America's Favorite Casual Restaurants Aren't the Ones You'd Expect

Courtesy of the Cheesecake Factory

The Bloomin' Onion. Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Unlimited breadsticks. These are just a few of the many life-changing and cholesterol-spiking contributions to our culture from America's casual dining restaurants. But when it comes to America's favorite casual sit-down restaurants, one chain appears to reign supreme over all others at your local mega mall or tourist district: The Cheesecake Factory.

That's right, the chain famous for its enormous menu, enormous portions, and enormous list of cheesecakes was recently named America's favorite casual dining restaurant in the annual Consumer Picks ranking from Nation’s Restaurant News. With a menu of more than 250 items -- like giant plates of Pasta Carbonara -- the chain's more than 180 locations basically serve up something for everyone.

NRN suggests The Cheesecake Factory's expansive menu could be a big part of why it beat out last year's winner, The Melting Pot (now No. 2), and other classic casual standbys like Red Lobster (No. 4 on the list) and Olive Garden (No. 7). The chain also scored big in other survey measurements such as food quality, cleanliness, and reputation.

Meanwhile, Buffalo Wild Wings, ranked last on the list of 40, with Logan's Roadhouse, Ruby Tuesday, On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, and Uno Chicago Grill/Uno Pizzeria & Grill rounding out the bottom five. Some of your other favorite chains may have placed better -- like Outback Steakhouse (No. 23), TGI Fridays (No. 29), and Hooters (No. 33). The results are based on an online survey that collected more than 4,800 responses from people about their dining experiences at 173 restaurant brands across the country. You can check out the full ranking and additional details over at NRN, but here's the top 10:

10. Chevys Fresh Mex
9. Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers
8. Ninety Nine Restaurant & Pub
7. Olive Garden
6. Carrabba's Italian Grill
5. Romano's Macaroni Grill
4. Red Lobster
3. Bonefish Grill
2. The Melting Pot
1. The Cheesecake Factory

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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and has never had a bad meal at Cheesecake Factory. Send news tips to and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.