Etiquette Hell

A Civil World. Off-topic discussions on a variety of topics. Guests, register for forum membership to see all the boards. => Time For a Coffee Break! => Topic started by: MOM21SON on November 10, 2012, 05:38:09 PM

Title: Going out for dinner
Post by: MOM21SON on November 10, 2012, 05:38:09 PM
DH, DS and I have discovered a new non chain restaurant in our area.  We save and go once every few months.  We have found that we don't go out much since our discovery.  We are finding that local chains are not filling our needs. 

What are your local, non chain restaurants like?
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Harriet Jones on November 10, 2012, 05:42:47 PM
There's not a huge selection of restaurants in our immediate area, so if we eliminated chains, our selection would be pretty small.  As long as the food and the service are decent, it's on our list.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: NyaChan on November 10, 2012, 05:44:32 PM
There isn't much in the way of chains in my area, but the local restaurants are amazing!  My hometown had a good mix of chain and local, including a couple local chains.  I tend to eat at local places except for a couple favs like Panera or Red Robin when I have a craving.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 10, 2012, 06:02:50 PM
We seldom go to chain restaurants.  The closest I've can come up with is local restaurants that now have 3 or 4 locations.  Even with dining out weekly, I don't think I've eaten at a national chain in the last year.  We used to eat at Pei Wei frequently as there was a location very close to us, then I took a look T their online nutrition info and I dropped it.

Out teens will pick up fast food at Smashburger, Whataburger, Taco Cabana  or Canes for lunch a couple times a month.

 
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: something.new.every.day on November 10, 2012, 06:10:08 PM
We don't ever eat at chains unless it's at someone else's invitation. (The only time that happens is when we join some elderly relatives for a meal out, so we're glad to do it.)

We're lucky to live where there are both lots of fine dining options, and also quick/cheap non-chain options. 
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Winterlight on November 10, 2012, 06:40:13 PM
I love Potbellys, and Ruby Tuesday is good. I am not anti-chain- I want both options. Some days, I don't want to struggle with a menu, I want RT salad bar and soup. Other days, I want to go to the place that does marscapone sandwiches and eggplant fries.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: mbbored on November 10, 2012, 06:41:34 PM
I generally prefer not too. Most of the chain restaurants in my town are American food, and as a vegetarian there aren't many options for me on the menu. The lone Chinese chain in my town is more expensive and not as good as the local places. Finally, I rarely eat fast food because of A) the vegetarian thing and B) they're generally not healthy.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: siamesecat2965 on November 10, 2012, 07:12:29 PM
I also prefer non-chain. In my area, there are tons of Italian and other types of restaurants.  And near my mom, who lives in a tourist area, whenever anyone goes and asks for recommendations, my list says "everything from fast food to chains - pretty much anyone you can think of" and then I list the non chains that my mom and I love.

there are a number we like, for various reasons.  One is a pub like place, and Mondays they have 1/2 price burgers and microbrews. Another is fancier and pricier, but have a couple standbys on the menu we love.  we like to try new places as well.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: artk2002 on November 10, 2012, 07:27:41 PM
Our dinner decisions take in a lot of factors. There are times when we want the predictable consistency of a chain. There are lots more times when we want something unique. Fortunately, we live in an area where we have plenty of selection.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Allyson on November 10, 2012, 07:36:52 PM
Sometimes. It really depends on the place. When I go out for dinner, it's probably about 70/30 in favour of non-chain, but that has to do with what's nearby. I can find something I like just about anywhere, whereas my dining companions can have various food restrictions, so I tend to let them pick unless they say they don't care. I'm not sure if I'm just terribly uncultured but I really don't notice a huge difference between Local Pizza Place and Romeo's, or Burger Place and Red Robin's much of the time. Well, that is, they have different styles but I enjoy them all.

I didn't even realise what places were and weren't chains til I was well into my 20s anyway.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: RegionMom on November 10, 2012, 07:37:48 PM
My DH really likes local, and we have an abundance around here, thankfully!

Even when travelling, we ask the front desk, "please tell us where YOU like to go, not where the top paid advertiser for this hotel suggests guests should go."
And we have never been steered wrong by travelling a bit off the beaten path.

And, it is not more expensive! 

Now, for fine dining, I cannot answer much.  But farmer's market produce, chef in the back, the menu changes seasonally, yeah, we like that stuff!
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Amara on November 10, 2012, 07:54:39 PM
I never go to chain restaurants. Never. Money is too precious to waste on plain dining out. I can make better things at home so when I do choose to dine out I want a real experience along with food I am unlikely (or unable) to make at home. I'd rather have quality over quantity.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Luci on November 10, 2012, 11:04:04 PM
When we travel, I'm always looking for local restaurants, but when we get to a tourist area, all we can find are chains. Orlando, anyone? Over the years, we spent far too much time there, even without visiting Disney. At least we found Sonny's, which is a chain we don't have here. We won't be going to central Florida again, so advice not needed. Thanks anyway. :)

Yet St. Augustine has dozens of one of a kind places. Go figure.

Unless we are exhausted and in a real rush, we try to seek out the local dineries.

There is also a big difference between McDonald's and Olive Garden. I'm a snob, too, I guess.

Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Perfect Circle on November 11, 2012, 12:22:58 AM
We have no chains in my village or the nearest town. So at home there's slinky one way to eat out and all of it delicious and well worth it.

In London? Well, it depends. There are chains and there are chains. I'm happy to eat in some of the nicer chains (nicer in my opinion), while others just aren't for me.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Shopaholic on November 11, 2012, 12:45:06 AM
I live in a city that has very good restaurants/bars/coffee shops so I think it is a waste of time to eat at a run-of-the-mill chain restaurant.
Unfortunately, in my immediate area there are only chain coffee shops (and one non-chain place that I despise for its atmosphere, not its food), so for a quick dinner we go to a chain place.

I have a friend who wants to meet me at a bland chain place every time he's in town. I just don't get it...
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: cicero on November 11, 2012, 03:23:55 AM
I don't go out much to eat at all due to money/diet/time restrictions.

there are pros and cons to each, and not all the chains are the same in terms of quality and ambience - if I am traveling, I will tend to go to a chain because there is some degree of comfort in knowing what i'm getting. at the same time - it's fun to be adventurous. in my own city - it's becoming harder and harder to find a place that *isnt'* a chain (other than a corner felafel store; and even some of those have turned into mini-chains).

Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: WestAussieGirl on November 11, 2012, 03:39:50 AM
We don't have as many chain restaurants here but when I was living in the States I only went to the chain places when someone else chose the restaurant.  In the town where I lived there were only 3 non-chain places (but 5 McDonalds) so not lots of choice.  Luckily the food at those three was good so I was happy to alternate between them.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: kherbert05 on November 11, 2012, 06:30:37 AM
I like to support local businesses including restaurants. Also for me local is safer because they tend to know their food better. So my preference tends to be
Local


Local Chains (Though I much more likely to go to the "real/original" location for example the Spaghetti Warehouse needs to be in a haunted Warehouse not a new building on 59.)


Sit down Chains


avoid fast food unless it is 2 am and Whataburger is the only place open in the one horse town we are traveling through.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Sophia on November 11, 2012, 08:31:14 AM
I used to have a job that involved traveling and then I would take the immediate people I worked with to lunch.  I always asked, "What is your favorite non-chain restaurant for lunch?"  Then we would go there.  I went to some great places that way. 
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: SleepyKitty on November 11, 2012, 08:41:41 AM
I never go to chain restaurants. Never. Money is too precious to waste on plain dining out. I can make better things at home so when I do choose to dine out I want a real experience along with food I am unlikely (or unable) to make at home. I'd rather have quality over quantity.

I love reading the different ways people think here! It's so funny because I'm the complete opposite - if I go out to eat, it's going to be at a local diner. There really isn't much around here for a quality experience, but the local greasy spoons have great food for cheap. I never ever go out to eat at expensive places. If I have extra money, I go the other route and make a really nice dinner at home with ingredients that I usually don't buy because they're too expensive. Bonus points if I bring home something that will last (like expensive olive oil).
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: CakeBeret on November 11, 2012, 08:55:42 AM
The only non-chains in our area are Mexican food and very pricey downtown hotspots. It's frustrating and annoying.

There's a city a couple hours away that has any restaurant you could imagine, and they're all local, non-chains. There's Greek, vegetarian, Italian, steak, pizza, sandwiches, Thai, coffee...so much variety. I love going there and supporting all the local businesses.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: magician5 on November 11, 2012, 09:14:16 AM
I live in an area blessed with many genuinely authentic "hole in the wall" ethnic restaurants, where you can get an amazing ang generous meal for a very reasonable price. Also, there are a number of more "mainstream" little one-off places (diners, etc) where I can expect to be recognized even before I sit down and be treated very well. Here, we're so mixed that any ethnicity is really just one of the crowd. I even seem to get "you want your regular table?" treatment at one of the numerous local Ethiopian places.

My budget does not allow "high end" dining choices, and I would not feel comfortable - and, yes, in this area it is possible to dine at the $200-per-person level or even more.

Who needs to be treated like an anonymous customer by an anonymous server, and offered a menu designed by a giant corporation?

THAT SAID, my wife talked me into TGI Friday's last week, just for a change, on an off afternoon at an off hour. I did find the food adequate, but what impressed me the most was the gracious welcome (the host even "parked" my walker for me) and the very pleasant service.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: VorFemme on November 11, 2012, 10:56:18 AM
VorGuy *likes* knowing what to expect in the way of menu items - we moved to Georgia and he *loved* Sonny's BBQ (NASA sent some into space for the astronauts - it is GOOD stuff - done Southern style with a red tomato based sauce and cooked until tender).  We don't have one near our house in Houston - but we go to Florida on vacation about once a year (time share) or to see our DD, DSIL, and DGS in Georgia - so we can get Sonny's if we want to. 

He also likes the seasonings of certain steak chains - and avoids other chains because they "do it wrong".  When traveling, he likes to get something to eat at a McDonald's or Arby's - but wants to eat it in the car (not me - if I'm driving, I stop & eat so I'm not distracted).  He wants to get where he's going - not "enjoy the trip".   His quirk, not mine.

But we go to a lot of chains because he knows what to expect.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: jpcher on November 11, 2012, 11:30:33 AM
Chains don't bother me a bit. But I don't eat out a whole lot, so going to an Olive Garden or a TGIF's is a dining experience for me. :)

We have a lot of both (chains and single-owned) in our area so it all depends on what the group is hungry for.

Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Shoo on November 11, 2012, 11:33:03 AM
I'm not above eating at chain restaurants. Some of them are really good!
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Jones on November 11, 2012, 12:12:07 PM
Chains don't bother me a bit. But I don't eat out a whole lot, so going to an Olive Garden or a TGIF's is a dining experience for me. :)

This right here.
Not that there is either an Olive Garden or TGIF's within a hundred miles of here  :(

Plus, sometimes the non-chain local restaurants are FANtastic, but due to not having a written or trained standard, go in there on an "off" day and you will regret it.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: #borecore on November 11, 2012, 12:14:25 PM
There's a halfway decent chance that that consistent, standardized menu won't have anything I'm willing to eat on it. I avoid them.

So we lean toward non-chains, but not necessarily fancy places, more often coffee shops, falafel shops, Thai restaurants or 24-hour eateries, but also fancier places on occasion. It seems like any place that does well around here and serves budget-friendly food becomes a "local chain" (2-15 locations, in-town or statewide) before long, and we don't necessarily avoid those, but they aren't our favorites.

I have been known to run out to Subway, Taco Cabana or even Taco Bell once in a while on a too-brief lunch break or on the road for a very brief stopover in a tiny town. We have eaten at Pei Wei, Chipotle and Freebirds in the last year, but otherwise I don't think we've gone to a national chain.

The 'sit-down' chains are last on my list, or maybe slightly ahead of local places I've gotten sick at.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Lady Snowdon on November 11, 2012, 12:28:12 PM
I'm totally fine with eating at chains.  I like knowing what's on the menu, and I like knowing that I can ask for a menu item without a particular ingredient, and not have to worry about insulting a chef who envisioned the item.  Then too, sometimes a chain is the only place that has what I want, at a price I can afford.  For example, I love salmon.  I'm not very confident in my ability to cook salmon correctly though.  Since I live in a landlocked state, I'd rather be able to go to Red Lobster every month or so and get my salmon fix, then save up for months at a time to go to a high end, high priced seafood restaurant. 

Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: demarco on November 11, 2012, 12:36:10 PM
I live next to a large city that has no identity, except a reputation for frumpiness.  Despite this, it has many fabulous non chain restaurants and some great local chains, too.  The independent restaurants tend toward expensive, require reservations, and are not near our house so we don't go to them very often unless we have a special occasion and plan ahead.  Some of the best of these are continental, Italian, seafood and steakhouses. Some of the local chains (pizza and barbecue) have offerings that rival anything I've ever gotten in an independent restaurant.  Our favorite Mexican place used to be part of a chain but broke off from it. 

Whether a restaurant is a chain or not doesn't  factor in to my decision about eating out.  I just don't care.  There are quite a few chains I really like and some you would have to pay me to patronize but the same can be said for independents.  Being locally owned is no guaranty of quality and some of the worst restaurant experiences I've ever had have been in "local favorites."

Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Sara Crewe on November 11, 2012, 01:57:10 PM
I like chain restaurants in a new area because generally you can be sure what you are getting.  The food may not be brilliant, but with a non-chain, while you may get wonderful food, it may also be awful and there is no way of knowing in advance.  In addition, with a chain, you can generally look up prices online which I find reassuring.

If visiting someone I'd be delighted to go to their non-chain recommendation, of course.

Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: MOM21SON on November 11, 2012, 02:37:58 PM
A few of your responses reminded me of when I worked in the service industry.  I had clients for many years, but they only came for the winter.  Every.single.winter they would ask me where to eat great seafood.  I would give them my raving list.  The next time I would see them I would ask if they went to wonderful seafood place.  It was always no, they went to seafood chain.

Hello!  Its Florida!  Fresh seafood!
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Sophia on November 11, 2012, 02:49:11 PM
My problem with chains is that making everything the same is more important than quality, therefore much of the food isn't made on-site.  When I was a youngun I was a waitress.  I worked at a few chains and one local Italian place.  I saw food being made at the local place.  I only saw food being heated at the chains.  Although, I know the meat was cut in the Steak and Ale. 
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Tea Drinker on November 11, 2012, 04:48:09 PM
I was going to say that the main time I go to chain restaurants is when I'm worn out enough that I don't want to deal with surprises (I know what I can get at a Subway's, for example, and won't have to think too much about what to eat). Then I thought a bit more, and realized that no, the main reason I go to chain restaurants is when I'm looking for a reliable cup of tea. I might get a decent cup of tea at a random diner, but I can count on getting an acceptable one at Starbuck's (yes, for 2-3 times the price, but if I throw something away as undrinkable, it's no bargain).

Do other people feel as though more local chains--when there are ten or twenty of the restaurant, but all in a small part of the country--are a bit different from national or international ones?
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Sharnita on November 11, 2012, 04:49:05 PM
Not all chains are created equal.  The same is true of non chains. I have been to some local places that served food I wouldn't serve a stray dog.  I have had food from local places that are wonderful.  The same can be said of some chains.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 11, 2012, 09:58:51 PM
I sort of suprised that so many poster have found the non-chain restaurants to be more expensive than the chains.  I've always thought I got better quality for the price at a non-chain than a chain.

I finally remembered the last national chain restaurant I visited that wasn't fast food.  It was Macaroni Grill and I was shocked at their prices for the quality.  I could think of 3 or more Italian restaurants in our area that would have been less expensive and  tastier. 
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: kareng57 on November 11, 2012, 10:06:01 PM
I think that I didn't really understand the question.  I picked "I just want to eat" meaning that I don't care whether or not it's a chain restaurant, but I see that very few others picked this.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: AngelicGamer on November 11, 2012, 11:13:45 PM
kareng57 - I picked that for the exact same reason you did.  Sometimes I just want to eat and I don't care if it's a chain or if it's local.  That said, one of my favorite pizza places is a lesser known chain, Rosati's, but sometimes (like tonight) I want my stuffed crust.  So that means ordering from Pizza Hut.  If I want a Beef, I go to Mr Beef and Pizza (local place) or if I want it a bit more dressy, I go to Portillo's (chain).  If I want Chinese?  I call the place that's two blocks from me and they know our orders as soon as they hear my address, also a local place.  I'll still eat at a Panda Express if I'm out at the mall and have a craving.  Also, if I want pancakes at 1 am?  Mmm IHOP.  It's one of the few places around that is open that late.  But if it's between 5 am and 2 pm?  I go to the local place called Elly's. 

So, for me, it's more "I want to eat" and secondary "where can I eat?".
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: violinp on November 11, 2012, 11:24:51 PM
We have loads of non - chain restaurants of all different kinds (from bar and grill type to Japanese to Italian), but sometimes we just want a sandwich from Jersey Mikes, or shrimp from Applebee's. If we're hankering for something, we usually eat it.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: AylaM on November 12, 2012, 12:54:13 AM
I usually consider chain restaurants first.  I like to have some idea of what I'm getting into.  So I tend towards "I've heard of that" first.  I don't expect them to be amazing, but they are much better then anything I can cook.  And I don't have to cook.

If a local place looks bright and open I'll try it on my own.  Otherwise I only go to local places if I was invited or if it has been recommended or if there is no chain choice at all.

Granted if I ever drive across country I'm going to attempt to eat at only places featured in "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives".  I consider that a recommendation.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: megswsu on November 12, 2012, 06:45:45 AM
Uggg. Practically *all* we have in this town are chain restaurants. However we do live in a military town so I guess it should be expected. Generally we try to go to local places. In my opinion, I just don't find the quality is that good at chains and I'd rather spend our money elsewhere for what I feel is better food. And we do enjoy supporting local business. However judging by how long the waits are at chains around here, I think we're in the minority w/our feelings on the matter! lol
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: Sophia on November 12, 2012, 07:27:00 AM
Uggg. Practically *all* we have in this town are chain restaurants. However we do live in a military town so I guess it should be expected. ...

Makes sense.  Chain restaurants thrive when the population is mobile.  People move to a new area, and are attracted to restaurants where they know what to expect. 

I like the opposite.  When I was traveling for work, in the evenings when I felt like eating out, I would just pick a direction and drive until I found a likely looking place.  I had amazing luck with that method, particularly in San Jose, Ca.  Only problem with the method is that it makes it harder to find the wonderful place again.
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: agentsmith on November 12, 2012, 09:19:45 AM
We mostly only eat at chains when on the road.  'At home' we eat at chains a couple times a year.   Okay, I lie like a dog-we go to chain sandwich shops reasonably often for lunch.  I seem to mentally equate that with 'refueling' not 'dining'. 
Title: Re: Going out for dinner
Post by: portiafimbriata on November 12, 2012, 09:44:32 AM
My husband and I don't dine out a whole lot, but when we do it's usually about what new place we can try next. As far as quick n' easy chain restaurant choices though, I am very fond of Noodles & Co. and also Five Guys.

My sister's family lives in a lovely, idyllic farming community in the middle of nowhere, but this means their dining choices are extremely limited  - Applebee's, Pizza Hut and McDonald's pretty much covers it. When she visits us, she is delighted by the dining choices in our area. Name a cuisine and you can get it, within 20 miles tops. We did go out for raw oysters and steamed mussels the last 2 or 3 times she was up, but that's not really something she can get back home.