The Best Mall Food Court Restaurants, Ranked

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mall food court
mall food court by Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism (CC BY-ND)

Courting the Mall's Best Food

Eating in a mall has always felt like an emergencies-only situation, but even so, it can't be denied that mall food courts have plenty to offer when you're hungry. Which spots should you hit next time? What helps you maximize your time? Ranked from best to worst, here are 12 of the most widely available mall food court restaurants out there.


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Jamba Juice
jambajuice/facebook.com

Best: Jamba

There are two key reasons why Jamba (which has apparently dropped the "Juice" from its name) takes this one home. The first and most important reason is that Jamba is delicious. Pomegranate Paradises sustained me in college, and to this day it's hard for me to say no to a tasty Jamba treat. Plus, that smell ... oh my, that smell. The second reason is that Jamba provides a service that not too many mall restaurants can: It puts you in control of your own time. With a beverage in hand, you're able to either jet out of that mall or stroll and enjoy your time, instead of inhaling a bowl of chow mein at a table for all to see.


Related: 25 Chains Where Drink Refills Are Free

Mrs. Fields: 25% Off Everything
Courtesy of mrsfields.com

2. Mrs. Fields

Continuing with delicious treats that get you out of the mall quickly, Mrs. Fields will always have a little piece of my heart — and, I suspect, yours too. It's hard for me to believe a person alive would say no to a Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie. Call the police if that happens.


Related: Chocolate Chip Cookie Taste Test

Auntie Anne’s
Auntie Anne's

3. Auntie Anne's

Are we going sweet or are we going savory? Who even cares? You can't choose incorrectly at Auntie Anne's, where the smell of pretzels and cinnamon sugar can pull you across the mall like Bugs Bunny floating through an aromatic cloud. Dip your pretzel in cheese, dip it in icing, stuff it with pepperoni; there are no wrong answers.


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Panda Express
Coolcaesar / Wikimedia Commons

4. Panda Express

Dreams are made and rarely broken at Panda Express, a restaurant with the best orange chicken on the planet. The chain serves delicious food at hard-to-beat prices, and there's something about eating it a mall food court that makes it all the more crave-worthy.

Cinnabon
Kaitlin S./Yelp

5. Cinnabon

I only eat at Cinnabon about once per decade, because I'm afraid if I eat there more often, I might actually die. With that in mind, I figured this would be a good excuse to get one of the chain's famous cinnamon rolls again, seeing as it's probably been 10 full years. Guess what? Cinnabon still makes the best darn cinnamon roll that money can buy.

Haagen dazs store
Haagen dazs store by Coolcaesar (CC BY-SA)

6. Häagen-Dazs

Despite the fact that I eat garbage for a living, there are only a few foods that I feel completely powerless over. One of those things is Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream. I do not buy it. I do not stock it. If I were to purchase a pint, I'm quite certain I would eat the entire thing in one sitting. For me, this ice cream is worth praying to. The rest of HD's ice cream lineup is fine. I've barely tried any of the other flavors; no need. But, even though I love Häagen-Dazs, I need it far away from me. This is precautionary. I cannot be dealing with a Häagen-Dazs in a dang shopping mall. The siren song is too strong, and if I can't steer clear, I'm afraid I will follow that sweet tune out beyond the tides, into the depths of the ocean.

Sarku Japan
Sarku Japan by Corey Coyle (CC BY)

7. Sarku Japan

You either love Sarku Japan's teriyaki dishes or you're grossed out by them. I don't see a middle ground. I love 'em. Preposterous heaps of chicken drowned in sticky teriyaki sauce over rice takes me back to a childhood place that very few things can match. Sarku does it right, with tender chicken that's always sauced perfectly. Skip the beef or the shrimp. You know what you're here for. 

Dippin' Dots Ice Cream
TheGraciousPantry.com

8. Dippin' Dots

When I was a kid, I was in a sushi bar with my mother, sitting next to a man who was bragging about the genius idea he had for tiny little ice cream balls. He then produced a sample, which I ate, despite the fact that I was under a great deal of adult supervision. Unbelievable. He said that his new ice cream pellet-things were his passion project and that he expected his invention to be a hit. This was before Dippin' Dots hit the market, so for many years I believed that man to be the inventor of Dippin' Dots. However, I just Googled "who invented Dippin Dots?" and the photo that popped up looks nothing like this guy. Life is so weird. I suppose the point I'm trying to make is that Dippin' Dots are not bad.

Sbarro
Sbarro/facebook.com

9. Sbarro

To be 100% honest, I've never eaten at Sbarro. The only one near me closed recently, so I can't try it. But, c'mon, I feel like I get it, right? Is it not just a big, fat, greasy slice? Authentic, even. I'm sure it scratches the itch when you're craving some pizza. Interesting that not many other chains have tried to compete with Sbarro in terms of selling pizza by the slice. Some towns really need that. Ninth place seems reasonable enough for me.

Johnny Rockets Burger Restaurant in Los Angeles - LOS ANGELES - CALIFORNIA - APRIL 20, 2017
cineman69/istockphoto

10. Johnny Rockets

Johnny Rockets makes an OK burger, but its whole 50s vibe is annoying, considering it's entirely false. The first Johnny Rockets opened in 1986 in Los Angeles, a town with a slew of legitimate old-school burgers. Johnny is a wolf in sheep's clothing, and there's no reason to keep encouraging him.

Cheesecake Factory
Cheesecake Factory

11. The Cheesecake Factory

This place is a nightmare. Following a host from the front door to your table through all those twists and turns makes me feel as lost as The Weeknd in a hall of mirrors. Once you're done with the trek to your table, you're greeted with a 75-page manifesto they like to call the menu. This place makes a day at the mall at least double the length, and for that reason alone, The Cheesecake Factory must go.

hot dog on a stick
Hot Dog on a Stick

12. Hot Dog on a Stick

It should be illegal to make somebody work at Hot Dog on a Stick. I cannot believe that we as a society keep allowing some poor 13-year-old kid in the height of their awkwardness to dress up like an old-timey carnival barker and painstakingly hand-mix lemonade in a huge bucket. It's absolutely humiliating. That lemonade is disgusting, by the way. Probably because it's full of teenage sweat.