Chain Restaurant Replacement Guide

Special_2It's been almost three months without darkening the doors of McDonald's, Starbucks, Red Robin and other national chain restaurants. Our restaurant rule for the year is that once a week, we venture out to a local restaurant and make an extra effort to get to know the owners. We also give ourselves the freedom to eat whatever is on the menu. This is our weekly decompression exercise and rebellion suppression technique. It also ensures that at least once a week I can drink Diet Coke. Here's an attempt at sharing what we're learning, offering Spokane local restaurant equivalents to national chains. Note that in my experience, the local version is almost always better quality food, more food, better service, and more likely to be located in a giant milk bottle.

National Chain: Country Buffet, Golden Corral, etc.
Local Replacement: Longhorn BBQ
I'm mostly thinking of the kids. On Friday nights kids get the all you can eat buffet for about $4.50 each. I get the all you can eat salad bar for $7. I confess that I usually sneak a bite of their ribs.

National Chain: Starbucks
Local Replacement: Rocket Bakery (Downtown/West Valley/North Side), Natural Start Bakery (Gonzaga area), Rockwood Bakery (South Hill), Madeleines (River Park Square), The Shop (South Perry). The Shop also has locally made soaps, lotions, and other nick nacks. They also roast their own coffee on site.

National Chain: Dairy Queen
Local Replacement: Ron's Drive-In (Their soft serve ice cream is good stuff and the servings are huge), The Milk Bottle (Good short order food and homemade ice cream)

National Chain: Red Robin
Local Restaurant: The Onion

National Chain: Azteca
Local Replacement: Chapala's near Gonzaga.
We met the owner who started as a waitress 15 years ago and now owns this restaurant and the one on the south hill.

National Chain: Panda Express
Local Restaurant: Vina, Kim Do
We've dined at almost every asian eatery in town and these two stand out. Try the Pho.

National Chain: Subway
Local Restaurant: The Corner Door in Millwood
This place has one of the best deals in town with their soup and half sandwich lunch combo under $5. The soups are made fresh every morning and the sandwiches are just like mom used to make them. Someone also reminded me to add Bruchi's Sandwich shops to this list.

I'm sure we all can come up with our own local replacements for national chains in our own communities. What are your ideas? What's your list?