24 Best Restaurant Chains in the US
If you’re on the hunt for a new favorite chain restaurant, you’re in the right place!
One of the advantages of chain restaurants is that they’re ubiquitous, so whether you’re in your hometown or traveling, you’ll find a familiar restaurant near you.
In addition, there are many chain restaurants in the US offering a wide variety of cuisines, so there’s something out there for everyone!
In this article, we’ve rounded the best chain restaurants in America.
These chains run the gamut from Italian to Chinese to Mexican food, so no matter what you’re craving, you’ll find a new favorite restaurant on our list!
There are over 1,500 Denny’s locations in 49 states, so no matter where you are, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast any time.
The first Denny’s was opened under Danny’s Donuts in Lakewood, California, in 1953.
It wasn’t until 1961 that “Danny’s” changed its name to “Denny’s,” becoming the restaurant we all know and love today.
The menu at Denny’s features a ton of delicious diner breakfast favorites, from pancakes to steak and eggs to omelets.
One of the most popular menu items at Denny’s is the All-American Slam, an extravagant breakfast platter that contains three eggs scrambled with cheddar cheese, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and your choice of toast.
If you’re not in the mood for breakfast, don’t worry!
Denny’s also offers a variety of burgers and classic dinners, including salmon, steak, and country-fried chicken.
23. Panda Express
Panda Express is the largest and most popular Chinese restaurant chain in the United States.
There are nearly 2,200 Panda Express locations in 45 states.
The first Panda Express location was opened by husband-and-wife duo Andrew and Peggy Cherng in Glendale, California, in 1983.
Panda Express is often credited with popularizing orange chicken in the US. Panda Express’ famous orange chicken recipe was developed and introduced by chef Andy Kao in 1987.
Panda Express’ iconic Chinese American entrees and sides can be ordered a la carte or in bowls (one entree and one side), plates (two entrees and one side), or bigger plates (three entrees and one side).
The most popular entree at Panda Express is the Original Orange Chicken, made from crispy chicken wok-tossed in a Hunan-inspired, sweet, and spicy orange sauce.
Another popular entree at Panda Express is their broccoli beef, made from tender beef and fresh broccoli tossed in a savory ginger soy sauce.
In addition, one of the most popular sides at Panda Express is their fried rice, made with steamed white rice, egg, peas, carrots, green onions, and soy sauce.
IHOP, which stands for “International House of Pancakes,” is another of the largest and most popular all-day breakfast restaurant chains in the US.
There are over 1,600 IHOP locations in all 50 states.
The first IHOP location was opened by Al Lapin, Jerry Lapin, Al Kallis, and Trudy Kallis in Toluca Lake, California, in 1958.
From 1958 until 1979, almost every IHOP location was built using their iconic blue A-frame architecture.
Although IHOPs aren’t built like that anymore, many older locations still boast the famous blue A-frame roof.
The menu at IHOP revolves around their world-famous pancakes.
IHOP serves over a dozen pancakes and crepes, including classic flavors like buttermilk and double blueberry and more creative flavors like the cupcake, New York cheesecake, and Mexican tres leches.
If you’re feeling extra hungry, IHOP also offers a World-Famous Pancake Combo, which allows you to combine two of your favorite pancakes with two eggs, bacon, sausage, turkey bacon, and hash browns.
21. Outback Steakhouse
Outback Steakhouse is an Australian-themed casual dining restaurant chain specializing in steak.
There are over 700 Outback Steakhouse locations in 46 states.
The first Outback Steakhouse location was opened by Chris Sullivan, Robert Basham, Tim Gannon, and Trudy Cooper in Tampa, Florida, in 1988.
Contrary to popular belief, Outback Steakhouse is not an Australian restaurant but actually an Australian-themed restaurant based out of Florida.
The menu at Outback Steakhouse features a variety of delicious steaks.
One of the most popular steaks at Outback Steakhouse is the Outback Center-Cut Sirloin, a tender center cut that comes in 6 oz., 8 oz., and 11 oz. sizes.
Like all of Outback’s steaks, the Outback Center-Cut Sirloin comes with a dressed baked potato, which can also be swapped out for a side of fries, mashed potatoes, steamed seasonal veggies, sweet potato, or seasoned rice.
One of the most iconic menu items at Outback Steakhouse is the Bloomin’ Onion, a hand-carved onion that gets deep-fried until crispy and golden brown and is served with Outback’s signature spicy bloom sauce.
Applebee’s is one of the largest and most popular casual dining restaurant chains in the US, serving a variety of mainstream American dishes.
There are almost 1,600 Applebee’s locations in all 50 states.
The first Applebee’s location was opened by Bill and TJ Palmer in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1980 under the name “T.J. Applebee’s Rx for Edibles & Elixirs.”
In 1986, the Applebee’s name was officially changed to “Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar,” creating the restaurant chain we recognize today.
One of the most popular entrees at Applebee’s is the Riblets Platter, which features Applebee’s famous slow-cooked riblets, served with your choice of honey BBQ or sweet Asian chile sauce and a side of fries.
Another popular Applebee’s entree is the Fiesta Lime Chicken, made from grilled chicken served with lime sauce, Mexi-ranch sauce, and melted cheddar cheese on a bed of crispy tortilla strips.
Then, the whole thing is served with Spanish rice and pico de Gallo.
Chili’s is another of the most popular casual dining restaurant chains in the United States.
There are over 1,200 Chili’s locations in 49 states.
The first Chili’s location was opened by Larry Lavine in Dallas, Texas, in 1975.
Chili’s became a pop culture icon in 2005 when it was the setting for one of the most popular episodes of the TV show The Office, titled “The Dundies.”
The menu at Chili’s features a variety of southwest-inspired American foods, including burgers, ribs, and fajitas.
One of the most popular menu items at Chili’s is their fajitas, which can be made with chicken, shrimp, steak, or black bean and avocado.
Each kind of fajita is also served with grilled bell peppers, onions, cilantro, Mexican rice, black beans, flour tortillas, sour cream, pico de gallo, salsa, and shredded cheese.
Another of the most popular Chili’s menu items is the Oldtimer, a burger made with an all-natural, 100% beef patty, pickles, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and mustard, and served with a side of fries.
18. TGI Fridays
TGI Fridays is another of the most popular casual dining restaurant chains in the US, specializing in American food.
There are over 300 TGI Fridays locations in 33 states.
The first TGI Fridays location was opened by Alan Stillman in New York City in 1965.
Stillman originally conceived TGI Fridays as a singles’ cocktail bar, creating opportunities for single men and women in Manhattan to meet.
Nowadays, TGI Fridays is no longer a cocktail bar but a restaurant serving a menu full of American cuisine.
One of the most popular items on the TGI Fridays menu is the FRIDAYS Signature Whiskey-Glaze Burger, made with a beef patty glazed with Fridays’ signature whiskey-glaze, bacon, cheddar, lettuce, red onions, tomato, and pickles, and served with a side of fries.
Another popular TGI Fridays’ menu item is the FRIDAYS Big Ribs, which are pork ribs double-basted with your choice of whiskey-glaze, apple butter BBQ sauce, or blaze it sauce, and served with seasoned fries and coleslaw.
17. Red Robin
Red Robin is a casual restaurant chain best known for serving gourmet burgers and steak fries.
There are over 500 Red Robin locations in 44 states.
The first Red Robin location was opened in Seattle, Washington, in 1969.
This first location was a favorite among students at the University of Washington and became even more popular once it started offering a variety of burgers on the menu.
Nowadays, the Red Robin menu offers over two dozen different burgers.
One of the most popular is the Red Robin Gourmet Cheeseburger, made with a beef patty, Red’s pickle relish, red onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, and your choice of cheese on a sesame bun, served with bottomless steak fries.
If you eat a plant-based diet, Red Robin also has a burger for you, the Vegan Burger.
The Vegan Burger is made with an ancient-grain-and-quinoa veggie patty, housemade salsa, fresh avocado, and shredded lettuce on a lettuce wrap and served with steamed broccoli.
16. Red Lobster
Red Lobster is one of the largest casual dining restaurant chains specializing in seafood.
There are over 650 Red Lobster locations in 44 states.
The first Red Lobster was opened by Bill Darden in Lakeland, Florida, in 1968.
Over the next few decades, Red Lobster began to introduce some of its most popular menu items, including popcorn shrimp and cheddar bay biscuits.
Red Lobster’s menu revolves around fish and shellfish.
One of the most popular items on the Red Lobster menu is Walt’s Favorite Shrimp, made from hand-breaded, butterflied, lightly fried shrimp, and served with cocktail sauce, a side of fries, and a side of steamed broccoli.
Another popular Red Lobster menu item is their fish and chips, made with hand-battered, wild-caught cod, served with coleslaw, tartar sauce, and a side of fries.
In addition, Red Lobster is famous for its cheddar bay biscuits, which are notoriously warm, cheesy, and delicious!
15. Hard Rock Cafe
Hard Rock Cafe is a rock-and-roll-themed restaurant and memorabilia chain that serves American food.
There are 34 Hard Rock Cafe locations in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Washington DC.
The first Hard Rock Cafe was opened by Peter Morton and Isaac Tigrett in London, England, in 1971.
Hard Rock Cafe’s tradition of hanging rock and roll memorabilia on the walls began in 1979 when Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend donated their guitars to the London location.
The Hard Rock Cafe menu features a variety of classic American foods, including burgers, sandwiches, and steaks.
One of the most popular menu items at the Hard Rock Cafe is the Original Legendary Burger, a fresh steak burger topped with applewood bacon, Tillamook cheddar cheese, a crispy onion ring, leaf lettuce, tomato, and a side of signature steak sauce.
Another popular item on the Hard Rock Cafe menu is their baby back ribs, seasoned with a signature spice blend, glazed with housemade barbecue sauce, grilled, and served with seasoned fries, coleslaw, and ranch-style beans.
14. LongHorn Steakhouse
LongHorn Steakhouse is a chain steakhouse with almost 600 locations in 43 states.
The first LongHorn Steakhouse location opened in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1981.
In 1982, a freak snowstorm forced many interstate travelers moving through Atlanta to hunker down for a night in LongHorn Steakhouse.
The restaurant offered $1 food and drinks to the stranded drivers, garnering a ton of good publicity and helping keep their business afloat to become the restaurant chain we know today.
The menu at LongHorn Steakhouse revolves around steaks.
One of the most popular steaks at LongHorn Steakhouse is the LongHorn Porterhouse, a 22 oz. porterhouse steak served with two of your side choices.
If you’re not a big steak person, another LongHorn Steakhouse favorite is the parmesan-crusted chicken, made with grilled chicken breasts, creamy parmesan, and garlic cheese crust.
13. Bahama Breeze
Bahama Breeze is a casual dining restaurant chain serving Caribbean-inspired seafood.
There are over 40 Bahama Breeze locations in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.
Each Bahama Breeze location offers live Caribbean music every evening, creating a uniquely friendly and lively experience.
The Bahama Breeze menu features Caribbean-inspired dishes with a focus on seafood.
One of the most popular dishes at Bahama Breeze is their coconut shrimp, a fan favorite made with crispy, shredded coconut-encrusted shrimp, yellow rice, broccoli, and a citrus mustard sauce for dipping.
Another popular seafood dish is their lobster and shrimp linguine, which is sauteed with mushrooms in a decadent lobster cream sauce.
If you’re not a seafood lover, there are other options!
A non-seafood favorite from Bahama Breeze is the jerk chicken pineapple bowl, made with sauteed chicken, white rice, diced pineapples, and sweet peppers tossed in a jerk pineapple glaze and served in a hollowed-out pineapple.
12. Bonefish Grill
Bonefish Grill is one of the popular seafood chains with almost 200 locations in 30 states.
The first Bonefish Grill location was opened by Tim Curci and Chris Parker in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2000.
Both founders became friends because of their shared love for fishing and cooking fresh seafood.
The Bonefish Grill menu revolves around freshly-caught seafood dishes.
One of the most popular menu items at Bonefish Grill is the blackened Baja fish tacos, served alongside mango salsa, shredded cabbage, and lime crema.
Another popular Bonefish Grill dish is the cod imperial, which is stuffed with a seafood blend, mozzarella, and parmesan, and topped with lemon-caper butter.
If you don’t like seafood, you might want to try Lily’s chicken, served with goat cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts, and a lemon basil sauce.
11. Buffalo Wild Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings is a sports bar chain famous for its buffalo wings and beer.
There are over 1,200 Buffalo Wild Wings locations in all 50 states, plus Washington DC.
The first Buffalo Wild Wings location was opened by Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery in Columbus, Ohio, in 1982.
Disbrow and Lowery, who are originally from Buffalo, opened the restaurant because they couldn’t find a good buffalo wings restaurant in Columbus.
The menu at Buffalo Wild Wings revolves around buffalo wings.
Buffalo Wild Wings offers three different wings: traditional bone-in, boneless, and cauliflower.
There are almost 3,000 Chipotle locations in 48 states, plus Washington DC.
The first Chipotle location was opened by Steve Ells in Denver, Colorado, in 1993.
Ells was inspired by the popularity of Mission-style burritos during his time as a line cook in San Francisco.
Chipotle is famously customizable, so you’ll get to select the exact ingredients that go into your taco, burrito, bowl, salad, or quesadilla.
First, you’ll choose from a variety of proteins, including chicken, steak, carnitas, and sofritas.
Then, you’ll choose either white or brown rice and black or pinto beans.
Finally, you’ll top everything off with your choice of toppings, including guacamole, fresh tomato salsa, roasted chili-corn salsa, tomatillo-green chili salsa, tomatillo-red chili salsa, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce.
9. Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel is a country-themed restaurant and general store that serves beloved Southern dishes.
There are over 600 Cracker Barrel locations in 45 states.
The first Cracker Barrel location was opened by Dan Evins on Highway 109 in Lebanon, Tennessee, in 1953.
The name “Cracker Barrel” refers to literal barrels full of soda crackers, often sold in the local Southern general stores, after which Cracker Barrel was modeled.
In small Southern towns, townsfolk often gathered at the general store, sat on top of the cracker barrels, and chatted.
The Cracker Barrel menu features a wide variety of Southern comfort food, including all-day breakfast.
One of the most popular dishes on the Cracker Barrel menu is the Southern fried chicken dinner, made with four pieces of bone-in fried chicken, your choice of two sides, and a serving of either buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins.
Another popular Cracker Barrel menu item is the meatloaf dinner, which comes with Cracker Barrel’s special meatloaf, your choice of three sides, and a serving of buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins.
8. Texas Roadhouse
Texas Roadhouse is a casual restaurant chain specializing in steak and Southwestern cuisine.
There are over 600 Texas Roadhouse locations in 43 states.
The first Texas Roadhouse location was opened by Kent Taylor in Clarksville, Indiana (not Texas, funnily enough) in 1993.
Texas Roadhouse soon became famous for its delicious honey butter dinner rolls, USDA Choice steaks, and BBQ ribs.
The Texas Roadhouse menu features steaks, ribs, and other Southwestern dishes.
One of the most popular steaks at Texas Roadhouse is the hand-cut sirloin, a hearty, flavorful, lean steak that comes in 6 oz., 8 oz., 11 oz., or 16 oz. sizes, and is served with your choice of two sides.
Another popular dish from Texas Roadhouse is their fall-off-the-bone ribs, available in half-rack and full-rack sizes.
Texas Roadhouse’s ribs are slow-cooked with their signature BBQ sauce and served with your choice of two sides.
7. Olive Garden
Olive Garden is one of the largest and most popular Italian restaurant chains, with nearly 900 locations in the United States.
The first Olive Garden location was opened by the General Mills commercial food brand in 1982 and quickly became the largest Italian American restaurant chain.
For years, Olive Garden has been famous for its unlimited breadsticks and salad.
The Olive Garden menu features a variety of classic Italian American dishes, including delicious entrees, appetizers, soups, and desserts.
One of the most popular menu items at Olive Garden is their chicken alfredo, made from fettuccine pasta, creamy alfredo sauce, and sliced grilled chicken.
Another popular Olive Garden dish is their chicken parmigiana, made with lightly fried, parmesan-breaded chicken breasts, homemade marinara sauce, and a blend of Italian cheeses, served alongside spaghetti.
6. Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Carrabba’s Italian Grill is another popular casual dining chain restaurant specializing in Italian American food.
There are over 200 Carrabba’s Italian Grill locations in 29 states.
The first Carrabba’s Italian Grill location was opened by two Sicilian Americans named Damian Mandola and John Charles Carrabba III in Houston, Texas, in 1986.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill was inspired by Sicilian family recipes from the Mandola and Carrabba clans and the Creole, Southern, and Western cuisines native to Texas.
The Carrabba’s Italian Grill menu features a variety of classic Italian American dishes.
One of the most popular menu items at Carrabba’s is their Fettuccine Carrabba, a variation of fettuccine alfredo that also has wood-grilled chicken, sauteed mushrooms, and peas.
Another popular Carrabba’s dish is their Chicken Bryan, which is wood-grilled chicken topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and lemon butter sauce.
5. P.F. Chang’s
P.F. Chang’s is one of the largest and most popular Chinese American casual dining restaurants.
There are over 200 P.F. Chang’s locations in 39 states and Washington DC.
The first P.F. Chang’s location was opened by Philip Chiang and Paul Fleming in 1993.
Chiang’s mother, Cecilia Chiang, was an accomplished restauranteur in her own right, owning and operating two popular Chinese restaurants that counted John Lennon and Yoko Ono as patrons.
The P.F. Chang’s menu features a variety of authentic and Americanized Chinese and other Asian dishes.
One of the most popular dishes at P.F. Chang’s is Chang’s Spicy Chicken, made from crispy marinated chicken, glazed in a sweet and spicy chili sauce, and garnished with sliced green onions.
Another popular P.F. Chang’s menu item is their ma po tofu, a classic Chinese dish made with silken tofu lightly fried to be slightly crispy on the outside and served in a spicy red chili sauce with steamed broccoli.
4. Yard House
Yard House is a sports bar and casual dining restaurant chain specializing in American food.
There are over 80 Yard House locations in 27 states.
The first Yard House location was opened by Steele Platt in Long Beach, California, in 1996.
Yard House boasts the world’s largest selection of draft beer on its menu and a variety of dishes that reflect the restaurant’s Californian roots.
Yard House’s menu offers over 100 different dishes.
One of the most popular dishes on the Yard House menu is the BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger, made with a proprietary USDA-blend beef patty, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, BBQ sauce, and garlic aioli and is served with a side of fries.
Another beloved Yard House dish is the [Mac + Cheese]², a decadent take on macaroni and cheese, made with white truffle, bacon, chicken, crimini, shiitake, oyster mushrooms, parmesan cheese, and a panko cheddar crust.
3. The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory is one of the most popular casual dining restaurant chains in the US, famous for its eponymous cheesecakes.
There are over 200 Cheesecake Factory locations in 39 states, plus Washington DC.
The first Cheesecake Factory location was opened by David Overton in Beverly Hills, California, in 1978.
The Cheesecake Factory’s original cheesecake recipe was invented by David Overton’s mother, Evelyn Overton, way back in the 1940s.
In addition to being famous for its cheesecakes, The Cheesecake Factory is known for its extensive menu.
One of the most popular offerings at Cheesecake Factory is their avocado eggrolls, which are egg rolls filled with avocado, sun-dried tomato, red onion, and cilantro, and served with a tamarind-cashew dipping sauce.
The Cheesecake Factory offers many cheesecakes, including the popular Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake, an extravagant dessert made from cheesecake and Oreo cookies and topped with Oreo cookie mousse and chocolate icing.
2. Maggiano’s Little Italy
Maggiano’s Little Italy is a casual dining restaurant chain famous for serving Italian American cuisine.
There are over 50 Maggiano’s Little Italy locations in 22 states, plus Washington DC.
The first Maggiano’s Little Italy location was opened in Chicago, Illinois, in 1991.
The menu at Maggiano’s Little Italy was sourced from authentic Italian recipes provided by a variety of Italian grandmothers, aunts, and mothers.
One of the most popular menu items at Maggiano’s Little Italy is their four-cheese ravioli, served in a decadent pesto alfredo sauce.
Another popular Maggiano’s dish is mom’s lasagna, a classic Italian meal made with seasoned beef and Italian sausage, ricotta cheese, and marinara sauce.
If you like seafood, you should try Maggiano’s menu item called Chef KB’s Lobster Carbonara, made with spaghetti, lobster, smoked bacon, snap peas, and truffle cream sauce.
1. The Capital Grille
The Capital Grille is an upscale restaurant chain specializing in steak.
There are over 60 Capital Grille locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Washington DC.
Each Capital Grille location boasts African mahogany paneling and Art Deco chandeliers in the interior, and many locations also have extravagant architectural features.
All Capital Grille restaurants dry age their steaks for 18 to 24 days before meticulously grilling them.
The menu at Capital Grille offers a variety of high-quality steaks, seafood, and other delicious fine-dining entrees.
One of the most popular dishes at The Capital Grille is the Sliced Filet Mignon with Cipollini Onions, Wild Mushrooms, and Fig Essence, a decadent variation on a classic filet mignon.
If you prefer seafood to steak, you might want to try the Seared Salmon with Heirloom tomatoes, white wine butter, and lemon basil mosto, served on a bed of arugula.
No matter what kind of food you’re craving, there’s a chain restaurant out there waiting for you!
These restaurant chains belong to a wide range of cuisines and price ranges, so there’s something delicious for everyone!
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, going on a date night, or just taking friends or family out to dinner, you’re sure to find a new favorite restaurant on our list.