What National Chain Restaurants Do You Secretly Like?

Categories: Chow Bella

Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com.

As much as they may deny it, chefs and restaurateurs secretly enjoy national chain restaurants just like the rest of us.

See also: Is Yelp Fair to Restaurants? and Who's the Most Unsung Hero in the Kitchen?

Whether it's burgers, tacos, burritos, or other mass-produced fare, the Valley's food industry has a guilty pleasure or two. Where do they go to satisfy it? Here's what a few of them had to say.

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Chef Payton Curry,
Brat Haus

Chipotle and only because of the man, the myth, the culinary legend, Nate Appleman. I haven't eaten at a chain restaurant in three years and I don't plan on doing so in the near future; however, I respect what chef [Appleman] has done. I give him an "A" based on his cuisine in the Bay Area. His transition is one that I respect based on the change of haute alone.

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Silvana Salcido Esparza,
Chef and Owner, Barrio Cafe and Barrio Queen

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen off the I-17. The seafood is fresh and flavorful. The Salcido clan has shared many wonderful memories there throughout the past eight years. For a chain, it rocks. It's a family-owned chain with quality food. Cajun, baby!

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Aaron May, Chef and Restaurateur

If I'm on the road and really hungry, I will track down a Waffle House late at night. Nothing wrong with that.

Joe Johnston, Owner, Joe's Real BBQ, Joe's Fresh Farm Grill, Liberty Market, Agritopia

Hillstone Corp. (Hillstone, Houston's, Bandera) run exceptional restaurants that get less press than they deserve. They'rey consistent in quality and service and spend a fortune on the build-out of their restaurants. It's family-owned and they take pride in what they do. Slightly more of a secret is my enjoyment of Taco Bell. I'm addicted to the Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos, which combine my love of snack chips with the Mex-like cuisine of everyday Taco Bell.

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