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Jun 29, 2012 08:03 AM

Interesting article to share 9 best chain restaurants

Interesting article I thought I would share. I have only been to two of the establishments Bob Evan’s while traveling always a reliable breakfast place and Le Peep. The later Le Peep I had no idea was a national franchise. I thought they started in Edison on Rt. 1 in Wick Plaza…about 25 years ago….but I could be mistaken. I know they had a location in Red Bank NJ on Rt. 35 that only lasted about 2 years.

Anyone else experience any of the “9 best”?

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  1. Elmer's (Palm Springs) is fine; big portions and cheap prices. Sort of like Denny's on steroids.

    First Watch (Phoenix) is pretty good with efficient servers. Sort of like Denny's with a soul.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ipsedixit

      First Watch I think was originally out of Kansas City.. guess they have exploded nation wide.

    2. i live in the greater boston area and honestly, i have never heard of ANY of these chains. none of them exist in this stretch of the world.

      is that a good thing or a bad thing?

      14 Replies
      1. re: hyde

        I live in Boston area as well, and while I've eaten in the majority of these chains, I don't think any of them have branches on the East Coast, you're right.

        It's not necessarily good or bad. Boston folks like to talk about the 'authentic North End Italian food' but I've had terrible, overpriced meals there; the food at Bravo! or Maggianos might be 'chain food', but it's consistently high quality.

        The breakfasts at Bob Evans, Waffle House, and First Watch are always good, but I'll take brunch at Sound Bites in Somerville any day. Doesn't make either better than the other, it's just what's available.

        But if you've honestly never even heard of Waffle House, Friendly's, or Bob Evan's, maybe you need to do a little travelling :)

        1. re: Boston_Otter

          I think the previous poster was referring to the highly rated places not all the ones mentioned. I have lived in CT, MD and PA and have only heard of bob evans. Although I do know many of the other listed restaurants.

          1. re: Boston_Otter

            possibly, but waffle house and friendly's were not in the nine best that the article sighted. i have heard of bob evans but have never seen one in my new england travels (spend a good amount of time in NYC, any there?)

            maybe i should just stop travelling to countries that dont serve this slop.

            1. re: hyde

              As I mentioned, just because something's a "chain" doesn't mean their food is automatically poor quality 'slop'. That's the point of the article.

              Bob Evans is a strange anomaly on the list. Their food's mediocre at best in my experience. Breakfast is good, but it's hard to mess up eggs and bacon.

              I saw a good number of chains mentioned in the article when I last travelled to Europe, so it's not an American thing.

              1. re: Boston_Otter

                Breakfast is the only thing worth eating at Bob Evans'. The non-breakfast food is incredibly salty, and otherwise tasteless.

                1. re: Bob W

                  I've found the same is true for IHOP. You veer from the breakfast menu at your peril.

                2. re: Boston_Otter

                  Have you tried Mimi's, their version of a French bistro?

                  1. re: Fibber McGee

                    I have, last time I was in Ohio -- my relatives there like going to Mimi's. The "French" thing is sort of laughable -- the most 'French' thing on the menu is Chicken Cordon Bleu, and that's just chicken breast with ham and cheese on it. The New Orleans style food is a little more successful, but most of the food is just above-average American bistro/cafe food with a few 'homestyle' classics. I had a very decent plate of liver & onions when I was last there.

                      1. re: Boston_Otter

                        I've eaten at Mimi's three times and have No interest in ever going there again. Greasy greasy food and no flavor to speak of. It was all at the same Mimi's, btw.

                        1. re: EWSflash

                          Hmm. Nothing I have had was greasy or flavorless, but I'm never in a rush to return.

                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                      im often fascinated by the "chains" board because i have no idea what anyone is talking about. golden corral? sheetz? le peep? steak and lube? my first costco trip was only a couple of years ago, and i have never set foot inside a wal-mart (they just didnt exist in the boston area until the 2000's)

                      i dont consider myself that provincial but where i seem to travel (canadian maritime, the u.k., hawaii, u.s. national parks ) just dont seem to have a great number of this kind of thing. maybe im just blind.

                      1. re: hyde

                        If you're living in the Boston area and commuting largely via T & commuter rail, the only chains you're likely to see around here are the ones downtown around the Pru. There's plenty of chains around the area (Chili's, Friendly's, Border Cafe, TGI Friday's, Legal Seafood, etc) but they're largely in mall areas that are more driveable than T-accessible.

                        In some parts of the country, chains make up the vast majority of dining. In others, they're more sparse.

                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                          If the Boston chain scene these days is like DC's, downtown/Back Bay is filled with things like Au Bon Pain, Cosi, Corner Bakery, Potbelly, Pret a Manger...

              2. I have not eaten at some of these but I would concur with Bravo Cucina Italiano being on the list. I have said many times over that I have had the best "chain" dining experience (Food, service, value, ambience, etc) with them than any other chain. And Le Peep does good breakfasts while Elmer's is very hit and miss.

                I have to laugh that Black Angus and Bob Evans made the list. They are mediocre at best and don't really offer anything that makes me want to go back in. For steaks I would go to Morton's over Black Angus any day and for breakfast fare IHOP does a better job than Bob Evans.

                The respondents really are clueless about unhealthy fare - Cheesecake Factory is the winner hands down.

                Some chains that I think should be in the top:

                Bahama Breeze
                Joe's Crab Shack
                Legal Sea foods
                Ted's Montana Grill

                12 Replies
                1. re: RetiredChef

                  Joe's Crab Shack? Really? Can you explain please?

                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    What is there to explain - their biggest drawbacks are they are expensive and don't take reservations so wait times can be long, but the food is very good.
                    For Example: The Octopus and shrimp ceviche is awesome, the crab bisque is homemade and is very good. Their crab cakes with the caper topping is one of the best restaurant crabcakes I have had. And a treat if you don't like seafood is try their rack of lamb - very, very good.

                    Are they epitome of seafood restaurants, nope, I've had better but they do an excellent job.

                    1. re: RetiredChef

                      The three I've been to (one in Florida and two in Virginia) were horrible experiences: inept service, stale or freezer burnt seafood, and everything else poorly fried. The two in Virginia have since shuttered.

                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                        I think we might be talking about two different Joe's - the one I'm thinking of only uses fresh fish and I don't think they have anything fried on the menu.

                        1. re: RetiredChef

                          This is the Joe's Crab Shack I'm talking about. They have a bisque but I can't imagine them serving ceviche. That would be a cholera epidemic waiting to happen.


                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                            Oh my lord, they have PBR in a bucket on the their home page (LOL) - nope that's not the place I am referring too, I will get you a website but I'm boarding a flight right now.

                      2. re: RetiredChef

                        Are you thinking of Not Your Average Joe's?

                    2. re: RetiredChef

                      Bahama Breeze and Joe's Crab Shack are awful.

                      1. re: Rilke

                        See above for my comments on Joe's

                        As far as Bahama Breeze goes on another Chowhound board that talked about good chains it had quite a few mentions and I must concur. I have been there four times with 4 different couples and each time we had great service, the place was clean, the food was good for a chain, the ambience was refreshing with the fire pit and live music and to top that off the value was there. Is Bahama breeze the epitome of dining - nope but we are talking about chains.

                        So why don't you tell us who you think are the top 9 chains are.

                        1. re: RetiredChef

                          I liked Bahama Breeze the two times I have eaten there, would go back more often but the local one closed down.

                          1. re: RetiredChef

                            Bahama Breeze is one of the few chains I'd willingly visit.

                            1. re: RetiredChef

                              I haven't eaten there in a few years but I used to like it. They have a banana bread wiith ice cream dessert that I loved.

                        2. Bob Evan's is the only one of the list I've even heard of and have not eaten at one.

                          Carrabba's is by far my favorite chain restaurant.

                          6 Replies
                            1. re: wyogal

                              Nice to hear that the ones in Wyoming are good too.

                              The first time we ate at Carrabba's was probably 10-12 years ago, were wandering aimlessly around Asheville, NC looking for someplace to eat. Saw this place that seemingly had every other car in the state in the parking lot so we decided to join them. A year or three later my wife informed me that the great "local" Italian place we had gone to was actually a chain.

                              I believe since then we have eaten at three different locations in Georgia and two in Florida and each and every meal was consistently good. The one in Columbus GA does seem to have a fairly high screaming baby factor though. I guess because of all the young soldier's families.

                              1. re: kengk

                                Not sure there are any in Wyoming, I've only been to the one in Ft. Collins, and one in Virginia Beach.

                              2. re: wyogal

                                I've only been to one Carrabba's, in a professional situation, and it wasn't in my area. However, I thought it was really good food for a chain and I would definitely go back.

                                1. re: IndyGirl

                                  Admittedly, our experience is colored by the fact that when we've gone, we've also been on vacation, or a weekend date night, so we were relaxed and making the effort to have a great time and experience!
                                  I have gotten something different everytime and enjoyed it.

                              3. re: kengk

                                We have the original Carrabba's in Houston still owned by Johnny Carrabba. The chef and most of the cooks have been there twenty plus years. We sit at the food bar and watch the chef and cooks prepare everythig a few feet from our eyes and noses. We've never had a bad meal there. The menu is different from the chains, and maybe a couple of bucks more.


                              4. Seems like "noise" was a big factor in the ratings, imo they surveyed a bunch of people in their 80's

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: redfish62

                                  Well, you don't have to be senile to not want to go deaf. But if you're looking for peace and quiet, I don't think a family style restaurant would be in my top ten list.

                                  This survey was done by Consumer Reports, whose readership skews older and middle-upper-middle income. So, yeah, I doubt they're going to do many reviews of hip, vibrant nightclubs or trendy places to get upscale colonics.

                                  1. re: redfish62

                                    From other articles I've read, CS tends to lean towards the cheap and call it value. Black Angus over Morton's? They've got to be kidding.

                                    1. re: BubblyOne

                                      For many people cost and value IS an issue. To compare two chains that I do have a passing familiarity with. A family of four could go out for a steak dinner at Outback instead of Ruths Chris and save enough money to buy the kids a pair of shoes and a new outfit to wear to school.

                                      1. re: kengk

                                        Quite true, but that still doesn't make Outback better than Ruth's Chris, just cheaper. I'd go to the butcher and cook good steaks at home if I was looking for value.

                                        1. re: BubblyOne

                                          If you look at the full report (in print or on CR's website), Ruth's Chris is rated more highly (2/10 on the list of Steakhouses, behind Capital Grille) than Outback (7/10).


                                        2. re: kengk

                                          Yes, but Outbacks food is horrible. I've had some very nice steak and lobster at Ruth's Chris though.

                                        3. re: BubblyOne

                                          Agreed. CR factors cost into itts ratings more than I like. But knowing that I look at the rest of the ratings closer.