Advice For Travellers - Chain Restaurants That Actually Are Good

George KGeorge K Super ModeratorPosts: 10,048 Senior Member
I've only found two, Seasons 52 and Bonefish Grill. At least the ones I have eaten in.

Neither is inexpensive, both are what I would call moderate. The interesting thing is that Bonefish Grill is much better than it's stable mates Outback Steakhouse and Carabba's Italian Grill. The same corporation also operates Fleming's steakhouses, but I have never eaten in one.

Anyone else found any good chain restaurants?
Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.

Replies

  • sherbsherb Senior Member Posts: 4,232 Senior Member
    I like TGIFriday's. Food isn't great, but then. . .
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    Hooters. Food isn't great, but then... :)

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • BushartBushart Senior Member Posts: 3,041 Senior Member
    A few years back I would have said Montana's

    I would travel far and wide for their Rotisserie chicken---thus they broke my heart and removed it from the menu---I have not returned (Wonder if I take my food too seriously?:) )

    Otherwise my favs have to be indys---can no longer suggest a good meal in a chain
  • StevenSteven Senior Member Posts: 3,608 Senior Member
    Funny, I'd take Outback over Bonefish Grill any day.

    Denny's is always solid (assuming you're white of course). I like Applebee's, my wife likes Perkins (never been to one until moving to Iowa).

    Fleming's is on par with Capital Grille.
  • StevenSteven Senior Member Posts: 3,608 Senior Member
    One other...it's kind of a newer chain and I think only Midwest...but Granite City.
  • CO NativeCO Native Senior Member Posts: 1,588 Senior Member
    I have found that Famous Dave's BBQ is very consistent. It's not the best, but it's far from the worst and like I said, always consistent.
  • sherbsherb Senior Member Posts: 4,232 Senior Member
    I like Applebees too. Good stuff.
  • CuddyCuddy Senior Member Posts: 344 Senior Member
    You guys are going to mock me for this.

    When we were in Florida last month we met up at Legoland with my mom for a day. She was in Florida for the winter, in a condo.
    At the end of the day we left the park, and were going to go to Applebees for supper, but I saw a Perkins directly across the street. I thought "That looks like a place old people would like". So we went there.

    I was really surprised at the quality of the food, and the selection. Expected deep fried or re-heted ****, but there was a decent selection and it was actually quite good.
  • Shawn C.Shawn C. Senior Member Posts: 7,027 Senior Member
    Steven wrote: »
    Denny's is always solid (assuming you're white of course).

    Otherwise, ****'s, right?


    Setebello's Pizza is good but I don't know how widespread of a chain they are. Definitely not Americanized pizza, but if you are ok with that (and who isn't?!) then it is damned good.

    Famous Dave's is totally acceptable too.
  • sherbsherb Senior Member Posts: 4,232 Senior Member
    You know what?

    You go into a chain you pretty much know what you're getting. Some people are always looking for a hole-in-the wall which has the "best breakfast burrito in New Orleans" or whatever, but its a dump, the waitstaff is rude, the bathroom is dirty, and everybody raves about how awesome it is, and how IHOP is "too corporate" and all I want is decent food and a bathroom that doesn't look like people use it to shoot up heroin.
  • BushartBushart Senior Member Posts: 3,041 Senior Member
    sherb wrote: »
    You know what?

    You go into a chain you pretty much know what you're getting. Some people are always looking for a hole-in-the wall which has the "best breakfast burrito in New Orleans" or whatever, but its a dump, the waitstaff is rude, the bathroom is dirty, and everybody raves about how awesome it is, and how IHOP is "too corporate" and all I want is decent food and a bathroom that doesn't look like people use it to shoot up heroin.

    Maybe where you are---here--Ma N Pa are usually far and away the best
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 10,048 Senior Member
    Perhaps I am an effete east coast elitist, but I really do not want my food to be 35% chemical sludge at national chains. Up and down the east coast small cafes and bistros are better than chains with precious few exceptions. Out west it is indeed different except, for the most part, in big cities and college towns like Fort Collins. I never could understand why it is so difficult to get a good steak (or restaurant meal of any kind) in cattle country like Laramie, Wyoming where until recently, we had had many relatives living there. Could be that's one of the reasons they decamped for Albuquerque, Steamboat and DC :).
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • NZ IndicatorNZ Indicator Senior Member Posts: 10,247 Senior Member
    Bushart wrote: »
    Maybe where you are---here--Ma N Pa are usually far and away the best
    ^^^This.

    Not sure what kind of places Sherb frequents.

    If I have to hit a chain while on the Road...Culvers.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
  • CO NativeCO Native Senior Member Posts: 1,588 Senior Member
    sherb wrote: »
    You know what?

    You go into a chain you pretty much know what you're getting. Some people are always looking for a hole-in-the wall which has the "best breakfast burrito in New Orleans" or whatever, but its a dump, the waitstaff is rude, the bathroom is dirty, and everybody raves about how awesome it is, and how IHOP is "too corporate" and all I want is decent food and a bathroom that doesn't look like people use it to shoot up heroin.

    We found that exact thing when I researched best breakfast place in down town Boston. We flew in at 5:20 am and I found this place that the locals rave about. Worst greasy spoon I've ever walked into. Filthy hole in the wall, but it was rated high. Found out it's because that's where all the drunk college kids go after the bars close. Foods always great when you're plowed.

    Setebello's pizza, we ate there in Henderson NV just a few weeks ago. The marg pizza was to die for, but I think it's only west of the Rockies.
  • ricinusricinus Senior Member Posts: 6,214 Senior Member
    George K wrote: »
    Perhaps I am an effete east coast elitist, but I really do not want my food to be 35% chemical sludge at national chains. Up and down the east coast small cafes and bistros are better than chains with precious few exceptions. Out west it is indeed different except, for the most part, in big cities and college towns like Fort Collins. I never could understand why it is so difficult to get a good steak (or restaurant meal of any kind) in cattle country like Laramie, Wyoming where until recently, we had had many relatives living there. Could be that's one of the reasons they decamped for Albuquerque, Steamboat and DC :).

    You're lucky to have the Ma and Pa's, they've been pretty much run out of business here except for the ethnic restaurants. The good steaks usually are served up by higher end chains..

    Mike
    My new goal in life is to become an Alter Kaker...
  • NZ IndicatorNZ Indicator Senior Member Posts: 10,247 Senior Member
    Ma and Pa's are plenty where I live. Plus there are farm to tables springing up in the area. This one is my favorite nearby one.

    http://stoneyacresfarm.net/about/
  • Shawn C.Shawn C. Senior Member Posts: 7,027 Senior Member
    In defense of Sherb, if Boise, NV is anything like the SLC metro area there are precious few Ma 'n Pa's around. Whenever the wife and I find a good non-chain restaurant, we joke that it is doomed. And most likely, it is. It is a really weird thing in the Intermountain west. One of the highlights to going back east for vacation is the food.
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 10,048 Senior Member
    It really is strange. We've been in a few small small towns in Colorado that had good small restaurants where you could get a decent lunch that wasn't a hamburger, and West Yellowstone has two or three similar places including a taco wagon and a tapas bar, but for the most part it's hamburgers and third rate steaks.

    p.s. Not to mention the truly crappy food in all the National Park lodges, with the singular exception of Jenny Lake Lodge where the restaurant is superb but very expensive.
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    sherb wrote: »
    Some people are always looking for a hole-in-the wall which has the "best breakfast burrito in New Orleans" or whatever, but its a dump, the waitstaff is rude, the bathroom is dirty, and everybody raves about how awesome it is, and how IHOP is "too corporate" and all I want is decent food and a bathroom that doesn't look like people use it to shoot up heroin.
    I do that for tacos and sushi, but they aren't really hole-in-the-wall. Just small restaurants.

    I'm fine with chains. I know what I am going to get. May not be great food, but that's often ok. Of the chains listed so far, Outback good.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • FishTXFishTX Super Moderator Posts: 8,077 Senior Member
    George K wrote: »
    Perhaps I am an effete east coast elitist...

    I would not be ashamed. If my budget allowed it, I'd eat at better places.
    "We have to find someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner."

    Crooow:This music would work better with women in bikinis shaking all over the place. I guess that's true of any music really.
  • George KGeorge K Super Moderator Posts: 10,048 Senior Member
    FishTX wrote: »
    I would not be ashamed. If my budget allowed it, I'd eat at better places.

    But chains usually are not less expensive than ma & pa places, at least not on the east coast. A comparable neighborhood Italian restaurant usually costs the same or less than Olive Garden or Carrabas and usually is better. Almost any independent pizzeria is better than any of the standard pizza chains, although I have eaten at a couple of chains that offer pretty good brick oven or wood-fired pizza - but they are expensive. Almost any local cafe, diner or coffee shop will get you a better breakfast, sandwich or burger for only a little more than non-drive through chains, and we usually can find a local restaurant for no more than it would cost to get mediocre standardized dinner at Applebees, Ruby Tuesdays, Outback Steakhouse etc.

    What really surprises me in Georgia and the Carolinas is how even many locals will go to the mediocre-to-crappy chain BBQ places instead of searching out the hundreds of good independent ones, or eat farm-raised Asian shrimp (talk about your strange brew of chemicals inside of you) at Bubba Gump's instead of local shrimp at local seafood places.
    Keep your stinkin' government hands off my Medicare.
  • BushartBushart Senior Member Posts: 3,041 Senior Member
    George K wrote: »
    But chains usually are not less expensive than ma & pa places, at least not on the east coast. A comparable neighborhood Italian restaurant usually costs the same or less than Olive Garden or Carrabas and usually is better. Almost any independent pizzeria is better than any of the standard pizza chains, although I have eaten at a couple of chains that offer pretty good brick oven or wood-fired pizza - but they are expensive. Almost any local cafe, diner or coffee shop will get you a better breakfast, sandwich or burger for only a little more than non-drive through chains, and we usually can find a local restaurant for no more than it would cost to get mediocre standardized dinner at Applebees, Ruby Tuesdays, Outback Steakhouse etc.

    What really surprises me in Georgia and the Carolinas is how even many locals will go to the mediocre-to-crappy chain BBQ places instead of searching out the hundreds of good independent ones, or eat farm-raised Asian shrimp (talk about your strange brew of chemicals inside of you) at Bubba Gump's instead of local shrimp at local seafood places.

    This/\ /\ I swore off corporate pizza after my one and only trip to dominos
  • NZ IndicatorNZ Indicator Senior Member Posts: 10,247 Senior Member
    FishTX wrote: »
    I would not be ashamed. If my budget allowed it, I'd eat at better places.

    Places that sell the $4 heart attack value meal can turn out to be expensive in the future due to the health problems associated with eating at those places just to save a buck.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
  • BushartBushart Senior Member Posts: 3,041 Senior Member
    Here's real #'s

    There's a small operation in a town about half hour away----You can get a Bacon cheeseburger---made with real hamburger--real lettuce/tomato/onion----more real cut fries than you can eat---best I've had in a long time---told my wife--I don't think I could BBQ as well

    $9.25
    That's close here to what I paid for that double big mac meal--I hated
  • WetdogWetdog Senior Member Posts: 5,149 Senior Member
    I can't recommend any corporate excuses for food, but Applebees is not food..maybe for undeveloped tastebuds or out of the box gourmets...just kidding.....mostly.

    Someone mentioned Culvers...still has great shakes and used to be pretty good, now the fries are gritty frozen crap, they used to be fresh. Their burgers made a bad move some years back, lost the flavor nearly entirely I think that happened when they removed the "pink slime"...and it's expensive, actually nearly all junk food places are expensive. I tend to hit local cafes when I can. Most have been better than fast food.

    I did stop at some kind of fish place in Wyoming, not Long John silvers...or any of the others known in the midwest or east. Never saw this one before, I had the best fish sandwich (Halibut baby not Haddock) I may have ever had, it wasn't like those flat things you'd get anywhere else. I'd go there again. But not too often, fish we get today whether wild or farmed are toxic. Salmon is the worst, it's poison (if you eat too much) in either case. If you do some research you will be shocked. I am regularly only eating Sardines, Anchovy and Smelt, anything that doesn't live long enough to built up their toxicity. I do admit to eating at the local Hardees in Waupaca when out on errands. They used to to serve a big roast beef that was three times the size of competitors or other hardees offerings. I think they got new management, now it's like the others....to be avoided.

    Why in the world would anyone buy steak out at a restaurant? You can do it better at home any day. On western beef, nearly always tough, except at a "fine dinning" place in Manhattan Montana..I forgot the name...something trees or something. I have heard western beef has gotten better. I guess they no longer sell beef from cows chained to a weight in roadside ditches. I've seen that all over the west.
    I find the assault on free thought disturbing,
    I find the willingness to give it up frightening.
  • fishingcomicfishingcomic Senior Member Posts: 24,423 Senior Member
    Cracker Barrel's meatloaf is pretty darn good and I love their chicken fried steak.
    'I've spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That's how I saw it, and see it still.'" Ronald Reagan

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Emoji
Image
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Fly Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.