Red Robin - Tustin
Red Robin is just about the only national restaurant chain we go to voluntarily. In fact, we go to it often enough that we are part of their loyalty program, which entitles us not only to a free meal every once in a while, but a free burger during our birthday months.
But I also like Red Robin for other reasons. I like that they don't blink an eye when we tell them that we're splitting our burger (the kitchen cuts the burger in half automatically when we do). I like that they have a wedge salad for $3 with bacon and crumbles of bleu, and it tastes as good as the one Mastro's Steakhouse charges $12 for.
And obviously, I like that they'll still refill the fries that goes with our split burger, even if they're obviously being shared by two people. I also like that if the occasion arises when we can't finish the fries, Red Robin actually let us take them home (they reheat well in a toaster oven).
And although it can vary from visit to visit, I like the burgers--the patties seared on the outside to a crisp, as all burgers should be.
I also like the fried zucchini when we want to kid ourselves that we're eating our vegetables. The kitchen seems to take some care in preparing them, raking off just enough of the green zucchini skin so that there's something for the sheer, tempura-like batter to cling to. They're served so fuming hot they have a tendency to scald us when we forget to let them cool.
On our last visit to Red Robin, I've noticed that the restaurant has installed those tableside tablets that lets you order and pay without so much as interacting with the wait staff. This was, at first, disconcerting to us. But we were assuaged when our Freckled Lemonade was refilled just as often as usual.
Sat what you want about chains--their often impersonal staff and mass-produced food that's cooked elsewhere--but there are some chains, like Red Robin, that bucks the stereotype and that a jaded restaurant nerd like me can adhere to. I have the loyalty card to prove it.
2667 Park Ave.
Tustin, CA 92782
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