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Restaurant Lunch Menus, Kids Menus, Takeout
Restaurant Kids Menus
All the chains on our list have typical restaurant kids menus proffering items such as hamburgers, chicken fingers, and grilled cheese. (If you're thinking of ordering one of these smaller, cheaper meals for yourself, note that they're only for children 12 and under at Applebee's, Chili's, and TGI Friday's and 10 and under at Outback and Ruby Tuesday.) Chili's and Outback Steakhouse participate in a recently launched National Restaurant Association initiative called Kids LiveWell, which calls for at least one menu item with 600 calories or fewer and a side dish with 200 calories or fewer.
The Chili's kids menu boasts the largest selection. For $4.59, kids can choose from 11 entree options, 11 sides, and a soft drink, milk, or juice. Applebee's has the cheapest kids menu but also a scant selection: a mini cheeseburger or mini chicken sandwich with a side and drink for $3.49. Outback prices its kids meal a bit higher, at $4.99, and lets children choose from five entrees that come with a side and drink. Ruby Tuesday charges the most for an equivalent kids meal -- $3.99 for a choice of four entrees and a side, plus $1.19 for a kids beverage.
Outback Steakhouse storefront
Cheap Lunch Menus.Outback Steakhouse serves lunch only on Saturdays, offering the same menu and prices it does at dinner. However, consumers can save money at the other four restaurants on our list by taking advantage of cheap lunch menus. At Chili's you can build your own combo by pairing a soup or salad with a sandwich or other selected entree. The combos cost $6, $7, or $8, depending on your choices. The cheap lunch menu at Applebee's works in a similar way. For $6.99 customers can choose two Pick 'N Pair items from the menu. Choices include soup, salad, sandwiches, and pastas. TGI Friday's offers an endless lunch combo of soup and salad for $6.99, along with two or three other combos, but the rest of the lunch items are pricey and consist of hamburgers, sandwiches, and entrees. At Ruby Tuesday, you'll find several salad bar lunch combinations, hamburgers, and petite lunch plates. Prices start at $6.99.
TGI Friday's storefront
Carryout Service.All the restaurants we researched offer carryout service for customers who want to eat at home but don't want to cook. Applebee's lets customers call in to place an order through its Carside To Go service. When you pick up your food, you pull into a designated parking space and wait for someone to bring it out to you. Outback Steakhouse provides the same service but offers online ordering. At Chili's you can order online or over the phone, but you must park and go into the restaurant to get your order -- unless you live in Ohio, Idaho, or Montana, where you can order Chili's and have it delivered through Cafe Courier (for an additional charge). At TGI Friday's and Ruby Tuesday, customers must call in their orders and go into the restaurant to pick up their food. Friday's does have a separate To Go entrance at select locations. All these restaurants offer full menus for carryout.
Don't Bother Cheap Family Restaurant Chains
Most of the food we tried at Ruby Tuesday was run-of-the-mill. The chicken entree was fatty and, we feared, slightly undercooked. Reviews suggest we aren't the only ones who've had such an experience. That said, unsatisfied diners may be more likely to post reviews than those whose experience was satisfactory but unremarkable. Many consumers consider the salad bar a good value. Read more »
This restaurant served one of the most expensive meals we ate, yet seemed to offer the least value. The food was rather bland and looked like something we could have made at home at far less expense. Many reviewers seem to agree on this point. One expert ranks the chain among the most unhealthful in America. Read more »
TGI Friday's Review
Outback Steakhouse Review
Chili's Grill & Bar Review
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