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Author Topic: Best & Worst Restaurant Chains  (Read 5375 times)
Matt
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« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2016, 11:40:10 PM »

and while near a salad bar I saw a 400 pound woman squirting one of those vats of ranch dressing into a bowl which basically became ranch soup with a few salad greens on top.


Wow!   :buck2:

I've only been to a Golden Corral once, and what I remember was the 400 pound manager, and the sign that hung over the buffet:  "Take all you want, but eat all you take."  And he was more of a bouncer than a manager.  Walking up and down, making sure you "ate all you took".
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KC
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« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2016, 11:51:15 PM »

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Matt
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« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2016, 12:13:19 AM »

I like Le Pain Quotidien. :)

  Thanks for that -- I was already hungry tonight. That place looks amazing. But they aren't anywhere near Tennessee. :(

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Doug
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« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2016, 02:36:13 AM »

I haven't heard of any of your "Bests," Matt, besides Carrabba's, which I've never eaten at. I like Olive Garden okay, but I'm under no delusion they're all that great. I like Fazoli's, even though it's just Italian fast food. For burger joints, I like Jack in the Box and their grilled sourdough burger. McDonald's is terrible, but I truly hate Carl's Junior. I'm not a fan of In and Out Burger, but at least you don't feel like you're eating a hamburger made out of sugar.

For Mexican I like Baja Fresh. Del Taco is a better version of Taco Bell, but there's things on the menu I like at Taco Bell.

I have got to find a better pizza place than the major chains, because Pizza Hut is like eating cardboard and Domino's isn't much better.

I like Subway, for what it is. Capriotti's is a nice change of pace. I was very disappointed with Firehouse Subs. I was blown away by Lee's Sandwiches when I tried it in L.A. It's a Vietnamese sandwich place, but when one finally opened here, I was much less impressed, and finally decided not to go there anymore. And when I wrote a complaint to the company (the only complaint I've ever written to a company!), they never responded. Which says all I need to know about the place. 

I can't think of any Asian chains I ever go to, unless there's one I'm not aware of being a chain.

I remember eating once at Golden Coral and it felt like somebody had taken a Wal Mart and dumped all the customers into it.
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Doug
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« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2016, 02:42:53 AM »

Cheesecake Factory is great! That's a step up, but it's a chain. So, we can consider that "Mid Scale American"

Anyway, I'll back you up on that one.  But if we have a best, we have to have a worst.

Worst Mid Scale American: Friday's.

(They used to be better, or else my taste has gotten more discriminating.)

Coincidentally we ate at Friday's this week and was it ever disappointing. We went because the last time, maybe two years ago, it was really good. This time it was just not good at all, and I'll never go back. I kept thinking I could make it better at home, and I'm not even much of a cook. But at least it would have had some flavor and not amounted to a thousand calories.

I'm not a fan of any of those mid scale American restaurants, but I seem to recall Boston Market not being too bad.
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"Yes, well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of a park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy."  Frank Drebin, Police Squad.
Matt
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« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2016, 03:25:07 AM »

I haven't heard of any of your "Bests," Matt, besides Carrabba's, which I've never eaten at. I like Olive Garden okay, but I'm under no delusion they're all that great. I like Fazoli's, even though it's just Italian fast food. For burger joints, I like Jack in the Box and their grilled sourdough burger. McDonald's is terrible, but I truly hate Carl's Junior. I'm not a fan of In and Out Burger, but at least you don't feel like you're eating a hamburger made out of sugar.

Carrabba's is so great. It's a little bit pricier than Olive Garden, but not that much... and it's at another level. It's clean too (I hate carpeted restaurants like Red Lobster and Olive Garden. It feels gross in there.) I was at a Fazoli's once, and I liked it okay. I just never really want Italian Fast Food. If I'm looking for fast, it's usually burgers or Greek (my very favorite, and we have lots of mom & pop places, but no chains to recommend).

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For Mexican I like Baja Fresh. Del Taco is a better version of Taco Bell, but there's things on the menu I like at Taco Bell.

I get all the Burrito places mixed up. Baja Burrito, which I recommended, is a local one location place. Baja Fresh is probably the one I was thinking of. They're the same deal, the counter service where they build the burrito for you. Moe's does it too and I love them. Taco Bell is always just.. disappointing. I always feel like I spend just as much money and get less food, and it's never good. Just barely adequate.

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I have got to find a better pizza place than the major chains, because Pizza Hut is like eating cardboard and Domino's isn't much better.

There's a CPK in Vegas, but they're not your typical type of Pizza. Sadly, there is no Mellow Mushroom near you. I'm sorry, Doug. I feel your pain. It sucks to not have a good pizza place nearby. That's why I learned how to make my own.

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I can't think of any Asian chains I ever go to, unless there's one I'm not aware of being a chain.

Have you been to a P.F. Changs? The Pei Wei that I mentioned above as "Best Asian" is actually a lower priced version of P.F. Changs.... many of the same recipes in a cafeteria style restaurant that is appropriate for lunch, or a quick dinner; whereas P.F. Changs is for a nice dinner out. But either way, they are both fantastic.

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I remember eating once at Golden Coral and it felt like somebody had taken a Wal Mart and dumped all the customers into it.

Yeah, I see there's not much difference in Golden Coral's between where you, Conan and I live.  ;D
« Last Edit: January 20, 2016, 03:26:35 AM by Matt » Logged
Conan
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« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2016, 05:21:43 AM »

For any Asian food I'll hit mom and pops.  The chains are always too Americanized for my taste.

Red Lobster is pretty bad.  Back in the day I thought they had decent seafood, but nowadays I wouldn't go near the place.
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Doug
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« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2016, 02:16:24 PM »

There's a CPK in Vegas, but they're not your typical type of Pizza. Sadly, there is no Mellow Mushroom near you. I'm sorry, Doug. I feel your pain. It sucks to not have a good pizza place nearby. That's why I learned how to make my own.

Have you been to a P.F. Changs? The Pei Wei that I mentioned above as "Best Asian" is actually a lower priced version of P.F. Changs.... many of the same recipes in a cafeteria style restaurant that is appropriate for lunch, or a quick dinner; whereas P.F. Changs is for a nice dinner out. But either way, they are both fantastic.

There are supposedly some really good pizza places in Las Vegas, but I've never tried any. I get suckered in by the ease of ordering and the low internet deals. No more, though. Too many times eating bland pizza.

I don't believe I've tried P.F. Changs, but there are options available here for cheap Chinese food. My wife and I eat out once a week and the two restaurants we go to most frequently (like every month) are a Thai place called The Noodle House, which is like a hole in the wall, and a Vietnamese place called something like Pho Saigon 8. It'll end up being $20-22 total after a tip, whereas we'll spend $40+ at these American restaurants, and it never feels worth it. I'd rather spend the money to go somewhere that feels special, like the Korean BBQ or sushi. I don't like eating some place where I feel like I'm eating at the employee dining room at work or like I could cook the same thing at home.
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"Yes, well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of a park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's my policy."  Frank Drebin, Police Squad.
Matt
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« Reply #28 on: January 20, 2016, 03:26:59 PM »

Yeah, I pretty much do the same thing with Asian. We have a small Chinese place up the road that's awesome, and three incredible Thai restaurants in the area. One of those, my favorite but a good 30 minutes away, sounds a bit like Doug's "Noodle House". It's a small family-owned strip center restaurant called Ginger where meals are between $8-10 and there's more than enough to eat. And ... 10/10 in taste and quality. The family owns an Asian grocery next door, and I'll always go in there during my visit and grab some things. Every time I'm in there, they jump because they know I'm a pushover to buy anything they open for me to sample... and so I've gotten some of the most incredible things I've never even knew about. Like... jackfruit.



The man who owns the restaurant and market was beyond shocked that I'd never heard of Jackfruit or seen one before. The ones in his market were as large as in that pic above.

Dragonfruit:




And Taro wafers and cookies:



They also make their own ice cream: Green Tea, Taro, Honeydew, Coconut, and Mango. It's the best ice cream I've ever had.  I go there about once a month or so.
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AKA23
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« Reply #29 on: January 20, 2016, 03:43:51 PM »

I like CPK, and I've had that chicken tequila fettuccine pasta that Matt references. My favorite thing there is actually their spicy chipotle chicken pizza. 

I'm also familiar with P.F. Chang's. I've never been a huge fan of Chinese food, and think they are overpriced, but I agree that P.F. Chang's is better than its competitors. I've never even heard of Matt's "best" selection. 

What about all you can eat places? For that, I like Soup Plantation. I don't know about a worst for that category since that's the only buffet style American restaurant that I go to.

I'm at a little bit of a disadvantage here since I don't frequently eat out at chain restaurants. Growing up, my family would go to restaurants frequently, but we didn't go to chains much at all. I do agree that TGI Friday's is terrible though.
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Matt
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« Reply #30 on: January 20, 2016, 03:52:30 PM »

The only all you can eat place (other than the Golden Corral) that I've been to is Shoneys, which was not all that good either. There was also one of my favorite Chinese restaurants when I lived in Florida that did it, but I only made it there once. I typically don't care about all-you-can-eat. I don't eat enough to even finish my meal most of the time when I go anywhere.
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Matt
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« Reply #31 on: January 20, 2016, 05:22:35 PM »


I'm also familiar with P.F. Chang's. I've never been a huge fan of Chinese food, and think they are overpriced, but I agree that P.F. Chang's is better than its competitors. I've never even heard of Matt's "best" selection. 


PeiWei is a "sister" restaurant to P.F. Chang's.  Actually, it's the divorced wife's restaurant. Legend says that Mr. & Mrs. P.F. Chang (I don't know their actual names, and the "legend" is a PeiWei Manager I spoke with who gave me the info) divorced, and she started PeiWei with the recipes, and he kept P.F. Chang's. The difference is price and atmosphere, but the food and recipes are the same. The totally amazing (drool) Mongolian Beef at P.F. Changs is $16.50 and at PeiWei it's $9.69. Pretty much exactly the same meal, but at PeiWei you stand in line to order, and then sit down and it's brought to the table. No tipping, self-serve drinks. I love it for lunch, and sometimes on weekends.
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Richard Earl
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« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2016, 01:24:18 PM »

I love this thread! I have a passion for eating and eating out. I will have to agree with the views about Golden Corral! I absolutely do not like cheap buffet restaurants! Getting cheap ingredients to make below average food and being able to eat as much of it as you desire makes no sense to me at all! I would rather go to a restaurant where you pay for quality and not quantity.

When it comes to burgers which is my favorite food item and I could and have eaten burgers every day of the week. It is hard for me to pick a favorite burger chain when there are so many great ma and pa burger joints in Texas. My favorite is in Cleburne Texas called The Burger Bar. They have been cooking burgers on the same flat top since 1949.
If I had to pick a favorite chain burger place it is Whataburger which are everywhere in Texas. If I had to move, I would miss this place!
McDonalds is the worst by a long shot!

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Matt
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« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2016, 01:38:32 PM »

Good to see you join in, Rich. I love to talk about food almost as much as I love eating it.  What about BBQ? Are there any chains that are worth a damn? I'd guess you have some great BBQ in TX.

In TN and FL, we have a place called Rib City. It was my favorite place in Florida to eat, and when I moved here, I found there's a single TN location that's 2 hours from me. I go about once a year for the baby back ribs, triple cheese and bacon fries, and baked beans. Oh hell yeah. Once a year is a great feast, and I get a few bottles of their homemade Sweet BBQ sauce to bring home for grilling here at home for the year. Then, when I get low, time to go back for more ribs!
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Richard Earl
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« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2016, 01:46:35 PM »

Good to see you join in, Rich. I love to talk about food almost as much as I love eating it.  What about BBQ? Are there any chains that are worth a damn? I'd guess you have some great BBQ in TX.

In TN and FL, we have a place called Rib City. It was my favorite place in Florida to eat, and when I moved here, I found there's a single TN location that's 2 hours from me. I go about once a year for the baby back ribs, triple cheese and bacon fries, and baked beans. Oh hell yeah. Once a year is a great feast, and I get a few bottles of their homemade Sweet BBQ sauce to bring home for grilling here at home for the year. Then, when I get low, time to go back for more ribs!



That Rib City place sounds great Matt! There are some BBQ chains that make good BBQ! Spring Creek BBQ and Cousins BBQ are good chains but then again iof you want GREAT Texas BBQ there are ma and pa places all over the place man. Where I live there is a place called Rosco's Smokehouse that has fantastic brisket and wood smoked chicken wings! You will never want deep fried wings again after eating these! Their made to order beer battered onion rings are magic! The draft beer is ice cold as well. If anyone ever makes it down to Texas you will love the food.
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Richard Earl
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« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2016, 01:49:25 PM »

Matt, I saw on The Travel Channel once a place in Tennessee called Dyers. I do not remember what city it is in but they deep fry their burgers and they looked absolutely amazing.
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« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2016, 04:45:24 PM »

Rich, you're making me hungry for Texas BBQ. :)

I looked up Dyers. It's in Memphis, which is a haul from Nashville -- about 3.5 hours. But I got out there now and then, and I've actually been wanting to try some Memphis Barbeque, which is supposed to be its own style and one of the best in the world. But, maybe I'll try a deep fried burger at Dyers too.
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Matt
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« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2016, 06:21:49 PM »

I just remembered Rawhide7 is a restaurant manager. I'd love to hear what he has to say on this topic. I hope we didn't name his restaurant in this thread (unless we liked it!)

Does anyone shop at Trader Joe's? If you have one near you and you haven't gone, you should. It's a great, fun place to buy a lot of unique food items. This is my favorite thing in their store:



Absolutely the best cookie I've ever had.
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AKA23
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« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2016, 06:47:52 PM »

I am a huge Trader Joes fan! I have never had those ginger snaps, but it's pretty much the only place I've shopped for years. I don't know how to cook, so I mostly buy their frozen meals, and they are all pretty good. Trader Joes has the healthiest and highest quality frozen food of any grocery store that I know, and if you're educated on what to buy, it can actually be pretty cheap too. I can eat for 2 weeks for around $130. Trader Joes is so great! It's much more affordable than Whole Foods. It started in California, so it reminds of home as well. Like Matt, I highly recommend Trader Joes.
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Richard Earl
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« Reply #39 on: January 21, 2016, 08:11:43 PM »

There are a couple of Memphis style BBQ restaurants around here. Red White and Blue is a Memphis style BBQ here in Texas that is real good.
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