Best Chains for the Road

Tim Hortons

Tim Horton’s in a bank lobby in St. Louis.

I’ve been travelling a lot lately and inevitably find myself looking for a great place to eat. My first choice is always to look for a good locally-owned restaurant but sometimes that isn’t available, convenient or easy to find. That’s when I seek out my favorite chains. These are my go-to favorites:


Bricktops is expanding throughout the Southern States. There’s even a location in St. Louis now. This classic American restaurant has a wide-ranging menu that is full of great options to please almost everyone. The ribs are saucy and tender, there’s always a nice fish preparation, but the appetizer menu is where I usually stay—devilled eggs, grilled artichokes, and fresh guacamole make a great lunch or dinner alone or to share.


Tim Horton’s is a Canadian donut chain that was recently bought by Burger King (Tim Horton was a Canadian hockey player who originally started the chain). They are mainly in the Northeastern States right now but are moving south and west rapidly. They are famous for their donuts (and the little Timbits!) but their full menu of salads and sandwiches is reliably good too. I recently visited a Tim Horton’s Express Café that was located inside the lobby of a bank! It’s a great use of what is often a very nice but underused space and brought in lots of customers to the bank. What a brilliant idea.


California Pizza Kitchen is my all-time favorite chain for many years now. The food at this pasta, pizza and salad restaurant is always flavorful, but more importantly it’s reliably and consistently good. They’ve recently gone through a needed update but the core of CPK remains –well-made, imaginative food that has a California flair. But I’m not the only one that loves this restaurant. CPK is often packed with customers, but for one or two people there are usually seats available at a large bar at the back where the service is faster and quieter.


PF Chang’s is without a doubt my favorite Asian style chain restaurants. The consistency of flavor isn’t as reliable as some of the other chains, but if you’re in the mood for this kind of food, it’s always a safe choice.

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