There are instances in life when you just don’t get your way.
I’ve been stuck in plenty of airports, pressed for time or with a large group when eating at a chain restaurant or getting fast food is the only reasonable dining option. Similarly we’ve all had moments of weakness and found ourselves in a drive-thru window, it happens to the best of us.
When this happens I’d happily select any these places…
If being forced to choose from the pool of national fast food chains, I pick Subway as much as possible. Spotting one of their many locations is a welcome sight on a deserted highway. I load my sandwich with copious amounts of vegetables to alleviate guilt and actually like the honey oat bread. Besides, Jared is a compelling spokes person.
2. Wendy’s or Dairy Queen
Surrendering to my sweet tooth, these selections are based purely on ice cream. I’m always game for a chocolate Frosty, Blizzard with Reese Peanut Butter Cups or Dipped Cone.
3. Chipotle Mexican Grill
Yes, Chipotle is owned by the McDonald’s Corporation and yes, it’s still fast food, nevertheless I respect their efforts towards using local, organic and hormone free ingredients. I like their rice enough to make it at home (add fresh lime juice, cilantro and salt), the option of black or pinto beans and the football sized burritos.
Funny story, when I saw their sign for the first time I was confused why it was called Chick-Fil-Ah. (Grammar is not my strength.) It’s refreshing that they are closed on Sundays and the chicken’s not too bad either.
5. Jimmy John’s
The closest JJ’s is in Hattiesburg and if we were passing through I might insist we stop there. I miss the Beach Club, #14, and can demolish the entire sandwich in one sitting.They also sell slender day-old loaves of white bread for $0.50.
6. Panera/St. Louis Bread Company
This part bakery, part cafe goes by Panera except in the St. Louis metro area. Being the queen of splitting items, I love that you can get half a sandwich/soup/salad combo and pick up a bakery fresh cookie.
7. Jason’s Deli
Bypass the large, slightly overwhelming menu and head straight towards the salad bar which is teeming with fresh vegetables, hummus, pasta salads, fruits, pudding, flat bread crackers, graham crackers and includes complimentary soft serve ice cream. They have an impressive array of sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads but the best part is the salad bar.
8. Steak ‘n Shake
Reminiscent of a diner, the flat griddle grilled hamburgers, matchstick thin french fries and drink options make a perfect meal when you feel like being a little bad sometimes. It’s worth the calorie splurge.
9. Ruby Tuesday
I feel strange for liking a chain restaurant based on their salad bar, but that confession is old news (see above #7). Ruby Tuesdays has a nice salad bar with these great dark, pumpernickel croutons. I’m a sucker for their blueberry lemonade, sandwiches and contemporary dishware.
Escalating the playing field a notch or two from fast food, Houston’s is a higher-end chain restaurant. The Brentwood Chicken Sandwich is delicious. I’ve never had a bad meal there.