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Jul 20, 2008 08:31 PM

no chowhound friends???

i'm very picky about what i eat and where i eat it. i love seeking out interesting, delicious foods whenever i go on trips or move to a new city. it's a hobby of mine and i look forward to it. however, i find that the people i associate with--friends, family--are content meeting up at local chain restaurants. it really goes against my principles (for reasons other than chowhounding...supporting local businesses, etc.) to eat at these chains. so i find myself trying to make other types of plans with people besides eating out (like hiking, movies, etc.) because i don't want to eat the food at chains nor waste money eating at them. only problem is: most friends don't want to do anything else but meet up for lunch/dinner and they are usually not open to anything but chains. how do other chowhounders deal with this? i like my friends but i can't eat at chains just to sustain the chowhounder's life a lonely one??? am i weird because i want each meal to be delicious and if i'd rather cook at home than spend money on crappy food???

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  1. Thankfully, the only friends I have who want to do this are on the east coast. Sometimes I suck it up and deal with it, b/c I haven't seen them in years. So last time I was out visiting in NJ, we ended up eating at a P.F. Changs, which is so vile I won't even touch it over here, much less to fly 3,000 miles to be taken to one. . .. But it was a sweltering summer day and we both wanted AC, and I had luggage with me, and the main point was to see him. :-P But this is one of the reasons I don't miss my hometown.

    The last time I did see friends from my hometown and they suggested going to a TGI Fridays, I assertively said, "I'm here for 2 days. We don't have real pizza or bagels in California. I want to go to either a bagel place or a real pizza place." and they were fine with that. I intend to suggest that every time I see them.

    Sometimes, if it's someone's b-day, etc., the main focus is the getting together, so I'll do it, but as someone who doesn't eat out often, I agree that I don't want to waste $ or extra calories on crap food. As I said, all of my friends here are on the same wavelength wrt. food, and I'd say 80 percent also are infrequent eat-outers like me, so it's less of a problem here. But back in the days, I used to just suggest alternative things (like let's walk around the block to catch up, or come over and play scrabble, etc).

    Can you cook together as an alternative?

    4 Replies
    1. re: anzu

      anzu - you're in SF or LA right?

      On the EC we sadly just don't have many easy to find mid-range places outside of NYC proper.

      here seems to be event, account or dump. and that's what I truly miss about SF.

      so I'd go with your gut (I mean instinct) and just ask for real pizza on visits. it's what I do on my even more challenged trip home.

      1. re: hill food

        HF, I work in SF proper and I have co-workers who opt for the safe pick even if the company is picking up the tab. I'm talking Buca di Beppo and sometimes very safe "okay" non-chain stuff...but never anything interesting, new or different.

        I understand there are many tastes and preferences to navigate and a group is a hassle and price nix many...still, you'd be shocked at what people come up with...rarely what SF is good at. You can be right in the midst of heaven and still experience hell...a cruel ironic hell.

        Oh well, thankfully friends are another deal.

        1. re: ML8000

          ML - when I lived there, it seemed like the office was crazy about North Beach Pizza. not bad, but...not my favorite crust.

          I could name other places that were fine, just not great. I name NBP as they won't hurt for business.

        2. re: hill food

          hill food, east coast with no mid-range? where are you exactly?

      2. Oh, I used to have this problem. It's a conundrum. The suggestion of cooking with friends instead of eating out with them didn't work for me. I discovered my friends cooked horrible food, too, a la "semi home made." Erg. It's awful, to have to choke down food in front of the cook. At least in a chain restaurant, it's not personal if you just push your food around the plate. What's worse, when everyone is congratulating the cook on her tasteless chocolate cake, you feel pressured to participate, making yourself a fake in the process. Oh, it's no fun at all. You know, I ended up sort of breaking up with some friends over this. Actually, the food was just a symptom of me eventually realizing I had nothing in common with them. I didn't like their taste in restaurants, movies, bars. Their parties were either snoozeworthy or high school dramas. It took a while, but I found friends who liked going to locally owned and ethnic restaurants and searching out fun shows, concerts, little known things to do. I am still in touch with some of those friends, even after moving halfway across the country eight years ago.

        But, if you like these people, I'd suggest you rotate choosing the restie. That way, at least a few times you'll be able to choose a place you'd enjoy. Try to sort out what people object to exactly about the locally owned places--is it that the menu changes and they don't know what to anticipate? Try to address whatever the issue is, by sending them a menu link, etc. or picking a place that always has certain dishes.

        Good luck, and let us know if you happen on a solution.

        2 Replies
        1. re: amyzan

          lawyerlady, happily there are a group of folks who are as interested in eating out as I am. Sadly, there are not that many outstanding restaurants in this area.

          We make do with the good to very good places and a good time is usually had by all. But no, the desire to instead cook at home is never ever one that occurs to me.

          1. re: amyzan

            Rotating the restaurant choice is what we've started doing at work, although I would call them more work friends than life-long friends. We haven't implemented it yet, but we're talking about making a set of dice, where the numbers correspond to certain restaurants.

          2. It is a problem and I'm glad lawyerlady brought it up. I have no problem eating with my family: parents and 3 sons are all equally chow centeric. Trouble is, they live all over the globe. My friends tease me because I talk about food all the time. Recently a few of them have been willing to venture out of the ordinary with me, with modest to delighted degrees of success. This because I printed up and distributed a list of "must try" mostly ethnic Boston restaurants. The first outing (tibetan) was not a success, there were six of us, the build up was excessive, everyone seemed to have some dietary restriction, and was coy about sharing. Most recent outing (tunisian) was spontaneous, just three of us, we shared, they were delighted and I think it whetted their appetite. These dear friends have never even tried sushi, so we have a lot of ground to cover!

            It's hard for me, with my background, to understand their shyness when it comes to trying new foods. Perhaps they feel they have already progressed far beyond the jello salads and canned sauteed onions of their childhood. Maybe I just have to keep trying, and hope that one pleasant experience will finally unlock their sense of adventure! Meantime, I will just have to hone my eating solo skills.

            Wish chowhound operated something like opentable, hooking you up with a chowish dining companion as well as a table!

            12 Replies
            1. re: cassis

              "Wish chowhound operated something like opentable, hooking you up with a chowish dining companion as well as a table!"
              now that's gotta be one of the most brilliant ideas that ever graced these boards!

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                There was a Toronto Chowhound getogether (GTG) when I first came onto this forum (2-3 years ago). But there are all kinds of rules about how you put these together: I got bored and didn't follow though: maybe somebody who has done this chime in?

                1. re: LJS

                  there have been countless CH meet-ups [both official & unofficial] in various cities. actually, i had to opt out of one in LA at the last minute, and i had really been looking forward to it.

                  but i took cassis' suggestion to be more of an idea for matching up hounds who realize that, for whatever reason, they will be dining solo and would like to enjoy a good meal with a fellow CHer who would also appreciate it.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Dining solo has been addressed in other threads, but lack of a DC is what keeps me from trying as many places as I'd like to. I have "friends", as I said, but they are by no means as adventurous as I am; there have been big hound get-togethers since I joined but I havn't been able to join them, and I'm not comfortable dining solo at night.

                    1. re: cassis

                      i hear ya. if you were in NY, i'd have dinner with you!

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        hey thanks! I might take you up on that next time I am in NY.

                        1. re: cassis

                          you know where to find me :) i'll bet we could even round up some other local hounds to join us.

              2. re: cassis

                Cassis - (and anyone else from Boston - one of these days I'll be brave and "sticky" this on the Boston board) - A couple of CHers and I eat out at "hole in the walls" etc., almost every weekend - If the vibe is right for all concerned, we would welcome others! In any case, you could always call a chowdown (pick a restaurant and a date and time, make a post, "report" it, and ask mods to sticky it, which'll keep it at the top of the board) Or - if someone sets up a Google, Yahoo, or MeetUp group for Boston, I'm sure they'd get lots of responses! Details: use my CH name, with 54 and y,,,(you know the ISP) to reach me. And for chowdowns, you could just pick a restaurant w/no date, but be prepared for lots of email back and forth.

                1. re: fredid

                  Met Fredid & another hound at a chowdown, which prompted the forming of our little chowband. This weekend's foray was to the tiny Miami Cafe in Boston's South End where we requested extra tableware & shared dishes as usual. Also chatted w/other patrons about their choices, this all amidst the crashing thunder, lightening & torrential downpours outside. Altho' it was just the 3 core peeps this weekend, we usually check in w/a few other hounds we've been to mini-chow outtings with to see if they'd like to join. Some of us are able to get together for lunch during the week & some spontaneously after 5 for dinner. The opportunities are delightedly endless & I'm looking forward to our next adventure in sharing.

                  1. re: Taralli

                    Thank you, fredid and Taralli! I don't think I'm ready to call a fully fledged chowdown--I only joined last fall--but I would love to join your group next time you have space at the table, and as long as it's a hole in the wall. I added my email to my profile, and I look forward to the next level of exploration!

                    1. re: cassis

                      Good for you! I've had the pleasure of dining with fredid and taralli, and you're in for some great meals. ; )

              3. It's tough, but outside of the other person's suggestion of rotating restaurants so that you at least occasionally get to pick a place you like, yes, you have to suck it up to continue those friendships. It's just the way a lot of people are and if you want to socialize with them, you have to put up with it. The hope is that you might develop a closer friendship with one or two of them and perhaps you'll be able to steer that more towards every other time one of you selects something, so there will be more chowish places than chains. But with even small gatherings, let alone larger, everyone gravitates towards chains.

                I used to have a group like this and we all fell out of touch the year I went without a car because most chain restaurants are not on the bus/rail line and people (understandably) got tired of picking me up and dropping me off. I found that after that year, most of them weren't really good friends anyway and I didn't miss getting together with them. So now most of my meals out are at chow places because they're with mr. rockandroller or my mom, who is also an amateur CH. There are also sometimes groups you can join, like local groups in slow food or egullet, who organize group dinners and that has been helpful as well.

                12 Replies
                1. re: rockandroller1

                  The part I hate is how we're supposed to be the ones to suck it up and go the chains/mediocre restaurants. Why can't the chain people suck it up and go to the ethnic/hole in the wall/etc. type places? It seems that others think we'll eat anything so for us it's not a big deal. What they don't get is that we'll pretty much try anything, but prefer to avoid mediocrity or worse.

                  1. re: Rick

                    "What they don't get is that we'll pretty much try anything, but prefer to avoid mediocrity or worse."

                    I like that statement!! So true.

                    1. re: Rick

                      "Why can't the chain people suck it up and go to the ethnic/hole in the wall/etc. type places?"

                      Exactly, Rick! If they don't give a crap about food and know that we LOVE food, why then don't they suck it up and all us our indulgence? They can sneak in their extra value meal and everyone is happy.

                      1. re: Rick

                        see-- i think we can avoid this if we pipe up.

                        non-food-minded people choose chains out of laziness. everybody will know the menu, there won't be any unusual specials, the price point is firmly established, service will be adequate and there might be coupons at the end. yes, they consider all of these things to be "good attributes" for eating establishments.

                        this is when the running list of chowhound "must go to" places is invaluable. if the group is planning on hitting CF, you can pipe up with "ooh there's a great little mexican place with the *best* tres leches cake right by there. cheaper too!" appeal to people's tastes in cocktails, desserts, bubble tea, whatever. tell them that you're trying to support independent businesses over chains because more dollars stay in the local economy-- so going to the new thai place is our patriotic duty, y'all! as a last resort offer to pick up part of the tab, ice cream afterward, etc if they'll follow your lead just this once. after a few successful forays they may get the idea that it can be okay and fun and different and something to talk about afterward. but you gotta bust through the comfort zone first. give them a reason to humor you first, lead with tested, sure-fire-win places, then progressively *up* the adventurousness & deliciousness until your formerly tepid and bland cohorts are happily slurping up bulgogi, lengua, pho and wat with the best of them. but you gotta take the lead and *always* suggest the chowish alternative to the chain, and do whatever it takes to drag your buddies there-- even if it means being a little insistent at the beginning, and even if it means picking up one or 2 tabs at the outset. don't be a jerk, don't be whiny, don't expect them to change overnight, but be a force that constantly pulls toward the deliciousness in a positive & encouraging way.

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          Sounds good, but didn't work on my friends. After our NYC trip one of them got pizza at the aforementioned chain and she thought it was better than Joe's Pizza! We tried for years to get them to an Indian buffet but "they don't like Indian" even though they've NEVER tried it!

                          Thankfully my 23 year old cousin has started to turn into a chowhound and he and I have been eating out together a few times a month. We're planning a trip to New York just to eat. My wife is pretty adventerous, but there are still some things I just can't get her to try, like Korean BBQ and Dim Sum.

                          1. re: Rick

                            I can understand your friend preferring a chain pizza to Joe's. Not sure if it's because their taste buds have been so acclimated to it, but, believe it or not, I know people who have issues with eating anything that isn't processed. They just can't have fresh food and need to eat things that are either highly salted, have preservatives in them, etc. I knew somebody who lived on Hot Pockets, Tuna Helper, Taco Bell and her linguine and clam sauce made with canned clams. Any time she was faced with freshly made food, she thought it was disgusting. Do they put addictive drugs in processed food or something?

                            Your friends with the Indian food thing doesn't sound like fear of non-processed foods but fear of anything different. Sigh! I once got into a big argument with two guys because they refused to go to an Indian restaurant in NYC. It wasn't because they were hesitant to try something different that irritated me. Everybody has different thresholds of what they'll try. The guys kept insisting that all Indian food has roaches in it because Indians don't believe in killing bugs. They refused to believe my explanation in the Department of Health, and I was so frustrated that I couldn't reason with these two imbeciles. Their rationale for refusing to try Indian food showed how narrow-minded and bigoted they were.

                            About your wife -- you can tell her that Korean BBQ is like terriyaki (if she's OK with the stuff) and that dim sum is just a lot of dumplings and egg rolls (don't have her try the tripe or chicken feet!). Perhaps if you relate the foods to the foods she recognizes, you'd have an easier time getting her to try it.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              I think you may be on to something with the processed food thing. Our friends recently told us they made chicken parmigiana and I was impressed. I asked how they made it and she said "It was easy, just take those tyson chicken tenders, a jar of sauce, and a bag of cheese." She was quite serious and proud of herself for making a homemade dinner.

                              My wife accompanied me in Chinatown but didn't want to eat at any of the places I planned on trying. Thankfully she was starving and ended up trying the sesame pancake and fried dumplings at Prosperity Dumpling, and the steamed dumplings atSuper Taste. She was very surprised that she like it all. I told her that for the most part if she's had something she didn't like in the past it was only because she didn't have a good version of it. She's had dumplings before but never much cared for them, but really liked the ones from Chinatown.

                              1. re: Rick

                                oh good, there's hope for her! you can go to chinatown to get the dumplings she likes, & you can order something else, and give her a taste, and the two of you will be sitting down to dim sum before you know it. . .

                                there are, of course, people whose tastes in food is terrible and who aren't interested in changing. i'm lucky to be married to a dedicated food explorer and great all-around awesome dining companion. our families are a little more boring, but they know enough not to suggest the chains around us (though i know if we're not coming, they'll hit a perkins).

                                the tyson chicken tenders "chicken parmigiana" gave me a good laugh, btw. :)

                                1. re: Rick

                                  I think a lot of people are like the chicken parmesan woman. Those are probably the people who like to watch Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade.

                                  That's great that your wife was into your C-town excursion. I haven't had the dumplings from Super Taste, but the sesame pancake and fried dumplings at Prosperity are pretty good.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    I liked the dumpling from Supertaste better, though Prosperity's were better than anything I've had at home.

                          2. re: Rick

                            rick: you hit the nail on the head for me. i am tired of sucking it up. someone else had posted on here that he/she found out later that it really was that they didn't have enough in common with some of their friends. i think that is the deeper issue for me. because i do suggest we do other things--hikes, movies--but if we don't have any other hobbies in common, people suggest lunch or dinner...and here i am...tired of wasting money on lunches at panera etc. and yes i do suggest other types of actually worked with a work lunch group where i got them to try greek...but that's one in a million with a hooters and a bojangle's nearby. i like the idea someone suggested of the meetup group or meeting people from chowhound. i befriended a food writer from chowhound who became a dear friend of mine (he passed last year) and we had many wonderful culinary adventures together. it would be fun to have a group like that.

                            1. re: lawyerlady

                              ok, so let's flip over all the cards and tell us where you are located...

                        2. Any myths about the culinary daring of New Yorkers have been put to rest since I moved to NYC. Most of the native New Yorkers I encounter, while great people, are just as parochial, if not more so, than the Midwesterners I left behind. Cuisines other than American and Italian(-American) are met with skepticism. Asian restaurants are especially suspect as they may or may not be serving salmonella along with their sweet-and-sour cat. I am often told what I cook is “exotic,” a word fraught with derision. On the whole this makes eating out difficult-to-offensive as it sometimes feels like an unending series of capitulations on my part, especially given my strong dislike for Italian-American food and attempts to eat healthily. House visits have been equally difficult as I am served they same fatty, bland cuisine they find comforting and do not want to cause offense by refusing what they labored over.

                          Given the expense of living in NYC I have very little wiggle room in my budget to waste on extravagances like restaurant meals I don't want. Rather than waste the money, I will often just meet friends after dinner is over or not eat at the restaurant. The beauty of a shared meal is its ability to bring people together. I would rather not imbue food also with the power to divide.

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: JungMann

                            JungMann, i totally agree. i used to live in nyc and the natives would get their pizza at sbarro's. ludicrous! i was taking trips to grimaldi's and lombardi's. and when we went out in groups, people wanted to go to the TGIFriday's in midtown. ugh. i guess i posted this just because i am tired of sucking it up and going to places i don't like. and someone did mention that what they found was that they just didn't have much in common with the friends they had. too true! i am starting to feel that way. it recently was my birthday and i chose a moderately priced restaurant but it was a mix of mediterranean and north african cuisine. nothing too "weird" for folks. but i knew people wouldn't come because it wasn't the cheesecake factory or maggiano's (most popular where i live). and sure enough, only a few close friends showed up. of course, i'm grateful for my real friends, who do know that friendship is about compromise. but i think my sister has the same problem. she's a vegetarian and her friends never suggest a restaurant where she can eat at when they get together. Also JungMann, i found even when they wanted Italian food, they wouldn't go somewhere where the food was good. I found some great Italian gems in the village, but they wanted things like carmine's which is some of the worst italian food i've ever had. i'm really not a snob, but i do think i have good taste and i keep myself informed about food issues. however i just found a hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon out in the boonies where i can get a bbq sandwich and fried corn for like $5 and i love it. but i will wholeheartedly admit i am snob as i do tend to be judgmental of people who eat regularly at chains or fast food. sometimes i just want to scream "panera is NOT a bakery, people!!" and cooking at home--forget about it--i suggested this and they wanted hamburger helper...well at least i have this forum to vent. thanks for the great replies!!!

                            1. re: lawyerlady

                              well, as a native and lifetime NYer, i can't say i agree with or share your experiences. I am, and have known, many adventurous and chowish eaters. I also know none that eat at sbarros, or any fo the chain "pizza" that has started sprouting in our city.

                              you guys obviously hung out with the wrong new yorkers

                              1. re: lawyerlady

                                I sympathize with you re: your desire to eat in chowworthy places. But I am shocked to hear that you know NYers who only eat at TGIF (I didn't even know there was one here) and Carmine's. Where in the City do you meet these people? Are they from here?

                                1. re: vvvindaloo

                                  Oh, it's so true. People like that exist. I used to work in an office in Washington Heights were most of the support staff were born and raised in the area. For our holiday office party, they all were screaming for Carmine's, saying it's the best Italian out there. As they were the majority of the office, they won. However, they did have good taste in carrot cakes, hipping me to Carrot Top Bakery. And I used to date a guy born and raised in Harlem -- his favorite place was Ollie's. You don't have to be a transplant.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    This Fear-Of-Non-Chain (or FONC) syndrome doesn't just happen in NYC or even in the US....FONC Syndrome is everywhere! I think it can be blamed on the trend to start our kids restaurant experiences with MacDonalds...moving on to Red Lobster and then TGIF...

                                    For me, FONC syndrome was particulary a problem when I was teaching in a small town (with great restaurants!) in Italy. Most of our North American students, aged 15-20, were really nervous about being in genuine trattoria, ristorante or even eating at a local tavola calda...they were so relieved when we went to Rome or Venice and they could find a Mac or Burger King.

                                    Most grow out of their addiction to chains but some, clearly do not. We do have friends (now in their 50's) who still prefer Swiss Chalet, The Keg or Red Lobster. When pressed, they describe it as a 'cleanliness" issue????

                                    1. re: LJS

                                      FONC syndrome. interesting. i once dated a guy who wanted to eat at a wendy's *every day.* i don't care if i ever see a wendy's baked potato again in my lifetime. dated him for about 2 weeks. i think the FONC people are bizzarre, and they think correspondingly of me. . . :)

                                      wrt the unadventurous nyers, or unadventurous diners from other large cities-- it's really weird sometimes hosting people from these cosmopolitan centers. with people who have a wide variety of ethnic options available to them in their hometown, i've noticed a variation of FONC, i believe, which manifests in a compartmentalized view of ethnic dining, where the subject tends to reduce an entire cuisine to one representative dish, then that's ALL they will order--bring them to a vietnamese bistro with one of the most exciting and innovative menus, and they order pho & egg rolls, won't even look at the rest of the menu. indian: tandoori chicken & naan (if it's a vegetarian thali place they are seriously confused, and guaranteed to hate the place). mexican: fish tacos. does not matter what the specialty of the house is, they want to compare the taste of the *one* thing they order at home at the ethnic restaurant. then they compare, monolithically, "thai food in hometown x", to "thai food in hometown z" based on the sampling of the *one dish,* it's amazing! and they are not interested in trying cuisines that are unfamiliar to them/not available in their hometown. does anyone know what i mean?

                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                        About the compartmentalized view of ethnic dining, there was an entire thread on the subject. I'll try to find it for you.

                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                            i remember that thread! and i think that it got some great responses ranging from the monolithic: "it can't be a great -ethnicity- restaurant unless it does -dish- well," to much more open ended responses, like the poster who said s/he put a lot of weight on soup. so: some people were thinking in terms of dishes, and some were thinking in terms of types of food/methods of preparation and general quality. i thought that it was an interesting thread, & wouldn't have thought to connect it here. thanks!

                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                              I think this must be like the NUMEROUS guys I've dated who want to go out to steak and insist they are big steak conoisseuers and that how a restaurant does their steak is crucial to them being a good restaurant. Then they a) order a FILET and b) order it WELL-DONE. Buh-bye.

                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                          Actually, I haven't read the thread that Miss Needle posted below (will read it later), but I'm guilty of this, to an extent. E.g. if I go to a Thai restaurant, I'll almost always want to order the papaya salad (and if it doesn't exist, as was the case in some random restaurant in Florida, I start questioning its authenticity, though for all I know, maybe the papaya salad is an Americanized dish.) Partly, because then I can compare one dish across different restaurants.

                                          Of course, I order different stuff, too, but if there is a particular dish I like, it makes it easier to compare the bar.

                                          I also did this when I was in Vietnam. I ordered the banana-leaf wrapped fish in 3 different restaurants, and I immediately figured out which restaurant I liked the best (which turned out to be a random find not touted on any of the guide books!). Though in this particular case, I had been to restaurant A (the one that ended up being my favorite) before and was wowed by the food, so the banana-leaf fish merely served as confirmation.

                                        2. re: LJS

                                          I have a theory that the "cleanliness issue" may have more to do with bathrooms than with anything else. Bathrooms in chain restaurants are usually clean, well-lit, well-stocked with tp and paper towels, and in reasonably good repair. Independent restaurants, even very good ones, often have bathrooms that are tiny, dim, shabby, and/or grungy. This occurred to me one day when I was in an unfamiliar area and needed to use a bathroom, and was delighted to find a Starbucks -- not something that I usually care about. People either imagine that the state of the bathroom reflects cleanliness in the kitchen, or they're more afraid of an unpleasant bathroom experience than an unpleasant food experience.

                                          1. re: jlafler

                                            lol...I can relate!! One of my favorite ethnic restaurants just remodeled their bathrooms...and it was such a relief when I went there the other night! I knew at some point I would have to go to the bathroom, and I was dreading it...then got such a pleasant surprise.

                                            1. re: janetofreno

                                              Aha! One of my favorite DCs and I scouted out an interesting hole-in-the-wall - food quality was only so-so but cuisine was very unusual - and then - oh, no! The bathrooms! (and I've gone the very budget route in Guatemala, for instance, without blinking!) I just couldn't post the resto and do that to my fellow and sister CHers! (Well, of courseI would have if the food was good...)

                                      2. re: vvvindaloo

                                        the TGIFers were from long island. not nyc proper, i know but still they should know better with having access to nyc!

                                        1. re: lawyerlady

                                          That sounds right. I was about to post that this sounds more common to those who live in Long Island, Jersey, Westchester, etc. but work in Manhattan. Sbarro's was a classic lunchtime stop. There you could get your overpriced pizza that was sorta okay and filling and it was at least better then Ray's. There are far fewer locations for that particular pizza chain then there ever used to be. TGIF's used to be dead until happy hour for the after work crowd. I just don't think the idea of exploring really appeals to people who have a regimented life, where being in Manhattan is mostly a 9-5, and a quick bite kind of lifestyle.

                                          The strange thing is I knew a young girl who had just moved to NYC from a strange part of Florida that only had chains, and her preference was still to go to an Olive Garden when her family came to town to splurge on her. She actually went out to Long Island for a birthday dinner because she had heard the Ruby Tuesdays there was bigger.

                                      3. re: lawyerlady

                                        google Calvin Trillin for great rundowns of food in Brooklyn and Queens.