Is There Really a Difference Between Fast Food Chains and Other Restaurants?

This article is actually an audition of sorts for a freelance writing project that was assigned to me, but I figure that I also post it here, just to provide some lighthearted content for a change.

Whenever I go out to eat at a restaurant, I make sure that I order something that I can’t make myself or just pick up at a fast food chain. What many do not realize is that a majority of dishes that are offered at diners, restaurants, or even fine dining restaurants are just larger portions of anything you can find at a fast food chain.

Diners such as Denny’s or International House of Pancakes contain menus that usually offer nothing more than breakfast platters (typically a combination of eggs, sausage/bacon, and hash browns), and sandwiches. These are items that fill out the vast majority of fast food chains. And with the growing trend of fast food chains offering breakfast menus all day just like diners, one has to think: Is going to a diner even necessary anymore?

Traditional American dining restaurants and sports bars like Applebees, Outback Steakhouse, Longhorn Steakhouse, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Chili’s also offer very similar food items that many a fast food chain would offer, barring only a select few items on their menus, steak, meatloaf, and pasta plates being the obvious exception.

Certain signature dishes at traditional restaurants represent this exception as well, but even those items still represent a minority. While it is true that most of the sandwich variations at traditional restaurants contain different ingredients than what would be seen at fast food chains, these same locations are now catching on, offering similar sandwich items.

This leaves us with fine dining. Fine dining restaurants typically flip the script on menu items. Nearly half of their menu items at a fine dining restaurant contain complicated signature dishes that are difficult for many to reproduce, much less be seen at a fast food chain. Fine dining restaurants usually do not have numerous locations across the United States like most diners and traditional restaurants. Furthermore, there is a distinct difference in how the food at fine dining restaurants taste. They clearly get their food from better warehouses. Fine dining restaurants are where you want to go if you want a “restaurant experience.”

I have no problem with going to a traditional restaurant with a group and enjoying the atmosphere. But it is important to keep in mind that most of these places are sophisticated forms of fast food chains. Most of the food comes from the same restaurant warehouses, and despite the options you get in terms of how well a protein item is cooked at traditional restaurants, most of the time the taste is the exact same as a fast food chain.

As far as the nutritional content is concerned, food kept in restaurants have a very similar shelf life than those in fast food chains. In many cases, the nutritional content is the exact same as well.

Also, another thing to keep in mind is that there is no such thing as gratuity at the common fast food chain. At a fast food chain, you don’t need to worry about how good your server is in order to see how much you need to tip them. You just order your food, get your food, and either eat there or leave and eat at home.

Again, there is not much atmosphere at a fast food chain compared to their counterparts. So if you absolutely need that kind of experience, either go to a fine dining restaurant and order something cheap, or if you absolutely must go to a traditional restaurant, just get a drink and an appetizer. Leave the full meals to the fast food chains where you can save money.