Ask the Critics: Where Can I Take Someone Who Likes Chain Restaurants?

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Jacob B. asks: Where would you take someone who seems to generally prefer chain (or mini-chain) restaurants? Ideally on the Upper West Side, but I'm open to elsewhere in the city.

Dear Jacob: A better question: Why does your friend like chain restaurants? Sure, maybe portion sizes are larger and plates are cheaper, but where's the originality? The spark? The, well, tastiness. In any event, here are some restaurants that might appeal to your friend. And to really entice him, I've found you some chain restaurants (using a broad definition of "chain")!

My first suggestion would undoubtedly be Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on 125th Street (a mini-chain, with branches in Syracuse, Rochester, and Troy) because the food is great, prices are relatively inexpensive, and the atmosphere lively. Overall a fun time. I mean, brisket, ribs, and beer -- what more does one need in life?

Luke's Lobster recently added an Upper West Side location on Amsterdam Avenue, bringing its lobster-roll empire to three, with a fourth on the way. The lobster rolls aren't my favorite in the city (what can I say, I'm partial to mayonnaisey versions à la the Pearl Oyster Bar), but when it comes to getting your bang for the buck, Luke has you covered. And it's tastier than Red Lobster.

Fatty Crab does offer some funkier options that might be intimidating to those who aren't super-adventurous, but the Upper West Side location is less cramped than the West Village original, and it still has good food. The fatty sliders and fatty dog are pretty accessible fare.

And if all else fails, there's always the Olive Garden in Times Square. Though I hear the one in Chelsea is far better.


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