HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

What is the one thing you refuse to eat out because your homemade version is unbeatable?

chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 08:07 AM

For me, it's linguine with clam sauce, meatloaf and tuna salad. I am picky about all of these and refuse to eat them out because they just cannot compare. What are your homemade preferences?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. e
    Emailfemale RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 08:26 AM

    Cioppino. Have had it while at restaurants and it is disappointing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Emailfemale
      bobabear RE: Emailfemale Jan 10, 2014 10:52 AM

      Cioppino for me as well, emailfemale! I'd love to hear your recipe :)

    2. Seeker19104 RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 08:45 AM

      Chicken Cacciatore and most other Italian dishes

      Hungarian Goulash

      French Onion Soup

      1. rmarisco RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 09:25 AM

        almost never eat italian... no point

        1. a
          ARenko RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 10:12 AM

          Thai food. Not that I'm so great at it, but having spent a decent amount of time in Thailand I just can't eat what they serve in the restaurants here - mine is far closer to what I experienced there.

          1. Jacquilynne RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 10:20 AM

            I'm interested in your recipe for unbeatable Meatloaf -- it's one of the things I think freezes and reheats well, but I'm not actually that awesome at making it.

            1. m
              mike0989 RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 10:21 AM

              Crab cakes. Here on the west coast, the restaurant version tend to be heavy on filler.

              1. prima RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 10:50 AM

                I'll still eat these foods at restaurants, but I'm not likely to order them since I almost always like my home-made versions better: rack of lamb, leg of lamb, mac + cheese, scalloped potatoes, tuna salad, meatballs, stuffed peppers, stuffed grapeleaves, cabbage rolls, potato pancakes, kourabiedes, apple pie, lemon poppyseed loaf, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken (Ontario restos have trouble getting fried chicken right- I like a good US resto version better than my homemade version).

                2 Replies
                1. re: prima
                  willownt RE: prima Jan 10, 2014 03:48 PM

                  I avoid muffins -- always too oily. (I'll never forget one I ate when I was 9 that tasted of cigarettes!) I have yet to find very good apple pie, even if I like the restaurant's other pies. I don't think of my apple pie as particularly amazing, either, but bought ones are rarely very good.

                  I also don't tend to be impressed by egg dishes.

                  1. re: prima
                    jbsiegel RE: prima Jan 11, 2014 04:30 PM

                    +1 on the ccc's. I'll also add cake to the list, and actually most desserts.

                  2. m
                    MikeG RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 11:02 AM

                    In general, I tend to order things I either can't make or that involve a lot of prep/cleaning up, to avoid all that at home. Unless a special ingredient is involved, I avoid easily prepared dishes I can make as well, or even close enough, at home.

                    But the one thing I absolutely refuse to even try at a new place anymore is chili (con carne). I make a decent pot of chile, but I don't claim it's special. On the other hand, so much of what passes for chili here in NYC is a sort of thick, soupy mass of too-finely ground beef drowned in sweet tomato sauce and loaded with beans that it's just demoralizing. So I just gave up. Fortunately it freezes well so it's easy to keep some around for quick fixes. :)

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MikeG
                      ludmilasdaughter RE: MikeG Jan 10, 2014 11:17 AM

                      I'm the same. If I go to an Italian restaurant, I won't order something standard like meatballs or lasagna, even if theirs is fabulous. I'm more likely to order something like Veal Francese because I'm not likely to make that at home.

                      1. re: MikeG
                        biondanonima RE: MikeG Jan 10, 2014 11:32 AM

                        Yeah, what is it with sweet chili in NYC? I never order it either because I just know I'm going to get a bowlful of sugar. Gross.

                        1. re: MikeG
                          gardencook RE: MikeG Jan 11, 2014 05:39 AM

                          I agree with the policy of ordering something that is too much to make at home. That's usually something that requires ingredients that are not staples in our house. I don't mind if I can use up the entire ingredient in the single dish, but if it calls for something that is very specific to the recipe and the rest of the ingredient would just sit on my shelf and go bad, I'll eat it when in restaurants and not make it at home. The other thing is that when we are out, I'll tend to splurge on calories and decadency because at home I try to cook dishes that are very healthy. So, for example, I'll order something with alfredo, but not make it at home.

                          Ironically, one dish, to answer the OP, that I do make at home, usually once a year and will not eat out is Biscuits and Gravy. But that's just made with whole milk, not cream, so it's still considered healthy, right? ;)

                          1. re: gardencook
                            PHREDDY RE: gardencook Jan 11, 2014 05:46 AM


                            1. re: PHREDDY
                              Wtg2Retire RE: PHREDDY Jan 11, 2014 03:17 PM

                              Phreddy is absolutely correct. It is the only healthy meal I have only once or twice a year.

                        2. a
                          AngelaID RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 11:05 AM

                          Anything with Hollandaise, tuna salad or egg salad.

                          1. f
                            ferret RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 11:31 AM

                            Never think of eating out in that way. I happen to make a great burger but I love getting burgers anywhere. Even if they're not as good as what I make at home sometimes I get inspired by the options that are out there to augment or improve on my own. And that's just one example. When I eat out it's usually because I want a relaxing social experience unencumbered by rules, so I'll order what I feel like at the moment, content in the knowledge that I don't have to shop for ingredients, prep, cook or clean up afterwards. 't

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ferret
                              Springhaze2 RE: ferret Jan 11, 2014 05:25 PM

                              I agree, never think of eating out that way. When we go out it is because we want the social/relaxing experience, don't feel like cooking, want to just get away from the house. We usually go out to eat "for" something...that might be a cuisine, like Thai or Indian or for a burger and a beer. Eating out is not a replacement to what we make at home, it is an addition to our life experiences. I rarely order anything that I cook at home in a restaurant.

                              1. re: ferret
                                mariacarmen RE: ferret Jan 11, 2014 09:16 PM

                                this is my exact feeling too.

                                i also don't think i'm near as good a cook as others here feel they are - and i'm not doubting anyone at all. i'm decent, but not great. i would love to eat at the homes of many of you!

                              2. s
                                suemac RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 11:46 AM

                                Creme brulee & cheesecake.

                                1. Will Owen RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 11:51 AM

                                  Nothing. I've never had a potato salad, coleslaw, meat loaf or mac'n'cheese as good as mine, but I might some day … and I've enjoyed a lot that have come close. Sometimes my trying something I've done well will reveal a restaurant chef's shortcuts; there's a place here in Pasadena with French pretensions and Lapin à la Moutarde on the menu, but I think it's just rabbit cooked sous vide and finished in a mustard sauce! Having gone to the trouble (and richly rewarded) to do it properly I know what depths of flavor the dish should have. This was not a bad dish, fairly tasty, but it missed the boat by a mile. Still, it was fun to figure out how that had happened. Also, I wasn't paying ;-)

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Will Owen
                                    LeftoverFoodie RE: Will Owen Jan 10, 2014 04:53 PM

                                    Will, I should have thought of potato salad. Never had a good one unless it my own or my Mom's. Well, maybe yours:) What's your recipe?

                                    1. re: LeftoverFoodie
                                      Will Owen RE: LeftoverFoodie Jan 10, 2014 05:22 PM

                                      It's from Mom's father's people, a large tribe of Mennonite farmers, and it's more a formula: 1 egg : 1 potato : 1/4 onion, season as wanted, mayonnaise to bind. The potatoes are usually russets, boiled to still rather firm. We always used Hellman's; the only real improvement I've been able to make is to use homemade mayo. The beauty of this stems from its being a farm recipe, easy to scale from enough for two to a mob of hungry hands.

                                      Though I sometimes add some chopped celery or fresh dill when it's available, I don't care for either mustard or sweet pickle, but they don't repel me. I CAN eat about any potato salad you set before me, but seldom would I care to repeat it. Trader Joe's is good enough to bump with egg, onion and more mayo if I want one in a hurry …

                                      1. re: Will Owen
                                        DiningDiva RE: Will Owen Jan 10, 2014 06:09 PM

                                        Wow, very close to my potato salad recipe. The only difference is a little celery and a some celery seed. Surprisingly simply and really, really good

                                        Mine came Iowa farm grandparents

                                  2. steve h. RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 02:48 PM


                                    Restaurant versions just aren't as tasty as my home stuff. The meat should be both sweet and untainted by other flavors. That's easy for me to do at home but difficult for a restaurant.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: steve h.
                                      Veggo RE: steve h. Jan 10, 2014 02:58 PM

                                      Agree on the lobster. Here in FL, Maine lobsters are goofy expensive and one nearby restaurant, a nice place, is starting all you can eat lobsters for $35 on Wednesdays, I may give it a try. Pappadeaux's in Denver tried that for a while, but it attracted so many obese professional eaters who would down 7 of them that they had to discontinue it.

                                      1. re: Veggo
                                        steve h. RE: Veggo Jan 10, 2014 03:19 PM

                                        We're pretty spoiled up here in Connecticut.

                                        I have a decent fishmonger with huge tanks. They cater to the trade but have a retail business as well. I get the jumbos, kneel at Jasper White's timetable altar and then all is bliss.

                                        Maybe the best lobster I ever had was grilled on the stern of a sailboat I chartered out of Saint Lucia. The boat wasn't memorable but the spiny lobster was. The sailing was Cugat!

                                        1. re: steve h.
                                          Veggo RE: steve h. Jan 10, 2014 03:30 PM

                                          It's actually difficult to source spiny lobsters in Florida. When I had a house in Providenciales, fresh spiny tails at the lobster packing plant were one of few bargains on the island, and I sometimes dived for them. Prepared correctly they are delicious. Pretty animals, too.

                                          1. re: Veggo
                                            steve h. RE: Veggo Jan 10, 2014 03:32 PM


                                    2. a
                                      acssss RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 03:54 PM

                                      Everything except lobster, soft-crabs and duck.
                                      Those three things I eat maybe once a year and choose to eat them in a restaurant (I wouldn't know how to prepare them properly, although I love all three).
                                      Everything else, restaurants don't come close to my cooking :-)

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: acssss
                                        Veggo RE: acssss Jan 10, 2014 03:59 PM

                                        I like my home prepared lobsters and duck, but my soft shell crab attempts have been disasters! Also iffy on the crab cakes, I think in part because I can't get good fresh crab meat.

                                        1. re: Veggo
                                          acssss RE: Veggo Jan 10, 2014 04:03 PM

                                          lol. Actually I think if I ever brought a lobster home, my husband would kill me - he says they look like huge red cockroaches. He hates them. I usually save them for "girls night out"

                                          1. re: acssss
                                            Veggo RE: acssss Jan 10, 2014 04:37 PM

                                            Reminds me of the time I brought a bagged live lobster to the register in a large grocery store, and the check out girl saw the bag on the conveyor move. She absolutely freaked and screamed and left her work station, another clerk had to check me out.

                                      2. v
                                        valerie RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 04:06 PM


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: valerie
                                          Londonlinda RE: valerie Jan 11, 2014 06:25 AM

                                          Yes, agree absolutely. Far better homemade.

                                        2. j
                                          jpc8015 RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 04:21 PM

                                          Spaghetti carbonara.

                                          1. Gio RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 04:25 PM

                                            In the last few years I've become less enamored with eating out than ever before. I've eaten wonderful meals up and down the east coast from FL to the Maritimes and beyond, but lately I do worry about where the food comes from, how is it cooked, who's cooking it, how much salt. etc. This takes all the enjoyment out of the whole dining experience, except for restaurants I trust and believe in. And, to answer the question, i don't order pasta anywhere.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Gio
                                              steve h. RE: Gio Jan 10, 2014 04:32 PM

                                              I'm pretty fond of the carbonara at Roscioli. :-)

                                              1. re: steve h.
                                                Gio RE: steve h. Jan 10, 2014 05:10 PM

                                                Ah, well, Roscioli. When I get to Rome that's what I'll order and tell them steve h. sent me. Mille grazie.

                                                1. re: Gio
                                                  steve h. RE: Gio Jan 10, 2014 05:12 PM

                                                  You owe it to yourself.

                                                  1. re: steve h.
                                                    Gio RE: steve h. Jan 10, 2014 05:22 PM

                                                    Thanks, you enabler you.

                                                    1. re: Gio
                                                      steve h. RE: Gio Jan 10, 2014 05:33 PM


                                            2. r
                                              rjbh20 RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 04:25 PM

                                              Pretty much everything other than Chinese food and pizza.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: rjbh20
                                                steve h. RE: rjbh20 Jan 10, 2014 04:37 PM

                                                That's a bold statement.

                                                I like the sushi at Shunji in Los Angeles.

                                                1. re: steve h.
                                                  rjbh20 RE: steve h. Jan 10, 2014 05:02 PM

                                                  Just the facts, ma'am.

                                                  1. re: rjbh20
                                                    steve h. RE: rjbh20 Jan 10, 2014 05:05 PM

                                                    Not a ma'am.

                                              2. k
                                                kseiverd RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 04:49 PM

                                                Maybe not unbeatable, but I rarely get anything crab when eating out... crab cakes, stuffed flounder, etc. ONE MINUTE piece of shell/cartlidge... I'm totally turned off. When I splurged, buy nice crab, and make cakes... I KNOW there will be NOTHING in them that will not be acceptable in my mouth!

                                                1. LeftoverFoodie RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 04:50 PM

                                                  Grilled steak, chicken salad, grilled shrimp and roasted chicken.

                                                  1. breadchick RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 05:22 PM

                                                    Meatballs, burgers, any ground meat preparation.

                                                    I have a butcher nearby and he grinds all the meat I need with no grizzly bits or bone. I don't frequent fast food joints, just never have. However, even the well regarded restaurants can mess up with the grind and it's gross.
                                                    I'm not against fat - it's needed with a good mix - I just hate biting into grizzle and bone.

                                                    Well, hey - it actually sounds like a cool outlaw eatery for an underground food club: Grizzle&Bone.

                                                    1. Ttrockwood RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 05:29 PM

                                                      Pies, chocolate chip cookies (ok, kidding- city bakery and levain are the exception) and brownies because no one will top my mother's versions.
                                                      I rarely order out salads or soups-those seem to be what i make most at home for six months or so each and i know how to make what i like! :)

                                                      1. globocity RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 05:39 PM


                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: globocity
                                                          DiningDiva RE: globocity Jan 10, 2014 06:04 PM

                                                          Agree 100%

                                                        2. Antilope RE: chriscinfl Jan 10, 2014 06:06 PM


                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Antilope
                                                            Kelli2006 RE: Antilope Jan 11, 2014 12:43 PM

                                                            Barbeque is one of the few things that I will, order out because it isn't something that I do well at home.

                                                            I tend to order Chinese, SE Asian, Indian and other ethnic dishes that are too much trouble to make at home.

                                                            I make decent fried chicken/fish but I almost always order it out because I don't like to clean up the mess of fried food.

                                                          2. j
                                                            Jeanne RE: chriscinfl Jan 11, 2014 04:57 AM

                                                            Shrimp and grits. Mine is better than any I've had in a restaurant - which isn't that often because I quit ordering them a long time ago.

                                                            1. n
                                                              Nanzi RE: chriscinfl Jan 11, 2014 11:37 AM

                                                              BBQ pork ribs, and pulled Pork roast. Having a good smoker really makes a difference. Ours is a Kamado which is no longer available. It's replacement is called a Kamado-Komodo. Or close to a BGE(big green egg), which is a great ceramic cooker also.
                                                              We seldom get steak out either because we can do it so much better at home.

                                                              1. c
                                                                calumin RE: chriscinfl Jan 11, 2014 12:02 PM

                                                                Spaghetti bolognese, sukiyaki, and oatmeal

                                                                1. s
                                                                  sparky403 RE: chriscinfl Jan 11, 2014 02:22 PM

                                                                  Cesar Salad..... mine is normally better than what I get at high end places

                                                                  1. mtlcowgirl RE: chriscinfl Jan 11, 2014 02:26 PM

                                                                    Lasagna. Everybody loves mine. I have to agree.

                                                                    1. r
                                                                      Red Oakley RE: chriscinfl Jan 11, 2014 10:27 PM

                                                                      My husband's burgers on the grill.

                                                                      1. MsMaryMc RE: chriscinfl Jan 12, 2014 01:27 AM

                                                                        I keep trying it, but I'm always disappointed with other people's pie crust. They're usually heavy, tough, and crumbly rather than flaky.

                                                                        1. i
                                                                          INDIANRIVERFL RE: chriscinfl Jan 12, 2014 05:34 AM

                                                                          Two items, Stew and Caesar salad.

                                                                          When was the last time you really went out to dinner to tuck into a nice stew? Boullaibaise for that matter. We have an irish pub in town that does a great lamb stew. The exception to the rule. I have had too many beef stews that seemed to consist of turned back over cooked steaks reutilized the next day.

                                                                          And Mulligatawney seems to be chicken on its' last day in the cooler. I know that stews are designed to use up the odds and ends, but the quality I have found has been low. Not that mine are any better. Just fresher.

                                                                          And there have been other threads lamenting the demise of table side Caesar salad prep with garlic clove and coddled egg.

                                                                          Show Hidden Posts