Whatever your gripes might be about chain restaurants, you can’t just categorically dismiss them and spend the rest of your life hanging out in trendy bistros with your highfalutin friends. No matter who you are, life will offer up plenty of occasions when it’s just plain convenient to opt for the comfort and familiarity of a brand where you pretty much already know exactly what you’re getting. Whether it’s a night at the Olive Garden because your parents want a “Tour of Italy,” or a 4:00 am stumble to the International House of Pancakes to sober up and get ready for another day of work, here are 8 restaurants it is easy to hate, but you probably still frequent more often than you’d care to admit.
More than anything else, this restaurant suffered from an ad campaign so memorable it has been forever ingrained in American pop culture. Regardless of the food’s quality, or how much you might be enjoying your meal, the entire experience is tainted by your ever growing fear that someone is going to cleverly bust out a little baby-back-ribs jingle. It wasn’t that funny when they did it in Austin Powers almost 10 years ago, and it’s definitely not funny now.
7) PF Chang’s
There are certain types of food that just don’t seem like they should cost over $10, and pretty much every Americanized Chinese food item would qualify for the list. Yet despite the fact that our Chang’s Spicy Chicken costs just a little bit too much, and the Lettuce Wraps never seem to give you quite enough to be completely satisfied, it’s hard not to keep getting lured in by the glowing red sign and the giant statues in front.
6) Red Robin
With a rapidly expanding menu and a wacky drink list, Red Robin tries so hard to be a cool place that it comes across a little bit like the friend who just isn’t as much fun to hang out with as he thinks he is. But, invariably this becomes the destination of choice whenever your group reaches the awkward size where it becomes impossible to settle on a restaurant that makes everyone happy. Someone finally says, “How ’bout Red Robin?” And off you go…
5) Olive Garden
For the amount of grief Olive Garden gets about being a nice night out for the lower class you’d think it was an Applebee’s or something. It’s really neither good nor bad, and if you’re a foodie then there’s definitely plenty you can bash about it not being “Autentico Italiano,” but when push comes to shove, we’ll defend the never-ending pasta bowl to the death. You know what the trick is to serving mediocre food? Limitless portions!
4) The Cheesecake Factory
The restaurant with a menu so big they even throw ads in there, The Cheesecake Factory spans pretty much every style of cooking you can think of and offers so many choices you’re likely to finally opt for the dartboard approach and just randomly pick one of the nine items you’ve been trying to decide between. The service is notoriously bad, there’s almost always a ridiculous wait, and if you do decide to top the meal off with a piece of cheesecake then your night will almost always end with regret. But, when the menu is this big, it always warrants another chance.
We always want to be transparent and honest about our article content. From time to time, we may link to products and services that compensate us for the referral. This does not affect your cost, but it does help us fund future content for this site.