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any extraordinary local chain rest recs?

Just wondering if anyone has chain rest. specific menu items that y'all enjoy out in the burbs?
Here's my initial list...

I like Houston's for their smoked salmon, soups, burgers

PF Chang's Seabass with Spinach and brown rice, fried banana dessert

Legal Seafood's Oyster po' boy

Coastal Flats fried dough, fish and chips, chocolate waffle dessert

Popeye's onion rings

Cheesecake factory mashed pots, iced tea, chocolate cake

Any recs?

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  1. The Oceanaire crab cakes.

    1. Five Guys - burgers and fries

      1. I love, love, love California Tortilla...especially the Blackened Chicken Ceasar soft tacos or their Ceasar burrito. It really is good food and cheap...I like it better then Chipolta and Baja Fresh etc.

        I'm also a fan of the burgers at Five Guys.
        Both Cal Tort and Five Guys are local chains...as compared to the above places which can be found mostly all over the country.

        1. It's not clear to me what your question is. I'm not sure about Coastal Flats, but the rest of those are chains which, while perhaps not nationwide, are at least regional chains with many locations. If you're asking what menu items you like (seems to be the case) whether or not it's a chain seems irrelevant.

          If you're asking which local branch of a chain does a particularly good job with a certain menu item, that may be worthy of discussion. Hey, I like the soup, salad, and breadsticks at Olive Garden because I don't care much for their pasta dishes (though occasionally they have an interesting chicken thing) - but that isn't much of a recommendation. Is that the sort of thing you're after here?

          1. I love the burgers at Ted's Montana Grill, the fried oysters at McCormick & Schmick, and the pizza at Vapiano's. I used to like the spaghetti and meatballs at Macaroni Grill, but the one near me (Ballston) is now closed.

            1. Clyde's seafood happy hour (half-priced raw bar).

              there's good food in the burbs... avoid the chains.

              1. I avoid chains like the plague.

                11 Replies
                1. re: Pool Boy

                  I used to think the same way.

                  Until I tried Chik-fil-A.

                  Hey, that rhymes!

                  The only locally owned chain that comes to mind that's worth a damn is Tastee Diner (Bethesda, Silver Spring, Laurel).

                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    Tastee Diner is good diner food, but far from being the "only locally owned chain...worth a damn." The restaurants I've been to in the Great American Restaurants chain (Sweetwater Tavern, Artie's, Mike's, Coastal Flats, Silverado, Carlyle) are consistently excellent.

                    1. re: tubman

                      Never tried any of them, so I can't comment. I can say that I have had poor luck with ALL of the Clyde's chains restaurants (Clyde's, 1789, Old Ebbitt), although the oyster bar at the latter is only item I'd have.

                      1. re: tubman

                        I do really like the Carlyle. For a chain they have really excellent food. I haven't been thrilled with costal flats although I do like their mojito, they have too much sauce on everything for me. I remember vaguely going to Silverado and thought it was decent for what they served, and I think there was a dessert there I really liked.

                        Chik-fil-a if you have never had one is good, I get sick of them because of eating there too much during school. I am not a big five guys fan I like Cheeburger Cheeburger better, but it isn't really a regional chain to here since most are in Florida. I do like Five Guys fries doused in vinegar now and then when the bf really wants it. I too have never really had any luck with Clyde's chain (will eat at the tombs now and then just because I am drinking there, but that is out of convenience not taste). I guess you can consider Ray's a chain now since he has one in Silver Spirng and has plans for growth. I would consider that the best one :)

                      2. re: monkeyrotica

                        I agree, ME.

                        I make some exceptions for what I consider 'local' or 'regional' chains, like In n Out in California, for example.


                      3. re: Pool Boy

                        I agree, why would you eat at a chain when there are so many good local places that are just as fast. And Cheesecake factory? Come on now.

                        1. re: jpschust

                          I believe the OP was looking for specific menu items at local suburban chains; thing that might make going to them worth it.

                          Don't know if they carry them in the suburban branches, but the fried gizzards and livers at Cluck-U are excellent, if you're into organs that is.

                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                            I'm not really sure that's what the OP meant as named in there are Cheesecake Factory, Popeye's and PF Changs, none of which are local.

                            1. re: jpschust

                              If that's the case, shouldn't this thread be moved to Chains? I mean, if we're not talking about DC-specific chains.

                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                That's my question, too. There are local chains that I think are worth going to but it sounds like the OP might be looking for any chain, with Coastal Flats thrown in w/ Popeye's. Coastal Flats aside, this sounds like a chain thread. And, there's the question of different names/restaurant, same owner, as with Coastal Flats. Restaurant Eve and Eamonn's, definitely not "chain."

                                1. re: chowser

                                  This topic has already been done many times in Chains, most recently here:


                      4. Since, as monkeyrotica posted below this topic has been posted nationally many times on the chains board, I'll add what I like about local chains.

                        Coastal Flats--shrimp and grits are excellent
                        all GAR entree salads are among the best I've had (and I'm a big entree salad person), particularly the salmon salad and the roasted chicken one; flourless chocolate waffle.

                        Anita's--posole for breakfast, papusas--I order meals that specifically come with papusas because they're good w/ their cole slaw(but then again, most papusas I've had from any Mexican restaurant have been good)

                        Austin Grill--again the entree salad, the grilled portabello is my favorite; grilled vegetable burrito

                        Rio Grande--grilled vegetable fajitas

                        Aladdin's--most things I've had are very good (chicken wraps, rolls, salads, kebabs), except the tuna; hummus is excellent

                        Steak N Things--decent steak sandwiches, good kebabs, love their vegetable provolone sub

                        Chutzpah deli--the oops (eggs, lox, caramelized onions, matzoh)

                        Can you tell I live in chain central?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: chowser

                          El Pollo Rico, a mini-chain in Arlington and Wheaton, and Crisp and Juicy, another chicken place, would qualify as excellent chains--and get the chicken at either.

                          1. re: BookGuy

                            Love the salad @ Sweetwater's (roasted chicken, corn and dates) and usually just have the FOD.

                            Also enjoy a Foster's buger every now and then. Much cheaper than 5 guys and a different taste---the charbroiled verses the grilled. Good fries too!

                            1. re: Moonpie

                              Foster's burger is cheaper than 5 Guys? I stopped in there for lunch one day (Vienna location) and it seems like it was your typical $6 burger place. Probably talking about a dollar or dollar and a half difference for a full sized cheeseburger and fries (I usually get a small burger at 5 Guys) but I'm sure Foster's is more expensive.

                              1. re: MikeR

                                Sorry about that Mike, I forget that I usually order the kid's burger. That, fries and a drink come in around $4.50 and fills me up.

                              2. re: Moonpie

                                I love that salad w/ the goat cheese. I will sometimes ask for that salad w/ the salmon which is really good.

                          2. I would add:

                            Slades (formerly a chain, now only one, at Tysons Corner): The prime rib sandwich, the spinach dip, and the onion rings.

                            Hard Times Cafe: The poppers, the wings, the chile dog.

                            Old Original Pancake House: Banana pancakes, strawberry crepes

                            Faccia Luna: The faccia luna pizza

                            1. Cheap eats that are decent also includes Potbellys.....Wreck on wheat.