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Find the Best Chain Restaurants

by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Restaurant chains are part of many Americans’ everyday dining experience, and it can be hard to choose where to visit among the hundreds of companies that offer multiple cuisines. Read our guide to learn about and choose the best chain restaurant for you. We explain what types of chains to consider and which features matter most. Location, the time of day, what you’re doing and who you’re with should also factor into your decision.

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What features matter most in chain restaurants?

How do restaurant chains offer convenient options to customers?

Fast food and casual dining restaurant chains focus on providing quick service while maintaining food quality and a great dining experience. Having multiple options for ordering food, prompt service and multiple locations to choose from can be an important deciding factor when choosing a fast food or casual dining restaurant.

  • Ordering: Fast food chains typically have a drive-through window option and an in-store option where you order from the front counter. Casual dining restaurants typically have a carry-out system where diners can call in to order and then pick it up.
  • Service: Fast food restaurants are known for their quick service; however, casual sit-down dining restaurants strive to get diners in and out quickly as well as providing prompt service and multiple kitchen staff members.
  • Location: Fast food and casual dining chains have can more easily attract diners if they have multiple locations in larger cities. The convenience of staying close to your current location or choosing a restaurant near the route you’re traveling is often a subconscious factor in your decision.

What kind of food choices do restaurant chains offer customers?

Restaurants that offer multiple options and varying cuisines give diners who may be craving something different from other members of their party a good selection to choose from. Even fast food restaurants that serve one style of food typically offer multiple value meals, offering different styles of hamburgers or various Mexican platters.

  • Menus: Casual dining restaurants offer multiple styles of food ranging from smaller dishes like appetizers, soup and salad, to dinner portions that can include hamburgers and filets. Menus are often divided by cuisine styles like seafood, Italian and steak.
  • Value meals: Fast food chains provide a little bit of variety on their menus by offering multiple value meals. Value meals, for example, can include different styles of hamburgers with a choice of a side item and a drink.
  • Healthy options: Healthy menu options are becoming an important factor when it comes to selecting a place to eat. Many casual dining restaurants have a separate menu section or menu insert that lists their healthy options. Healthy options may include low-calorie dishes or gluten-free items.

Do restaurant chains offer promotions and specials?

Casual dining and fast food restaurants try to offer quality food at reasonable prices by promoting special deals, creating specialty menus and using a good food distributor. Although prices may fluctuate depending on the price of certain food items, diners can still find good pricing on most menus they come across.

  • Promotions: Fast food and casual dining restaurants constantly run promotions to attract customers. Promotions can be things like buy one get one free coupons, special pricing on a new menu item, holiday-themed specials and more.
  • Specialty menus: Speciality menus can include things like lunch menus that have smaller portions and cheaper prices when compared to the dinner menu, as well as dollar menus or happy hour menus that offer half-priced items during a specific time of the day.

What kid-friendly options do restaurant chains offer?

Almost all fast food and casual dining restaurant chains include kid-friendly options on their menu. Some fast food places include a play area for kids to enjoy before or after they eat.

  • Kids menus: Fast food kids menus offer smaller portions of regular-sized value meals and typically come with a child-friendly toy or game. Kids menus at a sit-down casual dining restaurant normally include smaller portions of regular menu items or items that kids recognize and tend to enjoy.
  • Kid-friendly seating: Sit-down restaurants should have kid-friendly seating for young babies and young children. Booster chairs and high chairs are normally readily available upon request.

What are the different types of restaurant chains?

Fast food

Fast food chains are known for their speedy service, drive-through windows and counter service, where guests order at the front counter. Diners can eat in the restaurant or take their food to go.

Casual dining

Casual dining restaurants make up a market that is between fast food and fine dining. They provide moderately-priced menu items and table service and typically have full bar services provided by a separate bar staff.

Family-style dining

Family-style is used to describe a type of casual dining restaurant or family-friendly diner. Most family-style restaurants serve food on platters and customers serve themselves buffet style.

Who visits restaurant chains?

Families

The majority of restaurant chains are considered casual dining or family dining, making them a great place for families to frequent for a meal.

People on-the-go

Whether you’re traveling, running errands or taking kids to and from various activities, fast food chains are a convenient place to quickly grab a bite to eat so you can get back on the road.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Compare Reviews for Top Chain Restaurants

    by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

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