Yonkers, NY (PRWEB) June 28, 2012
Whether you’re traveling the interstate, looking for a sumptuous supper, or just want to get away from the kitchen this summer, Consumer Reports surveyed 47,565 diners to help find the best meals and best deals at 102 of the nation’s biggest sit-down chain restaurants.
“Americans spend about $1.7 billion per day at restaurants. That’s close to the amount they spend each year on indigestion remedies. Clearly, diners deserve a sure thing: a clean place that provides tasty food, good value, and solicitous service” said senior projects editor Tod Marks.
Consumer Reports survey, which was based on more than 110,500 restaurant visits, offers something for just about every palate: steaks and burgers, barbecue, seafood, Italian, Mexican, and Asian. It also includes chains that offer more specialized fare, for example fondue at The Melting Pot; Japanese hibachi cooking at Benihana; Cajun treats at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen.
Nine chains earned high marks across the board for the four attributes in the Ratings—taste, value, service, and mood—plus praise in three other key areas: menu variety, cleanliness, and a lack of noise. They were: Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano, Black Angus Steakhouse, Bob Evans, Bravo Cucina Italiana, First Watch, J. Alexander’s, Le Peep, Elmer’s and Fatz Eatz & Drinkz.
Among the lower-rated chains were two family restaurants (“family” because they’re typically informal, cater to kids, are open long hours, and don’t serve liquor): Friendly’s and Waffle House. Both drew low marks for cleanliness and mood; Friendly’s was also criticized for lackluster service. The pub-style Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar was another laggard, criticized for value and noise.
Complete restaurant ratings on all 102 popular chains, tips to save, more trends and survey results are available in Consumer Reports August issue or online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org starting June 28, 2012.
On average, readers were very satisfied with roughly half of the 102 chains. But there’s room for improvement. Only Cheddar’s Casual Café, which touts “always affordable food,” received top marks for value, and just 19 chains got especially high marks for flavorful food. On one-fourth of all visits, readers found their restaurant too noisy. Among the chains more prone to noise complaints were Texas Roadhouse, Hard Rock Café, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar and Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen. Bad service was another complaint, especially at Hard Rock Café, Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, Chevys Fresh Mex and Benihana.
“Since our previous restaurant report, we see that many more chains are providing detailed nutritional information about the food they serve, more healthful menu choices, and details about where their ingredients come from,” Marks said.
Patrons singled out First Watch and Legal Seafoods as most likely to offer healthful dishes. Least likely to sell healthful fare were Buffalo Wild Wings, Quaker Steak & Lube, Waffle House, Hooters, and Johnny Rockets, according to respondents.
Spirited competition among the chains means that consumers can use a toolbox of tactics to find bargains. Here are some examples:
•Check in on Facebook. That’s where many restaurants reveal their latest promotions. By “liking” the restaurant or just visiting the page, we found offers and clickable coupons for a free appetizer with a paid entrée (Chili’s), free dessert when buying the Italian dinner for two (Romano’s Macaroni Grill), and $10 off the purchase of two dinner entrées (Carrabba’s).
© 2012 Consumer Reports. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®, ConsumerReports.org® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.