How many pieces of flair do YOU have on?
Last night, my wife Laura really wanted a baked potato. She wanted one in the worst


What Chain Restaurants Do You WANT in Your Neighborhood?

How many pieces of flair do YOU have on?
Last night, my wife Laura really wanted a baked potato. She wanted one in the worst kind of way, and even though I offered to bake her one, there was a complication: It was hot as balls in our house and she didn't want the oven turned on.

I said I could do it in the microwave.

She said she didn't want a microwaved potato. She wanted a baked potato. More specifically, she wanted a baked potato from Wendy's.

We used to live basically right across the street from a Wendy's. And while we certainly weren't regular customers or anything, a couple times a month, when neither of us wanted to cook anything or actually sit down in a restaurant, it was nice to be able to run out, grab a couple baked potatoes and eat them on the couch while watching cartoons. It was also handy when we had a bunch of leftover massamun curry or something and needed something to bulk it out, or when we were snowed in and had nothing in the 'fridge but questionable takeout and beer.

Wendy's was, in this way, a kind of safety restaurant for us (a subject discussed at length in my review of Flying Fish from a couple weeks ago)--a place where we could score baked potatoes (I'm not sure if we ever got anything else) when baked potatoes in a hurry were what we wanted.

Now, though, Laura and I find ourselves in a place which is openly hostile to chain restaurants. And while this is normally a good thing (and one of the things I love about Seattle and its surrounding 'burbs), it does make for some hardships. Like last night's baked potato debacle. We didn't want to turn on the oven. Neither of us wanted to get dressed, go to a steakhouse or something and actually sit and eat baked potatoes.

"I want to give someone a dollar and have them give me a potato," was how Laura put it. But the nearest Wendy's to us is in Renton, easily a 20 minute drive, and just too far for a woman with an immediate craving. Thus, we were stuck--potato-less and sad (and hungry)--and this all got me thinking...

While the decided lack of chain operations in and around Seattle is a good thing for those of us who love and support the local, the small, the weird and the awesome, and while I firmly believe that the quality of any city's cuisine improves in direct correlation to the amount of Applebee's and Olive Garden franchises run out of town, even the most die-hard gastronaut has one or two chain restaurants of which they are irrationally fond. For Laura, it would be Wendy's and Chick-fil-A. I miss having a Chipotle on every streetcorner (as was the case in Denver), wish I could still go to Noodles & Company (which, like Chipotle, was founded in Denver) because they ably, if not artfully, made a fast-food beef stroganoff that I kinda liked, and have an occasional weakness for McDonald's breakfasts even if I rarely find myself awake and mobile at any hour that they're served.

So what about you? Living in the Land Without Drive-thrus, what is it that you wish you could still get once in a while, as a guilty pleasure or occasional indulgence? What is it that you love, but would never admit to eating among your foodie friends? What chain operation do you wish would jump Seattle's virtual cordon sanitaire and set up shop right across the street from your house?

This is a safe place to make your admissions. We promise not to judge or poke fun. So add your fondest fast food daydreams and darkest Riblet desires to the comments section below.

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