I realize my espousing a fast food chain restaurant on my blog might not win friends or influence many others, but let me just tell you something… as far as fast food chains go, Chick-fil-A (AKA “the chicken place” according to T) is doing things way right, especially for us parents.
First, I’ll summarize the food: chicken, no burgers at this joint (but there is bacon, oh yes!). So if you like a patty, a grilled breast, a nugget, a finger, or a salad, they’ve got it. And the nuggets and fingers are actual pieces of white meat sliced and diced up, no reconstituted meat products as far as I can tell. Their grilled chicken breast sandwich comes in at under 300 calories (breast, lettuce, tomato on a whole wheat bun), just FYI for those who care anyway. If the protein portion isn’t enough food for you on its own, of course they offer meal deals like the usual chain would (fries and a drink with that?), but I want to say you can swap out the fries for a small salad or some sort of fruit and get their home-squeezed lemonade (lemons, water, and sugar, the real deal, ya’ll) instead of the HFCS sodas. I don’t do the salad swap here however because they have waffle-cut fries, and I am a sucker for waffle-cut fries. I even let T get fries with his nuggets because these fries appear to be another whole food item and, again, pretty darn good (and we can bring some fruit in ourselves).
Finally, the FREE condiment bar is pure “dipper” heaven. Chick-fil-A allows you to customize your sandwich with a variety of FREE sauces, from the usual ketchup and mayo to the more exotic choices of – for a FREE condiment bar at a fast food chain anyway – honey mustard, buffalo wing, some sort of Polynesian sauce, ranch, BBQ, and I believe even a few others. Personally I love to do a wing-ranch combo on my sandwich and dip my fries in the honey mustard. T loves that this place springs for the Heinz dip-or-squeeze “trays” of ketchup, versus having to slop it into his nugget dish or on a separate napkin. Sorry if I said FREE a lot there, but it’s just so nice to go somewhere and not be told I’m limited to x number of items, or I need to pay 10 cents for this-and-that extra.
For dessert, an insider tip I got recently was that you can trade the kid’s meal toy back (which is just meh anyway, per T) for a small kid’s-sized dish of soft-serve ice cream. How cool is that? Otherwise other selections included a long selection of milkshakes (of the several hundred calorie count variety, not tried one yet, but I’ll make a meal of one someday this summer though) and the usual soft-serve cone (which I have had, and enjoyed very much).
But I haven’t even gotten to the best part, which is their play area. In my opinion, it is genius. It’s enclosed with a self-closing door, entirely inside (so rain or shine, folks), all active play (climbers, slide, this suspended car-thing kids can climb in and out of), no messy ball pits, and glass walls and booths surround the entire play area, which allows me to supervise without interfering in playtime. Winning x 5.
Their service also is tip-top: Friendly, accommodating (especially nice for us moms with our hands constantly full), and clean. They bring your order to the table, and there is a constant stream of runners hustling about asking if you need anything throughout your stay (a refilled drink, any sauces, trash removed, babysitting… kidding on that last one there). You also are never made to feel you are overstaying your table no matter how busy it gets (hasn’t happened to us yet anyway).
Chick-fil-A is a perfect option for lunch anytime (they are also open for breakfast), but for something different, why not a dinnertime play date? I realize scheduling nighttime play dates can be somewhat precarious, but we all have to eat and we’ve all had one of those days, and it’s summertime now, so why not call another mom friend and try for a better evening. Also with summer here, it’s the perfect place to stop off from your road trip to let the kids get out that energy from being strapped to the car seat for hours. Or maybe you’ve spent a nice, long day out of the house and now face that nagging, annoying question: what’s for dinner? Nice thing is you won’t balk at this decision.
Chick-fil-A is online at http://www.chick-fil-a.com/
PS – Not open Sundays.
PPS – No, no payment was received for what could be perceived as a ginormous infomercial blog post for a major chain business. I promise it’s not; the place seriously just rocks our world that much.