8 Overrated Chain Restaurants That Don't Deserve Your Money

Overrated Restaurant Chains

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Overrated Restaurant Chains
Cheapism / jetcityimage/Brett_Hondow/William Howard/istockphoto

Chain of Fools

Casual chain restaurants peaked in the 1990s. They were fun and affordable, and it felt like a special event to take your family for dinner. Sometime since then, the luster has worn off, and sit-down chains have fallen out of favor. Many are still skating on the reputation they had 30 years ago, but some have become so bad it's a wonder how they are still in business. Here are the chain restaurants that no longer deserve your hard-earned money.

Related: The 6 Absolute Worst Pizza Chains in America

Olive Garden stuffed ziti fritta yelp
Rodolfo L. / Yelp

1. Olive Garden

Most ridiculous menu item: Stuffed Ziti Fritta

Olive garden used to be pretty good, but we're talking decades ago. It's gone steadily downhill to the point that it's now the punchline of jokes and the posterchild of mediocrity. The pasta is overcooked and mushy, an immediate indication that your Italian restaurant doesn't know what it's doing. 

You don't choose the best item on the menu to order here, you go for the safest, a.k.a. the hardest item to screw up. That's the unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks, which is all you should consider ordering here, lest they get any more of your money. 

(You're probably better off making your own copycat Olive Garden recipes at home.)

Bloomin' Onion
Shaly G. / Yelp

2. Outback Steakhouse

Most ridiculous menu item: Bloomin' Onion

Browsing Outback's menu is like riding an Australian-themed Disney ride that you can't escape. Everything has dumb cutesy names, and once you realize that the chain started in Florida, it almost makes sense. (Is Chocolate Thunder From Down Under a Las Vegas show or an Outback dessert? Who's to say!)

Let's get to the meat of the matter, though: the steaks suck. They're tough and chewy, and rarely cooked to the correct temperature. That must be why the chain's most known for its giant, oily, heartburn-inducing Bloomin' Onion instead.

Related: These 19 Foods Are No Longer Worth It Because They Cost Way Too Much

Chili's quesadilla explosion salad yelp
Sherry S. / Yelp

3. Chili's

Most ridiculous menu item: Quesadilla Explosion Crispers Salad

A Tex-Mex chain whose best item is chicken tenders? That's not a good sign. Chili's has its hands in too many things, from burgers to fajitas to ribs, and it doesn't really do any of them well. We love a good chip and salsa app just as much as anyone, but that shouldn't be the standout item people love most. But the quesadillas are limp, the baby back ribs are boring, and the fajitas are bland, so might as well fill up on the chips and salsa.

Related: Chili's Responds to Bride Who Served Chili's at Her Wedding to Save Money

Red Lobster pizza yelp
Cynthia Y. / Yelp

4. Red Lobster

Most ridiculous menu item: Lobster Flatbread

We all know that the Cheddar Bay Biscuits are by far the best item at Red Lobster. They must give them to you for free just to entice people to actually eat there. Unless you're buying a live lobster out of the tank, there's no way your seafood is going to be fresh. The shrimp are tiny, so it's a wonder that people ever got their money's worth out of the all-you-can-eat shrimp promotion, but they did. Red Lobster is now eyeing bankruptcy

Texas Roadhouse roadkill steak yelp
Linda W. / Yelp

5. Texas Roadhouse

Most ridiculous menu item: Road Kill

The first appetizer on Texas Roadhouse's menu is a blatant ripoff of Outback, except it's called the Cactus Blossom instead of a Bloomin' Onion. The rest of the menu is downhill from there, with nothing interesting or unique. "Road Kill" might draw your attention, but it's really just a silly name for a chopped steak topped with mushrooms, onions, and cheese. Groundbreaking stuff. More people talk about the rolls than anything else, a terrible sign at a steakhouse.

Applebee's tex mex shrimp bowl yelp
Dave R. / Yelp

6. Applebee's

Most ridiculous menu item: Irresist-A-Bowls

They don't call it "Crapplebee's" for nothing. This is the prime example of a casual chain restaurant that has absolutely plummeted in reputation and quality since the 1980s and '90s. It used to be a fun, interesting place for a quick dinner, but now it's not worth a stop for overpriced, terrible quality food. There is absolutely nothing here that's irresistible, despite the trademarked Irresist-A-Bowls section of the menu. 

Related: Applebee's Distances Itself From Memo Advocating Lower Wages

Golden Corral yelp
Wms W. / Yelp

7. Golden Corral

Most ridiculous menu item: Anything that should have texture

Look, we love a good buffet. They're great for groups and they're usually a good value, especially if you have teenage boys to feed. But Golden Corral is a step too far into the discount buffet category, and it's just plain disgusting. Nothing served has any texture beyond "mushy." Even the name implies that they serve slop from a trough, which makes you wonder what anyone actually expects here. This is a restaurant of last resort. 

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Denny's steak yelp
Miguel R. / Yelp

8. Denny's

Most ridiculous menu item: T-bone Steak

Great diners are a dime a dozen, so why would anyone need to go to Denny's? Maybe it's a favorite spot after you'd had a few too many drinks, but Waffle House will always be a superior 24/7 option. And we get that the Grand Slam is a classic breakfast, but the overuse of the word "slam" on the menu is getting a little weird. Grand Slamwich? Slamburger? You're trying too hard, Denny's. If you must go here, do NOT stray from the breakfast menu.