their dessert's need work, but we have a Bruster's down the street...I love their ice cream!, as for GC breakfast, I love the nice plump,and juicy fried pork chops...good stuff!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jword2001

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In Socal:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Juan Pollo - love their refried beans, fresh salsa and potato salad - yes, potato salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pepe's - love their crispy, shredded beef tacos, breakfast burritos, and delicious rice with pork sauce - yum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              King Taco - love their pastor and carne asade tacos with the green sauce.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In-N-Out - classic and good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Islands - love the fries dipped in ranch dressing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Daphnes - not authentic Greek, but I still like the avglomeno (sp?) soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: stopurmakingmehungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                since your in socal, I would really reccomend farmerboys hamburgers.,the farmer burger is killer!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jword2001

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've seen them around, but never stopped. Thanks for the tip Jword!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: stopurmakingmehungry

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Another vote for the very under-rated Islands Burger franchise. Does anyone fr. southern Nevada remember the now-defunct Country Inn local chain?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: jword2001

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Haven't seen a Le Peep since Atlanta in the mid-late '80's. Really liked it then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Worst: Olive Garden. I refuse to ever step foot in one again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I find the following very consistent:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Waffle House
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cracker Barrel (have had no service problems)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Five Guys
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sonic for the drinks (cherry Limeade, yum)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Steak n Shake

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One that hasn't been mentioned:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sweet Tomatoes. The possiblity for healthy options is there, some of the soups can be pretty good and always have a good selection of fresh fruit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Regional cafeterias can sometimes be good, just have to choose your dish carefully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Honey Baked Ham - many of them have sandwiches which are better than usual fast chain options

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: meatn3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Le peep is a chain? Hmm. There's one in South Charlotte that I've never been to but I always thought it was family owned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: southernitalian

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It was a chain in the '80's. I have no idea if that chain still exists, so perhaps the S. Charlotte is an indie! Is it good? The chain specialized in omelets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I do not prefer franchises, but here are some that I don't think suck too bad:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bahama Breeze
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Old Chicago
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Famous Daves
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Bonefish Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Texas Roadhouse
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Johnny Rockets
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cheeseburger in Paradise
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PF Changs (although the Louisville one is very inconsistent)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Steak & Shake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          LaRosas (Cincinnati)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jeff Rubys (Cincinnati & Louisville)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          California Pizza Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Walt's (Wichita KS)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chilis (haven't been in ages though)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What-A-Burger (TX)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hometown Pizza (Louisville)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Franchises that I think are majorly sucky:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Subway (the smell of that bread is horrific!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chipotle (rice on burritos?! double starch city! the carnitas were a soupy/watery mess! ewww....!) I really hate any of those pseudo-mex wrap place like Chipotle, LaBamba, Qdoba, Mo's, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Papa Murphys (unless I get a pizza oven at home, forget this option!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wendy's (used to be great in the 70's/early 80's - what happened?)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pizza Hut (I'm from Wichita KS, where they originated & remember when it was good)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Stolidog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have always loved Papa Murphys for pizza, especially their now defunct pan pizzas. It is great for regular pizza with a good sauce, lots of fresh toppings, and bakes well at my home, although it sounds like you like the high temperature ovens. It is not NY or Chicago style, but it gets the job done very well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. houston's has good steaks, ribs, booze and salads. service is decent and portions are

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I remember several years ago on a trip from Boston to D.C. finding a small chain of BBQ places called Red, White, and Blues. Is it still around? I remember a couple of nice plates of ribs back then. And oh, if only Pizza Hut would just go away, like the Soviet Union. Clearly it is a punishment upon us all for something so odious that we have otherwise blocked it from our collective memories. (Shudders).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ChrisConcord

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i assume you mean Red, Hot and Blue for BBQ in the DC area, in which case, yes it is still around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ChrisConcord

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I love REd, Hot and Blue. I haven't been in nearly a decade and had the random craving for a juicy BBQ sandwich a few weeks ago. My local HT actually sells classic NC BBQ shipped in which I thought would satisfy said craving...well I guess I learned a lesson on Memphis vs NC. I live in Baltimore and the nearest Red, Hot and Blue is 45 minutes away but if it's still as good, it might be worth the trip or find something else in the area to make an excuse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Loved it but Red Hot and Blue is long long gone from this area. Replaced by Indian.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Red Hot & Blue is most definitely not worth the trip from Baltimore. Their "pulled pork" is the consistency of spackle. Much better off going to Big Bad Wolf for their pulled pork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If I want chain bbq, I end up at either at Rocklands or Famous Dave's, neither are all that great, but way better than RH&B.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Must be the memories of my teenage taste buds. I remember the pork chopped which I prefer much more than pulled with a pretty good bun and sauce. We have a great place here in North Baltimore but it's NC style which I'm not really a fan of. Good BBQ is def hard to find outside of the south in my experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. not sure if this chain has been mentioned but i really like o'charley. also one that is only located in a few southern states is fatz cafe. the best poppyseed rolls ever with their honey butter...yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. It may not seem local or be fresh, but White Castle!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. One time a while back after spending a few weeks climbing volcanos in Ecuador and eating mostly yuca and rice and chicken with the occasional guinea pig thrown in for a special occasion, we got back to Quito and I found myself with the most un-resistible jones for pizza.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And by some miracle, right there downtown was a Pizza Hut. We went. It was very, very, very good. I don't think that assessment is entirely due to altitude sickness either. The pizza was made with the characteristic local tangy/farm-y cheeses rather than standard american white gloop so there was a lot of interesting flavor beyond the salt/sugar/grease they depend on in the US.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          been there LOL, kinda like Jimmy Buffet's cheeseburger story, amazing how normally sub standard food when you are desperate can end up being the best tasting thing you ever experienced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Freddy's Frozen Custard. Best Chicago dog outside of Chicago, and the burgers are crispy, greasy, and yummy. I believe they originated in Wichita, KS as well. Many more on the way in the rest of the country. At WSU my business professor told us that Wichita is that fast food idea capital of the country. I kind of believe it. White Castle, Pizza Hut, I know there's lots more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Also, Yia Yia's, I think there are only a couple, I believe it's part of a "restaurant group."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. El Pollo Loco serves healthy food? I like the roast chicken and whole frijoles, buuutttt.....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They push these questionable 'Merican side dishes: mashed potatoes & Gravy, french Fries, Macaroni & Cheese, cole slaw (heavy on the industrial Mayo).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They insult authentic Mexican: now their Soft tacos have Flour tortillas and are filled with lettuce, yellow cheese, sour cream. Crunchy taco, same stuff.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A good franchise gone terribly, terribly wrong!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. My favorite chains:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fogo de Chao, Bucca di Beppo, Oceanaire, Taco Cabana.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Qdoba's, Moes, Olive Garden, PH Chang's, I can't stand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I like Zoup in Detroit area--as the name implies, it's pretty much a soup/sandwich place. Good for lunch and those days you go home sick and need a bowl of soup but don't feel like cooking or dealing with the crowd at the deli (mmmm, matzoh soup at Bread Basket)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Personally, I can't stomach chains.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not trying to make a pun, alot of the time I find chain restaurants make me sick.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The only places I can really go to are small local chains these include:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Broadway Bagel Company. (Ok well I have only tried it like once, but it was ok)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -Higher Groundz. (Maybe they're nationwide, but I haven't heard anyone mention them. But I also think the one next to my house is really the only one worth going to.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  -House of Bread. (Funny, I'm not even really into bread, but they do a good job here.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I know that people down south swear by Waffle House but the one and only time I went to one that was located on the NC/SC border on US 17 heading to Myrtle Beach it truly sucked. Nasty Nasty Nasty. Will NEVER set foot in one again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Like:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ruby Tuesday burgers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pizza Hut (sorry!)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Planet Wings (local to the Hudson Valley)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Red Lobster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Waffle House
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      White Castle (ugh - nasty)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Arby's (although the chicken salad sandwich is semi-edible)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Macaroni Grill

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Erin from blog.TypeADiversions.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. La Salsa, not high end but I love the place, would think I had died and gone to heaven if La Salsa opened a shop in Tokyo. ditto in n out. And does Kenny Rogers' Roaster still exist, they had not bad wood grilled rotisserie chicken and all-American sides, but they ran out of Japan in a hurry. Oh yeah they had endless Kenny videos playing the gambler, etc. maybe thats why they went down so fast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I'll say it. I like IHOP, though I wonder if it even counts if there's ONE location I go to, and one location only. Des Moines, on SE 14th st right next to Walmart. Never a bad meal, always stellar and friendly service, even at 3am. But I wish they hadn't 86'ed the country griddle cakes. I loved the texture.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm also fond of Bennigan's. When I'm starving, I know I can go there and get a ginormous plate of decent food. Consistent quality. I'll take this over an Applebee's or whatever, any day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Let us not leave out Burgerville USA, a Pacific Northwest drive-in chain, which is highly thought of by all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Has anyone mentioned Cock of the Walk? If you don't mind fried stuff (I certainly don't), you would be hard pressed to find better catfish. And they have the best cole slaw I have ever tasted- even better than my mom's! Fried pickles, greens, and some really good skillet corn bread... yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Very limited menu- if you like fried fish, you will love this place, if you don't then there is no reason to go there at all- most offer one or two items besides catfish (sometimes chicken, sometimes shrimp, sometimes even offered broiled), but they were put on the menu begrudgingly- fried catfish is king here, nothing else is worth ordering!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Krystal and Sonic are mighty good too, for reasons already mentioned...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Clarkafella

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of my cousins used to work at CotW. I only went once, and I thought it was great. Of course, my cousin cooked our food, so I'm not surprised.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: AlyKen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well, I don't know your cousin, but whoever it is cooking back there does a wonderful job! I'm getting hungry just thinking about that catfish...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The only place I like as much is the thin fish at Middendorfs in Manchac, LA...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I like:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Houston's (esp. the one in Century City in LA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PF Chang's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Legal Seafoods

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I do not like:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ruth's Chris

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Hands-Down, KFC's sides menu ( all of them ) - particularly good when one is homesick ( it's not Mom's, but close ), hungover ( add a biscuit ) & in a pinch for time ( drive-thru )!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I really love Abuelos. I can get spinach enchiladas and avacado enchiladas and they are yummy! I also like Outback. They never over cook my med rare steak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Counter Burger in California has great burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I love the wings at Quaker Steak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I also really like PF Changs for some reason, and I have access to amazing chinese restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I also like Magianno's, although I think it is overpriced. I will also always hold a special place for Wendy's in my heart. When I was living in Japan and craved some good old American food I turned to Wendy's chicken nuggets and chili and came home with a huge smile on my face.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't like Fridays at alllll

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Worthwhile:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            PF Changs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ruby Tuesdays
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            White Castle
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Taco Bell (Free Tacos 10/30thanksto Red Sox stolen base)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Trader Joes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Yoshinoya in Cali. MMMM, beef bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. No one has mentioned any Canadian establishments, so I'll throw in some:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Keg - decent steak and prime rib at much more reasonable prices than Ruth's Chris, etc. IIRC, their Keg Classic teriyaki steak dinner is about $25 Cdn, and includes ceaser salad, vegetables, baked potato, and a 10 oz. steak (which is all I can get through these days.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Swiss Chalet - bbq chicken and ribs. Very reliable, good value for money; I especially enjoy the dipping sauce they provide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Harvey's - a burger chain that actually starts cooking your burger when you order it. They offer traditional frozen burgers like a lot of other places, but have also added an Angus burger that's quite a step up. Also offer veggie, grilled chicken, and a hot dog! Plus, they dress it to your specs; for example, I like tomato, lettuce, onion, mustard and sweet relish on my burger, but they also have dill pickle slices. I ask for those on the side - no problem, five or six slices thrown in, no extra charge. Don't care for the cardboard fries, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Worst chain: Pizza Pizza. Ubiquitous, but terrible - acrid sauce, skimpy cheese, and the worst excuse for a meatball sub I've ever had the misfortune to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Good Chains:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    P F Chang's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pei Wei
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Macaroni Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chik Fil A
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Round Table Pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Anything by Gordon Ramsey

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bad Chains:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Red Lobster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Olive Garden
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cracker Barrel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Golden Corral


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: TexasToast

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah,luby's isn't as good as it once was, and they have had to close some of their places.Yeah,don't care for Golden Corral when I can eat at Texas Roadhouse for much better steaks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Went to the Red Lobster on I-35 and Walzem in San Antonio,was dissapointed by the lunch menu.Food okay,but don't care for RL much anymore.CrackerBarrel at there once or twice,haven't been back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I actually find Pizza Pizza to be acceptable. Its a lot better than New Orleans Pizza( whats with that name anyway?). I've never eaten at Harvey's, but someone told me they have a veg burger so I must try it soon. I despise Swiss Chalet. I said to the cashier" whats in the sauce" and she said " Ummm, its a packet we mix with water". Nice eh?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Never eaten at the Keg either. Had Milestones once in Vancouver, its now here in London but I wasnt impressed so I wont be back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        @KevinB: Is Mr. Sub still any good?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Places I actually like:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Panera (I've eaten there all over, and it has been consistent in a good way each time. In fact I eat there 3-4 times a month.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        California Pizza Co.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sweet Tomatoes - good food among the elderly. I have only eaten at the two in St. Louis, and one in Clackamas Co. and one in Denver. Consistent. Build your own salad. Eat good soup. Stay away from the HFCS desserts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Places I tolerate for the sake of Sweetie:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cracker Barrel - generally on the road to somewhere

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ruby Tuesdays

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Place I don't like and won't eat at if I can avoid it:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cheescake factory - I hate it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Burger King


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pizza Hut

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Village Inn



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sirloin Stockade

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Local chains (St. Louis) at which I can usually find something I will eat:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lion's Choice - my favorite fast food place. Unfortunately, I really like their fries, as well as their roast beef sandwich

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Crazy Bowls and Wraps - I find their food good, but find the store environment depressing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pasta House

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Having just been out in San Diego reminded me of this posting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In n Out is just flat out awesome!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Between that and the hoppy cal beers, makes it worth the business trip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: yankeefan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            McDonalds is always a great choice. Big Macs! Yum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. IHOP - plain pancakes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Texas Roadhouse - ribeye cooked on the flat top (the diner-type surface,i can't stand grilled taste)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Legal Seafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Bojangle's, Popeye's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Le Pain Quotidien

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Taco Bueno
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Taco Cabana
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              La Madeleine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Spicy Pickle! We have been eating there very regularly in Sacramento, CA, and I have been consistenly impressed with their sandwiches. The Englishman (beef, cheddar, horseradish coleslaw, 1000 island) and Yard Bird (chicken, bacon, apples, blue cheese, and spinach) are very tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Places I really love and depend on:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Panera Bread
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cracker Barrel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Houston's (yummy food & excellent service in Winter Park, FL)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Places I like to frequent:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chick Fil-A (there's just something about thaosechicken sandwich and waffle fries)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Macaroni Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Olive Garden (sorry OG haters - I like it for what it is)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Smokey Bones
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Longhorn Steakhouse
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Bahama Breeze
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Outback Steakhouse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Unique experiences:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Burgerville in Portland, OR
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tijuana Flats

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Lotta Burger (w/ green chile) in New Mexico
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pat's Pizza in Maine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. It's not high end but been to Claim Jumper's once and it was not too bad considering. And I like Wahoo fish tacos. And Houston's is pretty good especially their seared ahi burger & grilled fish sandwiches- and of course, their key lime pie - yum! So good! Pappadeux's was good too. Not sure how big of a chain it is. And I love Giordano's in Chicago. Ah, how I miss it! :-(

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: FoodieKat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think back to to some of Claim Jumper's earlier years, you know, when they placed an apple on your plate....when the great salad bar with the frozen metal plates came with your entree'. Remember? Now gone, with prices that are twice as high.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Big N Fat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Claim Jumper has gone WAYYYY down hill. I have been so disapointed the last several times I have gone there. I keep hoping it was just a fluke, but it is seriously lacking now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Panera Bread - great soups and pastries!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. While I like Panera for lunch, I like Charlie Brown's for dinner, Their meats are good, their fish/seafood is okay and their salad bar is fantastic. Some very good chopped liver being oart of the salad bar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Favorites:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Baja Fresh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          PF Changs(for their lettuce wraps)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cheesecake Factory(for their salads and cheesecakes)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Five Guys(enjoy their burgers occasionally)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Red Hot & Blue

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lvanleer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This may sound a bit "duh" to native Californians here, but as a relatively recent NY transplant to the area about 2 years ago -

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            A lot of folks out here rave about the "In N Out" burger franchise. I've heard tons about their freshness, value, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm usually not a big fast food eater, but I do admit that I will happily enjoy McDonalds and Burger King burgers without any reservation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That said, I've been underwhelmed with In N out. Agreed, it's neat to see them cutting up the potatoes up front, etc., but I found it to be not particularly interesting. I did go and even try their "animal" style burger (?French dressing?) but that was a bit strange. Wasn't bad to me, but perhaps I've been brainwashed by the major national burger chains into thinking their burger is the "standard" now...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I dunno - perhaps I'm missing something here?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Atlanta Bread Company (http://www.atlantabread.com/) - similar to Panera Bread, but far, far better in my opinion... We visit a location in Manchester, CT whenver we are in the area... Carraba's has managed to impress despite my wishes to the contrary... Chick Fil-A is in a class by itself... absolutely delicious... a highlight of any trip to visit family in Florida...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: seanmck66

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              All of the Atlanta Bread locations in my area (Carolinas) morphed into Paneras several years ago. I remember ABC fondly, but so much of the stuff is the same that I don't feel like I've lost out on too much.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chick Fil A is definitely one of my favorite chains as well. I've rarely seen any big national place whose consistency is at the level of theirs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Speaking of Claim Jumper,back in the 1990s and early 2000's they used to have pot pies and frozen entree's? Why did they stop making them?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I still see Claim Jumper frozen entrees in Ohio.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I think we all agree that McDonalds tops the list as the best chain out there. I guess I have to agree with all of you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I don't know about you guys, but we LOVE the Macaroni Grill... it's always consistant where we live.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I've noticed that every chain has gotten worse and worse the past five years. The local Applebee's is a joke. Last 3 times stunk and that's all I give a place before never going there again. Last time the sirloin had a bad smell, and the potatoes were way overdone. All the other chains have gotten to be a hit or miss, mostly miss.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Burger joints. Here, in Hattiesburg, MS, we have a backyard burgers. I don't know if they're chained everywhere. Anyway, they deliver a great burger, juicy and tasty. Their waffle fries have suffered of late, but the burgers, if possible, get better and better. If you see one of these, order the Mushroom Swiss. You won't be sorry. A Local chain is "Ward's". This used to be a great chili burger or dog restaurant with their special root beer to wash them down. However, each chained outlet now is in charge of where they get their ingredients, and guess what? They went for the cheapest ones. Now it's worse than eating at a school cafeteria. The rest of the chains? Taste the same no matter where you are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Red Lobsters are too expensive for too little food and it lately tastes like a frozen dinner they simply thawed out and rearranged. O'Charlie's is terrible with their portions and it all tastes bland. I doubt they've heard of even salt and pepper. Heck, all the national "Sit down" restaurants have gotten worse and worse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sandwiches. They all still taste the same. We've a McCallister's Deli in the south. I don't know if it's spread north yet. Anways, they're still pretty good despite changing their "BEST seller". This was the Delta Delight. It was a roast beef sandwich, with a tasty BBQ sauce, and Polish kielbasa. They took off the kielbasa and replaced with cheap jalopeno's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Anyways I'll go before this becomes a novel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Consistently good IMHO:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ruth's chris
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      legal seafood
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      in n out burger
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      chick fil a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      steak n shake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      fat burger
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      pf changs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ranch one
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      white castle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. fazoli's breadsticks oh my god...hooray for fast food italian. noodle co is good if you stay away from the asian-themed dishes. cheesecake factory isn't too bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. 5 Guys Burgers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That said, it seems that they can vary wildly from franchise to franchise. The one I wen to was excellent though.


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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Davwud

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I think that's the deal with franchises in general. They're kind of a hybrid of a chain. Depending on the Mothership, some give their franchises a very very short leash (McDonald's), and some get more play (L&L Hawaiian BBQ). In there lies the variations that may or may not play out well in the end...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Chains I love:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Cracker Barrell (never had a bad meal there and it's absurdly cheap)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Boston Market (for what it is, it's great)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Outback (They're obviously unhealthy, but I love their appetizers. I'm not huge on their actual meals, though)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Houston's (Hickory Burger, fries and hickory sauce are awesome)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Quizzno's (It's okay. Obviously not as good as a real deli sandwich, but close)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Dunkin Donuts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Places I don't love but tolerate:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ranch 1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Burger King
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Subway (doesn't taste too good, but it's cheap and very convenient)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Places I hate:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pizza Hut
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Papa John's

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LostDiner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As a true american (real american, or what ever they say on the talk show) I love a good hotdog, why I'm a fan of Sonic--- but I had never really had a hotdog until someone took me to a Nathans (WOW) enough said. fjm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fjm_southwest

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Nathan's is the only place I know that still knows how to make great french fries, infinitely superior to the trash in all the other chains. But where is Nathans these days? Is it still a chain? The only place I can find them in on Long Island, NY, and even there they are much diminished. And Coney island too no doubt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I remember the day Nathans opened up a new store on West 34th Street in Manhattan. That was back in the 70's when they were rapidly expanding. they gave away two free hot dogs to every customer. And their hot dogs are good too, and what i used to like best was their sauerkraut, and way back then I used to stop off at Nathans in Hicksville, NY after a day at Jones Beach, and they let you scoop out all the saurkraut you want on your frank, and I'm a sauerkraut lover. Nathans french fries with hot dogs piled high with sauerkraut - great gourmet food for me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Wow this is quite a long thread but, I had to contribute.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I see certain places seem to be hated by all (including me) and it amazes me how they do so well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Olive Garden
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Red Lobster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ruby Tuesdays ....Use to actually have a decent menu in the 80s. The first one I ever visited was in Honolulu where I stationed in the Air Force. They had a great Chicken fried steak and a few decent pasta dishes. Now it totally blows and I wouldn't park in the lot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I did have a favorite chicken place "Golden Skillet" at one time they had over 200 restaurants. The originator died and the familly sold to Dairy Queen and it went down the toilet. From what I understand there are only a hand full left. Their signiture sandwich was called a "Big Skillet" and it rocked! Wonder if anyone else remembers.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Shoreguy4u

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Late reply, but I remember Golden Skillet well. To this day, my favorite fried chicken. I got hooked when I lived in Delaware, and they had 2 stores in Dover. Their few remaining locations are mostly in VA and NC, with at least one in the DC burbs, and (at least I think it's still there) one in Cincinnati (!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And then there's the lonely outpost in Hackettstown, NJ!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For several years, my job had me driving from PA to the NY suburbs every week. If my Friday drive home would have me in the Skylands anywhere near early-to-midafternoon, I'd stop for lunch at the Hackettstown location. It got to the point where the franchise owner and his wife knew my usual order, and we'd chat for a while while my order was being prepared.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I just wish Hackettstown weren't so far out of the way from, well, everywhere....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: brandywiner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Even a later re-reply. I can't believe you mentioned the ones in Dover. That's actually where I got hooked.. Was stationed at Dover AFB from 1982-86. The one on rt 13 outside the gate was our hang over heaven joint. Would kill for a Big Skillet and large fries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Shoreguy4u

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Was in Richmond last weekend for my fantasy baseball draft. On Saturday, I took a break from draft prep, and drove out to the Sandston Golden Skillet (near the airport). Took out an order of legs and thighs, with a small side of livers. The livers were OK, but the chicken pieces were exactly as I remembered! I was a happy camper!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: brandywiner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There is another Golden Skillet in Richmond on Hull Street Rd. I haven't been there in years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have got to try and get there one day. Its quite a haul from the far far far far far west end ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Plus I may end up trying Dixie Chicken first.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Seasons 52
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Bahama Breeze
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tijuana Flats
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cantina Laredo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jersey Mike Subs

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've never heard of any of these. Are they all East Coast chains?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hah I didn't think of that - For the most part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Seasons 52 does have locations in Cali and AZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Bahama Breeze has a location in Nevada and Washinton

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tijuana Flats is a chain started in Orlando Fl but is now growing East coast only right now

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Donatos - East Coast chain started in Columbus Ohio

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cantina Laredo - AL, AR, AZ, CO, FL, LA, MO, NE, OH, OK, PA, TN, TX,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jersey Mikes - Jersey chain mainly east coast but has expanded to include CA, NV, WA, AZ, CO and a few Midwest locations as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          there is a Seasons 52 just outside Dallas. We also have some Jersey Mikes. No comment on either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Tijuana Flats is nowhere close to authentic Mexican. But it can be very yummy food for the price point, and is generally a reliable choice when we're in a part of Florida where more Chowish options are limited.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            we are 0 for everything on sister's list. :) Oregon must be franchise death.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hah well Orlando is Chain restaurant city. there are plenty of choices. I still like the mom and pop places and the original dining experiences here but sometimes a chain is your only option when dining with a group.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not against chains, we just don't seem to fit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  the demographic the franchises want. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Well OR is known more for good sustainable food at least what I know from visiting Portland lol.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Orlando is touristy but we are doing a lot these days to break that mold. We've grown leaps and bounds over the last few years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So don't sweat it, chains schmains. lol.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When your other option is Taco Bell, I'll take Tijuana Flats for my Mexican fix any day. I'd love for Taco Time or Del Taco to get off their butts and expand into Florida.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I must admit I have a weakness for Tijuana Flats Flautas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sandwich_Sister

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For me, it's their salads, chicken fajita quesadilla and grilled chicken tacos. (and I love that they'll make any of their allegedly rotating daily specials for you if you ask)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. They aren't high-end, but Smashburger is a pretty good chain. I'd love to have some Arctic Circles near me too, but they seem to be limited to Utah.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gotta second the Smashburger. just moved and there's one down the street - I'm there ALL THE TIME. Love it. Unsweetened iced tea using Tazo tea, sweet potato fries and a bunch of good topings you can put on chicken sandwiches or burgers. Healthy? Probably not. But I really enjoy going there. The service is also excellent, and the people at the counter are truly wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think they have it in Texas. We didn't get to try it when we were there over the weekend though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We did try Whataburger and Jack in the Box but they were nothing to write home about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Did you get the Jack tacos? If not you haven't been to Jack in the Box.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Baja Fresh
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rubio's, sometimes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pho Hoa
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fuddruckers, sometimes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sonic, but only for their trippy drinks.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Their footlongs and their deserts are the bomb... I'm a big fan of Sonic but those are the things I order--- Why go to Sonic for a burger its not their thing (IMO)? fjm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I ate at Bertucci's while on vacation. My Son loves it and it was his spring break so he got to choose. I think that their brick oven pizza is as good as most any pizza out there. I won't say it compares to the really great pizza places because I probably haven't been to any truly great places. I will say its a solid pie. Their wings are very good too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The pasta wasn't so great, but then pasta at pizza places isn't generally that great.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Shann

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Of all the chain sitdown pizza places, Bertucci's is one of the better ones. The product is consistent. Unos is too buttery. Pizza Hut is too greasy and tastes heavily processed. Dominos tastes like almost nothing. Papa Johns sauce is like candy. After years of avoiding chain Ledos, I tried one in my neighborhood and was pleasantly suprised. It's an acquired taste, though. But for a regular generic chain pie, I've had far worse than Bertuccis, even at mom & pop pizzerias.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Anyone remember Shakey's Pizza and those small, natural casing pepperonis that would curl up into cups of hot spicy fat? Completely unsophisticated, but something about it tastes like childhood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We used to have a Shakey's in town, and went all the time when I was a kid. It was fun to watch them run the dough through the sheeter and pick out music rolls for the player piano.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We have a two-location "chain" in town, Padington's that has the same type of pepperoni that curls and holds the fat. I love the place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I really miss Shakey's Right-hander special.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Texas Roadhouse has great service and they are very consistent while turning out a great steak cooked exactly as ordered. For the price, it's impossible to beat... even more expensive restaurants would have a hard time competing. The most comparable chain, Texas Land and Cattle, really doesn't come close, and it's pretty decent. Unlike many others, I'm not adverse to upscale chain steakhouses. Morton's is great, as is Fleming's... particularly fond of Fleming's Happy Hour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Corino''s Jalepeno Tilapia is fabulous. It's my "go to" place in suburbia during Lent. I will go local when available and worthwhile but I don't suffer at all with this delicious meal. I've tried their small pizza and, for the price, I think it's a good product.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rene

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I like the Longhorn Steak House. Especially their black and blue burger. Also like Glory Days. Their prime burger is the best of any chain restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Places I Enjoy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chipotle: I can get a better burrito at a real taqueria, and usually cheaper with the same nutrition content. It's very true. But I like the idea that they at least TRY, you know? Quality beef and chicken, great fajita vegetables, a good little variety of salsas. I hate their rice, and I wish their prices weren't so high compared to the flavor, but they are a huge step in the right direction. I'd eat here over Taco Bell 90% of the time, unless I'm trying to budget

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Panera: Their salads are skimpy crap. Their sandwiches lack flavorwise, unless you get a really fattening (delicious!) panini. But their bread is fantastic, and I LOVE the fact that they offer apples as a side option. Their soups are tasty and free Wi-Fi rocks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In N' Out: Their fries could be better. No, their burgers are not 'OMG THE BEST EVAAAAR!!!!ELEVENTY!' as a few diehards claim. But you know what? They are worlds above every other available burger chain around here. McDonald's literally makes me ill, Wendy's is vile, Jack is subpar, and Carl's Junior is similarly bad. I would eat a cheeseburger with grilled onions and a shake from here anytime. Mmmm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Panda Express: I know, they're not at all authentic. Trust me, I'm aware! But I think they're a good, clean, healthy option, and let's face it, you get a lot of bang for your buck here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Round Table: Maybe I'm an ignorant California girl who's never had perfect pizza, but RT is pretty damn good. I can't even consider any other chain, except sometimes Mountain Mike's. I'm not a big pizza fan though, it has to be said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Outback: Call me crazy, but their steaks are pretty good. Yes, it's all loaded with salt and preservatives, I'm sure. No, I've never had a Bloomin' Onion. But this is pretty much the only chain I go to and look forward to a decent meal.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Places That Make My Skin Crawl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Applebee's: I've been here maybe six times in my life. That's about seven times too many. ;D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Seriously, guys, my family and I went here once and their was a fly in my brother's salad. The manager was VERY nice, gave us free dessert and comped his meal. But their food is always nasty; the bugs are just a bonus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        McDonald's: Minus two menu items, I literally cannot eat here. I actually find their fries to be yummy, but they ALWAYS make me sick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        KFC: Once upon a time, I liked them. But a year ago I ate some chicken strips there and I was literally angry over how terrible and SLIMY they were. We'd driven away and were halfway home, on the freeway, when I tried one and realized how gross my food was. Otherwise I definitely would have asked for a refund.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Johnny Carino's: OMG, I hate this place. The weird dehydrated garlic and tasteless olive oil on the table. The gloopy, gloppy sauces. The rubbery chicken. The horrible drinks. When friends invite me here, I try to get out of it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: daydream

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In-and-out is definitely at the top of my list--- but you bring up a very good point, if you don't eat their fries right away (immediately) they are (to me) totally un-eatable. Carl's Jr. Bacon western double cheese burger is a fall back for me when I can't get my Whataburger (double meat, double cheese, no onion... can anyone say, made to order???), I think the onion rings make the burger for Carl's Jr. fjm

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Tony Roma's. I don't expect much from chain barbecue but, wow, this stuff was garbage. Boiled ribs, sauce like some nasty Karo Syrup meets ketchup, moronic service. The place was empty, but it still took 15 minutes to get a server and, once they showed up, they kept pushing the damn onion loaf. FOUR TIMES. Around the fourth time, I'm like, "I don't want the damned onion loaf!" The shop in our neighborhood folded after 9 months.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And how is this a chain that DOESN'T suck???