1.28.2014

Restaurant Snob?

Biggest Naan I've ever seen and the best
On Saturday night we went to Ali Baba Restaurant.  It's on this random street next to a liquor store.  There is a bar across the street and no other restaurant in sight.  It doesn't offer much in the way of ambiance but I love it that it's in our neighborhood.  We don't have to drive downtown and hunt or pay for parking and they serve Naan bigger then the size of my head fresh out of the oven.  The food is delicious and the portions are generous.  We had an authentic Mediterranean Halal food experience right in our  backyard.  I honestly had no clue what type of food it was but that's what it says on their website.  We've been there twice now and plan to take my mother in law when she comes to visit.

There was a time when going to TGI Friday's or Applebee's would be my top pick for dining out on the weekends but over the last year or so I've fallen out of love with chain restaurants.  There is something about their mass produced energy that doesn't appeal to me so much anymore.  I think it's a combination of getting older and the plethora of great restaurants in our city to explore.  There are so many new ones popping up that I'll probably never get a chance to try them all.  I'm also not 100% driven by price when it comes to dining out like I was in my early 20's.  It's a factor for sure; but I'm not compelled to go somewhere just because I see a commercial advertising a 3 course combo for $10.99.
Top:  Chicken Tikka  Bottom:  Chicken Shawarma
Or maybe my husband is starting to rub off on me.  I call him a food snob.  He say's he just likes good food.  Or maybe he's not a food snob and I just wore him down with wanting to go the same places all the time.  When we were still dating On the Border was our spot.  He was still living about 1 1/2 hours away in Orange County.  He'd drive down to my house on Friday's and I'd rush home from work so we could make happy hour.  I got the chicken casadilla and he'd get the tacos.  We'd both get a beer or sometimes he'd get a Margarita.  It was cheap and tasted good to me.  After he got sick of that place we went through a TGI Friday's run until he refused to go there ever again and started saying how much he hated it.  Then it was Outback which is also on his hate list and in between we frequented Chili's and Applebee's quite a bit too.  In his opinion the food at non chain restaurants is better and he burns out with repetition while I'm pretty easy to please and could eat the same things at the same place every day.  I'm a creature of habit and not too adventurous when it comes to food but we started branching out for date nights and really haven't looked back.  

When I go out I want unique decor details and menu items that you can't get anywhere else.  I enjoy ambiance and an interesting vibe.  I love the friendly service and homey atmosphere that I get in little mom and pop places.  They seem to pay more attention to the quality of the food they serve and I like supporting small businesses.  It doesn't have to be fancy or hip.  We like discovering hole in the wall spots and places outside the trendy happening areas.  We are always open to trying new places and if the food and service is good we'll be back.  One of our new favorite spots is a place right down the street from us in a strip mall.  There is nothing fancy about it but the food is good, the people are friendly and we feel at home there.  MJ is such a regular they know him by name. 

I haven't sworn off chain restaurants indefinitely but it's not going to be my first choice and I'm not necessarily planning to go to one anytime soon.  I can't go the rest of my life without ever tasting Red Lobster's cheddar bay biscuits again and I have only found one restaurant that has lasagna I like as much Olive Garden's.  They say it's frozen but I don't care.  Even Italy couldn't outdo Lasagna Classico. And those bread sticks.  Denny's is a sentimental favorite of mine too.  I grew up going there and it was always my Birthday dinner pick.  My how times have changed.

Maybe I'm turning into a restaurant/food snob but I like to feel like I'm having some type of culinary experience.   I don't need a mouthwash dispenser in the bathroom but if I'm spending my time and money I want it to feel worth it and special in some way.  Chains just don't do it for me like they used to.

28 comments :

Paige (The Last Doughnut) said...

My husband and I became food snobs about five years ago. I really cannot stand chain restaurants...mostly because I feel like all they do is take food out of the freezer and heat it up. Locally owned places take more pride in their food and have a higher stake in pleasing their customers. "Real" food just tastes better!

Kathy C said...

That's what I want to eat...right now. Especially that naan!!

Nylse Esahc said...

California is the perfect place to become a food snob as there are so many diverse and organically good food places here. That Naan looks so tempting.

Faith said...

I've become somewhat a food snob ... I don't turn my nose down on food chains but I'd rather try restaurants that aren't chains if I'm to be honest. But chains def. have their place ... when you need something on the inexpensive end chains are necessary.

And now all I want is Naan ... it looks amazing

A Life Less Traveled said...

Your husband sounds like mine when it comes to their dislike of chain restaurants. He is definitely the more adventurous when it comes to food. I have found that I am liking chain restaurants less and less in the last few years. I remember hearing somewhere that your food palate change every 7 years, maybe that is the reason ha.

BKCsquared said...

I love this post!! Sometimes I crave chains (Islands, Chipotle, El Torito, you name it!), but I do have my favorites that can't be found anywhere else & there's something really special about that.

That naan looks huge & delicious by the way!!

xo, B
www.BKCsquared.com

Whitney @ EHFAR said...

I'm pretty much a creature of habit too and could eat the same things everyday. I don't really mind chain restaurants all that much. We used to go to Applebees a lot, but I haven't been in about 1.5 years. That's crazy to me, because I used to go like once a week.

Newlyweds on a Budget said...

we don't eat at chain restaurants very often. I LOVE food and so does my husband. if anything, i think the hardest part is trying new restaurants, but that is why we rely on yelp a lot to take us to new places.

Kate said...

I completely agree! Now that I'm older, I have little desire to go to a strange restaurant. Even if we are traveling, we try to find a local place (thank you, smart phones and Yelp apps!). I think it started for me when I lived in this new town after I graduated college. It was a little town, but it had LOTS of awesome local restaurants, that were all within walking distance of where I lived, so I basically stopped going to chains. And now, even though we live outside of DC, we rarely venture into the city. There are so many great local spots, we're perfectly content with staying and eating in the county. Also, that Mediterranean place sounds awesome!

Brittany said...

I'm not a food snob but I've always kind of wanted to be. Is that weird? I'd love to try new places, but I grew up going to chains and just can't break away. Pass the Chili's skillet quest, please!

Rachel Murphree said...

I think the small mom and pop, hole-in-the-wall places are the best. I can be a little bit of a food snob, but then sometimes I just really like "bad" food...?

Nerline Germain said...

I love eating out too. That plate looks delicious. Check out my latest post.

Kate @ Another Clean Slate said...

I am totally anti chain restaurants too EXCEPT Olive Garden! I just can't stop loving that place. Soup, salad, breadsticks? Sold!

And that place you went for dinner looks incredible.

Miss MP said...

I'm a bit of a food/restaurant snob myself. I do love Nann. I personally prefer restaurants with smaller menus. I hate having to look over a big menu at chain restaurants.

Amanda @ MyLifeIGuess.com said...

I haven't really eaten in restaurants since I started dating a cook. The food he makes at home is so much better (and cheaper), he loves to cook, and I love that I can wear my pyjamas. Haha.

Lauren W said...

We've definitely come to prefer non-chain restaurants over the chains. Sometimes, those small diners or hole in the wall places are the best ones. It doesn't make you a food snob at all!

ShellyShell said...

I'm a food snob and a foodie. I haven't been in an Applebee's,Red Lobster,Fridays in over 10 years. Nor do I want to go into one. Every once in awhile for lunch I'll eat at Chipotle or Pot Belly but for dinner....NEVER! I live in NYC there are too many mom n pop restaurants to pass up to get to a chain. I love food and there's only 3 things I won't eat, Liver,Tomatoes and Ketchup. I'll try anything once. If I don't like it. I won't eat it again.

Law_Fal said...

That food looks great! Im a foodie so I tend to opt out of too many chain restaurants, but I do love red lobster (even though ive heard rumors they are closing) and I do still enjoy olive garden as well.

Christine said...

Oh my word that looks absolutely delish! I need to try to branch out a little too I think, there's just something that's so safe about those big chain restaurants and knowing exactly what you're getting. But I think I'm probably just missing out on much better, more authentic food...

Pegster said...

I think when you spend money on something you are allowed to be a bit choosy. Having preferences is a good thing too. I always enjoy trying new places and sometimes there is something comforting about going to a place and knowing exactly what you are going to get.

Lovelyladyjb said...

I feel the same about chain restaurants, well sometimes.. We have so many around us and don't eat at them often so I can't say I hate any. Except Applebee's. Absolutely hate it. I remember getting a caesar salad there once and the dressing was so watery because it was likely made from a packet of powder and water mixed together. Never will go there, ever by choice. Yuck.

Amy said...

I like all restaurants bc I am such a glutton but the older I get the more I appreciate non chain restaurants! I also love me some naan. Haven't found any good Indian spots in durham though :(

Susannah said...

That food looks so super good!!! My hubby and are totallly retaurant snobs too and hardly ever go to chains. There's just too much good food out there to spend our time at chains. :-)

Sierra said...

Mmm you have officially made me hungry! I'm the same way. I don't like chain restaurants but instead go to fun new places! ~Sierra of http://ragsexchange.com/ and http://styleactuallyblog.com/

Whitney Cypert said...

What is naan? Like a tortilla? It is HUGE, bigger than your head! I love chain restaurants and non chain ones. Basically I just love food lol.

Kelly said...

This food looks amazing! I am so sad I am on a juice cleanse!

xx Kelly
Sparkles and Shoes

Rekita Nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rekita | Her + Nicole said...

i'm sorry testing again, lol I will delete it.

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