Best Chain Restaurant - 1999
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
Readers' Choice: The Cheesecake Factory
For one thing the place serves breakfast all day long. That's enough to keep those of us without traditional day jobs coming back, but Cracker Barrel ups the ante with truly good old-fashioned country cooking. The buttermilk biscuits are warm, flaky, and dripping with butter. The chicken 'n' dumplings is rich 'n' hearty. The meat loaf is way better than Mom used to make. And even the salads, one topped with fried chicken tenders, can be fattening, just the way we like 'em. On the way out, we can purchase candy to go (like sour cherry drops or giant jawbreakers) and a knickknack or two from the country store, then sit out on the porch for a spell, working those rocking chairs. Cracker Barrel even has a books-on-tape lending library -- rent a tape at one store, then return it at another -- and gives out maps of the country, with all its 300-plus locations marked, so that road-trippers know where to stop for some dependable chow. You couldn't ask more from a chain.