As any real seafood lover quickly realizes, not all seafood restaurants are equal. Some say that a family-owned restaurant is generally better than a seafood chain restaurant, but that’s not always the same. But then again, it’s also true that a few seafood chain restaurants aren’t as good as you may have hoped.
The good thing about chain restaurants is that they’re easier to find, since these restaurants invariably have multiple locations. But it doesn’t really help if you don’t get flavorful seafood at the right prices. To avoid an unpleasant experience with your seafood meal, you should do yourself a favor and avoid the following chain restaurants:
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
No, that particular character in the Forrest Gump movie didn’t get his name from this restaurant. In fact, this particular chain restaurant didn’t launch until a few years after that movie came out. The folks at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. were just banking on the name recognition.
It’s a gimmicky, but you’ll find that this place is simply too gimmicky. They have 30 locations, and these places generally have neat decorations. These places are also invariably located in areas where tourists congregate. The food isn’t really all that terrible, but their seafood is too expensive for what you’re getting.
For all these reasons, it’s not surprising that a lot of people say that Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. is basically a tourist trap. Don’t come here even if you want to honor the memory of Forrest Gump’s wartime buddy. You’re better off getting your shrimp somewhere else.
Long John Silver’s
Some people think that Long John Silver’s must offer great seafood. After all, they have more than 850 locations, and the brand wouldn’t have expanded this much if there wasn’t a great demand for their food, right? It has more locations than any other seafood chain, so logically, it has to be good.
Except that logic flies out the window when you visit any Long John Silver’s location. Just about every food item in the menu is oily and greasy. It’s as if you’re taking a bath in fish-scented oil.
And because it seems like everything in the menu has been drowned in oil, a quick check on the food’s nutritional info will tell you that they have some of the unhealthiest food that you can find anywhere. With so much oil involved, the calories will truly pile on.
Yes, their hush puppies are great. That’s their one redeeming feature. If you’re ever forced to visit this place, just get the hush puppies and be content.
Landry’s Seafood House
If you’re in the southern part of the US, you might have stumbled upon a Landry’s Seafood House. You’ve got 7 locations in Texas, and a couple of them are in New Orleans.
Some people like to say that Landry’s is simply a somewhat better version of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., except Landry’s isn’t as gimmicky. But Landry’s charge rather high prices for their food, and their food for the most part is just too bland. It’s no wonder that you’ll find plenty of lukewarm online reviews for Landry’s.
The best way to enjoy a visit to Landry’s is to avoid the expensive seafood altogether, and just go with the simpler options. Ask for some beer-battered fish fillets with breaded strings of onions and fries, and you’re good to go. At least you won’t feel like you’ve been mugged.
A quick check at the history of Arthur Teacher’s might make you think that it’s a great seafood chain restaurant. Its origin dates back to the 1860s (that’s circa the US Civil War), and at one point, they had more than 800 locations.
But that was then, and this is now. The brand started having problems back in the 1970s, when the Cod Wars between the UK and Iceland caused a sudden increase in the price of cod. That made plenty of Arthur Teacher’s items to become more expensive (especially the fish and chips), and the cost increase lowered the demand for their seafood.
Today, the food isn’t as good as it was once. You’re not getting a great value for your money here. That’s just the way of things now.
So, which seafood chain restaurants should you try instead? Perhaps your best choice is Bonefish Grill. You get more than your money’s worth (see Bonefish Grill menu prices) with the diverse menu with lots of creative options, gorgeous presentation, and simply delicious food. It’s a rather upscale restaurant, though the overall atmosphere is casual and comfy.
You can also try Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen with its wide range of menu options, an attentive set of servers, and a fun ambiance. There’s also Truluck’s, if you’re awash with cash and you want fantastic lobster. And you can also try Legal Sea Foods, where the food is always fresh.
Just avoid the restaurants on our list, and you’ll be fine with your seafood!