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Florida Guide > Dining

About Those Chain Restaurants....

There is a building boom along Hwy 192 just west of Disney…a boom of restaurants, with many of them being chain restaurants. Realizing that not all these chains exist or are plentiful outside of the USA, here is some opinion and information about them. There are some good meals waiting if you know what to expect.

Chuy’s Tex Mex: Headquarters is in Texas, thus the Tex Mex focus. I would say they are closer to Mex than Tex, but that is not a bad thing. There is at least one vegetarian option in each food category, and the tortilla shells are made fresh right there. Mexican food chains have a bad reputation in the States, but Chuy’s deserves to be considered outside of them. My favorite dish is the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo, which has something of almost everything. Somehow the name prevents me from cleaning the plate…I can’t go for all the calories.

Cracker Barrel: Put Denny’s, Bob Evans, and Cracker Barrel in the same category and you will not be far off. But Cracker Barrel has rocking chairs (for sale) outside, a gift store with unusual merchandise inside, and good country-style food to boot. Nothing exquisite, just average, but you won’t leave unhappy if you expected a filling moderately priced meal. The service is usually good. . here’s a big tip: Download their app and use their join waiting list feature during busy times.

Bahama Breeze: Owned by the Darden Restaurant Group, who also owns Olive Garden and a few others. Caribbean themed (obviously), they sport a nice outside patio with live music and good drinks. They food…. to me it is what Corporate America thinks the Bahamas offers. Let’s call it Bahamas Style. They used to have a marinated steak that was my favorite, but alas no more. Lots of veggies and starches vs meat on the entrees, the cost accountants have been at work.

Ale House: This is a Florida chain. The beer selection is good, lots of tv’s to watch sports. The food is OK, not spectacular, but there are daily specials that are a very good value. I prefer it for lunch vs dinner, but if you want a less complex meal dinner is fine.

Sweet Tomatoes: In California they are known as Souplantation, but in Florida and elsewhere it is Sweet Tomatoes. It is an all-you-can-eat restaurant featuring an extensive salad bar plus a hot food bar with soups (that are very good), and simpler items like mac n’ cheese, pizza bread, pasta, and baked potatoes. Unlike many buffet type restaurants, they tend to be very clean and the food bars are well-tended. The food is also fresh. Also unlike many buffet restaurants, it is not inexpensive. Expect to spend about $15 a person including a non-alcoholic drink. It is a vegetarian’s nirvana, and the meat eaters will still be OK with things.

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Page added on: 25 October 2019
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