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Cheesecake Factory--What to order?

I know that the Cheesecake Factory is a chain and therefore repulsive to many on this board. But I love food and happen to love the Cheesecake Factory. We have none in Michigan but enjoy them in our travels to Chicago, Las Vegas and Ft Lauderdale.
Love most of their soups and salads, sandwiches and pastas. Especially like the chicken madiera and the wonderful mashed potatoes and gravy. Will be enjoying the Vegas location next week.
My dilemna is this: the menu is so big--there's so many choices and so little time.
What's your favorite?

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  1. I usually only go to The Cheesecake Factory for lunch, so I can tell you all the salads are inviting, fresh and enough for two to share. The dressings are a little sweet and heavy normally for my tastes, but for a change, I do not mind them at all. I usualy order the Chinese Chicken, Sante Fe or Cobb Salads and have never been disappointed.

    As for appetizers, they all sound great, but some fall short of delivery in their seasonings. I would caution you against them persuading you into ordering a combination of hot apps. These are the ones I feel are only mediocre. The Fire Roasted Artichoke and Lettuce Wraps are fun items if you do not mind eating with your hands.

    I've never had, but my son loves the Tons of Fun Burger....it's a quality version of the Mac Donalds Big Mac. I normally never order chicken dishes, but I like the way the CF does their Roast Chicken and Sautee Breast dishes. I believe their chicken is organic only if that is important to you.

    It's one of the better chain restaurants in my opinion. They also have a concept called The Grand Lux Cafe...a little nicer with the same kind of menu....only smaller.

    6 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      Fourunder, thanks for your help. I have also enjoyed the Grand Lux Cafe in Vegas.

      1. re: SASSYMI2


        I've never had the Chicken Madeira @ CF, but I have tasted it @ Grand Lux........

        They make it better than any Italian Restaurant I have ever had it in NY and NJ and that's some pretty big shoes to fill. The one dinner I do remember having, I ordered the Barbecued Beef Ribs. My recommendation is to pass on them.

        Enjoy and good luck

        1. re: fourunder

          I hear you about the BEEF RIBS..
          I've had them twice; the 1st time I really liked them, then I had them months later, thought they were pretty decent, but not worth the 25 bucks or so...

      2. re: fourunder

        I love the TONS OF FUN burger, as well !!
        Like you said, it's a "quality version of a Big Mac"...

        1. re: ellen4441

          I haven't been to the Cheesecake Factory in a while, but my nephew recently went and said the Tons Fun Burger was no longer on the menu. If that's so, hopefully they will make it on special request.

          1. re: fourunder

            oh no, that sux !!
            I hate when a place takes a fav. item of mine off the menu...
            (often that's the case when I notice "beef" ribs are extinct from a menu, due to low demand)

            I was pissed when Damon's took their 1/2 chicken off the menu for awhile..

      3. I've only eaten there once but I had a salad and enjoyed it.
        from the menu:

        Mixed Greens, Grilled Asparagus, Fresh Beets, Goat Cheese and Candied Pecans

        I found this on the appetizer salad menu but as I recall, it was large enough that 2 of us split it and then each had a dessert. Plenty.

        1. I've been there a few times, and I can say that for an app, I really dig the "Tex-Mex Egg Rolls." Other than that, I can't say anything I've had was good, but those t-mex egg rolls were crave worthy. If they are still on the menu, get em!

          1. shepard's pie!! it's really the most deliciously seasoned version i've ever had. i find the "traditional" version rather bland. cheesecake factory adds lots of nice savory spices, a good medley of veggies, and great potatoes. it also has a nice rosemary flavor that is very comforting. this dish is the only reasons i go.

            1. Chicken potstickers, buffalo blasts....and pretty much anything they have for dessert. I'm partial to the Coconut Cream Pie Cheesecake.

              1. Whenever I go there I always order their Bang Bang chicken and shrimp - a Thai dish with a peanut / curry type taste. Sweet not that spicy.

                1. thai lettuce wraps. it's not like it's really thai food but they are SO good. i crave the cheesecake factory a few times a year just for that dish.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: AMFM

                    yes yes yes LOVE the thai lettuce wraps, although they in no way resemble the authentic dish, they are in a league of their own.
                    the french country salad is also great, try the tortilla ckincken rolls the corn cakes are to die for.

                    1. re: AMFM

                      I think that's my favorite CF thing, too. The sauces are just a wee too sweet and sticky for me, but nothing a squeeze of citrus can't fix. I'll pass on their cheesecake, though. Heavy and cloying.

                    2. I like the avocado egg rolls and the sweet corn tamale cakes. I crave both of those, but rarely make it to Cheesecake Factory. Both are appetizers.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: alliebear

                        I am right there with you - those two are awesome.

                      2. I think you should definately try the eggplant burger...it has only veggies,no actual burger inside but once you taste this one you won't care!!!

                        1. I cannot get past the Louisian Chicken Pasta...I've had little else because the pasta is so good, but the other things I have had, were quite tasty as well..just couldn't compare for me. And even though I am so full by the time I get done with this massive amount of carbs..I always have to have Cheesecake & that is most always The Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake...
                          Buffalo Blasts as an appetizer or sweet corn cakes are awesome just as well...yummmm

                          1. The Cobb Salad is hard to beat.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: rockawayguy

                              We never order apps. We love all the pastas. Pasta da vinci, the thai pasta, the Lousiana chicken pasta. And of course, the regular cheesecake.

                              1. re: jes

                                another vote for meatloaf. I don't care for cheesecake, but I love the Cheesecake Factory ~~ for their food. The salads are great too.

                                1. re: laliz

                                  A third for the meatloaf, which I've had as an open-faced sandwich topped with fried onion strings and gravy, accompanied by mashed potatoes and a veg. Almost as good as mom's!

                                  The time I had that, two ladies at the next table were sharing a single order of fish tacos - or perhaps it was billed as fish taco salad. A huge platter with lots of chopped salad; even with two people eating it, they couldn't finish, but were raving about it to the other people at their table.

                                1. re: Jacey

                                  and maybe we should lock our doors, rely on our home garden (and perhaps cow/pig/chicken), and never leave the house again!!!!!

                                  news flash - chain food has high calories and is heavy in fat/salt/sugar.

                                  but sometimes it's delicious.

                                  1. re: bu dat

                                    These numbers are obscene though.

                                    1. re: Jacey

                                      Agree. And if you were used to eating from your home garden, chicken and perhaps pig, you might not find the overload of fat/salt/sugar so delicious.

                                      1. re: Jacey

                                        YUP! that's why it's such a treat. keep in mind that an entree can easily feed three reasonable people, or make three meals for one.

                                    2. re: Jacey

                                      what i found interesting though here wasn't how bad things were - i'd guessed that! :) but which things were surprisingly NOT bad. might make me try some different things if i'm there again. thanks for posting.

                                    3. I don't frequent chain restaurants on a regular basis, but the Cheesecake Factory has a nightly special in their bar until 6 p.m. that can't be beat. They have a special price on appetizers, typically about 1/2 of the usual price for a full serving. There is no requirement to buy a drink and their bar doesn't feel like a "bar". I go sometimes with another friend and we order 2 iced teas and 4 appetizers (way too much food - always have take home bag). It usually comes to between $20-23 with tax and tip. You can't beat that these days. Like the avocado egg rolls, the cesar salad, the mini cheeseburgers and quesadillas.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                        Cheeseburger is pretty good. Nice char taste. Normal size too like the Factory Burger is one I know of off the top of my head, I mean unless you order one of their gazunta ones. Can't think of a name cause I never have. Guess you might want a gazunta one if your high. Yea, this is exactly the kind of place to go if your blazed out of your mind...

                                      2. I'm a fan of the Crusted Chicken Romano. For cheesecake, my vote is the Chocolate Coconut Cream or the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: toopickytobeafoodie

                                          They took the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough cheesecake off the menu :( but i LOVE their tuxedo AND their Adam's PB Fudge Ripple. Their newest one looks great too its Reeses... yum... I recommend Buffalo Blasts, Tex Egg rolls and the Shrimp scampi (tell them very LITTLE garlic or else it tastes terrible!) and chicken medeira. also BEEF RIBS mmmm.

                                        2. I'm asking this quite seriously. What makes this different than Denny's other than higher prices, larger portions, booze and nicer ambiance?

                                          My husband was going to take me to a Mexican restaurant for my birthday when his friend talked him into the Cheesecake Factory. To say the surprised look on my face was authentic, was an understatement. However they were both almost giddy with glee about taking me to this wonderful place. So what can you do if the gift is with love. We went.

                                          I can see the appeal of the place, especially if you have kids. The friend and family order something new from the menu on each visit so they know everything on the menu.

                                          Some of their recs for the best choices were the shrimp scampi, chicken Madeira and Chinese chicken salad.

                                          Of all those, the only dish that rose above average was the Chinese chicken salad.

                                          The chicken Madeira which I had was fine, but nothing I'd order a second time. It was a decent enough chicken breast with melted cheese on top, an ok, but forgettable, generic sauce with a few canned mushroom slices.The asaragus spears are ok. It is hard to mess with fresh asparagus. The two huge scoops of lumpy mashed potatoes with bits of skin are fine. They aren't instant potatoes. Points for that. I'll bet though they are delivered to the restaurant in big pre-made containers from whatever Sysco-like kitchen CF has.

                                          I had one of the shrimp in the scampi. Again, it was average.

                                          There were never ending baskets of bread, one white and one honey wheat. They tasted just like the frozen unbaked loaves you can buy in a supermarket and finish in your oven at home. Soft with a thin crust and no character.,

                                          The light rice noodles in the Chinese chicken salad I liked a lot. This was such a huge salad that six of us were given a little bread plate full of salad to try and the person who ordered this still had more than a huge portion left.

                                          While I thought this was the best dish, when I just looked up the description, I had no clude some of that stuff was in the salad. The taste didn't come through.

                                          "Sliced Chicken Breast, Rice Noodles, Lettuce, Green Onions, Almonds, Crisp Wontons, Bean Sprouts, Orange and Sesame Seeds. Tossed in Our Special Chinese Plum Dressing."

                                          Seriously ... sesame seeds? I noted innocuous chicken, orange pieces, lettuce and crispy wontons explains what that other crunchy thing was. The rest just added crunch without adding flavor punch.

                                          My husband is a working class guy. He doesn't often go out to restaurants other than mom and pop type places. However, from what I bring home, he zeroes in on top-quality food, so he has the heart of a Chowhound. He has loved being introduced to artisan bread, wonderful baked goods, top-class take out, etc. When we go to a mom and pop, I know he is going to be selecting amazing food.

                                          He had never been to Cheesecake Factory before. He is never the type to say anything bad about food. It made learning his likes and dislikes challenging. If he liked something it was gone ... quick. If he didn't, it hung around the house forever.

                                          From the polite look on his face, I was reading he wasn't all that impressed. He only ate half of his meal and took the rest home. We'll see how long it sits in the fridge.

                                          The friend loves that Cheecake Factory shrimp scampi. I'm now going to have to seek out the best version at a real Italian restaurant and introduce him to a superlative version.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: rworange

                                            rw- i think you're from my area- sacramento? which mexican place did you not get to go to on your birthday ?? :(

                                            1. re: toncasmo

                                              Nope. San Francisco ... actually East Bay. Don't know. All he said the day before was would I like to go out for Mexican. This Cheecake Factory was in Corte Madera which is Marin County, nearish Sausalito.

                                          2. "I'm asking this quite seriously. What makes this different than Denny's other than higher prices, larger portions, booze and nicer ambiance?"

                                            Seriously? you mean other than the higher prices, larger portions, nicer ambiance, completely different menus and concept, the fact they serve alcohol, the fact that Dennys is primeraly know as a breakfast place/diner food, & better food quality.......well I guess they are exactly the same......they both serve food......then again so does McDonalds so I guess they are the same as well?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. while I try to avoid chains as much as possible...this is the only "American" place that my parents oddly enough like to go to and so I must occasionally endure the long wait and low yummy/price ratio. I guess it somehow fits the Korean palate. When we go we like to order the miso salmon (AVOID the white sauce like the plague!), lettuce cups, santa fe salad, appetizer sampler, jamaican black pepper shrimp, shepherds pie and meatloaf. Avoid the burgers,chops, and pastas, especially the much lauded jambalaya

                                              1. I'll go here with co-workers for lunch sometimes. I'll usually order the Navajo chicken sandwich and eat half of it.

                                                Navajo Chicken: Warm Fry-Bread Stuffed with Grilled Chicken, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion and Mayonnaise. Served with (too many)French Fries

                                                1. I've never been to CF, but remember seeing this video of food author, Michael Ruhlman taking the "CF challenge". I guess the miso salmon would be on the top of my list... http://blog.ruhlman.com/ruhlmancom/20...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: caviarczar

                                                    Was just at the CF for a friend's birthday. Tried the wasabi crusted ahi tuna. The fish itself was pretty decent but the sauce was weird (did not go at all w/ the fish. it looks like the same sauce from the Ruhlman video...possible they use the same awful sauce for all their fish dishes regardless if it goes well or not) and the wasabi crust was kinda soggy. I think I'll stick to their salads. I also like their shrimp and bacon club but it's often very greasy.

                                                  2. I tried the caramel chicken and the vietnamese summer rolls last time I went and I really enjoyed both dishes. I was never really underwhelmed except for once when I had the avocado egg rolss...not really my thing.

                                                    1. morning quesadilla is a great brunch dish

                                                      1. Disclaimer: I do believe that not all Cheesecake Factories are created equal. I have on occasion gotten the same dish at 2 different locations and found one to be excellent and the other ...not-so-excellent. It must depend on the cook, I suppose.

                                                        I love their Chicken Costoletta - thin steaks of breaded chicken covered with a lemon-caper sauce. And I love their dirty garlic mashed potatoes (usually). And of course a glass of their super-sweet but wonderful Raspberry Lemonade.
                                                        I also enjoy the Crispy Spicy Beef. Strips of breaded beef with a sweet and spicy sauce sauted with veggies and mushrooms.
                                                        My friend is a big fan of the Navajo Sandwich and the Chicken Madeira. I'm not a Chicken Madeira fan, so I can't say how it compares to others.
                                                        If all else fails, you generally can't go wrong with their salads. I like the Beets and Goat Cheese salad (and I didn't think I liked goat cheese!)
                                                        I'd skip the Fried Calamari, however.
                                                        Been eating at the Cheesecake Factory for years...
                                                        I'm very picky about my food (not snooty, though) and I generally find something I like at the CF.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: KDeeA

                                                          I also love their meatloaf. They use to have a sandwich on sour dough bread with fried onions as a side dish. They only have the platter now. Last time I was a t Cheesecake , I had Steak Diane and Salmon as a combo. Also ver good. I like the tiramiso Cheesecake

                                                        2. try the Chicken and Biscuits - to me it was heavenly but way too much food. It's like chicken pot pie without the pie but with biscuits on top. Seasoned smashed spuds go with it.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: smartie

                                                            but I found out that it's like a whopping 1400 calories

                                                          2. the red velvet cheesecake was pretty outstanding!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: pickychicky1979

                                                              I had that the last time I went....yes...so good

                                                            2. My favorites would be:

                                                              Chicken with Fettucine & Sundried Tomatoes - my staple at Cheesecake Factory for years now

                                                              California Cheesesteak sandwich - really quite good

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: HastaLaPasta

                                                                they both sound delish, HastaLaPasta!!

                                                              2. My favorite by far is the Fettuccini with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. It's not made with a cream sauce (although it tastes like it is) and it is delicious. There is plenty to take home for the next day and it heats up wonderfully. For dessert, try dulce de leche cheesecake. I promise, your tummy will thank you!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. i agree with all of the different view points on here, there's something for everyone at CF but also a lot to be turned off by. It also does vary by location, and sometimes even consistency is bad at the same location. Also, most of my servers there have been terrible and there is always a long wait. We would probably go more often if not for this, and the fact that it is $$ and not very healthy...
                                                                  but anyhoo, when their fries are good, they are very good. I like the eggplant sandwich but did feel it was heavy even with the sauce on teh side. I also ask for no salt added because G-d knows the stuff that's bought pre-made already has plenty of salt. Ok so my husband and his family love the place.
                                                                  Not to sound like a lush, but I think our all time favorite item there is the Malibu Colada, no longer on the menu, but you can still order it. it is a higher alchool version of Pina Colada made with Malibu rum. their normal pina colada tastes like it has no alcohol so it's equivalent to drinking a milkshake. some of their other drinks look really good as well.
                                                                  their chicken potstickers are 4 stars, and perhaps their lettuce wraps the first few times you have them. i also like this dish from their smaller plates menu chicken romano? that is just chicken cutlet served over pesto pasta (a light pesto) and topped with prosciutto and arugula. ask for no salt!