The 25 Best Chain Restaurant Dishes
First We Feast, the new food blog from Complex Media, only debuted a few weeks ago, but the site has already tackled a range of food topics, from how to eat at a breastaurant without being creepy (hint: make eye contact) and unusual beer styles you need to know.
First We Feast recently posted a piece on a behemoth topic (well, at least in the minds of HuffPost Food’s editors). Figuring out the 25 best chain restaurant dishes is no easy task. Heck, when we embarked on our Chain Food Showdown, we limited ourselves to eight places.
They were kind enough to share their findings with us. Check out the 25 best chain restaurant dishes below:
Buffalo Blasts At Cheesecake Factory
strongWhat is it:/strong Chicken, cheese, and a spicy buffalo sauce all stuffed in a spiced wrapper and fried until crisp. Served with Blue Cheese dressing.
strongWhy we love it:/strong Cheesecake Factory does not see international borders—any food that is fried and delicious becomes fair game for its fat-kid culinary exploits. This gut-busting appetizer is a prime example, combining Asian wontons, fried chicken, and buffalo tenders into one in-your-face finger food.
strongAlso see:/strong a href=”http://firstwefeast.com/eat/the-jay-z-and-beyonce-guide-to-nyc-dining/”The Jay-Z And Beyonce Guide To NYC Dining/a
Bloomin’ Onion At Outback Steakhouse
strongWhat it is:/strong An onion fried until golden, then served with spicy signature dipping sauce.
strongWhy we love it:/strong One of the most iconic dishes in the chain-restaurant playbook, this grease monster is something everyone should try at least once. Outback claims that each of these onions is hand-carved by a “bloomologist.” Whether or not that’s true is ultimately meaningless, because what matters is this: Those crispy shards of onion, so perfect for dunking into an addictive spicy cream sauce, are always the business.
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Country Fried Steak At Cracker Barrel
strongWhat it is: /strongUSDA Choice Steak breaded and deep-fried, then topped with Sawmill Gravy.
strongWhy we love it:/strong We have a special place in our hearts for Cracker Barrel, which even in the context of other chain restaurants feels distinctly American, with its faux-country stores and emphasis on blue-collar dishes like meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, and biscuits. The fried steak, smothered in peppery white gravy, will require you to pull off at the next rest stop and check into a motel to sleep off the inevitable food coma.
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Triple Chocolate Meltdown At Applebee’s
strongWhat is it: /strongA fudge-filled chocolate cake, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce.
strongWhy we love it:/strong Remember that scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” when Meryl Streep, playing Anna Wintour, breaks down the path of cerulean blue from Oscar de la Renta runway shows to the bargain bins of Casual Corner? Chocolate fondant cake has had a similar evolution, beginning in haute kitchens—many attribute its creation to either Michel Bras or Jean-Georges Vongerichten—then trickling down to, well, places like Applebee’s. You can tell your family this story while eating the Triple Chocolate Meltdown to prove that college was not a complete waste of money.
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The Fried Cheese Melt At Denny’s
strongWhat is it:/strong A grilled cheese sandwich made with American cheese and four fried mozzarella sticks stuck between two slices of sourdough bread. Served with French fries.
strongWhy we love it: /strongDenny’s recently introduced a a href=”http://firstwefeast.com/eat/hobbit-breakfast-coming-soon-to-a-dennys-near-you/”Middle Earth menu /ain honor of The Hobbit movie, but don’t be tempted by Gandalf’s Gobble Melt: What you’re really here for is this Frankenfood monstrosity, which ingeniously combines two of the greatest stoner foods of all time into one handheld package.
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The Original Double ‘N Cheese Steakburger At Steak ‘N Shake
strongWhat it is:/strong Two Steakburgers with melted pepperjack cheese, lettuce, vine-ripened tomato, grilled onions, jalapeños, and mayo on grilled sourdough. Served with fries.
strongWhy we love it:/strong When it comes to chain burgers, this 75-year-old Midwestern classic has the game on lock—in fact, this is just a great burger by any standards, and it could stack up against versions found at haute gastropubs and roadside mom-and-pop shops across the country. The two patties are smashed thin and crispy on the griddle, then draped generously with American cheese and sandwiched inside a soft, buttery bun. The proportions are impeccable, the meat is juicy, and the price is insanely low. Steak ‘n Shake rules.
strongAlso See: /stronga href=”http://firstwefeast.com/eat/how-to-score-a-table-at-a-hot-restaurant/”How To Score A Table At A Hot Restaurant/a
Cheese Biscuits At Red Lobster
strongWhat it is:/strong Exactly what they sound like.
strongWhy we love it:/strong These are biscuits of lore, and they are reason enough to indulge your Red Lobster-loving family and battle through an otherwise bland menu. The cheese biscuits are what you’ll remember from a trip to the place—they are straight crack, all cheese and garlic and buttery pastry. Eat as many as you can without arousing suspicion, then sidestep the suspect seafood.
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Spicy Grilled Shrimp Tacos At Chili’s
strongWhat it is:/strong Three flour tortillas filled with grilled shrimp, pico de gallo, and sliced avocados.
strongWhy we love it:/strong Don’t be shy, gringo. It’s okay to champion flour tortillas. Especially when they are filled with the pinnacle of Americanized south-of-the-border seafood—grilled shrimp in Chili’s signature chile-lime sauce. Curren$y once tweeted his displeasure that the Chili’s cheesesteak isn’t a real cheesesteak sandwich. Purists could take similar issues with these tacos. However, they’d be missing the point: This is the dish that defines what Chili’s does best—twisting and turning “exotic” flavors into Middle American classics.
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Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps At P.F. Chang’s
strongWhat it is:/strong Wok-seared minced chicken, mushrooms, green onions, and water chestnuts served over crispy rice sticks with crisp lettuce cups.
strongWhy we love it:/strong Once you get over the fact that P.F. Chang’s is about as authentically Asian as the Hooters is kid-friendly, you can get down to the business of enjoying these wraps, which are a triumph of culinary appropriation—one of the enduring legacies of the American chain, after all. Seriously though, they are damn good. Grab the lettuce cups, hold them like little burritos, and try to eat them before anyone else at the table can dive in for seconds.
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Tour Of Italy At Olive Garden
strongWhat it is:/strong Homemade lasagna, lightly breaded chicken Parmesan, and creamy fettuccine alfredo.
strongWhy we love it:/strong Olive Garden, for all its failures in authentic Italian cooking, wins by combining three of the best Americanized dishes on a single platter. It may make more sense if it were renamed “Tour of Jersey Shore,” but it flat out succeeds as a combination of highly stereotyped flavors regardless.
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More Best Chain Restaurant Dishes
stronga href=”http://firstwefeast.com/eat/the-25-best-chain-restaurant-dishes-in-america/s/famous-french-dip-at-hillstonehoustons/”Head over to First We Feast for the rest of the 25 Best Chain Restaurant Dishes./a/strong
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