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pf changs & cheesecake factory

Just found out that we are getting both of these places locally - should I be thrilled?

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  1. No,

    I have both near where I live, and have gone to each once( with coworkers), and will never return to either.

    If you have good chinese establishments near you there is no need to try PF Changs at all.

    The Cheesecake Factory is pretty bad as well, long waits for tables, terrible service, and large helpings of pretty mediocre food. Think of TGI Friday's on steroids.

    1 Reply
    1. re: swsidejim

      I love the chicken lettuce wraps at PFC, and their Beef Lo Mein.

      Do not order omelettes at CF. Very dry. Their cheesecake is good. My husband says that he has to eat there every once in awhile to remind himself why he doesn't eat there.

    2. PF Changs is really more like an "Americanized" version of Chinese food, but it is usually a very attractive restaurant, and overall it is a very nice dining experience...My son loves "real" Chinese food, but also loves PF Changs...Cheesecake Factory is a lot of fun...Their menu is huge, as are their portion sizes...I have never seen anyone finish an entree there...Be prepared to share or take home a doggy bag...Their cheesecake, which comes in many different flavors, is very delicious, as are their other desserts...Again, it is a very attractive restaurant....Think overall, there is a good chance that you will enjoy both of these restaurants. If where you live, it is anything like Dallas, it is very, very crowded, especially at Cheesecake Factory...Go on off hours, or prepare to have a long wait....Our PF Changs now will let you make reservations, but CF does not....

      1. These are the only two chains I actually have ever liked.
        I find the food to be consitant and decent.
        Nothing fantastic, but both are also fun places to go with groups.
        I love the lettuce wraps and kung pao chicken at Chang's and all the salads and the Thai lettuce wraps at Cheesecake.
        Check them out.

        1. We don't go to PF Changs because we have a really good Chinese food place that is closer and better, so we don't bother.

          I really like Cheesecake Factory, however I only order one thing, the chicken piccatta. It's the only thing I've tried. Most of the other foods do look good. Portions are large and I always have lunch the next day.

          1. I vote yeah on PF and no on CF.

            Granted I have only eaten in the Raleigh, NC PF (across from Marriott) but for a chain I thought the food was pretty good and sitting at the bar watching a ball game and eating some Chinese food was OK.

            CF I will not return to. I have a hard time eating in an environment where the goal is to maximize the amount of food on a plate. Some people will say that certain dishes are fine, but I just feel uncomfortable in these surroundings. I tried ordering cheesecake to-go, but I did not find it a good enough cheesecake to either return or eat these calories.

            1. PF is certainly not authentic, but I think it's good for what it is. I used to love going there for dinner while visiting family in California and when we were in AC we went to the one down there and enjoyed it. I've always liked the dan dan noodles and the lettuce wraps and in AC we had a special of spicy dumplings that were outstanding.

              CF I could do without. I've only been once and it was so memorable I can't even tell you what I ate.

              1. For where I live we were thrilled to get a PF Changs.We don't really have any good local places so it is a nice option.I have always had a good experience with them.


                1. PF Chang's is a last resort for Chinese food, although I don't mind eating there for convenience; the food is not so bad, and some of it is actually pretty good, like the lettuce wraps with chicken.
                  Cheesecake factory is a last resort for if you're stuck on a deserted island and have absolutely nothing else to eat (ie, no coconut trees, no bananas). I would inconvenience myself to avoid the Cheesecake factory. But if you do go, be forwarned that their "small" is extra large.

                  1. Can't speak for PF since i dont have one near me but CF is awesome.

                    1. i've never been to pf changs, but we do like the cheesecake factory. again, haute cuisine, no - but for $13.95 for a huge salad, why not. mostly we stick to the salads, the chinese chicken salad being the best - it's big enough to split for lunch. we've had the hungarian goulash which was pretty good and a few other things that were okay. would i go there when i want to get dressed up and get a great meal - no. but for a day at the mall (most CFs are at a mall), it is better than the food court.

                      1. You shouldn't be "thrilled" per se, but you shouldn't be be disgusted either. PF chang's is good americanized chinese food. I've always been fortunate that i have lived near very good chinese restaurants, but every once in a while I will go to PF Chang's and its definitely not horrible. I really only go there for the chicken lettuce wraps (they are awesome) and the mushu chicken!

                        As for CF, its not awful for a chain. i just don't particularly love going there because they give you SO much food. I mean, even a salad is enough for like five people. However, everything is usually pretty fresh, and if i was given the choice to go there or another competing chain restaurant, I would probably choose CF (as long as i didn't have to wait!!!) My favorite things there are the thai chicken lettuce wraps, the avocado egg rolls, and the chinese chicken salad. oh, and if you are in the mood for something REALLY fattening, go for the fried mac and cheese.

                        1. I DO have a bone to pick with CF only in the way they describe some of their food. I've only been there a couple of times, but the last time I was there I ordered a spicy chicken pasta dish. It was marked as being spicy on the menu, and the waitress actually gave me a "it's really spicy, is that ok?" I love spicy food and let her know as much. What came out was, despite the red color, was more appropriate for "the elderly and people recovering from surgery" (thanks Homer). I'm certainly biased by the fact that I devour spicy stuff whenever I get the chance and ended up eating most of the food after a thorough dusting with red pepper, but now I don't trust the way they describe their food.

                          All that said, though, I think any restaurant should be approached with an open mind until they've proven they don't live up to your standards. The afore-mentioned salads are probably less apt to disappoint since most raw veggies taste the way you think they would.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: MeAndroo

                            i agree with you on your last paragraph meandroo! i too think that "any restaurant should be approached with an open mind until they've proven they don't live up to your standards." i think that's a great approach... although sometimes i will go to a place an immediately not feel the vibe for some reason, and then i leave... but i think that attitude is very easygoing one =)

                            i agree that i wouldn't be "thrilled" about pf changs or cheesecake factory... BUT that said, i live and frequently visit places that are food meccas.. so my expectation for chinese food and fancy dishes is pretty high. however, i suppose it depends on each individual's preference and as someone pointed out, where you live. i was on a vacation once by the great lakes and i found a review for a chinese restaurant that was supposedly the "best" in the area. when i went there, the patrons even seemed to enjoy it. however, when we got our food, we could not even finish it... i'm not trying to single out the great lakes area, but you have to be aware of what you are comparing it to. in that case, i think i would have preferred eating at a pf changs... basically, because i know it's american chinese that's a bit overpriced, and i don't like their steamed rice.. but i can trust that i can eat what i am expecting to eat.

                            i like cheesecake factory, but can't stand the wait. so often, i will just order to go. i understand the portions are huge, but that's why i like to portion my food out, and then bring home leftovers. i agree, i only order certain items, but i don't think i've necessarily been disappointed that i went. i enjoy their salmon appetizers. it's not chez panisse or gary danko, but it is what it is. i enjoy CF better than chili's, applebys, or elephant bar. in fact, if i had to choose between the 4, i would definitely pick CF. and i agree with meandroo in general in that if you are wary, a good thing to stick to would be salads... those usually taste as you expect them to! =)

                            overall, if you're not that picky of an eater, then i think both places are decent, not thrilling, but decent =)

                          2. I've never been to PF, but cheesecake factory has some good things. For a chain, it's probably the best place to go. I like the chicken tortilla wraps, which are like enchiladas. I went with work people at lunch and everyone's food looked good. There are also "small" (meaning reasonable) lunch portions until 5.
                            Also, I got the banana cream cheesecake to go, pretty good.

                            1. I agree with the not thrilled, but OK opinions. PF to me is pretty bland stuff. I once ordered a meal with a noodle dish and a supposedly spicy chicken dish and they both came out in some unrecognizable brown sauce that was greasy and with little flavor. Stick to simple and it is OK. The hot and sour soup is OK, but it will need chili oil. They do a neat little shtick with sauces that you can blend to make the stuff have taste.
                              CF I actually like better as it has several good choices for me. The salads are pretty good, but try to order the half portion. There are a couple of decent pasta choices and they do a good Benedict at brunch. I have never had their cheesecake as I don't want to waste that many calories.

                              1. I'm not a big fan of any of them. I do find the food in CF a bit bland and lacking. They can do things better... There's one thing I do like about the place though, their Dirty Martini with those huge blue cheese olives. That's pretty much the reason I go there.

                                1. PF's is too expensive for such humble offerings. Try it once, realize you've paid more than it's worth for bland Chinese, and go back to your go-to Chinese place.

                                  I've never eaten at a CF--have you looked at their nutritional information? Hmmm...Actually, I just checked online and it looks like they no longer supply it...which is fishy, but the old info for their cheesecakes and even their salads were scary! Yes, I know that it's cheesecake, but still!


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: tokyorosa

                                    cf's new dessert offering (a combo of choc cake and cheesecake, i believe) was written up in a recent nutrition action newsletter. about 1100 calories a slice!

                                  2. Forget the food at CF, but the desserts do hit the spot. Chocolate cake is my favorite food in the world, and they have 3 to choose from. Plus, if you order dessert to go at the bakery counter, you won't be in that enormous line for a table.

                                    1. Cheesecake Factory has decent salads, lots of interesting ingredients, huge portions--there is one at the mall by my parents' house and my mom and I sometimes go there for lunch when we are shopping.

                                      The portions are huge though, although, they do some weird things to the food. Like I ordered the lunch combo of a half a chicken salad sandwich and a salad. The sandwich was huge, and came to the table on grilled bread.(not mentioned on the menu). The turkey sandwich, which was the other choice for that combo came on a piece of french bread, a much better and healthier choice.

                                      I hate the cheesecakes, which most people like. They are overly sweet, and usually covered in some sort of gloppy sauce.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: lulubelle

                                        I would like a CF where I live. I love the original cheesecake and the pasta davinci. It's fattening and heavy and the portions are huge but we order to share. I think of it as my comfort food.

                                        PF however is not really chinese food. I would rather eat authentic chinese food anyday. PF 'stirfry's' are bland and cannot compare to any that you would get even at an average chinese restaurant where they cook with a wok over a 'strong fire'.

                                        1. re: caitlink

                                          That's so funny about PF's bland "stirfry's"! I have a co-worker from China who loves those things! She always suggests the PF stirfry to people who ask her where they can get good Chinese food.

                                      2. The very first time I went to Cheesecake Factory, I got their Orange Chicken. On my very first bite, I immediately thought "Hmmm, this used to be better than it is now". It was as if a focus group came through and took out all of the little quirks to the dish that would make it delicious to one person and off-putting to another.

                                        1. I'm a big fan of PF Chang's. The lettuce wraps are unbelievable.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Wes Mantooth

                                            You can get them for a little cheaper and all the tastiness (without a hassle or much wait) at Pei Wei.....owned by the same people.....and in my opinion the wraps are better at PW.

                                          2. I like PF Chang's. I'm sort of fussy about meat and have had too many experiences with weird, gristly meat at local Chinese places in stuff like chicken lo mein. At PF Chang's, the chicken dishes have meat that seems like boneless chicken breasts that you'd buy at the store. It also seems less greasy than your average local Chinese restaurant.

                                            At every Cheesecake Factory I've been to, the waits are obscene. They have some decent food, but probably not worth a 1.5 hour wait.

                                            1. About 2 weeks after PFC opened in Honolulu 6 of us went. We had reservations, but still expected a short wait. When we got there we were told the wait would be 20 minutes or so. 50 minutes later they told us it would only be a few more minutes. 20 minutes after that we were finally seated. The food was not bad, it just wasn't Chinese. The vegetables were not overcooked which was nice, and the service and atmosphere were nice... and of course the one authentic thing, like chinese restaurants worldwide... it was so noisy we could not hear each other at all. How the waitstaff gets the right orders on the table is a mystery. The only thing we agreed on was that the lettuce wraps were good and the DanDan noodles were disappointing. None of us have been back.

                                              Cheesecake Factory here has the obscene waits that seem to prevail everywhere, but the food is generally good, the ingredients fresh, and the cheesecake impressive. As CF is not pretending to be anything but what it is I far prefer it over PFC's which only pretends to be chinese food. But perhaps that is what most of American wants.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                I have always enjoyed the Seabass at PFC. We live in an area of the US with no fresh seafood and this always fills that void for me.

                                              2. I find it surprising how many people on Chowhound slag cheescake factory. Of course it's not haute cuisine, and it's not the kind of home cooking you'd get at a small local ethnic place. But I've enjoyed it every time I ate there. Yes, the portions are obscene, but for me that's part of the fun, and you just plan accodingly, such as by sharing main courses (which makes the cost extremely reasonable). I find the salads excellent -I especially like the chinese chicken salad and the santa fe salad.

                                                Of course, lots of people complain about the waits, but I figure no one is forcing you to wait -id the length of time isn't worth it, then leave. I've waited over 2 hours, because I love the place, but I usually only do that at a location attached to a mall, so we can shop and not have to stand around.

                                                1. just had pf changs for dinner the other night with some friends. I just cant get enough of the lettuce wraps! They are about the only worthwhile thing on the menu! We also ordered the mushu chicken which i usually like, but I have to say that it was EXTREMELY watery this time. One of my friends had the honey chicken. I tasted it. It was decent, but I tend to stay away from fried foods.

                                                  I have an extremely wealthy and well cultured friend who absolutley LOVES cheesecake factory. I can't really figure it out, because he has eaten at some of the best restaurants in the world, yet always wants to eat there. Go figure. I cant say that i HATE CF, but unless someone else is hellbent on going there, I wouldn't make the effort. The wait alone is enough to turn you away!

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: NiKoLe1625

                                                    Totally agree with the lettuce wraps!! What is in those things!

                                                    PF is fine, just another chain though when it all comes down to it. The dishes have become more "safe" I say kick it up a notch! The dishes used to be so much more flavorful. Panda Express has more of a bite to their orange chicken!!

                                                    CF is SOOOO over-rated. Not a place for a romantic dinner or quiet lunch. Great place to bring a boat load of people where someone else is paying! Once slice of cheesecake is $7...that is a little crazy. It is good though.

                                                    I have to agree that it isn't the first place I pick, I like Champs atmosphere better, and the beer.

                                                    1. re: jdeyoung13

                                                      If you must eat at either, PLEASE read the nutrition info on their web sites before you go, or if you order what you like, PLEASE eat only a small portion and bring it home. Both these places offer dishes loaded with fat and sodium. It is very hard to get a healthy meal at either -- even the healthy dishes come in such huge portions that you might as well order something decadent and eat one-third of it.

                                                      At PF's, I often order the lettuce wraps with a side of brown rice and have that as a main dish. The steamed dumplings are also okay and I have had some luck with a salmon salad.

                                                      1. re: brendastarlet

                                                        Totally, that is a great idea. I usually split an appetizer and an main dish with my husband or I just ask for a doggie bag right away!!!

                                                  2. I went to the ceesecake factory for the first time a couple of months ago because my wife received a gif certificate for it. Overall, the food was good, however, I thought it to be WAY overpriced for what it was. Yes the portions are enormous, but I'd rather have smaller portions & the prices more reasonable.

                                                    Also, I was surprised at the ambiance. The one we went to seemed to try and cater to a more "upscale" & "business" clientele. When we arrived shortly before 6 pm, we were the only family with small children in the place (needless to say, our 3 1/2 year old twins weren't impressed!).

                                                    I thought the potstickers were excellent. My Kobe burger was just average, though. The Godiva chocolate cheescake was also good. However, I do think that all of these were a bit overpriced.

                                                    1. I've been to our CF several times and been very satisfied. As others have said, it isn't haute cuisine, but it is good. I generally go with friends and we get a variety of appetizers to share and then cheesecake. I've also gotten salads there - the smaller lunch portion is good, although still pretty big. I always plan on taking something home. I've never had a long wait either, but friends in other places have reported waits as long as an hour and a half {gulp}.

                                                      I've only been to PF once, and it was fine. Definitely not authentic chinese food, but it was good.

                                                      1. Having been to both of these places this weekend, I can probably be safe to say no, you shouldn't be 'thrilled'.

                                                        I enjoyed pf changs much more than the cheesecake factory. The service at pf changs was incredible, the tea was good, the atmosphere was nice. I would have to agree with the comment made about having a good chinese place nearby so that you could order comparable items at much lower prices. But overall, I wasn't dissatisfied. My food, and the food of everyone else in my group tasted great. I'd do without the long wait and probably want to pay 3-4$ less though.

                                                        The CF, on the other hand, didn't really satisfy me. It had an extremely long wait and the front area of the restaurant was crowded with people waiting to be seated. I would've hated to be one of the people eating in that area. The service wasn't horrible but reminded one of my friends of being in vegas, like the waiter was trying to sell us something and get us out really quickly (we did come to your restaurant, do we need to be enticed with overpriced items on the menu?). And yes, portions are massive and overpriced. I got the Louisiana Chicken Pasta, which was supposed to be spicy and really wasn't. There was something odd tasting about it, like they were trying to induced a bit of blackened chicken/fish flavor into it and burnt something, like the onions and tried to recover by sweetening it a lot. The only really edible part was the fried chicken on top.

                                                        We ordered cheesecake and I can honestly say that my mother makes a better blackberry cheesecake that any of this soft crap that they make. When I sit down in a restaurant that looks like the cheesecake factory, I expect there to be something different on the menu that I can try, but honestly, I was very disappointed that there wasn't. It reminded me of other chain restaurants like fridays or something with huge portions. Why people go there to wait an hour at the least to get ordinary food is beyond me.

                                                        1. Put me in the fan of both places.....sometimes I just get a craving for the lettuce wraps from PF Changs and the salads and cheesecakes from CF.....what's good about where we live is that the mall near us has both of them and they're right across the hall from each other....therefore....we can carryout from both places and not be concerned about the long waits for tables.

                                                          1. pf's chicken lettuce wraps is the only thing i'd eat there.
                                                            cf's avocado rolls & their lemon roasted chicken (i always ask for an extra side of the lemon marinade that they use). i love the mashed potatoes it comes with.
                                                            i hate the 2 hour waits though, so if i'm craving any of those things, i go before normal dinner times.

                                                            all restaurants have good and bad. depending on who's eating. everyone has different tastes.
                                                            you should always just try it yourself and see what you think.
                                                            also, i don't know of anyone who's eaten EVERY single item at any of these places.
                                                            if there is someone, do say.
                                                            there's so much there, that yeah, you're bound to get something bad, but you might eventually find something good.
                                                            is it worth it to keep going back 'till you find the one thing that's really good?
                                                            to me it was.
                                                            that's just me though...
                                                            good luck.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: daylight

                                                              We just got both of these chains in our mall around Christmas. They are 5 minutes from me...I have tried both of them once and that will do. The only way I would go back is with a large group of people and my friends all wanted to go. There is no way I would seek it out for me and my husband when there are plenty of other places that have much better food without the wait. Especially in monmouth county I would rather travel 20 minutes to the shore area where I know I can get a good meal than wait in long for "what's the fuss all about" food. And I don't get the cheesecake either...the cheesecake itself, if you take all the caramel, chocolate, whipped cream, etc. and everything else they drown it in, the cheesecake is quite unflavorable and expensive too.

                                                            2. I LOVE Cheesecake Factory, but I find PF Changs to just be ok. Cheesecake Factory's Crusted Chicken Romano is delicious!