Olive Garden is to Italian food what Taco Bell is to Mexican food.
I prefer local mom and pop kind of places. The chains, not so much.
So what are some of yalls fav. Places to eat, and why, what your fav. Thing from there? And what's a restaurant you will never go to again and why?
My favorite is a tie between Cheddars and Olive Garden.
I love cheddars, I love their spinach dip, and their sangria margaritas (not to mention their only $3.50)
And thier food always comesnin big portions and small prices. :-)
I love Olive garden because of the atmosphere, and I love their breadsticks and salads. I always always get Shirley temples their too. And I love love their food.
I will never go to the place called the jalepano tree. Ok, we went maybe 2 months after their grand opening? And we were thinking, they just remodeled the place so it should be nice.... Negative. It looked so cheap. And their food and wait staff was so bad. I didn't even take a doggy bag. And I don't like to waste food. So we said we will never go again.
What about you?
Olive Garden is to Italian food what Taco Bell is to Mexican food.
I prefer local mom and pop kind of places. The chains, not so much.
Love, Carraba's, P.F.Changs, O'Charley's and Kan Ki (sushi)
Hate Chili's, everytime we have been to one the food has been sub par and bland, and the service was so SLOW...which is horrid when you have an active toddler, and you need to get in and out quickly. :)
Love cheddars! My favorite is anywhere with a margarita and my least favorite is a buffet. I don't know how to control my self :(
My favorites are the Cheesecake Factory, and PF Changs. Cheesecake Factory has a huge menu so there is something for everyone. PF Changs is an upscale chinese resturant. Very good, but not really for kids.
I can't eat at the Olive Garden. I can make anything they make... and while it will cost me about $2 instead of their $0.50 cents a plate or less, paying $5 much less $10 or $15 I find impossible.
My absolute rule of thumb for eating out is it has to be more expensive to make at home than to buy it at the restaurant or there has to be some huge reason to waste the money; like travelling. (I'm a trained cook, I can make almost anything given either the recipe or a little experimenting).
((Hint: Outback has one of the highest food costs of any restaurant. It's not my fav place to go, but it's decent, AND you *get your money's worth* when you do go. They spend on average about 40% on their food. Most restaurants spend 10%-20% on food cost at most. Italian places and fast food places often spend less than 5%))
Seattle (no particular order)
- Agua Verde (fantastic fish tacos, salsas, and kyaking)
- Shun or Tokyo (great sushi, and my standards are high, since I grew up in Japan)
- Taste of India (great N. Indian... the best closed a few years ago; owner died)
- Elliot Bay Oyster Co. (oyster happy hour!)
- Poppy (fusion. Mmmm. Eggplant fries with sea salt and honey, Grilled oysters on the half with sorrel sauce and bacon, happy hour thali -bites of heaven-. This is a restaurant spun out from The Herbfarm, with food just as orgasmic, but with reasonable prices)
- Tubs Subs (heavenly sammies)
- Cafe Pho & Pho Hoa (best 2 pho places)
- Jumbo (fav Dim Sum and real chinese... my 9yo son is a fixture there. He gets hugs from all the servers and special dishes brought out to him. Been going there since he was still nursing)
- Snappy Dragon (fav american chinese)
- GH (a local Halal restaurant that I buy my gyro meat from)
- Macrina Bakery (best. bread. ever.)
- Metropolitan Grill (fav steaks. As good as Chicago)
- Pagliacci (seattle style pizza)
- Kidd Valley (burgers & fish'n'chips)
- 611 Pine St (french, specifically, their crepes)
- Teatro Zinzani (fabu food & drink & circus. Or as they put it: Love. Chaos. Dinner. http://dreams.zinzanni.org/ )
- Desire Oyster Bar (300 Bourbon St. Used to have breakfast here every morning. LOVE this place)
- Medieval Times (fab food and Andalusians, and knights jousting? I'm in.)
- Street Cart on W35th by MadSquareGarden (middle eastern/greek)
- Some nameless restaurant 'down the street and up an escalator' that had this crab stuffed mahi mahi I STILL dream about. OMG. Decent poke. I've come close to heading 'home' with a friend from Aiea JUST for the chance to eat this again.
I love a restaurant around here called El Fenix. I also love Chipotle. El Fenix has the BEST fresh salsa, and it's inexpensive. I don't like Fridays, or BJ's. I just really don't like their food, at either of those places.
I love eating out for ethnic foods. Any kind - Kenyan, Bosnian, Jamaican, Russian. I will try anything as I am an adventurous eater. I have no idea the names of half the ethnic food places I've eaten.
I try to avoid chain foods at all costs but the sad thing is that living in the 'burbs of Houston, that's all we have. Even when I travel, if I am faced w/eating at a place that is right down my street, I'll probably not eat there unless I absolutely without a doubt have to.
If I HAVE to pick a place, I like Olive Garden only b/c they let you sample any kind of wine they carry and if you don't like it you don't have to buy a glass or bottle. So on a good night w/a generous waiter, I can leave there having drunk at least 1 "glass" of wine.
I like to eat where they can cook it better than I can or offer something special.
Outback is way over priced and they under deliver. I've been there twice and haven't been back in a decade. But I see where some people have praised them. Restaurants change, sometimes, so I may have to give them a try again.
My worst reataurant experience came at a BBQ restaurant that is no longer in business, "Slim Piggins". Some of the food (meat) had ice crystals inside. The "half chicken" special looked like it was a cornish game hen. The manager said, "What do you expect? We just opened last week!" I told hundreds what we got and what he said. I hope I played a role in their closing.
My current favorites are Red Robin, Famos Daves BBQ, Golden Corral, Claim Jumper, and a place in New Orleans called "We Never Close". They are open 24/7/365 and don't even have a lock on their front door. Fantastic subs and New Orleans food.
One of the best hole-in-the-wall places I ever ate at was a place in Tulsa, OK, at the edge of an industrial area. It looked like an old house. It looked awful from the outside. I would have never stopped there, but there were cars parked all over the place and a line out the front door. When I parked and opened my car door, the aroma hit me. WOW ! ! ! The owner came out the front door in a smudged white apron carrying a tray of plastic cups and a pitcher of beer. He gave beer (free) to all that wanted it and apologized for the line. The combo plate was FANTASTIC. It was some of the best BBQ I've ever had. I've learned that when you see someplace you don't know if you want to go inside or not and you see lots of cars or a line out the front door, they have GREAT food.
My favorite "YUCK, I'm not going there" are Applebees, Chick fil A, Olive Garden, Souplantation, Outback, Black Angus. Some for their prices and some for their lack of culinary expertise.
When I travel to foreign lands, I usually ask the rental car agent, or porter, or cab driver where they would eat if they were to take their families out to eat. I have eaten in some fantastic, hole-in-the-wall places that way.
Good luck to you and yours.
Olive Garden is soo commercial and totally NOT Italian (believe me 'cause I AM) so i didn't particularly enjoy it. But, again, if I want real Italian I stay home and cook by myself LOL... One time I ate at Applebees (ribs) and the morning after my then hubby had to take me to emergency for food poisoning..ugh. I like Sticky Fingers and Cracker Barrell (sp?) because they seem to be real american to me and I LOVE american food. Also some mexican restaurants are yummy but it seems they use all the same spices and it all ends up having the same taste..BORING.
ADDED for Tracy: not that I care about this things (it's actually funny), but we Italians ARE actually white too ;-P
Dinner favorites are: Del Frisco's, III Forks, Sullivan's, Kenny's Italian Kitchen,Gleneagles County Club, PF Chang's, Carraba's, Ruth Chris, Lawry's Prime Rib, Maggiano's, Fogo de Chou, Grimaldi's Pizza, Brooklyn's Pizza
Lunch favorites are: Market Street Grocery (great salad bar, soup and hot food) , Village burger, Pot Belly sandwiches, Bonnie Ruth's, McAlister's Deli, Pappadeaux, Dickey's BBQ, occasional Chick Filet
Dislike: Applebees, Olive Garden is ok but not a fave, any chinese buffet, Outback.
We generally try to stay away from chains but there are a couple we do like on occasion.
Applebee's. ICK. Hubby and I both hate it.
I can pretty much eat at any Mexican place and be happy, but there is one in our town (1 of 4) that is my favorite. My Birthday is Thursday so I get to go! Woohoo!!
If it's not Mexican, I love The Olive Garden. Chipotle, Panera Bread (St Louis Bread Co.), and Buffalo Wild Wings..
the local Thai buffet
Double Dave's Pizza buffet
Texas Roadhouse (steak! They have a huge prime rib for $18 and it's to die for. <mouth is now watering!)
WON'T GO BACK:
can't think of many. Maybe Mr.Panda's chinese fast food. No thanks.
I used to eat at Cheddars all the time, but then moved. The local Cheddars would have hour long waits, as they were so incredibly popular. I did like most food there. Now that I know how to cook better, I doubt my husband and I will ever go there. We RARELY go out to eat and so we only do so to places where we don't know how to cook well (greek, thai, steaks....)
I will go to lunch with a friend to Olive Garden. I love the salad and breadsticks. But Husband and I have never been there together. Again, I can make a salad at home, and honey doesn't want to pay that much for noodles. He's italian and feels his sauce is just as good anyways.
All of my favorites are local to Kansas City...
I am known as the BBQ snob...I rarely will try BBQ restaurants outside of KC. My all time fave is Oklahoma Joe's (the original...run out of a gas station, literally one side is the restaurant the other is a convenience store).
Jazz (Cajun type food)
Mi Pueblito (local REAL mexican food, not American or Tex Mex)
Chains well they're chains: Olive Garden is on there but they are always so busy and such a LONG wait we don't go often.
Fast food chains: Q'doba (but non here in KC), Goodcents (it's like Subway)
And if I had to pick a chain as my fave I would say Buffalo Wild Wings. I can go there and have multiple choices (I am a picky eater so I usually have the same thing every time, each place is different but when I go to that place it's the same meal)
Since I'm picky there are a lot of dislikes...but I can manage most places.
Favorites...Pei Wei, PF Chang, Olive Garden, Maggiano's. Portillo's/Barnelli's, Claim Jumper, Cooper's Hawk, Red Robin,
Fast Food, Moe's Grill, Chipotle, Subway
Least favorite - Culvers (very greasy and pricey) Loved Boston Market but their food is always cold, Panda Express, the chicken doesn't taste like chicken eww...I do not like Buffet restaurants of any kind. You eat too much and everything seems to blend together. Baker's Square has great pies but that's it. Food taste cheap and you barely get anything.
Applebee's- YUCK!!! I also try to stay away from other chains. It was easy to do in Wyoming.:) I must admit though, the one time I went to Olive Garden was really good. I do have a habit of adjusting my expectations when need be.
Love Olive Garden, Outback Steak house, California Pizza Kitchen
Like Claim Jumper, Azteca, Chuckie Cheese For their Pizza....And the Rock Wood Fire Pizza
Hate....Red Robin, AppleBees, Billy Mchales, Fat Burger, Shari's, Denny's,Black angus and last but not least...ANY TYPE OF BUFFET...I.E. Old country bufft...asian buffets....any type of thing where me and five hundred of my closest friends sharing a serving spoon and coughing all over the food...YUCK!
I HATE HATE HATE Applebees. Like 8 Kids Dad said, that is a place where I'll just stay home. I'm really maxed out on Red Lobster b/c my son is obsessed with sea food.
As far as loves, Lincoln has a little restaurant called, The Blue Orchid (thai food) and it's SO good. Everyone who comes here should go! I also love Cheesecake Factory and The Elephant Bar. Like another poster said, The Cheesecake factory is awesome b/c they have such a wide variety on their menu :-)
Oh my - I need to put together a list from this stuff (any any more answers that may come in) just in case I ever get the chance to go on road trips again!
Agree that the hole-in-the-wall place that you don't think you want to go into but the parking lot is full is usually a very good bet just about anyplace! Ran into one of those in Nashville several years back - had always heard about Brown's Diner and it was def a hole-in-wall place (obviously grandfathered in any local bldg codes!). Hand-patted burgers cooked when you ordered them! And the waitress was extra good the day I was there w/son who wanted the catfish - knew he could not eat the entire dinner, so split it w/him and she brought extra plates, etc w/o having to ask!
Biggest local disappointment is a place called Cattleman's Steakhouse - thought we had a good thing come in town, but have not had the quality I was expecting! First time there - they lost the entire freaking order (was treating dad for b-day) -- yeah, they comp'd it all but who cares after being there that long - and if they thought I was gonna pay by then, phft! We were getting up to leave w/o food!
I LOVE Snappy Salads. They have locations at Preston/Forest, Northpark (mall food court, I think) and recently opened in Plano (Park and Preston, I think?).
We don't go out to eat much because of my daughter's special diet that has successfully been keeping autoimmune illnesses under control, but used to love going to MoMos on Forest just east of Greenville - across from Kroger. It's a "hole in the wall" type restaurant, but has some of the best pasta dishes and salads. Well worth the trip.
I also love India Palace at LBJ/Preston.
I'm not a big fan of chain restaurants - too many bad experiences with finding stuff in my food that shouldn't have been there, dirty flatware, sub-par food, etc.
A local family owned chain of Mexican restaurants named Casa Ramos is my favorite. They are really good. Altho I do love Cool Hand Lukes for their steaks. Logans for the big salad, and another local Peter Chu's Chinese. My "1 stop and will never return again", is a local, I wont name because I wouldnt put it past them to come knocking on my door with a complaint for my comment, is a burger, taco, ice cream drive-in. They actually put the tacos together in the mornings and freeze them. Then when you order a taco, they get it out of the freezer and deep fry it, shell, meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato all at once. It doesnt get any greasier nastier than that.
Well two of my once favorites have become my most hated, red lobster and outback steakhouse have decided they want to serve poop instead of food now. Very disappointing.
I really like olive garden though, i know its cliche but their vegetarian options are good for me. Other than that there is a mexican place i love called ruby tequilas, we like los cucos....but my real favorite restaurant is this little family owned buffet in my city called "pepper tree" its all vegan and very very very clean....theres always a daughter or son of the family taking up a booth properly trimming vegetables and their smoothies are the best ive ever had.
If anyone is local to Allen, there is an awesome "mom/pop" Mexican Restaurant. It is very casual and inexpensive, but the tacos are to die for :-)
El Burrito Grande
Corner of Hwy 5/Greenville and Bethany
Looks like a hole in the wall from the outside, but inside is very clean and nice.
If you want an expensive, but awesome meal, try Capitol Grille in Dallas. We went there for our ten year anniversary and it was the best meal we've ever had! Very fancy and expensive, but worth it. Also, Rick's in McKinney is pretty good - not as expensive, but not quite "Capital Grille" either.
I used to love Chili's. But, over the last 2-3 years, they've gone WAY downhill. We used to go once a week, now we never go. The only thing that they haven't screwed up is their Fajitas.
What I need to find is a good Chinese Place. I've tried about 10 of them around here - and they all are terrible.
I try to stick with local family run business. I like to support the guy that has to put shoes on his kids feet, not the corporations. But sometimes, you just gotta have some Chilis chips and salsa!
Glorias - Best food from EL Salvador
Pizzaiolos - Best Italian Food
Jamiaca Gates - Best Island Cuisine
Catfish Shack - Best Jerk Chicken in DFW (Sorry Jamica Gates)
Tons Mongolian BBQ - Kicks Ghengis Grills @ss
I haven't found a great Chinese Buffet yet. So, if you know of one, let me know.
El Chico - TEX MEX that tastes like white people made it!
Olive Garden - Italian food made by white people!
Fav's and most visited would be Chili's, and a tie between Macaroni Grill / Olive Garden. What I order changes everytime because I like that they all have broad menu's. The Italian places both have good bread! Oh, and I have to add Claim Jumper to that list,they are always good for a ribeye.
Most hated....Applebee's. YUCK! I've never been where I didn't feel sick afterwards. A close runner up is Fridays. I think I have found 1 thing that I enjoy to eat there, but I hate the atmosphere. It's always unusully loud there...to the point where you can't have a dinner conversation.
You are so lucky to have the Mexican restaurants! At the beginning of the year, we moved from California to Georgia. All of the Mexican restaurants are awful. The most authentic place we can find still has the store bought taco shells :(
Most hated, older fast casual chain restaurants, AppleBees, Chilis, Red Lobster, Olive Garden is somewhat OK, but there are SO many better and more unique Italian places.
Most loved, the one exception to my not liking chains, Sweet Tomatoes. It is a rare treat and welcome break from the typical fare when we travel since there are NONE in our area. Plus I love any of the table service restaurants at WDW. Also Tao and LAVO at Las Vegas are pretty awesome. My local fav is is a small Mediterraean restaurant, Shish
The kids and parents were always at odds on our family road trip this summer. Kids always shouted "Burger King" "McDonalds" "Subway" while DH and I searched for the non-chain local places or at least a chain they don't have in our area.