Everyone obviously has their local college bars that they love. Whether they have a badass projector or a bunch of small tv’s with weird colors radiating from the screen. But we’re not here to celebrate the dollar pitchers of Natty or the floor that you’re not sure has been mopped in the last calendar year or not. Nope. The chain restaurants get a ton of flack for being chain restaurants. I’m sick and tired of some phenomenal establishments getting a bad rep just because they’re so good that people around the country get to enjoy them.

This isn’t simply a power ranking of the best chain restaurants. That conversation starts and ends with Waffle House anyways. I’m not including super local chains or fast food chains either. Because who the hell goes to McDonald’s to watch the Iron Bowl? Actually, don’t answer that.

CHILIS

Chili’s is America’s premier casual dining experience. The Awesome Blossom. The Baby Back Ribs. Mix and match deals and Margaritas that are strong, delicious and they’ll have you leaving your Ford Explorer in the parking lot and ubering home.

What you see here is a whole lot of Margarita.

The deals are out of the world. The dinner for two is undefeated. 3/$10 is a great way to get a quick snack. I’ve also never had a bad experience with a bartender at Chili’s!

Chili’s has a pretty standard blueprint. There’s the bar area with high tables for fun people. Then on the other side of the host’s booth is where people are there with their screaming kids still in their soccer practice uniforms. It’s perfect. I don’t have to listen to anyone’s infant cry, and their kids don’t have to hear anything that I say. We have zero interaction with one another, and I get all the tv’s.

The last time I remember watching college football at a Chili’s I was with my mother at a Chili’s in Alabama. Wisconsin was in the midst of an absolute demolition of Nebraska in the Big Ten Title game. It was the worst conference title game of all time. But dammit, I was at Chili’s with my mom. I had fajitas and a strawberry lemonade (I was not of age at the time). I was happy.

VERDICT: CONTENDER

Denny’s

No TV’s. Awful place to watch sports.

VERDICT: PRETENDER

Buffalo Wild Wings

In my opinion this is one of the worst chain restaurants in America in terms of food. Regardless of my unpopular opinion, BWW is widely beloved and cherished by sports fans of all ages. 

The wings are average at best. I’ve been to some locations where it tastes like they bought the Tyson’s anytizers and threw em in a fryer with extra sauce. I’ve also been to locations where the wings taste…. slightly better. I’ve heard that some of the other things on the menu are good. The wraps, for example, have received terrific reviews from my friends and loved ones. But what lunatic doesn’t order wings from Buffalo Wild WINGS?

This is the category where Bdubs makes up a ton of ground. The TV’s. It’s beautiful. You can watch whatever game you want. They have every damn sports channel in the world. You thought ESPN The Ocho was a joke? Hell no, Bdubs has that channel too. It’s the one restaurant I can go to and the waitress doesn’t look at me like I have a black eye when I ask for the hockey game. That’s another thing, Bdubs interviews and screens very well. Always a friendly, knowledgeable staff. Always down to talk a little football at the bar. 

Great establishment for the most part, I just wish the food was better. Furthermore, it is expensive to both eat and drink at Bdubs. You have to go in doing one or the other sometimes.

VERDICT: CONTENDER

PIZZA HUT

Pizza Hut? Where do I begin with this fine establishment. Pizza Hut has been on an odyssey and identity crisis. Is our pizza any good? Should we just offset shitty pizza by having a 24/7 pizza buffet? ALL YOU CAN EAT? The answer to the latter is yes. I haven’t been to a Pizza Hut in years. BUT I don’t remember ever seeing a TV in one. 

Pizza Hut could be so much more than it is. If I’m the Pizza Hut execs, I want my Pizza Hut to be a place where two love birds had their first kiss after Brian Lewerke led Michigan State to another win over Michigan and remember it for the rest of their lives.

Also, if I’m a Pizza Hut exec, I don’t want to go out of business because my pizza sucks and other chains are way further ahead of the game. I see so much potential in Pizza Hut for that ‘go-to, watch the game with the guys’ venue. 

VERDICT: REBUILDER

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Best Chilis in the world is found aboard Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, Japan. And, they have a terrific beer line-up to help one weather the frequent tropical storms. And…Okinawa happens to be the only place I would consider visiting a Pizza Hut.