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Which Chains Do You Respect?

I understand that for many Hounds eating in a chain resto is infra dignitum, but there are doubtless many others on the board who sometimes patronize chains and even enjoy the experience. So here's a thread to confess your fealty to certain chains.

I respect the following:

Whataburger (a very good Texas burger chain)

Johnny Carino's (a very well conceived, creative and expertly managed Italian chain)

Subway (I like the BMT on wheat with lettuce, onions and ranch dressing. I add fresh parm at home.)

Firehouse (Another sandwich chain. Kind of expensive, but they make a corned beef and pastrami extravaganza called the New York Steamer that is worth the money.)

McDonald's (I've been known to grab a Quarterpounder with cheese and a large order of fries.)

Popeye's (dam' good fried chicken and biscuits)

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  1. I really don't respect any of them. I live in a suburb surrounded by chains and you have to really drive awhile to get good, non-chain food and we are always getting stuff from the chains for takeout just because it's convenient and always being disappointed. I do like Popeye's chicken but I try to save that for very rare occasions as that's a lot of fat and salt, and same goes for Long John Silver's food - if it's prepared fresh I think it's great at satisfying a craving for salt, fat and protein. I guess I also think Jimmy John's is good but their complete lack of any salads at all makes it also only a very occasional choice (I like the Vito). Again, the fat and salt in most of this food just makes it a lose-lose for me. I was forced to go to OG with some friends while visiting them out of state recently and after spending eons looking at the menu, actually had a fairly decent tasting meal of cheese tortolloni with spinach and cream and a breaded, fried pork chop. I got home and looked up the nutrition information and about died - it was like salt for 2 days, fat for 1.5 days, just in that 1 meal! I used to like some of it, like Macaroni Grill, but they've all cheapened their food so much that everything tastes the same. It's just not worth the money, or the calories/fat most of the time.

    I just spent 3 hours cooking yesterday so we would have something for Every. Single. Night. this week and not have to get mediocre takeout again.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1

      Do Alladins and Swensons count as chains?
      I do agree with you about LJS being a guilty pleasure and I want to try Popeyes but the closest location is 20 minutes away. Ive heard Jimmy Johns ads but there are no local locations for me.

      Backyard burgers were great but they appear to have closed. I will stop at McDonalds for fish sandwich during Lent but except for their coffee I don't eat their food the rest of the year.

      1. re: Kelli2006

        We have a few Backyard Burgers where I am, and all of the locations are good. Great burgers, great grilled chicken sandwiches and good drink specials.

    2. When out of my area in my travels, I will stop at the following places

      Morton's
      Ruth's Chris
      Capital Grill
      In-N-Out
      Del Taco
      Carl's
      California Pizza
      PF Chang's
      Chick-Fil-A
      Carrabba's
      Famous Dave's
      Cracker Barrel
      Steak and Shake
      Bonefish
      Hooter's
      Huddle House
      Chili's
      Outback

      In my area I will go to :

      Houston's
      The Cheesecake Factory
      Rosa Mexicano
      Legal Sea Foods
      McCormick and Schmick;s
      The Grand Lux Cafe
      Popeye's
      McDonald's
      Burger King
      KFC/Taco Bell
      SmashBurger
      Fuddrucker's
      Bobby Flay's Burger Palace

      I'm sure there are others on both lists, but these came easily to mind......which reminds me ....The McRib is available again today.....I'll have to stop by Mcdonald's.

      1 Reply
      1. re: fourunder

        Agreed on Chick-Fil-A. The original chicken sandwich is borderline addictive and the waffle fries are also pretty good.

      2. Most chains are awful, but in my opinion, these are good.

        Panera Bread
        COSI
        5 Guys

        1. I respect In-N-Out because they pay their employees a living wage.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ricepad

            Excuse me?

            Most chains pay a "living wage" as defined by the LA County ordinance, not just In-N-Out.

            And outside of LA, most local officials have not passed laws defining what a "living wage" is.

            In-N-Out is great, and generally has a very employee-friendly corporate culture, but to think that they are the *only* ones out there with that business model is a bit short-sighted.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              The LA Living Wage Ordinance doesn't apply to restaurant workers. It applies to city contracted employees.

              Restaurant workers would typically get the statewide $8/hr. In N Out starts at around $10, I believe.

          2. I respect all chains, because if they weren't doing something right (either business-wise or food-wise) they would not be around to proliferate like mushrooms after a spring storm.