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I don't care if I never set foot again in a...............

Wendy's, Applebee's, TGI Friday, Ruby Tuesday

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    1. When I read your title, all of the last three and Bennigans occurred to me. They all offer pedestrian fare with trumped up names and muted flavours, insincere, inconsistent, and frequently inept service, and an atmosphere that makes conversation (as opposed to shouting) almost impossible.

      But I'll stick up for Wendy's. For a fast food joint, they're OK - a lunch of their chili with a baked potato is incredibly cheap, filling, tastes fine, and nutritionally, surprising good - only 510 calories, 10g of fat, 11 g of fibre (half the daily requirement), 22 g of protein, and 70% of your vitamin C, and 30% of your iron.

      Compare that to a Big Mac and small fries - 760 cal, 40g of fat, 6g of fibre, 27 g of protein, 40% of your iron, and only 4% of your vitamin C. Plus, I find after eating a Big Mac and fries, I'm still hungry, but the Wendy's meal (perhaps because of the fibre) fills me up. I'd choose the pigtails over the arches any day of the week.

      12 Replies
      1. re: KevinB

        Agree on the chili at Wendy's.....it ain't bad.

        1. re: monku

          When there isn't a finger floating in it.

          I know the finger thing was a set up, but I can't help but think of it whenever someone mentions Wendy's chili. Not fair to Wendy's, but just the same...

          1. re: lynnlato

            I usually order three fingers of chili when I'm there.


        2. re: KevinB

          Caesar Side Salad - Romaine, Shredded Parmesan, Bacon Bits, & Garlic Croutons

          For $1.29? Awesome.

          1. re: soypower

            True, I don't like that much fast food. I do eat the occasional Whopper Jr, I admit. But Wendys isn't bad. Hey it is fast food what do you expect.

            When I go to Bennigans, Applebees, etc, Rubys, TGIF, I try to stick with what will be good. Don't get a steak or a pasta dish, we all know it is premade and not fresh. Heck anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant knows that. But a good burger, chicken sandwich, nachos or something like that is a better and safer bet. My homemade pasta ... I made, same with steak or a good roasted chicken and vegetables. But a burger of sandwich, french dip, blt, etc. I think they all do a descent job.

            I meet clients a lot at those places ... clients like it, and I stay with the safe calls, and overall ... they are ok. And for a post before, same goes for Chilis, Denny's I only do breakfast and Cracker Barrel actually has a few good things ... Olive garden, their soup and salad I totally admit I love (even though my pasta fijole (sp?) I like better) however, when it comes to lunch out. That is a nice lunch for the price. Melting Pot, over priced. Subway, I get the veggie sub toasted. Personally, I like them and go back often, I like a few of their subs.

            Maybe I am lucky here and I have good managers and staff at these places. Burgers are cooked to order, nothing overdone, usually no wait and descent help. I think the staff plays an critical roll in these types of places.

            But I realize that food from those places is not mine and also don't expect too much. I take it for what it is worth. But I have been to some that will never go back again too, but I don't even think they are around any more.

          2. re: KevinB

            Agree wholeheartedly; and not just because I worked at a Wendy's in 1979. (I think they've rotated out the chili since then). Yes, their burgers, like all fast food burgers, are too thin and only come well done, but they are tasty and juicy and the toppings are fresh.

            Applebee's is the worst of the worst.

              1. re: Firegoat

                The last time I was in a Bennigan's was in 1990. We ordered some nachos and after half-an-hour, were presented with FIVE largish Dortios-style chips and a ramekin half full of lukewarm Cheez-Wiz. Haven't set foot in one in 19 years.

                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  I don't think I've even SEEN one in 19 years. Looks like they're still around, though, and opening new locations:


                  1. re: Suzy Q

                    We have 3 locally. Where do you live :)

                2. re: Firegoat

                  most bennigan's went bankrupt (their parent). some were (somehow) independent, and remain open. here in d.c. area they closed.

                3. re: KevinB

                  Second the thumbs up for Wendy's. the recipe for their chile is all over the net and tastes just like a cup of the real thing!

                4. I don't mind any of the four you've mentioned enough to hate them, but I'd finish your sentence with "Ted's Montana Grill" in a second. Yuck.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Suzy Q

                    Oh, really? I love Ted's or at least did the last time I was there in 2009.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      My last two trips to Teds involved a painfully dry bison burger, painfully slow service, which is a shame because my kids really liked their shakes.

                    2. re: Suzy Q

                      Wow, I always mention Ted's as a chain that does it right.

                      1. re: RetiredChef

                        I'll stand by Ted's until I make another visit.

                    3. Cracker Barrel, Applebee's, Chilis, Denny's, California Pizza Kitchen.

                      1. IHOP, Olive Garden, BennirubychiliTGapplebees.

                        1. Any bad Tex Mex place. I've never seen the thrill- Don Pablo, Chipotle, Chili's and most importantly, the annoying fact that lots of airports only have various iterations of bad Tex Mex restaurants for sit-down meals.

                              1. TGIF... we have one situated right next to our local Pizza and Brew (a lovely, small, local Italian chain in Westchester Cty, NY) and I am amazed that there is a line out the door for TGIF. Went to this TGIF once and I don't get it. I think they deep fry everything. Guy Fieri (who I think is GREAT, btw) really should hawk something else since this took the shine off his star for me.

                                And Applebees... esp when I have 3 good diners within a mile of our local one. They won't cook a burger medium and their med-well is like a hockey puck.

                                And Olive Garden. People wait on line for this? But at least they have a halfway decent wine selection (for a chain).

                                1. McDonald's, Wendy's, TGI Friday's, Olive Garden

                                  1. Rainforest Cafe. Just the worst dining experience ever.

                                    I'd also have to agree with Subway, Applebee's and IHOP. They are all flavorless institutions with horrible food and horrible service.

                                    1. I must be lucky. I've NEVER BEEN IN an Applebee's, TGI Friday, Ruby Tuesday, Bennigans, Olive Garden, Chang's...

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. Mine probably won't be popular, but:

                                        Subway, Jimmy John's, Potbelly, any sandwich place really. I just don't like subs or sanwiches.

                                        PF Changs and Big Bowl - I find the food at both of these chains very greasy, I always leave feeling a little ill.

                                        Whataburger - ok, I haven't eaten here since 1992, but eyuck, it was nasty then.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: cheetobrain

                                          I recently went to a Jimmy Johns for the first time at the University of Central Florida campus and really enjoyed my spicy Italian sub. And I love Quizno's. But I have to absolutely agree with you on Subway... it is truly horrid.

                                          1. re: kkachurak

                                            I know, people LOVE Jimmy John's. Just not a sandwich gal. I'm a pain in my lunch friends' booty because I won't go to JJs or Subway. :)

                                            1. re: cheetobrain

                                              Maggiano's for forgettable "Italian." Two words, "freezer burn."

                                        2. Okay, I'm going to use more words and try my response again. Is it just those four chains that you don't like? Why? I've never eaten in a Ruby Tuesday's and not in TGIF in many years. But I've had better than average fast food at Wendy's and I've had good for what it is at Applebee's. I've also had dreck at non-chains. I also agree with others that you should order to their strengths rather than their weaknesses. For instance, I'd have pretty low expectations if I went to a steak restaurant and ordered fish. I love fine food but I'm not a snob about food. Well, that was a lot more words but I'd be interested in your response, steakman :)

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            What, more words than one? The only one of the four that I have eaten at is Wendy's. I find it borderline disgusting.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Agreed, sometimes I go where others go or just want something quick and on the road. A quick burger, sandwich, etc. I love great food but I'm not a snob about it. I can eat a mcdonalds burger and I'm just fine. It's not great, but I'm guess I'm easy with that. I don't have high expectations for these places so therefore I'm no disappointed. They are fast food or chains and what you get it what you get. Now a nice restaurant ... ordered a nice dinner and got bad service and food ... I would be disappointed. I guess I can eat anywhere and never complain, but when I cook, I like to cook good ... however ... there are days ... no time 15 min to make dinner for 6 people. Well, I take shortcuts when need be.

                                              But a nice dinner when I have the time is the best. I'm also not too concerned about organic or only the best. I do try but sometimes. But regular asparagus from Publix or any grocery store is ok for me compared to the 3 dollars more per lb from my whole food store ... I dare any of my friends to tell me which was which... LOL.

                                              Ok, my point being ... if you don't like that kind of food don't go. If you go and don't like it, just don't go back. Personally, all my friends go so ... I go with them, not a big deal.

                                              Don't take anything serious, this is just my opinion.

                                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                                I think it really depends on where you live and what your choices are. I live in the SF Bay Area, and there's no reason ever to go to a chain: there are too many non-chain places where you can have a decent meal for a reasonable price. On the other hand, when I'm traveling I occasionally find myself in a place where chains are the best option, especially if I'm with a group of people who don't want to check out some weird local place I found through chowhound <vbg>.

                                                What gets me about chains is that with some exceptions they aren't that cheap and in some cases they aren't that fast/convenient, either. I read about people waiting hours to eat at Cheesecake Factory for the privilege of paying fairly high prices for oversize servings of mediocre food and shake my head.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  You completely sum up my feelings. When we're in SF or NYC our choices are so huge. And the Cheesecake Factory phenom just amazes me. A few months ago we were in Macys in SF where there's a CF (as you know). People were in line to get on the elevator to even go up to the floor where the restaurant is. And this is right in the middle of Union Square where there are gazillions of places to eat within minutes' walk. Or just the Cellar at Macys would probably be a better choice. I've eaten at CF a couple of times because someone else really wanted to. It's probably fine if your other choices are food courts in malls but in the middle of SF, I just don't get it.

                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                As for Wendy's, the burgers taste steamed not cooked on a griddle, and the fries are piddling at best. On the other hand, I admire Mcdonald's for their double cheeseburgers and fries. For the casual dining stores of Applebee's, TGIF, and Ruby Tuesday, they have gone steadily downhill, in my opinion, at a pretty rapid rate the past few years. I ate in a Ruby Tuesday a couple of years ago and have to say that there was absolutely nothing on the menu that appealed to me, but I ordered anyway, and my expectations were confirmed.

                                                As for Bennigan's, I apologize for leaving it off the list, but the ones I know have all closed and I honestly thought it had gone out of business and did not want to speak ill of the dead.

                                                1. re: steakman55

                                                  Thanks, s55. I can't even remember Wendy's fries so they're probably ------ not memorable :) Yeah, we are definitely MdD's double cheeseburger/fries eaters when we're on the road, which is a lot sometimes. My 88 y.o. MIL like Applebee's --- probably because she can indulge in all the super fatty stuff - but we don't mind their salads. Boy, Bennigan's is a name from way, way back for me. Like decades. So no opinion.

                                                  1. re: steakman55

                                                    Nope--Bennigan's still breathes, at least in San Diego. I haven't been in, but I see it from the freeway...

                                                2. Macaroni Grill, unless I want to be pickled for posterity. I've never had so much salt on my food. However, I want something to order at an Applebee's or other sit down chain so that I do not starve on long road trips.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: EdwardAdams

                                                    HINT, ask for no salt, I always do. Most of their stuff already is pre packaged as most people know and has salt. Asking for no salt usually works. Besides ... salt on the table if you want. Never failed me yet. It is the only thing special I ever ask for and never had a problem.

                                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                                      If the food is prepackaged and (evidently?) pre-salted, how does that work? Not that I'd eat at an Applebee's even at gunpoint.

                                                      1. re: Brennius

                                                        So you've eaten at an Applebee's and didn't like it? Or you've made up your mind that you wouldn't like it?

                                                        1. re: Brennius

                                                          You won't get NO salt, but no added salt. most pre packaged always has salt but add additional too. I managed a restaurant similar to that for a short period and have a friend who runs a Perkins and a TGIF, I know the food, it isn't the best admit, but asking for no additional salt does help. I meet a client every week at Applebees, and I'm still alive, lol. Hey I look at it as 1 night not to cook. I sticks with basics and not all that bad.

                                                    2. quiznos, bleh.

                                                      olive garden.






                                                      del taco

                                                      1. Taco Bell.

                                                        I can get down with fast food every now and then, but I find the stuff at Taco Bell is downright vile to look at, nevermind ingest. Aside from a teenage affair with the Cinnamon Twisties, I have no love for the Taco Bell.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: corgette

                                                          I'm so with you on Taco Bell. I can't stand refried beans, and it seems that no matter what I order, or how carefully I look at the menu or photos, there's a great big puddle of those nasty, greasy beans. Blech.

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            I agree on Taco Bell, I think I've been twice. Now on the refried beans, good ones are not greasy at all, lard is used. Come to Texas and I'll treat you to some good refried beans and killer margaritas.

                                                          2. re: corgette

                                                            I can choke down Taco Bell, but only at 1am after drinking all night. They need to bring back the Chilito. My new hate is for Moe's Southwest Grill. Everything about the place is just irritating, from the loud decor to the loud music to the cutesy putesy names for the food, like the Art Vandalay Burrito or the Joey Bag of Douches. And the food is just D-Grade meat, fat, cheese, and more fat. At least Chipotle isn't trying to be "entertaining."

                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                              My wife and I walked out of one without ordering. Pretty tough to figure out that menu.

                                                              1. re: chileheadmike

                                                                Moe's Southwest Grill is like Chipotle's cheaper, slower, dumber, diarrhea-inducing younger brother. And, yeah, the menu is a mess, but I've noticed that about a lot of fastfood places (McDonalds, Taco Bell). They're turning what should be a simple transaction into a bewildering ordeal. The more choices you have, the more people will just stare blankly at the sprawling options and just give up. And this pretty much defeats the point of having a drive through: you always end up trapped behind someone ordering some oddball combination of items which the staff can't help but get wrong. How many possible combinations of meat, beans, and burrito skin do we really need?

                                                          3. Buca di Beppo, Joe's Crab Shack, and of course Applebees.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: pollymerase

                                                              +1 for Buca, they make the olive garden look good.

                                                            2. applebee's, cracker barrell, denny's, ruth chris, mortons, taco bell, olive garden, red lobster

                                                              1. Cracker Barrel and what my FIL refers to as "The roast beef place." That being Arby's of course. Just dreadful.

                                                                I know it's popular but I fully don't understand Chik Fil A. Went there once and had a miserable chicken sandwich.


                                                                19 Replies
                                                                1. re: Davwud

                                                                  ha! Arby's is so off my radar I didn't even think of it, but I'll add that to my list as well. It's never even a consideration when I am out looking for fast food.

                                                                  1. re: cheetobrain

                                                                    We had a wrap at Arby's a couple or more years ago and it was pretty tasty.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      Not my favorite place, but never bad ... like I said, I'm very easy. I enjoy great food, but can eat anything and it doesn't other me.

                                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                        I really appreciate your weighing on this thread because you are obviously are great cook and, yet, are not a snob. I think any criticism of "chain" food leans towards at least a little snobbery. As you say, eating with friends is more important than just eating. Well, actually, I took what you said and added to it :) BTW, I read you regularly. Thanks for all your help.

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          I don't think criticism of chain food equates snobbery whatsoever. One either likes a place or not. There are chains that are fine, people make choices.

                                                                          1. re: Samalicious

                                                                            I don't disagree with you but don't you think that there are some people who are snobs about chain food? As in "oh, I would never eat *chain* food." Quick to criticize, slow to praise. I've almost never read this board for that reason. They serve a purpose.

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              I agree w/ you on that, a lot of the time it's "oh the food is terrible there and there's not enough of it either." ;)

                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                I fully agree. There are people out there who competely discount anything that comes from a chain simply because it comes from a chain. The is most definitely snobbery.


                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  As the one who started this thread, let me say I love McDonald's...at least their fries, egg McMuffin, and double cheeseburgers, particularly when just made. And my family regularly goes to Chili's which I think is head and shoulders above the Bennigans/Fridays/Applebee's crowd. Longhorn puts out a decent steak for its price and if you aren;t expecting prime beef. I also crave Jimmie John's and think Chik Fil-a is pretty good.

                                                                                2. re: Samalicious

                                                                                  Definitely not a snob. Love me some good and greasy chain food, but places like Arbys and Taco Bell USED to be good ages ago, but the quality has slid significantly. Arbys used to do real roast beef; now it's this horrible injection molded foam rubber like beef substance held together with gelatin and smothered in nacho cheese. The texture of the meat is way to "spongy" for me. It's like I'm eating a sandwich that was used to wipe a cow's butt.

                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                    I first ate at Arby's over 40 years ago, and it wasn't real roast beef then.

                                                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                                                I don't know if they still offer it or not -- but Arby's used to make a peppercorn BLT that was worth going out of my way.

                                                                            2. re: Davwud

                                                                              We've also sworn off Chik-fil-A. Last year, we went to one on the way back from Mobile. All was well until spouse picked up the nutritional information flyer and there was a note that they sometimes used food coloring to keep their sandwich lettuce looking green.

                                                                              1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                Chick-Fil-A is the best fast food chicken sandwich. The classic Chick-Fil-A sandwich has no lettuce, just pickles.


                                                                                1. re: monku

                                                                                  I've NEVER had lettuce on my Chick-fil-a. Plain with pickles. Same with the breakfast chicken and biscuit sandwich. And compared to the mechanically extruded, spongiform Mcnugget sandwiches you get at most fast food places, I'll more than happily put up with a little food dye in the lettuce.

                                                                                  1. re: monku

                                                                                    Do you think you had to "cut your teeth" on Chick-Fil-A? I LOVE them but they don't seem to have them here in NoCal. The last I had was in an airport somewhere when I was dashing to make a connection. I thought it was great even there/then. Mmmm.

                                                                                  2. re: beachmouse

                                                                                    Lettuce on a chick fil a?? I've never heard of such...pure craziness

                                                                                  3. re: Davwud

                                                                                    Life without Chic Fil A, Whataburger or even an occasional Arby's roast beef, I just couldn't bear it. I can live without Applebee's & TGIF. I can barely pass a Golden Corral w/out shuddering, sure most of you don't have to worry about that thankfully.

                                                                                  4. I haven't eaten at McDonald's for over 10 years. I just got fed up with it. Customers causing a scene when they don't get the toy they wanted in their Happy Meal; ordering two hamburgers and one small fry and make sure the hamburgers are in one bag and the fries are in a separate bag and can I have a container of sweet and sour honey mustard whatever it is in the bag with the fries in it not with the hamburgers; gimme one coke with no ice and one with two pieces of ice and I'm gonna check those drinks right here in line thank you; people in the food prep area slopping sandwiches together from plastic bins, dimwitted counter help who get confused if they have to do anything more than punch the pictures on the register, it will be a minute on that Filet Of Fish every damn time one is ordered, customers wearing flip flops and sleeveless shirts who plop their diapered kids' butts on the same counter space where food trays are served and spend 5 minutes looking at the menu like something is going to be good and different this time but they always order two hamburgers and one small fry and make sure the hamburgers are in a separate bag. Thank you no.

                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                      Same as some of the others.

                                                                                      Macaroni Grill - everything was extremely salty
                                                                                      Rainforest Cafe - the worst experience ever - even my kids did not want to eat the food
                                                                                      Chick-a-fila - tried it twice not sure what all the fuss is about

                                                                                      1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                        I think you can pretty much say the same for tho other big two. I used to like a filet o' fish before I totally quit fast food about a year ago, and you're right, you almost always had to wait for it. The last time I went to McDonald's I had a freebie coupon for a quarter pounder with cheese. It was so disgusting after about two and a half bites I tore it in pieces and fed it to some stray dogs, even the vaunted fries were terrible.

                                                                                        1. re: Samalicious

                                                                                          Real conversation I've had at Mcdonalds:

                                                                                          "I'd like a hamburger, a coke, and a side of fries."
                                                                                          "May I help you?"
                                                                                          "I'd like a hamburger, a coke, and a side of fries."
                                                                                          "Would you like fries with that?"
                                                                                          "And what would you like to drink?"
                                                                                          "A COKE!"

                                                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                            that's okay - my Pepsi at KFC today magically turned into Sprite.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              Ah, well, at McD I ordered an iced coffee. Skim milk. No sugar.
                                                                                              I got a cup filled with ice and cream, and a splash of coffee.

                                                                                              1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                this is what the mickey d's end product should look like: http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/p...

                                                                                                skim milk will water the whole thing down.

                                                                                          2. re: Samalicious

                                                                                            I would rather wait if that means the O'Fish was cooked to order.

                                                                                          3. McDonald's, and I don't mind telling you why, whether you're interested or not. Then I'm gonna tell you why i decided to tell you why. About 4-5 yrs ago I went to McD's for a snack of a regular cheeseburger to go. When I took a bite I realized they had forgotten the pickle.. Oh yea, and the cheese also. My "lovin it" for McDonald's had been waning anyway and that was the last staw. I vowed "never again". But one Friday afternoon about a yr ago I was hungry, a McD;s was close by and I couldn't shake the urge for a filet o fish. Thinking "Hey it's Friday, they're only 99 cents." that excuse clinched the decision.
                                                                                            Well it was $2.59 !!!! but as many of you know parts of your body below the brain can easily take over one's thinking, and in this case it was my stomach. Well, again it was basically about a slice of cheese. Or in this case, a 1/2 a slice of cheese !!, 1/2 hanging out of the bun as if the "chef" had tossed it from 10 paces. They nicely accommodated me w/ a full slice on a fresh filet o fish. But again I vowed never again.

                                                                                            Now what really prompted me to tell my tale was a 7 minute piece I saw a few days ago from ABC News, that couldn't have been better PR for McD's if they had produced it themselves, about - A SLICE OF CHEESE (actually billions and billions of slices of cheese that adorn the double cheeseburger. The conundrum for McD's was that they could no longer afford to keep the double cheeseburger w/ 2 slices of cheese on the 99 cent menu but they didn't want to disenfranchise their dbl ch burger loving customers. Anyway they came up w/ a solution to please everyone. They raised the price of the dbl ch burger to $1.19 AND offer a single slice CH burger for 99 cents. Happiness abounds and I'm glad McDonald's can totally relate to how important a slice of cheese is, but I still "don't care if I never again step foot in a ......" Guess.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: ilikefood

                                                                                              You could have my cheese. I tried ordering a quarter pounder without cheese at multiple locations and about eighty percent of the time I ended up with cheese, despite requesting none from the order taker, the money taker, and the food giver. It just blew there little minds that I don't want cheese on a burger.

                                                                                            2. Sweet Tomatos
                                                                                              T G I Fridays
                                                                                              Ruby Tuesdays
                                                                                              Longhorn Steakhouse
                                                                                              Olive Garden
                                                                                              Red Lobster
                                                                                              Lee Roy Selmon's
                                                                                              Bahama Breeze
                                                                                              PF Chang's
                                                                                              Pei Wei
                                                                                              Marble Slab

                                                                                              I do like Taco Bell and Wendy's occasionally. I will make special trips for that horribly delicious "Mexican Pizza." I will visit Cracker Barrel, IHOP, Denny's and Perkins when I don't know an area and its next to my hotel. I just found Mellow Mushroom and love it. Westshore Pizza is great "philly style" and still accepts my old college ID. Florida is the land of chains - especially the suburban areas I grew up in and around. I grew up near Dardenland and went to college in Outback territory.

                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                                                coldstone is so freakin' nasty! thank you. that's another. ugh! and i'm not a snob b/c i love rite aid ice cream and br.

                                                                                                1. re: bu dat

                                                                                                  I will and have traveled 30 miles for Rita's!

                                                                                                  1. re: bu dat

                                                                                                    Coldstone is gooey, sticky, chunky, and just FOUL. The shops are always gross as well.

                                                                                                  2. re: TampaAurora

                                                                                                    You just reminded me - I will never willingly set foot in an Outback again...

                                                                                                    1. re: RWCFoodie

                                                                                                      I've never been to Outback. What's wrong with it?

                                                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                          So it sounds like it was more the non-food issues. That does make a difference.

                                                                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                          See monkeyerotica's link: just the most awful so-called "food", etc.

                                                                                                      1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                                                        Yes, Coldstone is terrible! Despite all their efforts, every ice cream flavor tastes exactly the same! I don't know how they do it.

                                                                                                      2. Speaking of places I wouldn't want to step foot in... I saw a commercial for Little Caesar's Pizza the other day and it caught me by surprise. I thought this chain went under years ago. I haven't seen a Little Caesar's shop anywhere in a very long time. So, I went to their website and sure enough they are still around and i actually have 3 here in my hometown. They are in neighborhoods I don't venture into though. Anyone have one in their town?

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                          I can't believe you don't get inundated with their ads, lynn.

                                                                                                          Got tons of them, Ilitch the owner is rich enough to own not one but TWO sports teams. Them $5 anytime pizzas must really add up!

                                                                                                          1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                            Little Caesars peaked in the 1990s with 5,000 stores; now they're around 2,000. They expanded into Kmarts, but when they declared bankruptcy, those Little Caesars closed. Most of the ones close to me have shut down, but there are plenty in the VA/MD suburbs.

                                                                                                            That is one greasy pizza. We didn't call them Little Greasers for nothing.

                                                                                                            1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                              There's one in our town but I've never eaten it. But my husband played poker a few years ago at someone's house and it said it was gross. And he's a real pizza guy --- and this was poker food :)

                                                                                                            2. I stay away from:

                                                                                                              Subway – because of the plastic tasting food and stale bread that cuts your gums when you bite into it
                                                                                                              McDonald’s – because of the everything-tastes-the-same greasiness
                                                                                                              IHOP – serviceable food, but emotionally, that place depresses me for some reason
                                                                                                              Cracker Barrel – bland food and lots of loud children

                                                                                                              But to prove I’m not a fast food snob, I do love the double at Dairy Queen, with onion rings, or a basket of chicken strips with fries. Mm-mm! Just wish it wasn’t so expensive.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: cuccubear

                                                                                                                Yeah, that's what I'm likin'. I used to get that basket of chicken strips at DQ. And cost is an issue. Probably why when I do fast food, it's usually McD's for their dollar (now dollar plus in many places) items. If you do one of those "meals," it can get up in the $5 range easily and that's generally not my goal for that kind of food. Although when we're traveling, we'll get one meal and one sandwich and share the fries and drink.

                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                  The best thing I can say about McD's is that wherever you go, they are pretty reliable in terms of quality. Basically, you know what you're gonna get. Not a very chowish attitude I know, but sometimes when you're traveling, you're just starved and you need something quick and cheap.

                                                                                                                  1. re: cuccubear

                                                                                                                    Absolutely. We spent 3-1/2 months in Rio in 2007 and every once in a while had McD's which was identical. Also occasionally KFC which was the same except for eating in the restaurant, it came on a real plate with real utensils!

                                                                                                                2. re: cuccubear

                                                                                                                  Footlong Chili Cheese Dog for me, please. Make that two.

                                                                                                                3. Applebees (PS - I live in the same town as their HQ). They are everywhere!
                                                                                                                  Golden Coral

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                                                    Burger King. I just don't think they are any good. I try them about once a year when I am in a pinch and I still feel the same way each time.

                                                                                                                    1. re: foodtastegood

                                                                                                                      Walmart....terrible in so many ways.

                                                                                                                    2. Rainforest Cafe, Applebees, Golden Corral( shudder), Burger King, TGIF, Dennys, soup plantation/sweet tomatoes.

                                                                                                                      I do like Jimmy John's. They make a good sandwich, their cold cuts are high quality.

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Calipoutine

                                                                                                                        I've only been to one Rainforest Cafe; Downtown Disneyland. I'll admit we hit the Lotto that day and got lucky. Great service, excellently cooked food, and a manager that was walking the floor and actually talking to customers. We were sitting upstairs outside during a beautiful day, too, which added to the "ambiance."

                                                                                                                        1. re: Calipoutine

                                                                                                                          Went to a Rainforest Cafe in Cancun. Didn't stay for dinner. The music was so loud just standing inside the door, I wasn't going to stay and scream my way through dinner.

                                                                                                                          1. re: cuccubear

                                                                                                                            > The music was so loud just standing inside the door, I wasn't going to
                                                                                                                            > stay and scream my way through dinner.

                                                                                                                            That's a deal-breaker for me, too. If we walk up to, or into, a place and the music is louder than the regular noise, or worse -- I get physically pounded by a bass -- we're not going in. My hearing is already bad; I don't like sitting there simply nodding randomly. It's also been proven my lip reading isn't as accurate when I'm not wearing my glasses. :)

                                                                                                                            1. re: The Ranger

                                                                                                                              And yet deafening background "music" is a selling for some restaurants, like Hard Rock Cafe. I guess some customers think this means it's "vibrant" and "happening" when you can't hear anything. Or maybe it's just that drunk people go a little deaf as the evening wears on. Or maybe they just have nothing to say.

                                                                                                                              I'll never forget my first time at Hard Rock. A group of gradeschool kids stepped off a tour bus and while the teacher was talking to the front desk, all the kids cowered with their hands over their ears, clearly in pain.

                                                                                                                              1. re: The Ranger

                                                                                                                                Jamba Juice just because of the loud music the two times I've been.

                                                                                                                          2. To extend the OP's reponse, I would say: any chain whatsoever. I'm not saying I'll never set foot in one again, just that I honestly wouldn't care if I didn't, there is nothing I'll miss in any chain that I can't get a better version of elsewhere.

                                                                                                                            On the other hand, I will do everything in my power to ensure that I never again enter an Applebee's, Olive Garden, or Macaroni Grill. I would literally choose a McDonald's over any of them, at least it serves honest junk food.

                                                                                                                            1. That's easy -- Left Bank. http://www.leftbank.com/

                                                                                                                              I've found three of the four to be some of the most unenjoyable dining experiences I've ever had often combined with grandly inept service. My biggest gripe was the need for a shoe horn to get seated at tables (and I'm not an XL nor is SWMBO) followed by managements' driving need to blast "hip music" throughout their echo-chamber enhanced dining areas; forget about conversations. The first experience, in Menlo Park, should have sent up flags but when it was repeated at the San Jose branch and then at the Pleasant Hill site, I knew we were never going to give them another cent from my Visa.

                                                                                                                              I've only been to one Ruby Tuesday and found it alright, sort of like a Red Robin; good for what it is but not something to search out.

                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: The Ranger

                                                                                                                                I actually searched out a Red Robin because I'd heard people gush about their burgers. The first time I tried to get in was on a Friday evening. It was like some horrible marriage of Grand Central Station and Kafka's "The Trial." Deafening noise, forty-five minute waits, and kids rolling on the floor. The second time was on a Tuesday right as they opened at 11:30. The place was empty, yet they still cranked the music up as if it were a Saturday night and everyone was drunk. The burger was just alright but, yeah, no reason to search it out.

                                                                                                                                Sounds like this Left Bank place would sell like hotcakes in the DC area. Folks here are more than happy to pay through the a$$ to be treated like cattle. As for service, anything short of finding hair in your soup or getting a punch to the junk counts as par for the course.

                                                                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                  >>Folks here are more than happy to pay through the a$$ to be treated like cattle.<<

                                                                                                                                  i know you're not speaking about yourself, and you're definitely not talking about me.
                                                                                                                                  but i'm curious, to which particular places are you referring?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                    One word: Sequoia.

                                                                                                                                    Sequoia Restaurant
                                                                                                                                    3000 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007

                                                                                                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                      haha!! hey bro', it's the *scene*. sort of like the "river club" used to be (oh gosh, is that place still around???). "everybody dance now!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b714Wi...

                                                                                                                              2. Ruby Tuesday, Bob Evans, Applebees (or Crapplebees), Au Bon Pain, Cosi, Subway (the smell...the smell!)

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: MDoodle

                                                                                                                                  Really, how BAD is Applebee's? Red Robin's burgers aren't even as good as McDonald's for crap's sake............

                                                                                                                                2. Ditto, also add spaghetti factory, macaroni grill.

                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                  1. re: cstr

                                                                                                                                    I have to wonder if there's ever been a good restaurant with the word "factory" in the name.

                                                                                                                                  2. Here is my take on this subject....I don't like ANY of the chains after anywhere from 5-10 years in....what happens is that the original franchise group (the founders), no matter HOW great the concept is in the beginning, either get stale or sell out the whole corporation, partnership, whatever, and the original concept gets lost.
                                                                                                                                    Give me an inidividually-owned establishment anytime, and I will never set foot (unless out-voted by dinner companions, and I am very vocal so that is tough), in ANY chain "restaurant". Give me quality dining or I will stay home!!

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: TAGcaves4me

                                                                                                                                      All very well to avoid chains but when traveling and avoiding starvation, they are awfully hard to totally avoid, especially if you find yourself unfed late at night. I would be happy to find acceptable items on an Applebee's menu. That is the tough part.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: EdwardAdams

                                                                                                                                        Four words: Grandma Utz Potato Chips
                                                                                                                                        I would seriously rather hit a grocery store for coldcuts rather than chains.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: EdwardAdams

                                                                                                                                          Last July I ended up at an Applebee's with a relative (her choice) and the burgers were actually pretty good. It was better than the Red Robin burger I remember eating about six years ago.

                                                                                                                                      2. Carrabas...over salted & little other taste!

                                                                                                                                          1. Subway for me. I can stand Ruby Tuesday though. Have you been to one in the last couple of years? I don't care for Applebee's either.

                                                                                                                                            27 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                              Subway is making a low-level invasion in France -- I hadn't been in one in several years, and happened to pass one when I was starving.

                                                                                                                                              The good news is it tastes exactly like I remember it in the US.

                                                                                                                                              The bad news is it tastes exactly like I remember it in the US.

                                                                                                                                              It will be interesting to see if it "catches on" -- the local franchises seem to be doing well.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                I don't care for the food as it is presented in way too much bread! And for some reason, I never feel that they are clean. Weird.

                                                                                                                                                I admit you could do worse though. I really, really don't ever eat at Burger King. I should have mentioned that before.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                  Burger King just opened its first outlet in France (since they pulled out over a decade ago) at the airport in Marseille.

                                                                                                                                                  People are making special trips to the airport just to eat at BK, and they have had to close early several times now because they have sold out before the business day was over.

                                                                                                                                                  These are not tourists, by the way.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                    Any guess about how much horse meat is in them?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                      after the level of testing this week? None, or you'd have heard about it.

                                                                                                                                                      The horsemeat was overwhelmingly in preprepared meals like lasagna -- very, very little in any other form.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                      I guess BK has a loyal following in Marseille. I did at one time dearly love eating a Whopper.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                        the French (ordinary people, not the press) were gutted when BK pulled out of the country -- there's another BK going into a highway rest stop near Reims, and people are actually booking *hotels* to go out and eat one of the first BKs in the north.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                          Why can't I get good French food off the highway here?

                                                                                                                                                          Why doesn't some French food entrepreneur start a chain featuring cassoulet to go?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                            You can't really get good French food in highway rest stops in France, either....or cassoulet to go.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                              Well, see here is a business opportunity for someone!

                                                                                                                                                              What do French citizens find to eat ah highway rest stops in France?

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sueatmo


                                                                                                                                                                I'm not sure if its from this thread or another, but the French apparently go far out of their way for bk.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                  the same rubber ham and kitchen-sponge-bread sandwiches that are sold at every rest stop everywhere on the planet.

                                                                                                                                                                  Food at rest stops barely qualifies as food, no matter where you are in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                    Japanese rest stop vending machines are better than most American rest stop eateries.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                      which is not a terribly high hurdle to clear.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                        I wonder whaat the likelihood is for rest stop eateies to get repeat customers? If you're never going to see a customer again, what's the motivation to deliver a good product? When I'm on the road, I do my research to see where the decent grub is off the interstate. Rarely have those 10-mile detours been a disappointment.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                          Lots of people drive the same highways on a repeat basis -- folks who have to drive for a living -- people who have family who live down that highway -- people who have vacation properties down that highway....and by definition, most of them have to come BACK via that road.

                                                                                                                                                                          not everybody has the luxury of time to make that 10-mile detour (working folks....)

                                                                                                                                                                          and when it's a toll road, it's more hassle to screw around with the tolls than it is to pack a picnic or just settle for subpar.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                            Some folks place a higher priority on spending the least amount of time and money as possible when travelling. I am not one of those people.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                              it all depends on whether you're traveling on someone else's time and money, or your own --

                                                                                                                                                                              and other people may be traveling with kids, dogs, or other fellow travelers who aren't patient enough to explore.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                Agreed. Thanks to sites like this, I've found lots of off-the-beaten path eateries that are often a short detour from the interstate. And there are always regional chains that I'm on the lookout for, like Waffle House and White Castle and that one Howard Johnsons in upstate New York.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                              exactly. we just did a run in May from Minneapolis to PA and we were on toll roads and we ate what was available at the rest stops. it was a huge disappointment for someone who had never been to Wisconsin, but there were not going to be 10 mile detours on our 19 hour (each way) drive

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                                                                                When I was a kid we took a Winnebago from Minnesota to Maryland. The only food I remember stopping for was when we ate at a Howard Johnson's that straddled to toll-way.

                                                                                                                                                                                Nobody ordered a chicken salad sandwich, "no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce.."


                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                              I expect there's a lot of repeat business along the interstates. many years ago, we drove I-5 often, and VIP's was a regular stop. When I am just going somewhere on a routine trip, a regular stop saves time. Under other circumstances, in an unfamiliar place, looking around is worthwhile.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                  High fat content inexpensive fast food sells if Governments allow it to be sold. Its likely taste buds have not changed, rather the Governments policies have.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                            I would have to guess that even in France there exist people for who food is merely fuel. I just hope they dont think that this is what all Americans think French bread to be.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                              Here in lovely Rosarito Beach, Baja, Mexico, there is a Subway shop that has been operating for about four years.

                                                                                                                                                              We also have a large McDonald's with a play gym area and a Burger King and an Applebee's.

                                                                                                                                                              I don't know how they stay in business, but, then, I never go there.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                How in the world could that catch on in France with the same formula?? Weird

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: fara

                                                                                                                                                                  Personally, I totally agree with you --- I'd far rather go to a regular boulangerie for a sandwich -- but Subway is growing exponentially in France.

                                                                                                                                                            2. I started to say Burger King, but at least the ones around here have Icees that are acceptable crushed ice products when you're utterly craving a Slurpee and there isn't a 7-11 for a couple hundred miles.

                                                                                                                                                              So I'll go with Taco Bell because there are just so many other superior counter service Mexican places out there that are infinitely better.

                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                                                                At 01:30 hrs I can put down quite a few T/B plain original taco's but intoxication is likely to blame :)

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                  Oh yeah! TB reg tacos taste so much better when you've had several adult beverages! Sober, not so much.

                                                                                                                                                              2. Tim Hortons...Dunkin Donuts

                                                                                                                                                                1. Applebee's, Olive Garden, Chick-Fil-A, Logan's, Captain D's, Coldstone Creamery.

                                                                                                                                                                  Others as well, but those came to mind first.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Ihop - haven't been in a couple years. Last time I was there they screwed up breakfast more that I thought possible. Never again.

                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SimonSaysWoof

                                                                                                                                                                      I can't remember the last time I got good food at an IHoP. A pity...20 years ago, I LOVED them.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SimonSaysWoof

                                                                                                                                                                        We must be very lucky because the IHOPS around us are very good. The food comes out looking like the pictures, the service is spot on and it's been our go to place lately for breakfast for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                                                                                                          Is IHOP a franchise......which might have an impact from location to location or are they corporate?

                                                                                                                                                                          Our local diners are far better with eggs / bacon / sausage / hash browns......can't speak to pancakes though.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Ha! I've eaten at THREE separate locations in three separate states, each one more abysmal than the next. The last two I went to have since closed. I wonder why?

                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                          I'm a seafood fanatic, and I'm really glad that place didn't manage to turn me off to the fruits of the sea. I guess that's what you get when you order "paella" from a place that advertises by dropping a giant claw on mall shoppers.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                            and least we not forget the sac-relig of seafood kings... Red Lobster! Wow have they taken a nose-dive in quality in the last few years.... Gag! Not even their cheddar biscuits is enough to make up for their mediocre food.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                              Ooops, I made a no-no in my post naming the restaurant. So, I'll never set foot in Joe's Crab Shack again. It's yucky :(
                                                                                                                                                                              And I've not been to a Red Lobster in years, but if the biscuits can't save it, it must be going downhill.
                                                                                                                                                                              Really, any seafood from a $-$$ restaurant just isn't going to cut it. I can be pretty lowbrow with some out my eating habits, but I guess I'm just a fish snob.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                I've pretty much given up on chain seafood eateries. However, I've had some very good luck with small mom&pop soul food/southern eateries. They're my go-to source for fresh fish fried good, hot and crispy. I'll take lowbrow and competent over chain mediocre any day.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                  RED LOBSTER = low quality seafood cooked by low skilled help.

                                                                                                                                                                                  A really good seafood meal starts with a high quality fresh raw product cooked by professionals, neither of which you will find at Red Lobster for $12.95.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                    I abhorred RL when I lived in MD. Then I moved to PA and at the time it was the only seafood place within 30 min drive. It was ok. Fast forward 10 years and they have gone down hill although have spent quite a bit on renovations.

                                                                                                                                                                                    A whole steamed lobster is rarely messed up. I can stand the wood fired lobster, shrimp and scallops with rice and broccoli. All other halfway edible items are gone and the quality of the food is subpar. Still no venue for shellfish but I can get a good piece of fish at a few places near me now.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                                      Chains like Red Lobster do have buying power but not on #1 or #2 grade products as the supply is tighter and too many high end restaurants are willing to pay the higher costs for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      My friends in the purveyor business tell me most of the chains are bringing in #3 or #4 grade seafood which is why they can set the menu prices as low as they do. A lot of people like it and good for them because it certainly is reasonable, just not to my liking.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I know a chef/owner of a small restaurant and he brings in a fixed amount of the freshest fish his purveyor has every morning and it goes on a special card on the menu. When its gone, the cards get pulled. Always delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. I actually read through this entire almost 4 year old thread and came up with an answer to the OP's question that has not yet been provided. Last Wednesday I went to a Trader Joe's (it was near the clinic where I took my father) and it seems I just don't get it. I have been in several different TJ's in two states and still don't get the appeal. If I never set foot in Trader Joe's again I don't think I would be missing much.

                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't get it either. Whenever I go there, I feel better for some reason as it's very homey but I don't get all the rage.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                    I know they have their own followers but I agree and thank you for adding this comment - there's nothing there that I feel is great. I've bought bread and flowers there for a gift and I know the recipients were thrilled that it was from TJ's but yea, it's not my first choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Three words that make my stomach turn: Long. John. Silvers.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Olive Garden, Famous Daves, Lonestar Steakhouse (do they still exist?)

                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                        Lonestar is the only steakhouse option in my town :( We end up driving a bit further to go to Texas Roadhouse which always has huge waits, but we'd rather wait for that than go to the no wait Lonestar. Says a lot. The only time we go to Lonestar is to get drinks, as it's next to the movie theater.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Cici's Pizza. Even for D-Grade cafeteria pizza, the stuff's atrocious. It's what they feed you in the stripmall food court in Hell. They seem to be ceding ground to the equally vile Mazzio's Italian Eatery. It's pretty sad when Little Caesar's is a step UP.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Krispy Kreme. I think the donuts are way too sweet.

                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Reston

                                                                                                                                                                                            Dunkin Donuts. I think the donuts are way too flavorless.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                              Back in the day, each store made their own. Around my way they are now made at some central location and brought in by van and something was lost in the process.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                I used to LOVE watching them make those donuts. My local DD had a window into the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                                  We still have our DD store that makes them fresh. They have that nice red sign that lights up when there's "Fresh Donuts." It's the only time I'll buy them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And KK's coffee beats DD's any day. They spent a LOT of money developing that coffee and it shows. No need to drown it in syrup or flavored cream. To quote Willy Loman, "This coffee is a meal in itself."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm not a huge fan of DD coffee either. To be honest, I like our local Quick Check's coffee pretty well!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Half the problem is stale coffe that sits getting baked on the warmer. Volume places like 7/11 and McDonalds do better fresh coffee than some speciality places.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Golden Corral. A mainstay of touristy Florida. You don't even get what you pay for. The only chain buffet that is even worse than Ponderosa.

                                                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                                                                                                              I haven't been to Golden Corral in years and have only been a few times but for some reason I remember their rolls being quite delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                that may have been Quincy's with the Big Soft Yeast Roll (their mascot was an anthropomorphized yeast roll) -- and yeah, they were darned tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I've never been to Quincy's but it was so long ago who knows. I remember big rolls which were quite shiny from I think a combination of a hefty egg wash and dose of butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think these are them...however, now I want to seek out this Quincy's place if their rolls are similar. I haven't seen a Golden Corral around in a very long time but I assume they still exist.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think Quincy's is long gone -- their rolls were oblong (but shiny and buttery and a little sweet)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Golden Corral is, as IndianRiver mentioned, a regular appearance in the Florida landscape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I remember eating at Bonanza Steakhouses when I was a kid, before the companies merged them with Ponderosa. I wonder if they operate the same today as they did back in the 70s when I was a kid. There are two of them in Minnesota now, but neither is convenient. As a kid, I liked eating at Bonanza but I don't think they were an all-you-can-eat buffett like Golden Corrall.

                                                                                                                                                                                                3. I read all the replies and I agree with all of them!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Hot Head Burritos - crappy Chipotle knock off, tasted awful and their signature sauces made it worse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Long John Silvers - way too much MSG and salt in their food

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Cracker Barrel - their food tastes too artificial, it all tastes like processed TV dinner stuff. I had their "brisket" once which looked nothing like the picture. It looked like pre-sliced lunch meat, had this really strong artificial smoke flavor and red food dye to give it a fake smoke ring. Disgusting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Atomic76

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hey Atomic, I just chimed in on your Hothead Burritos posting...we have a mutual loathing for it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cracker Barrel might be atrocious for other meals (don't have much experience with lunch or dinner there), but their breakfasts rock...they really do! At least we think so. Their breakfasts definitely have more flavor and seasoning than poor old bland Bob Evans. Just my .02 worth... :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Christine

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have only eaten at a Cracker Barrell a single time. I was the youngest in the group by 25 years. As I recall the breakfast was really good, but could easily feed two people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I seem to recall their chicken and dumplings getting good reviews, but I almost never order that kind of food while dining out. I prefer to make comfort food at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Christine

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I do enjoy their breakfast sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Atomic76

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chipotle is already so awful, yikes, I don't want to imagine a knockoff of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. Hot Head Burritos. (as posted already.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Claddagh Pub. (extraordinarily bad food in their Mason, Ohio location)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Arby's. A shell of a once fine fast food chain serving thinly sliced beef loaf and greasy fries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Outback. The service is terrible and the steaks are tasteless. A few months ago my family and I, there were four of us total, went to an Outback in Gastonia, NC. We waited 30 mins. before a waiter even acknowledged we were there. Then he continuously told us we should not have been seated in his area because he was already overwhelmed. I'm sorry but, that's not my problem. I didn't ask to be seated in his area and I didn't need to hear him mentioning this over and over. After we ordered we waited another 30 mins. to get our drinks and it was almost an hour before we got our order. I will never eat there again. Plus, our food was cold when he finally brought it to the table. What really made me even madder was the fact there were other waiters walking around chatting on their cellphones and goofing off. If he was so busy why didn't they help him? I did ask another waiter for a drink refill and he told me he couldn't do that because he was training a new employee. Did I mention I'll never go back there again?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: shlbycindy

                                                                                                                                                                                                              like all chains, this sort of things seems to vary by location.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sorry this happened to you...but I've had quite pleasant evenings at Outbacks in numerous other states. (I'm not a huge fan, but find myself there from time to time).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Outback sells a steak meal cheaper that a good steak house pays for their steak. If you like cheap cuts of injected steaks at a reasonable price, Outback is the place to go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  please re-read the part about "I'm not a huge fan".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When you're with friends or business associates, throwing a foodie-diva hissy fit is simply unacceptable and you need to suck it up and go with the flow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not only then but also when with the in-laws who think its the best thing since sliced bread :-) I spent mother's day at Ruby Tuesdays. Ha, HA Ha Ha, Ha Ha. Absolutely terrible, but smiled the whole time, even when paying the @*%^)# check.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yep. You gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Your situation is how I have ended up at Texas Roadhouse however the best thing at Outback is the bloomin' onion, not the steaks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: shlbycindy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We received a gift card to Outback. The waiter sat next to me in the booth to introduce himself. I'm sorry, I don't need another friend. The steak was overdone and otherwise unremarkable. Somone at our table ordered a seafood pasta for about $14 and it did not come with a salad. We have not been back. There are too many better restaurants, including most chains, that are better. I actually like Texas Roadhouse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But that's hilarious! He sat down with you??!!! Boy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: translucent

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sat next to you, did he ask you for a date? I took the wifeacita and MIL once and my prime rib was still mooing it was so rare. Not a bad piece of meat at all, not overcooked for sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "I actually like Texas Roadhouse."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now there's a place to which I will never return. Can't say anything about the food quality as the two times i attempted to eat there, I had to leave due to the extreme nose level before I ever placed my order. There won't be a third time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Clams047

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Please don't think this has anything to do with Texas, it's a chain out of Louisville. I've also read the noise is prohibitive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Clams047

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Whenever I have been there it has been early enough so the noise level was tolerable. Every time I have been there it has been with a group of six or more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The steaks are decent, the ribs are overcooked, and the warm rolls out of the oven with the honey-butter are too addicting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't like the "charbroiled" taste of steaks, aka open gas grills. TR will make me a ribeye on a diner type griddle, which is great. Have to specify light on the seasoning. That said, now that we moved away from chain land, haven't been back. But try this if you're in a pinch!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Clams047

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I like it too. It is a bit noisy, but if you live in an area like I do, and the steakhouse options within a 30 minute drive are limited to Texas Roadhouse, Outback, and Lonestar, Texas Roadhouse is the best option. We go there every couple months because SO likes the food, and I don't think the steaks are half bad. Sides are overly salty but that's pretty typical. And yes, those rolls w/ cinnamon honey crack butter are really good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sides at TR are terrible! So far the chili, the whole potatoes, and the broccoli are the only ones we have found to be even edible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Steak in under seasoned and you have to order rare to get anything remotely pink. We have found the strip steal to be the best.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I do have a sick love for the rattlesnake bites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I only ordered the chili once. It had way too much cumin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I did get an overcooked steak once. Fortunately, someone else at our table got what they thought was undercooked, so we traded (family member). Now, when I go with a group, I always order a steak 'on the rare side of medium rare' and it comes out fine. Yeah, they are a bit underseasoned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Clams047

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Texas Roadhouse is some circle of hell. The two times I was dragged there the insanely loud bad country music made me want to gouge out what little hearing I have left. Sitting/standing in a jam packed entryway with screaming children for an hour seemed like a strange trade for eating some bad chain food. Not impressed with any of their sides and detest their cinnamon butter that they seemed to try to sneak into everything including the baked sweet potato without asking or mentioning it on the menu. The steak seasoning is off putting. It reminds me of way too much Lawry's seasoning salt. Wasn't really impressed with the steak either. I can grill a better one at home and spare myself the two hour trip through hell.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: blackpointyboots

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have been to Texas Roadhouse probably ten times. The cinnamon butter and fresh hot rolls are really good. I order the 10 ounce ribeye, and although it's not the best steak, it's not bad for the price. I also order the salad and steak fries. Is it gourmet? No, but it is a good value, especially when somebody else is paying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: shlbycindy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I used to like Outback, at least when I was on the road and had to find something edible off the interstates. But the past couple years it has seriously gone downhill. I was just in one location for lunch and after being ignored endlessly sitting at the bar, finally got in my order for the Chicken-Artichoke Flatbread and it was pathetic: served lukewarm with a broken crust that was basically inedible anyway as it was as tough as cardboard. Never again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Taiwanese street market. The worst in the world, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The only things I ever want in Taiwan are sweet potato milk and pumpkin milk, and those aren't exactly limited to Formosa either.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have never been to Taiwan, I've only seen guys like Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain walk the markets in Taipei. I do have a high school buddy who moved there over 20 years ago and he even has a Chinese wife. He was telling me once about the noodles from the street vendors and he made it sound pretty tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Red Lobster… Their only saving grace is the cheddar bay biscuits, those set aside and their "opulent" selections that seemed so "gourmet" in the 90's, are now overpriced, dried out. And thats not even touching on their sustainability practices and water sources.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. After seeing the nasty fast food employees in viral internet pictures performing disgusting acts on foodstuffs or restaurant equipment, I don't care if I never set foot in one of those establishments again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Applebee's, TGI Friday, never been to a Ruby Tuesday

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: laliz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Your not missing anything at Ruby Tuesday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Disagree. You're missing the Bubblegum Mugaritas and the violent, explosive diarrhea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One can only hope to make it home before it sets in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm trying to think of a way in which Bubblegum Mugaritas could sound appetizing....nope...I got nothin'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I never heard of one until Monkey mentioned it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Costco. Regardless of time of day, whenever I set foot through the door, all the cashiers would be open with nobody in line. By the time I was ready to check out, 3/4 were gone and the lines would snake towards the back of the store. Every. Single. Time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          this happens to me at darned near any place that has a cash register.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You've stumbled onto another of the irrefutable laws of the universe, similar to why you never get the same number of sock out of the dryer as you put in....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd agree with costco. My spouse has had a paid card revoked twice by some idiot. Oh it was just an 'Error'. And the whole checking if your stealilng while you leave just gives me a bad taste in my mouth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd add Trader Joes. Just so darn medicore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: NekoNekoFancyPants

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, I never understood the brand loyalty, but I can't remember the last time I bought frozen dumplings. City folks love them some Trader Joes, particularly in "food deserts" where your only options are the corner bodega or a lousy national chain. In that case, "mediocre" is the new "outstanding."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                city folks find trader joe's in food deserts? where in DC is that true? there is a grand total of ONE in d.c.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Honestly, I don't think there are any fast food places or chains that I would really miss if they disappeared.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't mind going to one... I'll find something to eat and be happy to be out with friends.... but the food is generally stuff I would happily live without.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. McDonald's because they have a drive thru window.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Firegoat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They call it drive thru, but they don't really mean it. They hope you drive by. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tzurriz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Red Lobster. Why do my friends and family love it so much?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Goatjunky

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's probably the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, and I haven't been to a Red Lobster since about 2001.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Goatjunky

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My crew feels the same way about Olive Garden. When I visit, and it's special dinner time, someone will come up with "let's go to OG". Don't they see the sadness come into my eyes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ugh! So bad. And the wait time is 2 hours here. I think I would rather eat at McD's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Goatjunky

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Depends on if you live in a seafood desert. Quality seems to be better in a landlocked state.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. In 'n Out. Never have understood the hype.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Having suffered through meals at places like TGI Friday's, Buca di Beppo, Applebee's, Chipotle (organic, sensibly-sourced but bland and gummy and dull), Buffalo Wild Wings (just plain BAD), etc., I thought that I had finished my tour through the Worst of America's Chain Restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And then I ate at a Joe's Crab Shack last night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ATROCIOUS. Maybe the worst chain-restaurant meal I've ever had.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      First of all: Even on a Wednesday, what kind of chain restaurant with full bar HAS NO BARTENDER at any time while the doors are open?!? The servers were pouring drinks. At a rather slow pace. AND they ran out of wine glasses and served our BV Pinot Noir (dull wine list BTW) in large Manhattan glasses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then the food was just terrible. Even for a chain. Gloppy "crab dip" that didn't seem to actually have even a shred of crab in it. Flavorless fried calamari served with tiny amounts of indifferent cocktail and tartar sauces. The Great Balls of Fire-- basically fritters with jalapeño pieces and, in theory, shrimp and crab (again, none that could be detected)-- were utterly forgettable carb-bombs. My crab cakes' overall taste profile was "SALT and Old Crab and SALT"; the remoulade sauce was essentially an overly horseradish-laden mix of their indifferent cocktail and tartar sauces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What a travesty. Who in the world could think that this is even acceptable eating?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The exact words out of my mouth when my husband and I got home were: "Well, that's one place we never have to go to again, hmmm?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      He had wanted to check it out as a possible Happy Hour hangout for him and his co-workers. Last night's experience struck it of that list forever. Incredibly horrible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      CONCLUSION: I do not like Joe's Crab Shack. It is pathetically bad. Stay away at all costs. The end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yup. That's Joe's Crap Shack alright. I've been unfortunate enough to have been to two of them (Sterling and Tampa) and they were identically horrible. Surly servers, deafening music, rock hard benches, weak drinks, buckets of steamed frozen seafood that smelled of ammonia. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Totally local, but Spring Rolls. Bland pan-Asian cuisine at inflated prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My husband was craving chinese food and dragged me to P.F. Changs (my first and last time there, I hope!). I ordered something miserable with beef, hubby got misery with chicken. It took half way through the meal to realize we had switched entrees. The mystery meat and chicken were indistinguishable from each other In taste, just a slight difference in color. Ugh!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: thingmaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              i've only been once to pf chang's, but my dish was excellent -- beef a la sichuan. the meat quality was good, the vegetables crispy, and the tasty sauce lightly applied.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              we have too many real chinese places to go around here, and even better thai and vietnamese, but i don't sniff about p.f. chang's (because of my vast experience there. LOL).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Whole Foods. Overpriced and pretentious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: justicenow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't find the pretense there. Seems pretty straight- forward albeit pricey. Though I bypass the hot food items, I find their sushi to be delicious. Great selection of cheeses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree. Whole Foods while pricey and not for everyone does have many high quality products all under one roof which for many is both convenient and economical vs driving from one small specialty store to another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Love it. I skip the hot foods. Great soup, salads, cheese and packaged store-made foods like hummus, salsa, guacamole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: globocity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pretentiousness = $10 jars of free range, cruelty free artisanal pickles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Are they tucked in at night and read a story like the steer?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: justicenow

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think the pretention level depends on which store you go to. The one in East Pasadena has customers in "come as you are" clothes, and the one in West Pasadena on Arroyo Parkway (?) has customers dressed like glamorous movie stars, and an actual escalator for shopping carts parallel to the escalator that you stand on. It feels very Rodeo Drive ish. But The East Pasadena one, although definitely overpriced, is still in the same parking lot as Sears and shares the general feeling of just plain regular people getting something for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: translucent

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sounds like the people are pretentious. Not WF. You can say that about a lot of places; the neighborhood or SES (socioeconomic status) determines the attitude of a store/shop.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm not WF's biggest fan but I do appreciate it for the convenience (closer to me than many other shops), unique food items, and sushi, cheese, wine selection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. A cheap sushi joint called

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Captain Blowchunks Discount Seafood Outlet and AYCE Sushi Bar. . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ...the horror was simply beyond description. Avoid at any cost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Why would an eating place be called Captain Vomit's?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: translucent

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Let's just say that it might as well be called that. But Captain Blowchunks has a sort of pirate/nautical ring to it that I like.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Besides, it only exists in my imagination, serving dishes called White Guy Rolls, Monster Truck Rolls, and Asian Lady Fantasy Te-maki. It's the sushi place serving oversauced and overspiced fish way beyond its freshness date. It's my worst sushi nightmare.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. ... in a KFC. Sorry guys, I don't like it at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Trader Joe's - it's just not worth going in there anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But will you set foot in a Trader Joe's Chowhound thread? There are about a dozen right now to choose from.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: globocity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ha! No, if I don't go to TJ's then I have no opinion on their products.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When you say "anymore", you are implying that something has changed. What is it that's different for you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have moved on from dislike of TJ's , let's leave it at that. I don't want to start of sh*tstorm of TJ haters vs. lovers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I don't go there either...never really saw the appeal. Ours is always stupid-busy, though. I guess my real problem with it is that I can't do a whole food shop there. Yes...they have some good stuff, but some of the basics (at least **my** basics) are missing. I don't want to have to go to two grocery stores to get it all done!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Longhorn, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, any Darden restaurant- The quality at these places is so low, and the prices are high. I was dragged to Longhorn a few weeks ago for the first time and everything was just dreadful. The soup, salad, entree, appetizer, they were are all horrible. Darden restaurants all have the nastiest sauces, especially the "seafood" sauces. Ever had imitation bacon flavor? That's what their "seafood" sauces taste like, except for seafood. When I worked at Olive Garden I read the ingredients for their "butter" sauce. It comes as a dry mix that they stir water into. There was no butter in it and only traces of dairy products. It consisted almost SOLELY of things like maltodextrin, canola oil, modified food starch, etc. with natural and artificial flavors. It tastes like the artificial butter flavoring people put on popcorn. Nasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Applebee's- their entrees taste worse than $6 skillet entrees from the grocery store. I'm not kidding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Subway- bland, slimy meat, stale bread, and way too much bread compared to everything else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ruby Tuesday- I can look at their menu for 4 hours and not find anything I want to eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                McDonalds- rubbery "meat", especially the breakfast sausage. If you compress it with your fingers and let go it expands to the same size it was before. Low quality everything, menu stuck in the 50s. Except for when the out-of-touch Boomers in charge come out with new items like Caesar wraps that they mistakenly think the millennials will want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Penn Station- bland, boring, only have white bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Chipotle, Qdoba, Moe's Southwest Grill- Chipotle is a lot better than the other two, but they're basically high end Taco Bell. You can eat at a real Mexican restaurant for the same price.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Five Guys- extremely overpriced for inexpensive fast food. I ate there one time and it was $12 for a burger, fries, and a coke. And it took about 15 minutes. The burgers are good but not exceptional, fries are soggy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Outback- The last 3 times I've eaten there (gift cards) I swore I would never go back. I'm serious this time. If anyone gives me a gift card I'm trading it in online for one to somewhere else. I would sell a $50 outback gift card for $15 before I would eat there again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Long John Silvers- One meal with 33 grams of trans fat? Why are they trying to kill what few customers they have left? Most of them are 60+ already.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Burger King- every time I drive by one I'm amazed they're still in business

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Arby's- Overpriced, the "roast beef" comes in as some weird gelatinous mass. Pretty gross.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Panera- They try to pass their food off as being high quality and fresh, but it isn't. The sandwiches are similar to the ones found in plastic wrap in gas station coolers. The soup comes frozen in plastic bags that they put in a water bath to heat, and they taste like Campbell's (although I'll admit the butternut squash one is pretty good). The portions are small and overpriced. Now they have tiny pasta TV dinners that they microwave and then hand to you for $8.50? I can microwave my own TV dinner, thank you. Not to mention they're a complete zoo much of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: StringerBell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I absolutely agree with you regarding Darden restaurants except for one brand that is really pretty good...Eddie V's (and Wildfish which is pretty much the same). We've had pretty consistently very good meals at Eddie V's in La Jolla and Wildfish in Newport Beach (nothin CA).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maybe I shouldn't have said any Darden restaurant, since I haven't eaten at a few of them. Eddie V's online menu sounds pretty good. Darden has only owned them for 2 years though, hopefully they won't steadily lower the quality and raise the prices like they've been doing at their bigger restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When I worked at Olive Garden it was a constant downhill slide in quality. A lot of the sauces the prep people used to make, then they started coming pre-made from the factory in bags to reduce prep hours. Or it's a dry mix that they mix with water. They used to make the stuffed mushroom stuffing fresh with clams, cheese, fresh parsley, bread crumbs, etc., then they switched to getting frozen bags of pellets that looked like tater tots. Just stick one in the mushroom and let it thaw. The spinach dip comes frozen in bricks. Yellow soybean oil-based goop with artificial butter flavor goes on all kinds of things, bread sticks, vegetables, stuffed mushrooms, etc. They constantly came out with "new" sauces that were just alfredo mixed with something else. The "roasted" potatoes are just frozen potatoes they drop in the frier for a few minutes. The "roasted" chicken for the never ending pasta ball came frozen in huge bricks and smelled like canned tuna. Meanwhile the prices went up and up and up, much faster than inflation. I find it funny that as their same-store sales continue to fall the CEO points the finger at everyone but himself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: StringerBell

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I agree the quality of the chains was never the best and has certainly gone down hill in many cases. I don't know that I agree about the cost though in many cases, especially with the specials and the coupons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I know food quality and top quality steak or seafood is in the minority in terms of quantity from the purveyors and high in terms of cost. As you alluded to, if anybody thinks they are getting high quality at the chains they need to re-think food costs as a % of menu price.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Your not getting top quality beef or wild caught cold water shrimp at the average chain. It just can't be done at the menu prices they offer. For many though, for many reasons, its acceptable. I happen to NOT be one of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Tom34

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        High quality ingredients don't have to be expensive ingredients though. I can usually go to local places and leave feeling like I got what I paid for, whether it's $8-15 for a meal or $30+. I leave places like Outback and Olive Garden feeling like I got robbed. Price is all relative to what you're getting, and the food at chains is usually neither good quality nor cheap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I posted here some time ago that I didn't care if I ever set foot again in a Trader Joe's. Well, last Friday one opened about 5 miles from my house.