America’s Favorite Restaurant Chains
Did your favorite make the list?
Americans are spending thousands of dollars each year dining out at their favorite restaurants. While everyone has their preferred places to eat, chain restaurants remain popular across the country. You know you can walk into any location of your favorite chain eatery, order something you like, and get consistent quality.
TripAdvisor collected reviews and opinions from diners all over the U.S. With the help of an algorithm that accounted for quality, quantity and recency of reviews, TripAdvisor came up with a list of the most popular chains in the nation. See if your favorite restaurant made the top 25.
25. J. Alexander’s
The first J. Alexander’s Restaurant opened in Nashville in 1991. Now, there are 44 locations across 16 states. The contemporary American restaurant chain is known for its wood-fired cuisine.
24. Ocean Prime
Cameron Mitchell had worked in the restaurant industry for years when he decided to strike out on his own. There are now more than a dozen of the seafood-and-steak-focused eateries from California to Boston to Troy, Michigan.
In 1977, George Biel opened the first Hillstone Restaurant Group eatery, which he named Houston’s as an homage to the Biel family’s home state of Texas. The upscale-yet-casual restaurant (which does have a dress code) offers everything from burgers to ahi tuna with shiitake ponzu. The family still owns the chain, which includes Houston’s restaurants as well as 14 other restaurant brands including R+D Kitchen, Honor Bar and Hillstone Restaurant.
22. Seasons 52
Seasons 52 is a grill that focuses on fresh foods and a wine bar with a collection of more than 100 wines, with 52 available by the glass. The menu and wine list change almost constantly, depending on what is in season. There are currently 42 locations of the restaurant spread across the United States.
21. Eddie V’s Prime Seafood
Named after co-founders Larry “Eddie” Foles and Guy Villavaso (and not Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam), Eddie V’s first opened in Austin, Texas in 2000. The casual dining seafood chain was purchased by Darden Restaurants Inc., which owns other chains such as Olive Garden and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, in 2011. With locations in a dozen states, Eddie V’s is known for steak, seafood and ambience.
20. Another Broken Egg Café
Restaurateur Ron Green opened his first restaurant, The Broken Egg Cafe, in 1996 in Louisiana. It was apparently a popular dining spot, as he was asked by patrons to open “another Broken Egg.” The request inspired the name of not only his second location but an entire chain of more than 60 restaurants.
19. Sweet Tomatoes
In 1978, a pair of San Diego surfers decided to create a healthy and delicious place to eat. They opened a restaurant called Souplantation, which led to a chain of nearly 100 restaurants (known as Sweet Tomatoes outside of Southern California). The buffet-style offerings of fresh produce, hot soups, scratch-made baked goods and more.
18. The Melting Pot
Dipping delicious foods into melted cheese and chocolate sounds like heaven to many, which is why The Melting Pot is such a popular restaurant chain. Although the first location opened back in the ’70s, additional franchises didn’t come along until the 1980s. Now there are locations across the U.S. as well as Canada and Mexico.
17. Morton’s The Steakhouse
Arnie Morton and Klaus Fritsch worked together at Montreal’s Playboy Club. Morton declared that Fritsch made “million-dollar burgers,” and the pair decided to go into business together. In 1978, the duo opened their first steakhouse in Chicago. Now, there are more than 70 locations of the chain around the world.
With perhaps the most humble of beginnings on the list, Portillo’s began as a hot dog stand called “The Dog House” in 1963. It soon earned fans and, as @msauber2 posted on Instagram, “Some things change and some things maintain the same deliciousness year after year.” Portillo’s now has locations in six states as well as nationwide shipping.
15. Brio Tuscan Grille
The Bravo Brio Restaurant Group was founded in 1992 when the Columbus, Ohio-based company opened Bravo Cucina Italiana. In 1999, the first Brio Tuscan Grille began serving patrons and by 2010 the restaurant with fresh Italian offerings had more than 80 locations in 27 states. Although FoodFirst Global Restaurants acquired the chain in 2018, it remains a popular destination for authentic dishes and a chic atmosphere.
14. Yard House
While working as a Huntington Beach bartender, Steele Platt wrote a business plan for his own restaurant in 1994. He opened the first Yard House restaurant in Long Beach in 1996. The chain was acquired by Darden in 2012 and continues to grow. Fans of the eatery appreciate its variety of classic American dishes and craft beers.
13. Texas de Brazil
This upscale Brazilian-style steakhouse chain opened its first location in the Dallas suburb of Addison, Texas in 1998. There are now more than 50 locations worldwide. Diners can fill up on savory meat, fresh salad bar ingredients and even ice cream.
12. Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Restaurateurs Paul Fleming and Bill Allen opened the first Fleming’s in Newport Beach, California in 1998. The pair envisioned a unique steakhouse experience featuring a stylish, lively, rich and inviting background. Fleming’s now has locations in 28 states.
11. The Capital Grille
Edward P. “Ned” Grace’s first job was washing dishes in the back of a restaurant. After graduating from college in 1973, he began opening his own eateries. In 1990, Grace opened The Capital Grille in Providence, Rhode Island. With restaurants in impressive locations such as Las Vegas, Wall Street and Washington, D.C., this steakhouse promises an elegant dining experience.
10. Blaze Pizza
Made-to-order pizza on your lunch break might seem like a pipe dream, but that’s precisely what Blaze Pizza promises. Thanks to blazing-hot pizza ovens, this fast-casual pizzeria can dole out the pies within minutes. In a little more than six years since opening, customers are enjoying a hot slice at more than 300 locations nationwide.
9. Corner Bakery Cafe
Corner Bakery started out as a downtown-Chicago bread bakery in 1991. Over time, it evolved into a cafe when customers kept asking for sandwiches and other food items made with the shop’s delicious products. In 2006, the brand began franchising. There are now locations in 23 states and Washington, D.C., offering prepared-to-order breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, pastas, sweet treats and more.
8. Jason’s Deli
In 1976, Joe Tortorice Jr. opened a deli in Beaumont, Texas, and creatively named it for his son, Jay (he combined his name with “+ son” to get “Jason”). Jason’s Deli debuted its signature sandwich, the New Orleans Muffaletta, two years later. The salad bar was created in 1980. Now there are 275 delis in 28 states, and the chain is still family-owned.
7. First Watch
There is a reason this restaurant calls itself “The Daytime Cafe.” Most First Watch locations are only open from 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., serving only breakfast and lunch. Since the first location opened in Pacific Grove, California in 1983, the chain has grown to more than 300 restaurants.
6. In-N-Out Burger
Harry and Esther Snyder opened a restaurant selling burgers, fries and drinks in 1948; it was California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand. In-N-Out was one of the first to use a two-way speaker system as well. Now there are more than 300 locations in six southwestern states, although they still only sell burgers, fries and drinks.
5. Mellow Mushroom
Two Georgia Tech roomies (who had spent time working in pizza joints) opened the first Mellow Mushroom restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia, in the mid-1970s. Their food philosophy is to make yummy pizzas using the finest ingredients—such as a signature dough made with high protein, unbleached wheat flour, Appalachian spring water and no refined white sugar. There are more than 100 Mellow Mushroom locations in the United States, mostly in the southeast.
4. Texas Roadhouse
It might come as a surprise that this restaurant’s roots do not lie in the Lone Star state. In 1993, Kent Taylor opened the first Texas Roadhouse in Clarksville, Indiana. Known for its hand-cut steaks and fresh-baked rolls, Texas Roadhouse now has more than 460 locations in 49 states and internationally.
3. Bonefish Grill
Tim Curci and Chris Parker loved catching and cooking fish. In 2000, the duo opened the first Bonefish Grill in St. Petersburg, Florida, based on that passion. Known for fresh fish cut daily in-house, the single seafood restaurant has grown to more than 200 locations.
2. The Cheesecake Factory
In the 1940s, Evelyn Overton decided to try a recipe she found in the newspaper. After tweaking it to make it her own, she served the dessert to family and friends, who raved about it. Eventually, Overton began supplying cheesecakes to local restaurants. After her children were grown, Evelyn and her husband opened their own shop in Los Angeles, calling it The Cheesecake Factory Bakery. Their son took it a step further and started the chain that now has more than 200 restaurants.
1. Ruth’s Chris Steak House
In the 1960s, a divorced mother of two named Ruth Fertel mortgaged her home to purchase a restaurant called Chris Steak House. By no means a restaurateur, Fertel was determined and enthusiastic. Even when the New Orleans restaurant was destroyed by fire, she reopened at a new location — and added her own name when she found she couldn’t take the original restaurant name with her. There are now more than 150 Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse locations worldwide.