September 2, 2008
Everyone likes to eat local, but sometimes traveling the world calls for convenience or a taste of home. And sometimes a chain restaurant is the best local bet. Here are 10 that consistently score high marks from reviewers—the chain restaurants people actually like—proving you can eat well from Atlanta to Amsterdam, and at the same place.
Hard Rock Cafe
Where: 125 locations in 48 countries
Why: “My favorite restaurant in Amsterdam is the Hard Rock Cafe. Really, you say? An American chain restaurant is your favorite travel destination? We go every time we hit Amsterdam, at least once. They have a lovely terrace on the water that faces the sun where you can sip cocktails, eat delicious food, and just relax,” says lastone.
Where: 13 locations in Illinois and Wisconsin
Why: “Gino's East was on my ‘must dine at’ list for Chicago, and my first bite was like magic! There's definitely a reason this place is famous. The cheese was gooey and stringy, the sauce was a bit watery but nice and sweet, and the crust was almost like a pie crust. The legendary deep-dish pizza at Gino's East makes the stuff back home in California taste like manhole covers,” says stvchin.
The Keg Steakhouse and Bar
Where: About 95 locations in Canada and the US
Why: “I come here often and fall in love again and again upon entering these cozy restaurants. The decor is brilliant—all wood, with couches, stylish cloth napkins, and burning fireplaces to make your meal that much better. To have an even greater meal, ask for a booth near the fireplace, and relax on your comfy couch-like seats,” says travellingdave.
Where: 115 locations in the UK
Why: “In a fantastic York location, this chain restaurant serves high-quality Italian food at a reasonable price. You never quite stop looking around at the building—the towering columns, the statues, the marble—and it has a very glamorous feel, while still being affordable. My mother, who is Italian, was impressed and holds the place in high esteem,” says MDG2004.
Where: 14 locations in Mexico
Why: “We have eaten here at least 10 times over the past four years and have never been disappointed in our meal. Los Arcos is a Mexican chain restaurant and although it is located in the Golden Zone, the clientele seems to be half local folks. What better recommendation can you have than that?” says katyjill.
Where: 4 locations in Prague
Why: “I love this place. I have logged in many, many hours at it, and this is coming from someone who, when at home, doesn't even eat bagels or go to coffee shops. Bohemia Bagel is kind of like a homing center for expats. It has it all: cheap phone calls to home, Internet access, bagels, soup, and coffee. It also has a message board for travelers and you can pick up the English version of the All Around Town paper. If you want to place an ad to teach English, teach music, or even teach the Czechs how to understand rap lyrics (I swear I saw this on the board), you can do so,” says bledpub.
Da Niang Shui Jiao
Where: More than 200 locations in China
Why: “Da Niang Shui Jiao is located in almost every city in China and serves very economical noodles; cold dishes; and various types of dumplings, from vegetarian to beef and pork. Dumplings are sold in the units of liang, and yummy cold dishes are also available, with a lot of other noodles to chose from,” says shammiyap.
Where: 36 locations in 8 countries
Why: “I am not one to vacation and eat at a chain restaurant; however, I must admit that I have been curious as to why this restaurant is so appealing to people. We prefer to eat at local mom-and-pop establishments, thus tasting local cuisine that many tourists miss. However, for our Niagara Falls trip, we decided to hit the chains and see what all the talk was about. After reviewing the extensive menu, my husband and I both decided to order the jambalaya with sausage and shrimp. I have to say that this was the absolute best jambalaya I have ever had, and yes, we have been to New Orleans,” says Luv2Travel.
Where: About 100 locations in the US
Why: “Hands-down the best pizza I've tasted! It's homemade from spring-water dough, and the crust is dusted with Parmesan cheese. Yum! An eclectic dining experience, with a surprise around every corner. Music plays, there is seating outside where you can watch people come and go, and the staff is very friendly and very busy!” says 456kat.
Where: 9 locations in Brazil, Miami, and New York
Why: “Barbecue!!! This is for sure the best place in Rio, and maybe the best place in the world, to eat real good meat! The buffet is complete and well-served. They have lots of subsidiaries in Rio de Janeiro, and I tried the ones in Ipanema, Flamengo, and Barra da Tijuca. It's worth it!” says daviserick70.