Yesterday at LA Weekly's Squid Ink, SFoodie's sister food blog with the WTF name, editor Amy Scattergood passed along a list from Nation's Restaurant News of America's 15 favorite casual-dining chains. You know, places where the menus are as unwieldy as 10 Commandments tablets, "Southwest," "chipotle," and "Buffalo" are inescapable memes, and there's always cheesecake for dessert. For instance, it looks like there are 15 Cheesecake Factory locations in the L.A. area alone.
Want to know what sets San Francisco apart, besides rents that encourage casual pot-dealing on the weekends and street fairs where you can air your nuts and no one cares? Of America's 15 favorite chains, San Francisco is home to just four: the Olive Garden, Cheesecake Factory, T.G.I. Friday's, and IHOP. And, okay, even Friday's is technically at SFO.
The wider Bay Area fares better with the 15 worst, but even in the burbs, coverage is as patchy as old shag:
• Texas Roadhouse: Union City, Fairfax
• Red Robin: San Bruno, Concord
• Ruby Tuesday: San Jose
• Red Lobster: San Bruno, Vallejo, Fremont
• Longhorn Steakhouse: none in Bay Area
• Outback Steakhouse: Sausalito, Pinole, San Mateo
• PF Chang's: Emeryville, Corte Madera
• Cracker Barrel: none in Bay Area
• Golden Corral: Tracy
• Applebee's: Alameda, Redwood City, Pinole
• Chili's: San Bruno, Oakland (airport), San Leandro
Interestingly, as my colleague Jonathan Kauffman pointed out, when you do a search on Yelp for "red lobster" in San Francisco, the number two, three, and four results are Gary Danko, Woodhouse Fish Company, and Michael Mina. Which, apart from all the pot and freedom to bare skin, makes it a blessing to live here, Buffalo sliders and Butter Brickle cheesecake be damned.