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Regional/National Chain Restaurants - Metro Detroit

Just for fun, and not because I would encourage chains over local offerings (but we all visit them from time to time) --- What is your favorite regional or national (not just local) chain restaurant, having a location in the Metro Detroit area?

My nomination is Troy's McCormick & Schmick. Fresh fish, "solid all around," plus reasonable prices and a basic classiness about it, without being exclusive. Not perfect, but on my rotation.

I'm pretty sure we could get a nomination for P.F. Chang's and/or J. Alexander's. We're talkin' chains. Not the love of your life. So, don't be ashamed.

McCormick & Schmicks
2850 Coolidge Hwy, Troy, MI 48084

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  1. j alexander's
    red robin
    buffalo wild wings
    panerra (wife & kids like it, i don't)

    2 Replies
    1. re: xman887

      :-) You have to admit that we'd be a bit worse off if Panera just disappeared. Kind of like Starbucks.

      PS--- Part 2 of the Question: Are there any chains we DON'T have that you wish we did have?

      1. re: vtombrown

        Oh, dude: Part 2 is *painfully* easy.

        Chick-Fil-A. Without hesitation.

    2. Breakfast: The only reason I'll visit a McDonald's:
      - Breakfast burrito
      - Coffee
      - Restroom

      Wendy's: Broiled chicken sandwich
      Subway (various)

      Legal seafood

      Part II:
      Legal seafood


      For a friend who is trying to visit ALL Chik-Fil-A locations; I have created
      a waypoint file for Garmin GPSs. You want?

      1 Reply
      1. re: rainsux

        Thanks, but no, RS. I'm not a Garmin user, and CFA tends to be something that I go colossal on when I'm near one.

      2. The occasional Steak n Shake lunch

        National Coney Island (yes I know not everyone's a fan but I do like them...once every 4-6 months!)

        Does Red Coat count since there are two of them now :)

        3 Replies
        1. re: coney with everything

          +1 on Steak n Shake. Their butter burgers are amazing. In the same vein, let me add Culver's to the list.

          For Part 2 of the question:
          -- Zaxby's and/or Raising Cane's
          -- Nando's
          -- Zippy's (a Hawaii/California chain)

          1. re: coney with everything

            How did I not know there are two Red Coats? Where is the second one located?

            1. re: Jack Freeman

              Redcoat #2 is located in what was Zinc Brasserie in West Bloomfield, on Orchard Lake Road. Same family owned both, but they decided that they were going to concentrate on the Redcoat branding, and try to expand it.

              Zinc Brasserie
              142 Columbus Ave, Sandusky, OH 44870

          2. Not everything at Chili's is edible, but some combination of the chili itself, the mustard slaw, a Caesar salad, one of the burgers with guacamole on it, and Sam Adams beer is decent for chain food. I also enjoy that I can go in there at 10 to eat and not feel like I'm being hustled out.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jim M

              I agree with you on their Old Timer (burger), and you're also right about their hours.


              Jersey Giant Subs (Mainly Lansing plus one in Woodhaven)

              On the real Small Chain front...2 store fronts or so

              Telway Burgers - BTW Check This Out http://www.agilitynut.com/eateries/mi...
              Breakfast Club

              Jersey Giant
              2900 N Williamston Rd, Williamston, MI 48895

              2 Replies
              1. re: JanPrimus

                Which Breakfast Club location do you go to Jan? We love Breakfast Club but have noticed recently that the Madison Heights location has been having some issues. We ate there dozens and dozens of times without a single inconsistent meal and then over the course of a few months every time we have gone there was something wrong with one of our meals. I'm praying that it's a fluke or a temporary thing...I'll be totally bummed out if I lose my "go to" place.

                1. re: Jack Freeman

                  I used to go to the Madison Heights location when I worked out that way but now I am in Wixom so I have been hitting the Farmington Hills location. Have yet to hit the Commerce location.

              2. I'll nominate The Original House of Pancakes and second the nomination for J. Alexanders.

                For Part 2: In-N-Out Burger

                Today as I was flipping through the radio stations I heard a DJ talking about starting a write-in campaign to bring one to Detroit. It will never work, but hey, a man can dream.

                1. I've grown very fond of the Denny's breakfast menu. And the coffee there is tasty, too.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: RedTop

                    I think the others are going to plan a intervention for you and I.

                    1. re: JanPrimus

                      We're all allowed some guilty pleasures. :-)

                      1. re: vtombrown

                        As long as no one mentions Leon's we are cool.

                        They are about as far on their Website as they are on good food.


                        I went once and ordered the Roast Beef and Potato's...

                        Instant Potato's and the Roast Beef was like those Boiled Pouches of Meat from the 70's that I am repressing the name of. Oh and the Veggies were boiled for at least 75 hours straight before service.

                        1. re: JanPrimus

                          I like Mitchell's Fish Market. I also like Chipotle Mexican Grill. Both very good chains.

                          Mexican Grill
                          3607 S Baldwin Rd, Lake Orion, MI 48359

                          1. re: Rheta

                            Chipotle, yes. I used to not eat there because they were owned by McDonald's. But, then I found out they had again become independent and they (supposedly) opt-out of the industrial ag' racket, so I've started eating there, and I like it.

                            1. re: vtombrown

                              Apparently the same owners are going to be starting a Asian chain too.


                              1. re: JanPrimus

                                Awesome! Thanks for the info, JP. I'll call their Denver HQ and give some consumer feedback that we want one of these in Metro Detroit (can't hurt to ask).

                  2. Oh I will tack on Five Guys Burgers too. Had some again today and I loved 'em. I know this will ruffle one or two peoples feathers but I like the burgers. The fries are just average. Nothing special nothing horrid.

                    Five Guys
                    4320 Charlestown Rd, New Albany, IN 47150

                    1. Chicken Shack. When I moved to Metro Detroit from northern Michigan years ago, broasted chicken was a foreign concept to me. You still can't really get good broasted chicken up north, so I love to hit up Chicken Shack when I am in the D.

                      1. Cosi, Noodles and Pei Wei.

                        Also Bone Fish. Love their Bang Bang shrimp and ahi tuna.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Rosedale

                          Noodles actually impressed me recently. I'm on their birthday list, and they send me a free bowl of noodles for that, which is quite nice.

                          Two years ago, I went (they give you about 1-2 weeks to use it) and even for no charge, it wasn't impressive. I was, in one word, underwhelmed. Had I paid for what I received, I'd have written the place off after one visit, and just saddled it with the "Typical Chain" moniker and condemned it to live in death.

                          But, after a year, with me still being on their birthday list, sure enough: they sent me another birthday freebie, and so I decided to give them a second chance. I honestly couldn't believe how much better it was this time around. The food quality seemed to be stratospherically higher, what I was offered was tasty, and the service (such as can be expected in a place like this) was very, very refreshingly good.

                          Even though they told me not to, I left a tip, since everything had been fantastic. I'm still yet to return, but Donna and I will have to try them soon. We're Pei-Wei goobs, so I'm sure she'll like Noodles and Co., too.

                          It's nice when things can exceed expectations, you know?

                        2. I've never been to McCormick & Schmick but I have heard good things about it.

                          I would say... J. Alexanders, Original Pancake House and Olgas. I hate to admit it!! I have an addiction to Olga Bread..I swear they bake crack into it. I don't really like any of the sandwiches..just the bread!!!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Jack Freeman

                            I'm of two minds on Olga's. On one hand, there's nothing wrong with their food or anything, but on the other hand, in order to leave there well-fed, I end up having to spend a ton of money. It's honestly crazy...and it's always been that way, and still is! I don't complain about it when people want to go there, but I do prepare myself for a pretty good dent to the wallet, or a partially-empty stomach on the way out the door.

                            It's just too expensive for what you end up getting. I enjoy what I get, but their portions are quite small.

                            1. re: Jack Freeman

                              Hey Jack (an old neighbor named Jack told me to never say "hi" to him at the airport), have you bought the frozen Olga bread? It's not too bad. We use it to make our own kafta-esque sandwiches.

                              1. re: coney with everything


                                My kids like Olgas...but I am with Boagman on this. The portions leave me wanting and as our last lunch together suggest I eat more. Boagman ate I think 3 slices of Pizza and I had the whole pie of six slices. I have a problem.

                                1. re: JanPrimus

                                  I remember the Olga lunch being a real splurge when i was a student at U-M in the 70s...I could get a burger, fries and small drink at McDs for under a buck, but the Olga/spinach pie/drink was more like $3 and at the time, that was more than an hour's pay!

                                2. re: coney with everything

                                  lol...no I haven't tried, actually I had totally forgotten about it. I don't find Olgas horribly expensive. You can go to their website and download a personal coupon each time you go and with their rewards card you get money back too.

                              2. I am glad no one has nominated P.F. Chang's because I don't understand why anyone likes it. My favorite chain is Buffalo Wild Wings.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: momskitchen

                                  I went there last week for a Beer and 12 wings. After tip I was out $18 and still hungry. The sauce and wings were not bad....but damn that seems excessive for 12 small pieces of Chicken covered in a chili based sauces (Mango Habanero and Jerk) and a local beer.

                                  I remember .25 cent wings only a few years back. I think that has alot to do with it.

                                  1. re: JanPrimus

                                    Doubly funny was the fact that you had lunch at Pizzeria Biga with VTB and myself, and you had soup, your own pie, a slice of bread with oil, and part of a plate of wings, and you should have been offered a soft drink (a slight service oversight...no biggie), and even with tax and tip, I'm pretty sure you *still* weren't up to $18...isn't that a pip? ;)

                                    1. re: JanPrimus

                                      12 wings at the Ann Arbor location would be $8.99....it must have been a spendy beer you had, or you are a big tipper! Wings are 45 cents each on Tuesdays, if that helps

                                      1. re: momskitchen

                                        It was a Tap of Bells Two Hearted and a dozen wings.

                                        I say again though that I remember $0.25 wings a few years ago and now at $8.99 for a dozen we are looking at $0.75 a wing. Candy Bars had enough decency to take twice as long to jump that much in price.

                                        1. re: JanPrimus

                                          If the beer was $5, which I recall you saying, that takes the bill up to around $17.50 or so, assuming around a 20% tip. If the beer was $5.50, it's about $18. Plus...it's *wings*, from BW3, which as I've found, are pretty small, and honestly, $9 for a dozen wings is just highway robbery.

                                          1. re: boagman

                                            I totally agree with you guys....sure wish they were 25 cents.