Restaraunt Chains We Still Enjoy

As we continue to navigate a post COVID-19 world, there’s no denying that certain restaurants have gone downhill in quality. Whether it’s due to the struggles of inflation, laziness from the owners, or even a change in ownership, it’s easy to tell that certain restaurants have lost their charm.

We’ve all seen people complain on social media, whether it’s Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter), or TikTok. They’re no longer getting good value for dining out, the service is poor, or they’re paying top dollar for food they have in their freezer.

Thankfully, not every restaurant is suffering from this fate. Some restaurants continue to uphold the same quality we’ve come to know over the years. We’ll continue to support these chains alongside our favorite local businesses because they have earned our money.

Chili’s

Chili's
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Chili’s direct competitors, Applebee’s and O’Charley’s, have continued to go downhill in terms of quality. Chili’s, meanwhile, remains steady in offering good food at a reasonable price. Plus, those baby back ribs are still delicious.

Carrabba’s

Carrabba's
Image Credit: Ildar Sagdejev via CC 4.0 / WikiCommons.

While most people enjoy a specific garden-themed restaurant for fast-casual Italian food, you’re missing out on a way better option. Carrabba’s will surprise you not just with its quality but its consistency as well. You can’t go wrong whether we’re talking about soups, pasta, or entrees.

In-N-Out Burger

In-And-Out Burger
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If there were one restaurant chain I’d pick to have nearby, it would be In-N-Out. Every time I travel to the West Coast, it’s my first stop.

Yes, the fries are awful, but the burgers are always a step above everything else. Best of all, everything remains affordable compared to a place like McDonald’s.

Domino’s

DominosPizza
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In 2010, pizza chain Domino’s underwent a massive rebrand. Their advertisements acknowledged the company’s shortcomings and the public’s perception of their lack of quality. The company doubled its profits by changing the recipes for dough and sauce and improving the quality of ingredients. It was a night and day difference in taste before and after the changes.

Today, Domino’s continues its affordable “2 for $6.99” deal, where customers can mix and match between medium pizzas, wings, sandwiches, and more. Affordable meals from chain restaurants are becoming the exception, not the norm, and it’s nice to see Domino’s continue to offer good food at a low price.

Jet’s Pizza

Jet's Pizza
Image Credit: Dwight Burdette via CC 3.0 / WikiCommons.

Domino’s isn’t the only pizza chain that continues to thrive. Jet’s Pizza is known for its Detroit-style pizza, a pan pizza topped with cheese that carmelizes the crust in the pan.

While I’m sure there are better options locally in Detroit for authentic Detroit-style pizza, I don’t live in Detroit. Jet’s can successfully satisfy that craving every time I order it.

Culver’s

Culver's
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Fun fact: the second you enter the state of Wisconsin, you’re bombarded with billboards for Culver’s. There’s a reason: the burger chain, currently based in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, is one of the best in the country.

Known for its butter burgers, Culver’s employs high standards regarding its food quality. The result is food that regularly tastes better than its competitors. Plus, you can get a side of cheese curds over fries. That’s a huge win in my book.

Freddy’s

Freddy's
Image Credit: Public Domain via CC 1.0 / WikiCommons.

As a resident of Cincinnati, Ohio, I have seen the downfall of Steak and Shake. They used to be everywhere. Now? Their empty buildings are eye sores. The steakburger chain couldn’t keep the quality of food and service up alongside rising food costs.

Thankfully, we now have Freddy’s to fill that steakburger hole. By eliminating table service and having customers order at the counter, Freddy’s can deliver fast and fresh food to their customers. Whether it’s a traditional steakburger, a patty melt (with rye bread), or a side of cheese curds, you can’t go wrong with Freddy’s.

Plus, getting your ice cream won’t take an hour.

LongHorn Steakhouse

LongHorn Steakhouse
Image Credit: Mike Mozart from Funny YouTube, USA – CC BY 2.0/Wikimedia Commons.

I’ll go ahead and say it: I’ve never had a bad experience at a LongHorn. Whether pre or post-pandemic, I haven’t been able to tell a difference. Whenever we need a reliable meal, LongHorn is in our rotation. We know what we’re going to expect and always leave satisfied.

Normally, we’d go ahead and put Texas Roadhouse here (those rolls are to die for), but after hearing about how they served Kraft Mac and Cheese for $4, we’ll pass.

Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel
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This one surprises me. Normally, I go to Cracker Barrel when visiting family. It’s been satisfactory in the past, nothing more, nothing less. The last time I had it, though? Better than I remember it being. It’s led me to pick up the Cracker Barrel mac and cheese from the grocery store. That stuff itches every craving when looking for some easy stovetop mac and cheese.

I’ve honestly always enjoyed their breakfast, but their dinners recently are just as good. Don’t sleep on Cracker Barrel.

Waffle House

Waffle House
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While the Waffle House menu has shrunk since the pandemic, there’s no denying that its marquee menu items are still delicious.

Yes, I said what I said: Waffle House is delicious. If it’s good enough for Anthon Bourdain, it’s good enough for us.

It took some time for the signature 24-hour dine-in service to return, but it has, and I’m thankful for it. Waffle House is there for me at 2 AM, ready with its pecan waffle and All-Star Breakfast meal. I’m also not ashamed to admit that I enjoy it sober just as much as I like it when drunk.

Popeyes

Popeyes
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While most of the world discovered how good Popeyes was when they introduced their chicken sandwich, I’ve been a fan since day one. Whether you’re going with spicy or mild, their fried chicken is some of the best from a fast food restaurant, outclassing anything from similar fast food chicken establishments. Their new homestyle mac and cheese is downright delicious, and their biscuits are incredible. Just make sure you wash their buttery goodness down with a drink.

Also, my wife has a tattoo of a bucket of Popeyes chicken, and I find that incredibly cool.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings
Image Credit: Inspire Brands via CC4.0 / WikiCommons.

I remember the day my life changed. I was at Buffalo Wild Wings, ordered cheese curds, and was told to dip them in a caramel sauce. It tasted just like fair food and is now my preferred way of eating cheese curds. While there are certainly better wing options out there, Buffalo Wild Wings has enough options to make me never turn down a trip there. Plus, the parm garlic sauce is as good as I remember it being when I was in college.

Costco

Costco Hot Dog
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Technically, Costco isn’t a restaurant, but everybody knows and loves how good and affordable their food is. At my local Costco, their food court is always packed because their hot dogs and pizza slices are an absolute steal when it comes to price. They’re pretty tasty, too!

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