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Dec 27, 2011 08:05 AM

Forbes Magazine "Best chains 2011"

Here's a slideshow ranking 16 chains in US:

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  1. I agree with The Texas Roadhouse. At least the one I frequented in KY. $25 for a salad, Perfectly cooked Ribeye and a KY Ale on tap.

    1. Agree on Red Robin! Yum.

      1. Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Red Robin, Cracker Barrel...... ???

        Sounds more like a list of the worst meals in the US.


        They seemed to have forgotten Subway,Pizza Hut, Burger King & Sonic to round out the worst ten.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Clams047

          What do you propose as the best (or least worst) chains in their place?

          Keep in mind that they were the top among a shortlist of 51 casual dining chains (I haven't found a list of the other restaurant chains on the list).

          Chains much worse than Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Red Robin in my opinion include Bob Evans, Shoney's, O'Charleys, and Ground Round.

          1. re: FoodPopulist

            While those four are agreeably poor, I'm not so sure they are much worse than Red Lobster or Olive Garden.

            While I admittedly avoid most chains (learned experience), a few that I will return to (no particular order, but far better than most of those in the referenced article) include Outback, Longhorn, Ruby Tuesday, Pot Belly, Carrabba's, Landry's, Legal Seafood, Benihana's, Sonny's BBQ, Bertucci's, Mimi's Cafe, Sweet Tomatoes, Five Guys, Dreamland BBQ, Chick Fila, D'Angelos & Shake and Shake.,

            1. re: Clams047

              I haven't heard of half of those, so I bet most of those were not on the survey.

              The five chains I would most be willing to eat at are probably Cheesecake Factory, Outback, Famous Dave's, Red Robin, and Red Lobster (in that order).

        2. I like Cheesecake Factory; Golden Corral; Chili's; and Mimi's (which would have been my first choice)

          Don't care for Outback; Red Robin; TGI Friday's (except for their shrimp cocktail); PF Changs; Red Lobster; or Applebee's.

          I've never been to or heard of Texas Roadhouse or Longhorn.

          I have heard of Carrabas, PF Changs, Cracker Barrel, and Ruby Tuesday; but have never been.
          I have looked at Cracker Barrel menu online and didn't see anything of interest. They don't have them here in southern California.

          2 Replies
          1. re: laliz

            Closest Cracker Barrel to so. CA is in Yuma. Ask me how I know :)

            1. re: laliz

              How can you not care for PF Changs but also not have been? Would this be in the category with Cracker Barrel?

              Cracker Barrel is overrated and I only like their egg sandwich which I actually change to suit my tastes and I will eat the hash brown casserole.

            2. It's a survey of just 4500 people, taken from a pool of supposedly 300,000 (can't believe they have that many) mystery shoppers from one firm. Most of them don't have the sort of tastes people reading Chowhound, even on the chains board, would have. ;-)

              It never should have claimed "best" though, that's a bit of a stretch. It should claim "favorite" which would be more appropriate and probably about right. I don't think they looked at fast food/fast casual. That rules out things like Five Guys. Seems to be all table service, although Golden Corral is a little weird.

              3 Replies
              1. re: CrazyOne

                I suggest a night class in statistics.

                1. re: JonParker

                  Um, why, because you think this study is statistically representative of "best"?

                  Here's the article text I'm referring to.

                  I can buy that the 4500 is representative of the 300k statistically, that's fine. I don't buy that these particular people from the mystery shopping outfit can pick out the "best" chains. They can pick out their own favorites. And those favorites aren't likely to match up with people reading Chowhound, even on the chains board.

                  1. re: CrazyOne

                    "Best" is a totally subjective term. However, given the criteria outlined in the article then yes, you have a statistically significant sampling. I'm not going into Chili's and demanding foie gras. I would not personally rank the chains in that order, but it appears that their methodology was valid.