Favorite 3: Chain Restaurants

Categories: Big Three

flemings2354.jpg
Fleming's.

Lauren Marmaduke

1. Chipotle Mexican Grill
2. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
3. Armadillo Palace

Lauren's Take: I have a hard-on for foods that come wrapped in tortillas and flatbread. The compact cylindrical packaging makes Chipotle's burritos an ideal lunch option for busy days when you have to do lunch at your desk. Just had dinner at Fleming's a few weeks back, and it was better than ever. The place was packed but the wait on a Saturday night was less than five minutes. I'll admit to being extremely anal when it comes to cooking temperature, but my steak arrived a perfect rare/medium rare. And Armadillo Palace's chicken fried steak and live music -- life doesn't get much better than that.

Amber Ambrose

1. Cracker Barrel
2. Waffle House
3. Romano's Macaroni Grill

Amber's Take: At Cracker Barrel, I enjoy the hash brown casserole and those random impulse buys in the old-lady heaven also known as the "country store." Nobody makes a better waffle than Waffle House, especially not at 4 a.m. Macaroni Grill is the first place I ever ate orzo pasta. I like the bread served with olive oil instead of butter, fresh mozzarella and bruschetta. Plus, drawing on the table is pretty fun.

meltingkramer.jpg
The Melting Pot.
Stacy (EOW Reader)
1. Cheesecake Factory
2. The Melting Pot
3. McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant

Stacy's Take: I know not one item on the Cheesecake Factory's menu is less than 700 calories (or something crazy like that), but when you feel like indulging, it's a top spot for me. Can't decide what to order on their novel long menu? Try the Crusted Chicken Romano. You won't be sorry. As for the Melting Pot, I used to live in Switzerland so any chance to get traditional Swiss fondue (with Emmentaler and Gruyere), I jump at it. The Melting Pot wouldn't be my first stop, but for a chain, it's pretty damn good. Plus, it's fun to cook your own food, isn't it? And as for McCormick & Schmick's, two words: Lobster Bisque.

Kevin Shalin (me)

1. Maggiano's Little Italy
2. Pappasito's
3. Perry's Steakhouse and Grille

My Take: The Rigatoni D at Maggiano's is fabulous. The tender chicken and tiny mushrooms scattered throughout the cream sauce and pasta is tops. Try out their stuffed mushrooms for a nice treat. Say what you want, but Pappasito's does a few things very well--the Matador Nachos and the pork tamales. The complimentary thin chips have always been a favorite of mine. I like Perry's signature pork chop more than most of my relatives. I'd adopt that pork chop and give it a loving and nurturing home.

The React: Wow, Waffle House gets a mention 2 out of 3 weeks for the Favorite Three. That's damn near amazing, but props to them. Stacy's choice and description of Cheesecake Factory was dead on. Lauren is all over the place, from Chipotle to Fleming's. Props go out to her for mixing it up a bit. There was a time when I'd have agreed with Amber's Cracker Barrel selection, but I'm of the belief that their food has gone downhill. However, I still love me that country store.



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Location Info

Venue

Map

Romano's Macaroni Grill

5802 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant

1151-01 Uptown Park Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Perry's Steakhouse and Grille

9827 Katy Freeway, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pappasito's

13070 Highway 290, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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19 comments
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ShitThowingMonkey
ShitThowingMonkey

If I'm about to drop the kind of coin that the melting pot asks for, my food better be cooked for me. Never. Again.

Texasgirl129
Texasgirl129

Oh Amber. No hon. Not agreeing with those choices at all. It's like a bad Johnny Carson joke: Cracker Barrel, Waffel House & Romano's. What 3 restaurants give you explosive diaherra? or What 3 restaurants does Marvin Zindler's ghost haunt?

Had horrible experiences at all 3. Dried egg on my plate when I ordered a sandwich at Cracker Barrel last time. Cockroach. At the Waffel House. Yuck. Romano's had horrific service. Just horrible. But in all fairness...the waffels and hashbrowns (smoothered & covered) are amazing at 3 in the morning at the Waffle House. :)

kylejack
kylejack

Vic & Anthony'sHouse of PiesTaconmadre

Doc Ricky
Doc Ricky

Funny, no one chooses a local based chain. Take, for example, the Arandas chain, or the Mambo's chain, or even say, 59 Diner. One could argue that the Pappa's restaurants are a chain, as is Whataburger.

Vaughn S Gregg
Vaughn S Gregg

Kevin specified corporate owned chain restaurants, btw.

Lauren Marmaduke
Lauren Marmaduke

Armadillo Palace is Goode Company - that's local. Their offices are located off of Kirby.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

Mine would include Cheddar's (cheap American favorites that were better than I had any right to expect), Pei Wei (decent mix of Asian offerings, all very fresh and well prepared) and Texas Roadhouse (a decent take on stereotypical Texas food)

Helen
Helen

I think the Pappas chain in general is pretty solid. The food isn't particularly ground breaking, but it's always high quality and the service is great. If anything at all goes wrong, there is a manager at the table with a free dessert or gift certificate. Love the the thin Pappasito's chips and shrimp embrochette, love the Pappas Greek salad and key lime pie.

Cosign on Fleming's and Perry's as well. Oh, and Shipley's. SHIPLEY'S!

Bruce R
Bruce R

Shipley's is a chain but I wouldn't call it a restaurant.

Kevin Shalin
Kevin Shalin

Helen, have you had the Perry's pork chop? It's a food bucket list item.

MadMac
MadMac

Mr. Shalin, I encourage you to try the Chiptle pork chops at Spanish Flower, which might just put you in the bucket. Absolutely wonderful.

Lucas
Lucas

When old white ladies die they go to the big cracker barrel country store in the sky.

Kevin Shalin
Kevin Shalin

Next up: Favorite Three Pizza Places

Email me your three, following the format above.

wcshalin (at) hotmail.com

One will go on EOW, the rest on The Mighty Rib.

VSG
VSG

Is the next one limited to restaurants serving mostly pizza?

Kevin Shalin
Kevin Shalin

No, it's really just your favorite pizza in general. FYI, I've closed the Pizza Places post out, so anything submitted will go on my blog. Still would love to see your opinions. Thank you.

Bruce R
Bruce R

For some reason I think the lot of you made pretty good picks. I'd toss BJ's into the mix.

Lmarmaduke
Lmarmaduke

Wow - coming from you that's quite a compliment :)

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