Let This Flowchart Tell You Which Chain Restaurant To Visit Next

Sometimes it’s hard to decide on a chain restaurant when you’re going out to eat. Luckily, the blog Eating The Road has produced a handy flowchart. What I like best about it is it asks the important questions, things like “Are you Drunk? Do you want to be? Are you high?” And most important, “Do you mind flair?”

If you want to see a bigger version, click the link at the bottom of the post to visit Eating The Road.


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“Where Should I Eat? Chain Restaurant Edition” [Eating The Road]

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  1. Copper says:

    That’s pretty funny and incredibly accurate.

    • cash_da_pibble says:

      i absolutely love that the only difference between Denny’s and Benihana is whether I’m a ninja or not.
      I also now totally want to go to a Bennigans.

    • tbiscuit360 says:

      Actually they did make one mistake… Fuddruckers has unlimited steak fries!

  2. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I like how there’s a box that says “The French Laundry smack in the middle of it with nothing pointing to it. I know nothing about it or why no one should go there but I find it funny anyway.

    I’m trying to decide if a trip to Waffle House is the result of answer “Yes” or “No” to the “Are you high?” question. I’m leaning towards ‘No’.

    • spazztastic says:

      High AND driunk for Der Waffle Haus.

      • FaustianSlip says:

        Or in the midst of an all-nighter during finals week. Man, we always ended up ordering grits from the surly Waffle House waitress at three in the morning at least once during finals. Except that Waffle House would have to go, “Are you high?” and then, “Are you south of the Mason-Dixon?”

      • korybing says:

        High AND drunk, a student on an all-nighter, or a trucker for the Affle Hou.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      The French Laundry isn’t a chain, and the average price per person is about $250. And there’s a huge waiting list.

      /has always wanted to eat at The French Laundry and is willing to spend half a paycheck on dinner there.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Ah, so it’s more like, “If you’re consulting this chart at all then you can’t eat here, so there.”

      • hypnotik_jello says:

        It’s not connected to anything…

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          …because it’s not a chain. And also I suspect it was a secret Lulz, like Rectilinear Propagation said, like “if you are legitimately using those flowchart, do not even bother thinking about The French Laundry and the might of Thomas Keller’s kitchen kung fu. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 (which will not cover dinner at The French Laundry) – try again!”

      • econobiker says:

        Then Ruth Chris Steakhouse box must be somewhere off the flowchart…

        • tawnie says:

          Ruth Chris is a level above this flow chart. as for The French Laundry it had to be a joke even putting it on here as anyone that wants true food would not darken the door of these pre fab establishments. The food is trucked in and tossed in boxes in a walk in freezer and the cooking consists of removing the food from plastic packaging and heating it up. There is no real cooking involved. The French Laundry is the best restaurant in the country which is why it can take 6 months just to even get in for their incredible tasting menu.

          • Theodore the Proud says:

            “It had to be a joke”? The whole thing is a joke.

            I don’t own a television and like to find posts where people talk about watching shows and tell them. You and I are like long-lost siblings!

        • ludwigk says:

          Ruth’s Chris *is* a chain, so it totally belongs here, along some line of questioning like “do you want to pay a lot and get really good steak?”

      • sonneillon says:

        You may also want to add Per Se to that list. Per Se is the other restaurant done by Keller. It also has 3 Michelin stars. Keller’s restaurants have 2/3rds of the Michelin stars in the United States. The third restaurant is Joël Robuchon at The Mansion.

  3. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    Haha! Love it!

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I actually like California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Changs…there are only a few chain places I actually like, and those two are on that list.

    • huadpe says:

      You live near the “good mall,” don’t you?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        I live near several good malls.

        • tawnie says:

          The words mall and food do not belong in the same sentence. The P.F. Changs here is not even in a mall but it is still awful. If I ever go out to eat which is extremely rare I try to stay with local businesses that us local food.

          • West Coast Secessionist says:

            Local restaurants? *Scoff* I only make my own restaurants at home.

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            Sorry to burst your bubble, but local restaurants have no guarantee of offering local food, even if they say on their menus they do. To them, local can mean 400 miles.

            And the PF Changs and the CPK are actually in a shopping center / suburban-urban walkspace, not a mall. It’s hard to describe.

      • FaustianSlip says:

        What if you live in Maine, and there’s only one mall? What are you supposed to do then?

        *weeps*

  5. nbs2 says:

    Wow. Almost all of those restaurants are within a few miles of my house. At least, the McFatty ones are.

    Also, is it just me or did the French Laundry get left alone? And the comments display better not be running behind.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      It’s not you. Turns out it’s 1) Insanely expensive, 2) Has a huge waiting list, and 3) Not a chain (See the new replies to my earlier comment).

  6. Wrathernaut says:

    Needs a “Do you prefer to watch sports or tits” to divert from Hooters to Buffalo Wild Wings.

  7. punkrawka says:

    Fatal flaw in this chart: You have to answer “No” to being an AARP member to end up at Old Country Buffet. I doubt the entire methodology because of that!

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      An excellent catch!

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      I mean, they did an entire South Park episode about old people who went there.

    • yevarechecha says:

      Old Country Buffet is one of those places that always leads to the following type of conversation when we’re on road trips:

      Passenger: Man, I’m starving. Can we stop for lunch?
      Driver: Fine. What do you want?
      Passenger: I don’t know, anything’s fine. I’m just really, really hungry.
      **car passes sign that says Food Exit 197A: Old Country Buffet NEXT EXIT 53 MILES**
      Driver: Well, there you go. Want to stop?
      Passenger: Um, on second thought, no. I’ll just wait. Did you eat all the Skittles?

      The last time I went to one of those OCB/Cracker Barrel-type places, I think I would have done better just skipping the meal and eating out of the table’s salt shaker. It would have tasted the same.

      • "I Like Potatoes" says:

        Old Country Buffet and Cracker Barrel are totally different. One is a buffet, the other gives you real maple syrup with your pancakes and has the cleanest bathrooms on the interstate. I’ll let you figure out which is which.

        • charrr says:

          It’s not 100% anymore due to the maple crop being low. It’s now 55% maple and 45% cane sugar. Still better than most places.

  8. darklighter says:

    Why isn’t Denny’s with Coco’s, IHOP, and Carrow’s?

    • econobiker says:

      Denny’s typically generates a higher percentage of fights to patron counts after hours so stoners wouldn’t necessarily want to go there…

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Hilarious!

  10. TVGenius says:

    Very thorough… I’ve actually heard of all the US ones and been to most. Guess they avoided ‘regional’ stuff… cause I fully expected to come across In-n-Out at some point.

    (Side note: HA HA I live in a crappy town in AZ and have an In-n-Out and you don’t!)

  11. NotYou007 says:

    Well only 8 of those on the list are near my home and I’m not driving 2 1/2 hours just to go to the Outback even though I love their ribs.

  12. Tallanvor says:

    I just have to say, if you’re ever in the UK, definitely visit Wagamama! It may be a chain, but it’s good food. And for anyone in Boston or D.C., they’ve made it there as well!

    • nbs2 says:

      Ahhhh! It tricks us!

      After some searching, it looks like the DC location isn’t opening until May 2010. And I was all excited for some ramen.

    • Quill2006 says:

      Ah, Wagamama. By far the best chain restaurant ever! The flow chart is accurate; if you’re anywhere near a Wagamama, that’s where you should go. So. Damn. Good. Good enough for me to laugh at the idea that you can’t find good food in the UK.

      Why oh why isn’t there one in Chicago yet?

    • SegamanXero says:

      I have been to the one in Faneuil Hall in Boston and it was the best food I have had in a while. I hear that one is the best one in Boston, there is supposed to be on in the Prudential Mall as well but that one is supposed to be not as good… I don’t know about the Prudential Mall one as I didnt go to that one, but as I said the one in Faneuil Hall was awesome

  13. Taliskan says:
  14. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Go to the website Consumerist has linked and check out the cereal version. Super hilarious!!!

  15. Phaper says:

    Are you in England? Why yes I am. Wagamama?! I’m not fond of Japanese food and it’s too expensive!

    This would make more sense to me if I was in America.

  16. Nogard13 says:

    “Are you a ninja?” LOL

  17. Sulheka says:

    Thomas Keller’s French Laundry is generally considered by foodies to be one of the best restaurants in the world. I find it deeply amusing that it is on this chart…. yet unachievable.

  18. FilthyHarry says:

    There should be a yes/no decision before Denny’s “Are you black?” If yes, you can’t go to Denny’s.

  19. admiral_stabbin says:

    I thought “Howard Johnson’s” was a motel chain. Has the world changed, or am I just in the wrong dimension?

    • FilthyHarry says:

      HoJo’s originally started out as an ice-cream parlor/cafeteria, expanding to a motel chain much later.

      • admiral_stabbin says:

        Ha, thank you for learning me. If only I had the free time…I would make it my mission to go eat at a HoJo’s. Sadly, all I’ve got time for is the Ho’s…

    • humphrmi says:

      Howard Johnson’s restaurants were sometimes part of a hotel, and sometimes stand-alone. There used to be a stand-alone restaurant in Times Square, but it closed. It was a lot like IHOP and Denny’s. I don’t know if there are still any around.

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      Now I feel so old. I remember going to eat there all the time when I was a kid. They had good ice cream, too. My brother always ordered the “super sailor” which was fried clams. Haven’t seen a HoJo’s in years.

      • econobiker says:

        There was a restaurant /motel combo off of I-40 west of Nashville, TN that closed in the last 5 years to reopen as some independent restaurant/bar/motel which then closed down about 3 years ago. The gutted shell of both the motel and restaurant were recently torn down…

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        oh, yeah, the one near me used to do all you can eat fried clams and my parents took us kids there every so often

      • Nighthawke says:

        We had one on the north side of Tulsa by Yale ave. They had HUGE burgers, even tho I was small fry back then, but they were huge to me! Great ice cream too!
        Shame they could not keep up with the times and folded.

    • hans says:

      Howard-Johnsons was always the place to stop for lunch while on family trips when I was a kid. I can still remember the smell of the places (various essences of deep-fried). They were pretty popular in the East & mid-west, but I haven’t seen one in decades.

  20. CyGuy says:

    My birthday is this week? Which chain has the best deal – can I get a meal, and dessert, and a drink at any one place, should I make a couple of stops?

    • RandomHookup says:

      You may be too late. Lots of chains require you to sign up online ahead of time. Most of the chains have buy-one, get one free; some have free dessert when you buy dinner.

      What restaurants do you have locally?

  21. Thorzdad says:

    What? No love for Steak n Shake?

    • korybing says:

      I thought the same thing! I guess there’s no Midwest love if they’re leavin’ off the Steak ‘N Shake. I want steakburgers and shoestring fries at 3am served to me by a guy in a bow-tie and a paper hat while sitting inside a restaurant that’s been there since the 60s. Where’s that on the flowchart?

  22. RonYnz says:

    Uhh… The awesome blossom at Chili’s is gone. You have to go to Outback and get a “Bloomin’ Onion”.

  23. SacraBos says:

    The chart is flawed. The “Are you obese” and “Do you want to stay that way” needs an arrow to Marie Callendars. I went there once to pick up an order, and everyone walking in and out for the next 10 minutes was at least 50lbs over-weight.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      Ponderosa is another place that apparently caters to fat people. We used to go there for lunch while I was in the Army Reserve (because that’s where our unit sent us), and you wouldn’t believe some of the people who would go there for the all-you-can-eat buffet.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      But that doesn’t mean that Marie Callendars’ food is extra bad for you. Just because someone is overweight doesn’t mean that they only eat foods that contain too many calories or too much fat/salt/sugar even if it is just their eating habits causing them to be overweight.

  24. chucklebuck says:

    Aw man, I *do* like Guy Fieri! But I could be happy never eating at Friday’s again.

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      I would much rather eat at the places on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives than Fridays – that’s for sure!

      • chucklebuck says:

        Oh, absolutely – it’s gotten to where I start writing some of that crazy stuff down so I can try it out myself!

  25. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    Awesome. I usually only eat at chains when I’m on business travel. I’m too tired and hungry to be bothered with trying some new place I may or may not like. In that event, the deciding factor for me is which restaurants, if any, are within walking distance of my hotel.

    I usually don’t want to be bothered with driving eithe

  26. 2 replies says:

    How can you say no to liking seafood, and still end up at benihana?

  27. chiieddy says:

    Wagamama is available in Boston (Fanueil Hall) and Cambridge (Harvard Sq), MA too. Go no further :)

  28. XISMZERO says:

    This is all sorts of funny. So if you DON’T have ninja sensibilities, you’ll be eating at Denny’s?

    • Quake 'n' Shake says:

      Maybe I’m the only guy who likes Denny’s, but dammit, sometimes I’m jonesing for a patty melt, pancakes or an open faced roast beef sandwich. I only need to go to one place to satisfy any of those cravings.

      Although… I recall one time my wife and I were at a Denny’s and we were blown away at how darn cute the little blond college girl waitress was. After she took our order, we both said to each other, simultaneously, “She’s too cute to be working here.”

  29. thanq says:

    The chart is missing something major for Olive Garden – soup. Forget breadsticks and greens. Zoppa Toscana FTW!

  30. RB_Bhoy says:

    btw, bennigan’s doesn’t exist anymore. went under at least a year ago.

  31. drizzt380 says:

    Chilis no longer carries the Awesome Blossom. At least the ones in my area.

  32. EyeSeeYuPea says:

    I absolutely love this chart. This is what I tell myself those nights of gaming and I just need fooodddd. What to decide… what to decide…

  33. MsAnthropy says:

    I love how anyone in England MUST go to Wagamama. I would agree with that – I miss Wagamama! That and Nando’s.

  34. DAK says:

    Red Robin is always a good decision

    • XISMZERO says:

      Could be… if the wait staff comes back more than once (in a blue moon) for a refill of steak fries without making it seem like a chore. It’s that or trying to get them to fill up the salad bowl beyond 40% at The Olive Garden. Isn’t more than two people ordering the unlimited soup/salad/breadsticks worthy of more than three breadsticks and a low bowl of salad?!

  35. rlancaste says:

    awesome!

  36. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    This is just awesome!

  37. FaustianSlip says:

    Hilarious, although the first one should really say, “Are you in England or Boston?” The Wagamama set underneath Quincy Market is just as good as the ones I’ve visited in Ireland and the U.K., although I’ve had fewer cravings for it since my mom figured out how to make a killer chicken katsu curry. I think they’ve got Wagamama in Australia, too. I’d also submit that Pret a Manger should be on there, as well.

    Very funny, though (and true!).

  38. shepd says:

    Incredible! This part of Canuckistan has just ONE of those restaurants!

    In fact, to get to any one of the other restaurants listed would involve at least 1 hour’s worth of driving. And the vast majority of them either don’t exist here, or would be cheaper to visit using an airplane instead of driving.

    And no, I don’t live in some seventh circle of hell. I do live in the 10th largest city in this country (by population, not landmass!).

  39. wvFrugan says:

    Gay people, and black folks too, can’t go to Cracker Barrel even ifnot high. My father gave me a gift card for them last year, I almost fell out. It was about as cool a gift as that fucking idiot book “A Purpose Driven Life” from my sister-in-law. I think they both shopped at the GodHatesFags website store.

  40. Blue387 says:

    No Chipotle? No Tim Hortons? No Nathans or Chick-fil-A or Nedick’s or Gray’s Papaya? Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?

    • Slave For Turtles says:

      Timbits FTW!
      Alas, most states don’t have Tim Hortons. :-P Great, now I want some coffee.

  41. The Lone Gunman says:

    Is it just my imagination, or are there two restaurant chains listed there that no longer exist?

    (Bennigan’s and El Torito.)

    TLG

  42. vladthepaler says:

    Mexican food isn’t for carnivores? Er.

  43. jayk says:

    Missing Panera on that list. Loved going there on my last trip to the US.

  44. GillesTheGreat says:

    Wow … out of all the comments, no one has mentioned the French Laundry sitting in the middle of the chart?

  45. NewsMuncher says:

    Things like this can be hit or miss. There are several restaurants that I’ve never seen, and I’ve lived in several different states, although I may have missed them because I don’t spend a lot of time in cities. (E.G. Coco’s, Mimi’s Cafe, UNO, Baker’s Square). I think Chick-Fil-A is an awesome restaurant, as is Chili’s (especially with the nod towards ethical meat), but I think they didn’t make the list because they could be considered fast food, and not a restaurant with servers (though Chick-Fil-A does bring your food to you).
    P.F. Chang’s and California Pizza Kitchen are my husband’s and mine favorite restaurants. Especially CPK, where they make eating your greens fun, and if you have any vegetarian friends, an excellent dinner choice (my friend thanked me warmly for introducing her to CPK). Also, my vegetarian friend remarked that P.F. Changs is the only place she knows of that offers vegetarian lettuce wraps.
    I discovered a pretty cool restaurant after moving to southern California called Souplantation, which is a buffet style restaurant that is ideal for the vegetarian (or someone who wishes they liked salad more). The first thing you are presented with is their salad bar, which is fantastic. The hot bar is also really good, but shies away from fried foods or meat-only dishes, sticking to soups, potatoes, breads & muffins, foccacia, and pastas, with soft serve, fresh fruit, mousses or puddings. Their selection changes day to day and month to month. The three states with the most locations are CA (45), FL (20), AZ (10), so it looks like mostly a Cali thing. I’ll definitely miss it when I leave here.

  46. NewsMuncher says:

    Things like this can be hit or miss. There are several restaurants that I’ve never seen, and I’ve lived in several different states, although I may have missed them because I don’t spend a lot of time in cities. (E.G. Coco’s, Mimi’s Cafe, UNO, Baker’s Square). I think Chick-Fil-A is an awesome restaurant, as is Chili’s (especially with the nod towards ethical meat), but I think they didn’t make the list because they could be considered fast food, and not a restaurant with servers (though Chick-Fil-A does bring your food to you).
    P.F. Chang’s and California Pizza Kitchen are my husband’s and mine favorite restaurants. Especially CPK, where they make eating your greens fun, and if you have any vegetarian friends, an excellent dinner choice (my friend thanked me warmly for introducing her to CPK). Also, my vegetarian friend remarked that P.F. Changs is the only place she knows of that offers vegetarian lettuce wraps.
    I discovered a pretty cool restaurant after moving to southern California called Souplantation, which is a buffet style restaurant that is ideal for the vegetarian (or someone who wishes they liked salad more). The first thing you are presented with is their salad bar, which is fantastic. The hot bar is also really good, but shies away from fried foods or meat-only dishes, sticking to soups, potatoes, breads & muffins, foccacia, and pastas, with soft serve, fresh fruit, mousses or puddings. Their selection changes day to day and month to month. The three states with the most locations are CA (45), FL (20), AZ (10), so it looks like mostly a Cali thing. I’ll definitely miss it when I leave here.