HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What do you almost never go out for?

A food writer friend asked me recently where the good fried chicken places are in the area. I was stumped. Running late and tired I might pick up a box at the grocery but to go to a restaurant for fried chicken is something that I just would not do. My mother had me assisting with the fried chicken every Sunday since I could reach the stove. So what about you all?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. In an attempt to keep my weight under control. what I've been trying to do is only eat out when I REALLY want something I can't make at home. So, I too am also used to making fried chicken at home. Yeah, it's messy, and it takes some planning. That means that I REALLY want it :).....

    In general, I also don't tend to eat out for breakfast a lot. Pancakes, egg dishes in general, sausage, French toast.....too often, the mark-up on these breakfast dishes is pretty high, and (IMVHO) restaurant versions don't taste significantly better than my own. Plus, they're often laden with a lot of extra, calories, fat and sugar that I just don't think is necessary for the dish to taste good.

    Don't get me wrong, when I eat out, I will splurge on things that are worth it to me. But only when it tastes like it's worth it Besides, my self-inflicted challenge has helped me become a better and more adventurous cook!

    11 Replies
    1. re: 4Snisl

      I will never order (or go out for) lobster, and I live in New England. It's just too messy and too much work cracking and trying to keep clean while doing it.. I enjoy lobster but would rather cook it myself and eat it at home.

      1. re: AnneM

        Me too! There's a silly mark-up, since boiling lobster is the easiest kitchen task. My grandmother always said that you should eat you lobster in the privacy of your own backyard "where you can dip your elbows in the butter."

        1. re: thinks too much

          I was going to say the same thing about Dungeness crab, but then I realized that it is only in 'California' restaurants that I don't often order it, probably because the very simple prep is one I can do at home just as well. I do order it regularly in Asian (Chinese and Vietnamese) restaurants in season, for preps (salt and pepper crab, Vietnamese with garlic, etc) that I don't do at home...

          1. re: susancinsf

            Not only CA restaurants, think Oregon where it's probably more prevalent off the coast here. It's a pain to eat in public though, so I never order it out.

            1. re: archangelcat

              I too don't go out for wither Lobster or Crab. Living on the BC coast I will never order lobster because it's not fresh. However when I vacation on the Cape I eat as much of it as I can LOL. And as to never ordering DUngeness here I waaaay prefer to prep them myself, invite the girls over, spread a garbage bag on the floor followed by some newspapers, pour wine into tumblers, throw on a movie and just dump all the crabs in the middle and let everyone go to town :)
              Way more fun and with the garbage bag as the bottom clean up is a snap!

              1. re: starlady

                Great idea with the garbage bags...do you clean them in addition to what they do at the fish market? or heat them up and serve with butter like I do? I'm a midwesterner originally so I'm still getting the hang of the ocean treats. Agree about the lobster! Once in my hometown of Sioux Falls, SD, they offered "live" lobster at the local supermarket, and they were presented in the meat case shrink-wrapped on a styrofoam tray, like hamburger and they were still kind of moving and struggling. aargh...

                1. re: archangelcat

                  awww poor lobster!

                  I just steam the suckers and serve with butter. Some times I'll make a couple kinds of butter and everyone can try all the flavours :)
                  Fave flavours:
                  Garlic (duh)
                  Citrus butter (lemon lime and orange some times Pomelo)
                  Herb butter

                  1. re: starlady

                    hey starlady, thanks for the butter ideas...I love chili lime butter on corn on the cob too,,,best part of summer, so are you referring to Dungeness that comes straight out of the ocean or the kind that is supposedly cooked (steamed) and cleaned at the market and you are just kind of reheating it?

                    1. re: archangelcat

                      Fresh out of the ocean :) God I love living in Vancouver!

                  2. re: starlady

                    I dont even like crab but I'd love an invite to that next party. I promise I'll throw one when you're vacationing on the Cape ! : - )

        2. I very rarely order mussels in a restaurant, since they're so inexpensive and easy to prepare at home. We tend to avoid steakhouses and will grill a nice steak at home if that's what we want.

          1. I don't think there is really anything off-limits for me when I go out.

            Part of going out to eat, at least for me, is the entire experience, e.g. being served, atmosphere, etc.

            1. We pretty much never eat out Italian. I make some great dishes at home. However, I will make an exception to try a new place that's gotten rave reviews from people I trust.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mojoeater

                I rarely order chicken of any kind when I go out. Always try and order something that I wouldn't be able to make at home, or at least not without a lot of time and effort.

              2. For me it is "italian" food. The meatballs, red sauce, spagetti type stuff. Even pizza I see as only a take-home item, fast food.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Quine

                  I agree generally with italian food. Rarely order this out. And we do get delivery pizza. But once pizza has been put in that cardboard box it steams and the crust is ruined. When I have a hankering for really delicious pizza we go to a 60 year old place nearby that has coal burning ovens. The pizza is amazing. And has to be eaten right out of the oven to be truly appreciated.

                2. Spaghetti with meatballs. I enjoy making my own turkey meatballs and tomato sauce, and it's probably the only dish that I can't imagine paying someone else a lot more $$ to make for me. That and peanut butter and jelly/jam/preserves sandwiches.

                  1. Never Italian, rarely pizza, and usually not an american dinner unless we have no choice. I am usually disappointed in those meals prepared by a restaurant, and I can't get past the high prices charged for simple things made with flour and water!

                    1. Steak. I can buy one for 6 or 10 dollars, season it and cook it on my grill, and it's better than one I'd pay 30 dollars for out.

                      Candy, well, bless your heart! Love the fried chicken story, but my wife pretty much forbids deep frying at our house. Bet yours is delicious and not as messy as mine.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: AreBe

                        Mine is not deep fried but shallow fried in a cast iron skillet. Yeah it is messy but the flavor canot be beat. I am also lucky enough to be able to get chickens from a local producer that are only about 3 lbs. Young fryers not those gross over sized things available in supermarkets.

                        1. re: AreBe

                          Steak is something I would never go to a restaurant for (though I have accompanied a friend who was treating and wanting steak)
                          Not because I can get for cheaper, but rather because I can get a local grass-fed steak from humanely raised animals and avoid factory farmed industrial. And it's so good at home on the grill and couldn't be easier to cook.

                        2. Steak, and Mexican, I can do both better than i have ever had in my area.

                          1. Roast chicken. Following Zuni's recipe, I can make a much better one at home using an organic chicken.

                            1. filipino food.. like the other posters have reasoned "i make it myself." like candy, my grandma taught me since i could sit on the counter by the stove... and not fall in the pot... hahaha

                              you know the movie "soul food" and how all the characters would help out and cook? just imagine it's filipino food! =)

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: kinipela

                                oh wait a minute... i do eat filipino desserts elsewhere.. i prefer red ribbon and valerios as opposed to goldilocks... and red ribbon sells a san rival =) and i do love max's chicken =) they have GREAT chicken and garlic fried rice =)

                              2. I never go out for Middle-Eastern food (with the exception of Persian). I always find the flavors disappointing when compared with what I make at home. I never order lasagne/roast chicken/steak for the same reason.

                                1. We almost never go out here in Cali, Colombia, because few cuisines of interest are available here; and for those that are, I can make almost everything better at home. Plus I have to eat so much when traveling.

                                  So for me, the question is what DO we go out for here in Cali. Answer: a) Steaks at an informal place with good Colombian range-fed meat and an Argentinian "grill master" (I rarely cook hunks of meat per se at home); and b) inexpensive popular local places for mid-day meals of soup, meat, beans, and rice.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    Sam -- I can't believe you're in Cali! I love Cali and lived there for several years! I am racking my brain for a couple of places I used to love there. In 99 the restaurant scene was changing, prettier (pricier) places were opening. Cafe Solsticio was cool with all sorts of unusual Colombian plants in their salads. Cafe Grenada downtown was a favorite for dining al fresco with those lovely evening breezes. But yes, I think living in Cali catapulted my cooking forward. I remember we attempted Chinese out once -- and never again, after we all called in sick to work the next day.

                                    I had heard that the downtown of Cali has become much more cosmopolitan.

                                    In Cali on Sundays we would go to the mountains (kilometro 18) where the breeze is chilly and order hot chocolate with cheese melted inside and crunchy grilled arepas! I've never seen that chocolate/cheese anywhere since but I make it sometimes on crisp fall or spring evenings.

                                    I also like one of the roving burger ladies in Cali. I had been a vegetarian for eight years before I moved there but the way everyone wolfed down her burgers (at two am after nights of carousing) and devouring all of those homemade sauces with my eyes was irresistible. She's still the second-best burger I've ever had!

                                    1. re: foxy fairy

                                      Too bad we didn't meet. I've been here since 1994. Barrios Grenada (where the Restaurant Grenada is located) and El Penon have continued to develop some pretty good restaurants. The steak place I mention is at the foot of the mountains on the way to Dapa. The best might be what we had yesterday: lunch at Los Bomberos (across from the bombero station) in Palmira: delicious large bowl of beans with all kinds of funny bits, rice, fried pork, fried plantains, little salad, arepa, agua panela--all for about US$3.50. Bustling, loud, crowded, great.

                                      Funny you mention Chinese as well: ate some out in 1994. Never, ever again!

                                      email if you like (see profile).

                                  2. Since I've become more adept at making espresso and cappuccino, and have invested increasingly ridiculous amounts of money on my home setup, I go out for coffee less and less. Now it's perhaps once a week- once upon a time I'd buy at least two espressos a day and just make my morning one at home. No more. I like to think that the home bar is thus "paying for itself," which might be silly I know.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: John Manzo

                                      I agree. Does not make sense to order french toast or pancakes when they are so easy to make at home.

                                      Same goes for steak. If you buy a nice cut, you can grill a nice one at home. A steak of quality costs too much at a Ruth's Chris or Mortons. I also tend not to order chicken. If I am out, I want to order something special or different, not something I can easily make at home.

                                    2. I can't think of anything I won't go out for. Each cook has their own way of preparing a dish and if I limit myself, I might miss something.

                                      1. I never order red sauce Italian food and most of continental European cuisine.

                                        I was raised eating what is now considered French/German peasant food and I can do much better at home for less than 1/4 the price. I worked at a family red-sauce Italian restaurant in HS and college and I'd rather cook myself.

                                        After working in food service I am very leery about sanitation and the food quality of many restaurants. I like to go out for cuisines that i have no mastered ( pan-Asian, Mexican and BBQ) and on special occasions, but I enjoy cooking and would rather do it myself.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Kelli2006

                                          I love to go out for breakfast because it seems festive to me, but I can't really justify how unhealthy restaurant breakfasts are. No one offers French toast with whole grain bread, for example. The price doesn't bother me, but the assumption that it has to be "indulgent" and highly caloric does.
                                          I agree with those who said Italian food -- I love a fine Italian restaurant, but in general it seems overpriced for something I can make at home.
                                          I also agree with those who said coffee and roast chicken. Two things I have mastered and don't wish to pay more for. But the coffee thing might change when Intelligentsia and Lamill Coffee both open within a mile of my house.
                                          Cuisines I never seem to go out for: Filipino, Ethiopian, not much "American" except really good hamburgers or steaks. I keep meaning to try more Korean but never get around to it. I love Mexican and Cuban but don't feel the need to go out for Salvadoran, Columbian, Peruvian, etc.

                                          1. re: Chowpatty

                                            You're so right - going out for breakfast feels quite snazzy and festive, and it's a wonderful way to start a morning. I reserve that for going on vacations though, because the prices are just ludicrous. I love gathering a gang and heading out in the morning. But it's equally fun to cook for everybody myself as long as someone steps up to help with dishes. My ricotta pancakes are better than any pancakes I've ever had out. Mmmm. Actually, I do know a great place for whole grain French toast with homemade syrup- and it's an adorable little cafe- but I can't/won't spend $10 on that and a coffee!

                                            I do not drink coffee out. I used to indulge wildly in coffees out but then I considered tossing fifty-plus dollars out the window on something I can make at home, better! I buy the beans I love and brew (too) many pots a day and store iced coffee in the fridge. Lately I've been blending up coffee frappes too.

                                        2. Two things I rarely eat out but much prefer to make myself at home are a hardwood charcoal grilled rib steak and steamed lobster. I can get amazing steaks for half the restaurant price and sear it up all smoky tasting and a perfect medium rare. Lobsters are way too expensive ordered out and tend to be overcooked and tough. Also I prefer soft shell lobster for ease of eating and sweet taste.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: JMF

                                            Steak, because my hubby makes a terrific steak at home.

                                            Breakfast, because its cheaper and more fun at home and my 5 year old loves to help cook pancakes.

                                            Tex-Mex/Mexican, because it's always disappointing.

                                          2. I find it odd that I'm the 24th post and the first one to say Chinese food.
                                            I agree with many people that steak is something that I don't go out for. I have ordered steak while out if the mood strikes but I'm quite certain I can do a better job (Or equal at worst) job at home for a fraction of the cost. It seems that's the prevailing opinion here.
                                            I also seldom go out for Italian. To easy to make at home.


                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: Davwud

                                              Doesn't anyone like Perkins pancakes?

                                              Okay, I haven't had them for years, but I must admit I can't make anything that good on my own!

                                              For me, I'd say:

                                              Coffee (I make a MUCH better brew)
                                              Bagels (would rather pick from bagel store, selection sucks at diners, etc)
                                              Eggs (again, I make them better myself, and I can make sure that they are not reconstituted at home)
                                              Cookies (tend to be like cardboard--better home baked or from a good bakery)
                                              Fruit--better selection at a supermarket

                                              1. re: veganish

                                                Omelets. Most breakfast places think you just throw the eggs on the grill and cook until hard. Yuck. I want mine just cooked w/ yummy fillings. So I make them at home. Why should that cost 8 bucks?? And I prefer my local free range eggs over factory farmed.

                                              2. re: Davwud

                                                Oh how completely dense am I.

                                                I never do Chinese at home. I go out for it only.


                                              3. Your fried chicken sounds great! I wouldn't go out for chicken either if I could make good stuff at home!!!

                                                I would agree with many of the posts already written. It is often possible to make better food at home. But I have found exceptions to every rule, and there is usually one place somewhere in the world where i can find better <FILL IN THE BLANK> than I could ever make at home. For example, I never order chicken usually, but Portuguese spit-roasted chicken would be an exception. And I would never turn my nose up at a chicken dish at Per Se, for example.

                                                One thing I never go out for because I've never seen it offered, except at my mum's house: seasoned pan-fried spleen. Quite delicious, but hard to get. Good source of iron.

                                                1. It's strange. I used to love going out for breakfast. Now it's been so long since I've been out for breakfast, I can't remember the last time! Perhaps it's just that I live so far away from everything good that I can't keep from eating that long.

                                                  I also rarely (no pun intended) order steak. I've just never liked it that much. The only times I get steak are when we're in a restaurant that not only specializes in it, but has nothing on the menu that appeals to me. At that point, one might as well have steak!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: puppymomma

                                                    Ha ha puppymomma, I'm in the same boat, we're 20 miles away from any restaurant and sometimes I pine for breakfast out cuz i'm lazy in the morning...but something else I won't go out for (even if it was next door) is any kind of Starbucksy place, I'm a purist for just plain rich French Roast Sumatran from Kirkland...

                                                  2. Greek food since I make it myself and there really aren't any decent Greek restaurants- with one exception- a family place in a storefront that has good souvlaki, salad and fried zucchini.

                                                    1. I agree with those who said they never go out for lobster, especially the one who made the "elbows in the butter" comment. My parents were New Englanders and my mom ate every edible part of a 2-pound lobster. At the end of her meal, there were only antennae, shells, and eyes. You can't make a mess like that in a restaurant. Lobster is best eaten at an outdoor clambake, followed by a dive into the pool or ocean. Besides, it's easy to steam and less expensive if you do it yourself.

                                                      1. What do I NEVER go out for? Hmmm... I'd never try to make fried chicken at home, but I wouldn't go to a restaurant for it either - it's something to buy from the supermarket when you want a quick meal (Publix does fantastic fried chicken...)
                                                        I very rarely order pastas in sauce because it's so easy to make yourself... and roast chicken had better have something spectacular about it to be worth buying. Other than that anything's fair game...

                                                        1. Restaurant risotto is frequently abominable, so I avoid that. Roasted chicken, steak, fried chicken (although "That Chicken Place" down in Ireland, IN wasn't half-bad when I went there years ago). Oh yes, just about any kind of breakfast egg preparation.

                                                          1. I never order pasta in restaurants, unless it's a very labour-intensive (ie, timpano) or regional (ie, chestnut pasta).

                                                            No basics like baked potatoes unless there are no other veggie options. And for breakfast or brunch, no porridge or cold cereal - it's the same stuff you eat at home, for three times the cost.

                                                            I rarely order soup because it's so easy to make at home, and I'm always afraid they used chicken or beef stock. Even when you ask, you can't be sure.

                                                            I also rarely order veggie burgers, unless I know for sure they're made in-house. No point in paying a huge markup for a Boca burger. Same for ice cream - I can pick up a carton of Turkey Hill on my way home.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: piccola

                                                              I was astounded once when my dining companion ordered a $7 bowl of oatmeal for brunch. Why on earth would you pay that much for something you can prepare easily and customize at home? I always wondered who ordered the tiny boxes of cereal at diners. Why bother going out for brunch if you're going to do that?

                                                              ...though I am guilty of ordering pancakes and omelets every time I go out for brunch (and I like going out for brunch). Now that I think about it, those things are ridiculously easy to make at home.

                                                              I never buy sandwiches. Especially here in midtown NYC, where the crappiest sandwich can set you back $7.

                                                              1. re: janethepain

                                                                i nearly had a fit the first time i went out for breakfast with then bf, and he ordered a $3 boiled egg along with everything else we were getting. That sounds like nothing now, but 2 yrs out of college I never would have ordered a boiled egg in a restaurant.

                                                                1. re: janethepain

                                                                  I've actually seen $10 bowls of oatmeal. But hey, somebody must buy them, or else they wouldn't be on the menu.

                                                                  I order omelets if they're cheap ($8 or less, filling included). Pancakes are a good choice for me, since I haven't managed to make good ones at home (crêpes, though, are another story).

                                                                  I'm picky about my restaurant sandwiches. I'm talking more veggie banh mi, sNice's veggie panini or the sabich at Taim than, say, the Subway garden sub. They're destination sandwiches.

                                                                  1. re: piccola

                                                                    God, only in NYC will you ever find $10 oatmeal.

                                                                    Oh yeah, I forgot about bahn mi. They're the only sandwiches I'm eager to buy.

                                                                    The thing is, I'm not a very good cook with anything, nor do I have a lot of ingredients at home. So whenever I go out, I order whatever - and that for some reason often means omelets with home fries, pancakes, and Italian.

                                                                    1. re: janethepain

                                                                      I've seen the $10 oatmeal in Laguna Beach too, and cringed when a friend ordered it weekly. That's Orange County for ya!

                                                                  2. re: janethepain

                                                                    I've tried many, many times to make pancakes, I can't do it. Period. I've used many different recipes, it doesn't matter, the frustration is just not worth it. I order them out. Trust me I'm a pretty decent cook and sure I can cook an egg over medium, but sometimes I want someone else to do it for me. That's the whole pleasure of dining out. Not to mention no mess to clean up.

                                                                2. Pizza. We can do so much better loading up a crust with a lot of veggies, low sodium tomato sauce and then a relatively small amount of highly flavorful cheese for about $5. Most of places around here tend to give you three lonely olives and two pounds of food service grade mozzarella. In order to get a pizza with the right toppings/cheese ratio, you're talking probably $18, and a sodium-filled sauce.

                                                                  1. I never (OK, rarely) go out for anything I can't prepare at home. But since I can't superheat my wok ...

                                                                    1. We never go out for Italian or breakfast. Both seem easy to make at home and don't justify the restaurant prices.

                                                                      1. It looks like the largest response is "not for anything I do well at home".
                                                                        So -
                                                                        I like to go out for anything, including those foods I do well at home. I get new ideas to rev up the same old stuff that I do.
                                                                        Where do you folks get new ideas for old favorites from?

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: hannaone

                                                                          I go out for tons of stuff that I do well at home, and for stuff I can't (frankly) be bothered to make at home. I love going out for brekky, specially for Heuvos Rancheros.

                                                                          1. re: hannaone

                                                                            i think for me, my general thing is that i don't go out to eat filipino food (see above)... but when i do go to filipino restaurants, i look at ingredients to see if there is something there that i would love to try... max's for example does a great crab fried rice. and i do make garlic fried rice at home, but they get the pieces of garlic oh so perfect...

                                                                            another example, when it comes to lasagna, i usually don't order it, BUT i used to work for a chef who taught me how to read ingredients (very roughly), so if an interesting combination strikes my eye, then i'll order it =)

                                                                            and of course, i can be driven by cravings...

                                                                            so, i think the general rule is what the majority stated, unless there is an interesting new twist on an old favorite.. in that case.. it can become intriguing =)

                                                                            i also agre with starlady in that i'll also get things that i know i can make at home, but would be to laborious in my eyes to make or have lack of patience... sans rival, souffles, sushi...

                                                                            i'm getting hungry now... i better go eat something... hahah i didn't make it at home, but i got it to go (chicken katsu)

                                                                            1. re: hannaone

                                                                              There are some things I make at home that I'll order in restaurants - like salads (they're often creative in restaurants and have cooler ingredients); sandwiches (ditto); eggs (it's part of the whole brunch thing).

                                                                              1. re: hannaone

                                                                                I've actually been thinking about the theme of not ordering anything out that I can cook at home. It's true: I don't, and it sounds like a lot of chowhounds don't. Personally, I don't eat out all that often, so it's still a treat. On the other hand, I've been thinking also about the lack of balance in a restaurant meal. Because I order things I can't make, I'm more likely to order a series of richer and more complicated items rather than a balanced meal. I know that I can make great tomato and basil salad, but what if it's summer and that sets off the entree perfectly? I'm not sure that I have evolved enough for that, yet.

                                                                                1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                  I know what you mean. I usually try to order something special to that restaurant, not something I could get at your standard diner (ie, eggs). But sometimes I'm just craving an omelet - should I deny myself on principle? Uh, no.

                                                                                  1. re: thinks too much

                                                                                    I try not to order things in a restaurant that I do well. I cook a lot of different ethnic cuisines and try a lot of different things so I will often order something that I want to learn how to do better. I don't go out a lot either since I really prefer my own cooking most of the time.

                                                                                  2. re: hannaone

                                                                                    You can get new ideas from reading the menus at a good restaurant!
                                                                                    I can't believe it every time my husband ordered fettucine alfredo at a restaurant. I think: but it's so easy I can make for you at home!

                                                                                  3. I never go out for things like meatloaf and garlic mashed potatoes...I can, if I say so myself, do it better...Things I ALWAYS go out for? Chinese and Mexican food...I can do a pretty good version at home, but it NEVER taste as good to me, as what I can get out...

                                                                                    1. ha. it sounds like from this thread that the only people who eat in italian restaurants are those that dont know how to cook. i agree it's not worth it to go out for something you know ahead of time(!) that you can do a better job with. especially since cheap food is usually the kind that I cannot make at home, and the expensive kind is! I make some sort of americanized mexican once in awhile (like enchiladas verdes) but I don't know that much about mexican - i love getting tacos/burritos,huaraches,etc out. same with southern food ( I wish I knew someone who made their own fried chicken!), thai, vietnamese, middle-eastern(thank G-d there's a decent place for babbaganoush - I can't grill that eggplant) and indian. I NEVER go out for Italian, chinese (sad to say but even I can do better than my local restos), or big pieces of meat. The idea of a steahouse is gross, alhtough I make veal or lamb at home sometimes.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: fara

                                                                                        Something that limits me at home is the availability of certain foods at easy-to-access grocery stores. I can't find lamb or veal nearby, so I get it when I eat out. I rarely order a chicken dish (with the exceptions of Mexican and Asian, which I get for lunch during the week), because I want to try something I cannot re-create at home.

                                                                                        1. re: fara

                                                                                          Depends what you mean by "Italian" I guess. I am definitely not going out for a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, but some of the best restaurants I've eaten at (Babbo, A Voce, Al di La) have really delicious and amazing Italian food I wouldn't have thought to make at home.

                                                                                          Also I don't understand how you could make possibly make good pizza at home. I definitely don't have room for a coal or wood-burning pizza oven in my kitchen, so I go out for pizza.

                                                                                          1. re: oolah

                                                                                            that is true, great Italian restaurants are different. last meals I had out in italian rest. were at babbo and another place in grammercy that was almost worth it. however, decided lupa's was not worth it, etc etc. and what about otto's - one of the worst meals of my life. anyway, some towns (now that I've moved out of NYC) unbelievably do not have coal or wood oven pizza. it is absolutely extraordinary (serously) and so i never have pizza out.
                                                                                            when visiting new haven, first stop was pepe's.
                                                                                            and i so miss una pizza napoletana. :( please go if you haven't yet.
                                                                                            So yes, absolutely depends on your location, though I Rarely ate Italian out in NY because most places were not worth it. The fact that you can count on one hand the ones that are, including the pizzerias, is significant.

                                                                                            1. re: fara

                                                                                              Ahh, yes I see what you mean. I definitely wouldn't be going out for Dominoes or non-chef-driven Italian. Like most other people on this thread, I tend to eat out in places that:

                                                                                              1) have access to foods I can't normally get (sushi-quality fish flown in from somewhere far away or an amazing wine list)
                                                                                              2) have access to equipment I don't have in my kitchen (like that coal oven)
                                                                                              3) have knowledge / technique / creativity to design dishes I wouldn't have thought of (like batali)

                                                                                        2. Boiled crawfish- I've never seen a restaurant that actually gives you enough. Eating crawfish is as much of a social event as anything else- you can eat 'em all afternoon and into the evening without getting full- I don't think that restaurants would make any money if their tables were tied up that long! Crawfish taste better when eaten while sitting on somebodies tailgate anyway...

                                                                                          1. In my family growing up we were always told to "order something you can't get at home." Since I've become a more and more adventurous home chef, there are fewer things that fit into that catagory.

                                                                                            So (to answer your question in the reverse) I might go for foie gras (now a forbidden "secret" item on Chicago restaurant menus) or fishes that are not readily available to home cooks or highly complex or techo-influenced dishes that I have little interest in mastering.

                                                                                            1. I can't say that I never order these in restaurants, but two of the things I'm most regularly disappointed by are guacamole and key lime pie. Once you hit upon a recipe you like, it tends to set the bar pretty high.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: lar3v

                                                                                                Oh yeah, guacamole is a good one. I'm not paying $14 for one avocado mashed up with some lime. I'll do that at home. Same for chips and salsa, though those usually come free (score!)

                                                                                              2. Shabu Shabu/hotpot. I got all the equipment at home, have access to great meat (wagu even), so I don't bother eating them outside, and can never understand why people pay so much for something so simple.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                  i don't have a shabu/shabu pot, but i think in principle shabu shabu is going out for what you could make at home. :)
                                                                                                  i've never really understood it either, unless you're getting a better deal on teh ingredients in the restaurant than if you were to buy it yourself.

                                                                                                2. I'm going to add something (possibly offensive to some) to my previous reply. Like most others, I don't go out for foods I can do better and less expensively at home. Then I said that I go out to eat steaks (here in Colombia). Part of the reason is that I don't consider preparing a steak as cooking. Similar with BBQ, although I've gotten stuck with BBQing for large groups and have since decided to go with searing and then braising--I don't think of BBQ as cooking--and certainly will go out to eat it.

                                                                                                  1. Sukiyaki... My family likes unusual things in their sukiyaki that it is hard to order in a restaurant. Same for somen... make it at home. Japanese curry is something we always make at home and tastes just as good as the local restaurants.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: mochi mochi

                                                                                                      Like what do you like in your Sukiyaki? (I love sukiyaki personally)

                                                                                                      1. re: starlady

                                                                                                        I always put fried age, (outside of the footballs), daikon, nappa, kamaboko, saifun-they don't care for shirataki, fresh bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms, white mushrooms, enoki sometimes, lots of spinach, bean sprouts, green onion, tofu, and of course the thin sliced ribeye. Kabocha tastes good too. Not your usual sukiyaki, but over the years I have added these things and now my family wants it made this way.

                                                                                                        1. re: mochi mochi

                                                                                                          I love putting Enoki in mine! Never thought of kabocha, will have to try it! Not a huge fan of Daikon in my sukiyaki though. I was intro'd to Shirataki in Japan and I love it in Sukiyaki!

                                                                                                          1. re: starlady

                                                                                                            I love shirataki too... they really dislike it. I cook the daikon in the microwave first so that everything cooks at the same time. Hope you like it the way my family does!

                                                                                                    2. We rarely go out for breakfast. But if I crave waffles, all bets are off. Don't have a waffle maker. Wish I did.

                                                                                                      I won't go out for french onion soup - as a rule - I make a good one. Same with crepes. But every now and then I like the crepes at small place in town.

                                                                                                      Sandwiches. How hard is it to make a good sandwich? It just seems silly to pay 5x the cost of a good sandwich you can easily make at home.

                                                                                                      Now dessert, that I will go out for. I'm not a baker. And most of my tries are misses. Except for Tollhouse cookies.

                                                                                                      And Pho - no way am I going to wade my way through the sea of pho making when I'm near several good places here in Chicago.

                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: bryan

                                                                                                        Caesar Salad...it's always ridiculously expensive, waaaay overdressed and a creamy style dressing...bleeech! My homemade Caesar Salad is sooo much better, and cheaper, too!
                                                                                                        And, nobody has a charcoal grilled steak as good as mine.

                                                                                                        1. re: SweetPhyl

                                                                                                          I'm with you there Phyl -- most caesar salads are bleh, compared to my homemade!
                                                                                                          But sometimes when I haven't had one in a while . . . I always ask for anchovies 'cause it ain't caesar w/o, and how is that avoyed anchovy haters got to turn the tide and get the anchovies out of caesar salad??! When I see some plumb white anchovies on top of my caesar, I'm a happy camper indeed (okay, so sometimes I *do* order it out ~:)

                                                                                                          1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                                            There is a restaurant here that actually charges extra for the anchovies. I was outraged! Charging extra for something that belongs in the salad.

                                                                                                            1. re: Candy

                                                                                                              The only time I get a Ceasar is at one of my fave restauarants where they have a grilled ceasar. Yes I know i could do this at home (and have done), but i love to order it when I am out with someone who has never had one and watch their faces when it somes to the table charred and then when they taste it and the charred bits end up being their fave parts! LOL, I love intro'ing friends to something new!