While I'm usually the advocate of trying the interesting local restaurant, sometimes a chain can offer the known variety that just fits what you're craving. Today I stopped in at an Applebee's for a late lunch. They have one dish, the Fiesta Lime Chicken, that since I stumbled onto it a few years ago I have ordered probably 90% of the time I've been to an Applebee's.
Sometimes I think we crave comfort food and the modern-day version of that has become the chain restaurant. I know what I'm getting, pretty much regardless of where I am, traveling or local. It's for the most part consistent in flavor and portion size. I don't go to Outback looking for some great new culinary experience, I go to have the Shrimp on the Barbie. There are those few chains that have a wide enough variety that there's not one specific thing that my creature-of-habit side has tightly latched onto. Cracker Barrel, Ihop and Shorty Smalls are all good examples of those that have a range of tastes that can allow me to expand beyond buttermilk pancakes (and Cracker Barrel has those down to an art form.)
I think I must need need to get out and travel soon. I'd be worried that my sense of good eats is getting warped, but as my husband and I were traveling home from a recent day-trip, we both spied one of those roadside stand eateries in a town with a population that scarcely reaches 100. We both remarked how that there were probably some pretty tasty concoctions to be found there, but since neither of us were remotely hungry we drove on. I did however, file that location into my list of "places to check out."