Your Local Restaurant Chains That Do It Better

Meaning they’re making a style of food (pizza, burgers, etc.) that the national chains have been successful selling for decades, but the local chain has a tastier dish.

I’m plugging Erberts & Gerbert’s. They’re a Midwest deli/sub sandwich shop that is so much better than Subway. The quality and cuts of the meat are excellent. Both the white and wheat breads are much better than you’d expect from a chain. Also, they “gut” the innards of the bread to make a larger ingredient pocket (the Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School method) but they don’t toss out that delicious bread; they wrap it up with the sandwich, and the wrapper advertises that they’ve given you “the guts”. The sandwich names are quirky [ex. The Jacob Bluefinger], and there’s a children’s storybook back story for them that’s told in framed pages hung on the walls. Sounds kiddie, but it’s really not. It’s just a background detail that somehow seems more authentic and less calculated than, say, McDonald’s characters.

Here’s their range:

So who does it better in your neck of the woods.

In the sub sandwich vein, Tucson has eegee’s. They make a damn good sub, although their menu is a little more limited than Subway’s, but their main attractions are two things: instead of wimpy little bags of chips, they serve honest-to-Og fries, and they are absolutely fantastic. They’re most known for their italian ice-style confection called eegees, but I’m not a fan, preferring to go there for the subs and fries instead.

Losing access to eegee’s was the biggest regret I had in moving from Tucson to Phoenix, and I make it a point to go there whenever I’m in town.

Planet Wings used to be really good. But then their quality control went way downhill. I think they expanded beyond their ability to monitor and maintain the individual locations.

10 years ago it was pretty small, but Firehouse Subs is better than any sub place I’ve eaten at.

The only thing I can think of local to here that is superior to any chains is BBQ.

The Hat and In-N-Out both make better burgers than the Clown, the King or the Other Clown.

As does Burgerville USA

In the Washington DC area there is a chain of restuarants run under the brand “Great American Restaurants”. They occupy a dining niche above Chilis and the like, but not fine dining. They are just a marvel to watch. I know they don’t fit the OP because they quite simply do everything better from a restaurant management standpoint that anyone else.

I am always fascinated trying to figure out how their servers get the food from the kitchen to the diners as soon as the food gets done. You don’t have one waiter, but roving teams of waiters that seamlessly serve, clear and refill. When you arrive you get the typical buzzer thing as you wait, but in dozens of visits they have never been more than five minutes past the wait they gave me when I got there. They are a private company, but I chatted with one of the founders a few months ago and their revenue numbers are just astounding for such a saturated industry.

In Palm Beach County, FL we have a chain of burrito/wrap places called Pyrogrill. They make some really tasty stuff - better than Chipotle, in my opinion, but they aren’t limited to just tex-mex flavors. Their signature sauce is a curry mustard, but my favorite is the buffalo chicken with yellow rice and a creamy slaw.

Same exact thought I had, although I find Firehouse subs to take much longer to make than Jersey Mike’s, which are equally as awesome. I like Firehouse’s huge hot sauce choice though, although I wouldn’t contaminate my sub with any such thing.

And the only BBQ place around here worthy of my visitation is a stand alone, not a chain.

Another place is Five Guys Burgers and Fries. That’s all they sell, burgers and fries. Lots of topping choices and the “regular” is actually a double; you have to order a “small” get only one patty. Obama likes them, you can google youtube for it.

Any pizza place in Schenectady has better pizza than any of the national chains. I would suggest Joe’s Pizza Place or Shoparama Pizza as a start, and there are probably many others.

I also suspect this is true all over the country.

I love Five Guys, but I’d hardly call them local – they’re growing across the east coast. A good local place for burgers is Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In.

fruitbat writes:

> In the Washington DC area there is a chain of restuarants run under the
> brand “Great American Restaurants”.

To be exact, they are only in Northern Virginia.

They also have dogs.

Color me completely unimpressed with this outfit. The burger I had was thin, dry and tasteless.

Pizzacato is an excellent pizza chain here in the Northwest. Ingredients are fresh and they make some unique combo specials every month with in-season ingredients. They sell by the pie and the slice. And there’s one within walking distance of my house. :cool:

I remember Five Guys when there were only two outlets: one near the Georgetown campus and the other out on Highway 50. Free peanuts while you waited for your burger. Loved their burgers, but I never thought much of their fries, as they never twice-fried which resulted in burned spuds.

It is off-topic, but here in the Boston area, we had a mediocre chain called the “Ground Round”-it was burger and beer place-the nice thing was they gave you free peanuts, and you could throw the shells on the efloor.
This chain went out of business 7 or 8 years ago-it was so sudden that guests dining were actually told to leave!
Anyway, most of the locations sat empty for years-except that quite a few have become “Acapulco’s”-a local Mexican restaurant chain…which has the world’s worst Mexican food (balnd and tasteless).
I’m waiting for Acapulso’s to follw the late Ground Round, into bankruptcey!

Small chain here called Charleston Crab House–way better than Red Lobster. Better food, better decor, just plain better.

Not to me, it doesn’t. I lived in Oregon for a couple years and was pretty unimpressed with them. Taco Time was pretty good, though, and much better than Taco Bell.

Seconding Taco Time. For strictly local, there’s a chain called Baker’s around here that is pretty good with both the burgers and the burritos.

And free peanuts while you wait.

Believe it or not, Ground Round was a national chain with 300 locations nationwide at their peak. Wiki says they’re now down to 30 and the shells on the floor gimmick is dead.

There is a burger place in Anchorage called Arctic Roadrunner that only has two outlets, so I guess you wouldn’t exactly call it a chain. Outstanding freshly made burgers since about 1965, and one of the top three places in the state. Also good halibut sandwiches.