Swap corporate cuisine with tastier Valley-owned spots - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Swap corporate cuisine with tastier Valley-owned spots

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Posted: Thursday, September 29, 2005 7:32 am | Updated: 7:53 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

There's a Red Lobster at Times Square in New York City. If that sentence sends you into a rant about what's wrong with society, this story isn't for you.

This is for the guy who spent last night tearing through an endless shrimp special, or the busy mom who hit Quiznos between errands.

Let me explain. Before I landed this dining gig, I thought Chevy's had the best Mexican food around and that In-N-Out burgers were unbeatable. While I still visit those old flames now and again, three years of eating out and talking restaurants has unearthed a bunch of great, locally owned spots I now enjoy much, much more than those familiar corporate standbys.

But for many people in the chain-covered East Valley, there's still something pulling them toward places with 18-page menus.

“I love Cheesecake Factory's salad; I've been craving it for months,” says Natalie Poelman, a Gilbert resident who's grabbing takeout while shopping at Chandler Fashion Center.

Poelman says she's waited more than an hour to dine at the popular restaurant, which has a mind-boggling 200-plus items on its menu.

Nearby, Candi Hartwell is still smiling after sharing a Feast for Two barbecue spread with a friend at Famous Dave's, a Wisconsin-born franchise with more than a hundred locations.

“We go for it when we come here, it's not like the kind of place where you go and watch your calories,” Hartwell laughs. “The people are really nice, and you get in and out fast.”

Sounds good. So, why bother with an unproven mom-and-pop shop you've never heard of?

“It's just more fun to go to someplace that's a little unusual or unique than to a cookie-cutter restaurant,” says Michelle Koons, an Ahwatukee Foothills woman lunching at Cyclo in Chandler.

Exactly. So find your favorite chain on the left and give its local — and far better — equivalent a shot.

If you like . . .

Applebee's

Then try . . .

Teakwoods Tavern & Grill

5965 W. Ray Road, Chandler, (480) 961-0945; 151 E. Williams Field Road, Gilbert, (480) 899-8325 or 8880 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale, (480) 614-5254

If you like . . .

California Pizza Kitchen

Then try . . .

La Stalla Cucina Rustica

68 W. Buffalo St., Chandler, (480) 855-9990

If you like . . .

Chevy's

Then try . . .

Rancho de Tia Rosa

3129 E. McKellips Road, Mesa, (480) 659-8787

If you like . . .

Chili's

Then try . . .

Keegan's Grill

4723 E. Ray Road, Ahwatkee Foothills, (480) 705-0505 or 1095 W. Queen Creek Road, Chandler, (480) 814-0003

If you like . . .

Famous Dave's

Then try . . .

Joe's Real BBQ

301 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert, (480) 503-3805

If you like . . .

In-N-Out Burger

Then try . . .

Giant Hamburgers

2753 E. Broadway Road, Mesa, (480) 733-6542

If you like . . .

Olive Garden

Then try . . .

Arrivederci Trattoria

4221 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatkee Foothills, (480) 759-9292

If you like . . .

Outback Steakhouse

Then try . . .

Midwestern Meats

4308 E. Main St., Mesa, (480) 924-5855

If you like . . .

Pei Wei Asian Diner

Then try . . .

Talk of the Town Asian Diner

1817 E. Guadalupe Road, Tempe, (480) 897-7928

If you like . . .

P.F. Chang's China Bistro

Then try . . .

Oasian Noodle Bar & Southeast Asian Cuisine

1935 S. Val Vista Drive, Mesa, (480) 632-1245

If you like . . .

Quiznos

Then try . . .

Sacks the Art of Sandwicherie

35 E. Ninth St., Tempe, (480) 966-9266 or 839 W. University Drive, Tempe

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