Americans are no strangers to chain restaurants. In fact, there are several large chains that have grown so popular, they have become internationally recognized. With a rising interest in slower food and healthier options, the last decade has seen a shift in the way Americans see the chains. We look at 10 of the best gourmet restaurant chains.
The Melting Pot
With dozens of locations across the US and Canada, The Melting Pot is a popular restaurant specializing in sweet and savory fondues. Meals are intended to be shared, creating a dining experience that is social and fun. Guests dip bread, vegetables, fruits, and meats in melted sauces like cheddar, pure chocolate, and the yin and yang: a contrasting split of both white and dark chocolate. Though The Melting Pot is large, it maintains a high standard of quality and service, garnering high marks and good reviews from all over the country.
The chef and owner of Roy’s Hawaii has not only created a widely successful restaurant chain, but was a pioneer in the development of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement. Roy’s now has over 30 locations in Hawaii, and on the mainland. The restaurants feature Pacific Rim cuisine, bursting with the vibrant flavors of the islands. The menu varies slightly by location, but you can expect to see a heavy emphasis on fresh seafood, tropical fruits and vegetables.
Fogo de Chao
If you can’t pronounce the name of this chain, that is okay; it means, “Fire on the Ground”, in Portuguese. Fogo de Chao is a Brazilian churrascaria, or steakhouse. Customers pay a set rate to dine, and once seated, servers come to the table, bringing roasted spits of meat to the table. Your selection is carved right onto your plate, filled to your heart’s content. Beef, lamb, and pork are all regularly available. For the less carnivorous, a world-class salad bar is included in the price, featuring authentic fruit, vegetable, and grain dishes.
Sugarfish takes sushi from its sauced and convoluted Americanization, back to the simple basics. The chef has created a space for good seafood to really shine through, in an unadulterated and delicious way. Dishes are understated, yet elegant, and allow the quality of the ingredients to speak for themselves. The menu is small, giving guests three main dining options. The menus are called Trust Me, echoing an old Japanese tradition of relying on the expertise and taste of the chef. Sugarfish is a relatively small chain but it is definitely worth the visit if you are in Southern California.
In the US, pizza chains are everywhere. As one of America’s absolute favorite foods, most people have their preferred delivery place. It is refreshing to see a new, less greasy take on this classic. MOD Pizza provides exactly that: pizza that is fresh, and tasty. The talented cooks make dough in-house daily and top it with ingredients like chopped basil, pesto sauce, and meatballs. MOD Pizza strives for a friendly experience for every customer, centered around a love for good food. With locations in seven states now, this small chain is changing the way people look at pizza.
Piada Italian Street Food
Piada Italian Street Food brings authentic Italian eats to eager customers in the Mid-West. The restaurant chain prepares Italian-style wraps, called piadas, salads, soups, and more. Customers go through the line and choose fresh ingredients and house-made sauces like parmesan alfredo, red pepper pesto, and diavolo. Dessert at Piada should also not be missed: try the cannoli chips, with powdered sugar and a chocolate chip cream icing, are a sugary Italian dream.
Umami Burger is another food chain bringing American classics back to deliciousness. Special care is taken at ensuring the best final product by using the highest quality ingredients along the way. Beef is coarse-ground by hand each day, condiments are made in-house, and pickles are homemade in tamari sauce. The result is an Asian-inspired burger that blows its competitors out of the water.
It’s no secret that Americans love steak and Houston’s is one of the best places to get it. The menu is intentionally predictable, serving hearty homestyle staples in all of its locations. The chain also serves favorites like rotisserie chicken, pork chops, and barbecue ribs, but it is most famous for high-quality steaks. Meat-lovers can get prime rib or filet mignon, with mashed potatoes and coleslaw on the side. Also available are fish, chicken, and salad options, so that every guest can find something they love. With multiple locations in large cities across the country, Houston’s is the perfect place for reliable, high-quality steaks and fine American fare.
With a decidedly more casual feel, Portillo’s serves gourmet hot dogs and sandwiches from over 45 locations in Illinois, California, and Arizona. Enjoy their famous hotdogs, Italian beef sandwiches, tamales, and Bar-B-Q ribs. Visiting a Portillo’s restaurant in person is like a nostalgic step back in time. Each location is decorated with a vintage vibe, in styles like ‘Prohibition’, ‘’40s gangster’, and ‘’60s Retro’.
Lemonade brings the bright, sunny feel of California indoors. Dishes are served cafeteria style by friendly staff members waiting to dish up fresh salads and gourmet sandwiches. The menu changes depending on the location, as ingredients are sourced locally and in season whenever possible. Vegetable dishes abound, many influenced by different flavors and techniques of the world. The menu is rather large, offering something for all types of food preferences and aversions. Lemonade makes quick food a lot healthier and more creative, gaining a loyal following from various types of diners.