Because I don’t live with my girl, I eat out way more than I’d like to. I can cook. I can proficiently hook up some West Indian food and brunch. But blame it on the big city living to which I’m accustomed having a drawer just for copious amounts of menus.
Yesterday, I caught up on some blog reading and one post instantly caught my eye. VSB’s Damon Young wrote about how he could do without ever eating the often-bland meat. Yet that’s not what threw me off. He started his whole piece off talking about eating at The Cheesecake Factory.
The Cheesecake Factory is both misleading and accurate in its title. They do have cheesecake; pretty good cheesecake I might add. And they certainly are a factory. Their menu is an assembly line of mediocre to downright aesthetically unappealing food items.
I remember the first time I went to TCF. When I walked in, there was a wait time of 35 minutes. Now for Jersey, that’s ridiculous. Once we were seated and the waitress handed me the menu, I knew I’d made a piss-poor life decision. I’ve been exactly 3 times in life. Because I used to try to see the good in things. I should’ve known better on my first visit though. After stressing over the bulky menu, I took the safe route and ordered nachos. I mean, it’s chips, cheese, meat, and veggies. How do you mess that up? I’m warning that if you’ve never been to TCF, they will ruin nachos for you! I was brought a Superbowl platter of chips that had caked-on cheese (not even nacho cheese, it was some weird blend of cheeses that don’t belong together), under-seasoned chicken, and an awful salsa ratio. I wound up sick for 3 days. The other 2 times I went, I played it safe and got the Smokehouse BBQ Burger. Never trust a restaurant that sells everything!
Chipotle: There are dusty food trucks with better Mexican food than Chipotle. I can’t understand the cult level adoration for this place. I respect the fact that you get a generous size burrito. I also can appreciate a “fast food” spot where you can order ahead and walk up to the counter while other people are frustrated waiting in line. But if you live in LA, NY, or Miami, there are wayyyyy better places for quality Mexican food. You can’t go wrong with bodegas.
Popeye’s: Maybe I’m being unfair when I call Popeye’s “trash”. My main beef with Popeye’s is these assholes only have waffle chicken tenders seasonally. Even then, it may be location-based. I remember when I was at a Popeye’s in San Diego, I walked up to the counter hype because I’d seen the commercial that waffle chicken tenders were back. I can’t put into words the disappointment when that manager stared me deep in my retinas and told me “we’re not participating in the promo”. Additionally, Popeye’s is way too greasy. I love chicken but not drenched in fatback and old oil. Those biscuits are its saving grace. One spot that actually won me over when it comes to chicken is Raising Cane’s in Texas. Must try if you find yourself out there.
TGI Friday’s: This place should only offer its Jack Daniels menu. That’s how terrible everything else on their menu is. One indicator that a place is trash is if you can go by any day of the week and it’s never packed.
Papa John’s: I grew up on $1 slices so I’ve survived the gamut of bad pizza. Papa John’s takes the cake. I’m all for menu variety. I actually like my pizza to be more than just cheese and pepperoni. But Papa John’s is out here swindling the masses with their tagline. Their sauce has always tasted weird to me. I hate crust that isn’t crispy on the edges and soft enough in the middle. Spending $12 on sub-par pizza when I can go to like Maggiano’s or Carrabba’s and get a hearty Italian meal for that price? Nope.
To end on a high note – the world needs more Pappadeaux! And shout out to Panera!