10 Chain Restaurants Ranked Based On Personal Experiences

10 Chain Restaurants Ranked Based On Personal Experiences

They all have unique aspects that make them great.

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My only personal rule when it comes to dining out is never ever Applebee's. Applebee's is trash.

1. Chili's

Huge Chili's guy. Not a bad thing to say about the place. Fast service, consistent food and that cookie skillet are always excellent. Chicken crispers are OK too. Really just an ideal dining experience in all regards. Chilis to go is also a big draw. All around winner right here.

2. IHOP

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and IHOP allows you to get it all day long. With so many variations of pancakes, omelet's, eggs and even a full dinner menu, there is not much bad about the place. Especially a great late night dining destination. Often patronized by the elderly for their early bird special, there's sure to never be a dull moment at your local IHOP.

3. Texas Roadhouse

A great place for dinner. Get a nice cut of prime rib, some mashed potatoes and of course, those rolls. Sometimes it is very busy and takes a while for the food to come out but in the meantime they have peanuts. They seem to really emphasize quality and portions and therefore there is always a good value. Some have tried to copy their business model, but Texas Roadhouse does it best.

4. Waffle House

Southern Icon, waffle house. Place doesn't close. Ever. Thats admirable in and of itself. Menu is basic and food is nothing special, but there is just something about the environment and the way it feels like everyone is welcome there is excellent. Price is right too. Restaurants are usually dirty enough that you notice, but not dirty enough to really care.

5. Chick-Fil-A

Best service in the fast food industry hands down. When you walk in to a Chick-Fil-A, you are treated with utmost respect. Not to mention in terms of food quality and consistency, they take the cake. Only true downfalls are that it is relatively expensive and they are not open on Sundays. Killer milkshakes too.

6. Chipotle

Consistent. You walk in, you know what you're getting. The food is really not that special but the draw is that it is at least moderately healthy and always dank. Watch out for that E. Coli though, it'll getcha.

7. Auntie Annes

You ever been to a mall? There's probably an Auntie Anne's there. It's the pretzel place that is always there, smelling good. They have variations of pretzels such as pretzel dogs and pretzel nuggets and lemonade to wash it all down. A great snack. Reminds me of simpler times.

8. Dunkin' Donuts (Dunkin")

New England favorite. There are 3 within a mile of my house at home. Not really anything special about the place. It seems like more of a cultural thing. Still great though. Coffee coolatas are noteworthy.

9. McDonalds

American staple. Ice cream machine is always broken and food order sometimes gets messed up, but in a general sense McDonalds is always there for you. You can go anywhere in the country and be close to one. Coffee for only a buck is the best part.

10. Cici's Pizza

All you can eat pizza for $5.99 is a hell of a deal. They have almost any kind of pizza you can think of, even a dessert pizza. This place is not for everyone. It's kind of dirty and they usually have a shitty arcade, but for six bucks what do you expect.

For those with a refined palette, it is important to identify the things that make chain restaurants great. This is entirely subjective. Applebees is garbage.

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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9 Artsy Restaurants To Check Out Near Villanova

Your next Instagram #foodie photo awaits.

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While my recommendations are not necessary "near" Villanova, these are some restaurants that I've tried over the last decade of living in Pennsylvania. Some I've tried during my first year at Villanova; some I've tried four years ago. But all of them have some pretty photogenic food and perfect opportunities for an impromptu ~photoshoot~ with friends or family. I've ordered the restaurants by their distance from Villanova—they range from 2 minutes down the road to 39 minutes away near my hometown.

1. First Watch

Avocado Toast from First Watch

Instagram @first.watch

Location: Villanova, PA (2 minutes from Villanova)

Type of food: Breakfast & Brunch

Favorite dish: Avocado Toast

I wouldn't be a Villanova student if I didn't recommend First Watch- many students' go-to brunch place. The first and only time I went to First Watch, I had to try the avocado toast (basic, I know), and it was different than any I've ever tasted. The avocado tasted so fresh and the whole-grain toast made me feel really healthy. The two basted eggs on the side complemented the toast very well.

2. Autograph Brasserie

Inside the Autograph Brasserie

Instagram @francesca_ragucci

Location: Wayne, PA (7 minutes from Villanova)

Type of food: American, Italian

Favorite dish: Breakfast BLT

Autograph Brasserie is a hidden gem that I only visited once as well, but it did not disappoint. Though it was a little pricey, the BLT was cooked to perfection and the fries were great as well.

3. Terrain Garden Cafe

French Toast from Terrain

Katelyn Tsai

Location: Devon, PA (8 minutes from Villanova)

Type of food: American

Favorite dish: French Toast, Terrain Burger

I've been to the Glen Mills, PA location a few times but recently went to the Devon, PA location because it's much closer to Villanova. The quality of food at both locations is very impressive, and the restaurants are clearly environmentally friendly based on the interior of the restaurants. Both of my favorite dishes are very filling and just what I need for brunch.

4. Pod

Sushi from Pod

Instagram @thephillyeats

Location: Philadelphia, PA (23 minutes from Villanova)

Type of food: Asian Fusion, Sushi

Favorite dish: All the sushi. You can't go wrong.

I honestly went here a long time ago and don't remember exactly what I ordered, but I remember the sushi being really delicious and the inside of the restaurant being aesthetically pleasing. Not only does Pod serve sushi, but it also offers rice, noodles, dim sum, and various soups and salads.

5. Kooma

Inside of Kooma

Instagram @mandyjansen

Location: West Chester, PA (30 minutes from Villanova)

Type of food: Asian Fusion, Sushi

Favorite dish: Firecracker Roll

I've only been here once as well, but the Firecracker Roll I ordered had all of my favorite ingredients in sushi: shrimp tempura, avocado, and cream cheese. Kooma also serves various other specialties with meat, seafood, noodles, and more.

6. Brew HaHa!

Affogato

Instagram @like_you_a_latte

Location: Greenville, DE (36 minutes from Villanova)

Type of food: Coffee & Tea, Breakfast & Brunch

Favorite drink: Brew Ha Ha! Latte

Brew Ha Ha! is a hidden gem in Delaware, but it is one of my go-to coffee shops for both good food and coffee. The ambiance is very calm, and it's a perfect place to sit and catch up with friends when I'm back home. Something else I love about Brew Ha Ha! is that they have $2 tacos every Thursdays which is difficult to resist!

7. Pizza by Elizabeths

Entrance of Pizza by Elizabeths

Instagram @julie9626

Location: Greenville, DE (37 minutes from Villanova)

Type of food: Coffee & Tea, Breakfast & Brunch

Favorite dish: Boop

Pizza by Elizabeths is more of a classy and rustic restaurant with decorations of various famous Elizabeths. I love the Boop pizza (each pizza is named after an Elizabeth), which consists of mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, balsamic vinaigrette, and fresh tomatoes. You can also create your own pizza if none of the signature ones speak to you!

8. Lily Asian Cuisine

Shrimp Tempura, Tuna Avocado, and Spicy Tuna Rolls

Katelyn Tsai

Location: Kennett Square, PA (39 minutes from Villanova)

Type of food: Sushi, Asian Fusion

Favorite dish: I can't choose. Literally everything.

As you've probably noticed, I kinda like sushi. This is probably my favorite restaurant of all time. It's where everyone from my community goes for authentic sushi, and I've introduced it to so many people. It's a great place for families to eat and I also love their All-You-Can-Eat Tuesdays. I would 1000% recommend going if you're ever in the area!

9. Philter

They also do really cool latte art!

Katelyn Tsai

Location: Kennett Square, PA (39 minutes from Villanova)

Type of food: Coffee & Tea, Breakfast & Brunch

Favorite drink: Hazelnut Latte

This is my favorite coffee shop in my hometown. It's the perfect place to get some work done while sipping a soothing latte. There are also several sandwiches and salads to choose from that I've really enjoyed. It's basically impossible to get a seat during brunch time because it's so popular, but the drinks make the trip worth it.

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