My Top 3 UK Chain Restaurants
~ I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned, nor have I been paid or coerced into choosing any of them! ~
I do in fact have a gluten intolerance so all of the chains that I have picked are gluten free friendly! These are just the personal, unbiased opinions of a girl who likes to eat out...
In no particular order, I will begin with one of the absolute staples of British 20-somethings culture
For those who have never heard of Nando's... (where the hell have you been?!)
But have no fear. You're in luck and you've come to the right place, because I will cover the basics for you- and no doubt leave your mouth watering.
Nando's is most well known for their grilled chicken... So, if you're a big chicken fan** then this is a great foodie destination for you- and if you're in a UK city, you're probably never further than about 20 minutes from one!
Whether you like wings, breast, thighs or the whole damn thing to yourself, Nando's has you covered. You can either eat in, or there is a take away service which is pick up only- unless you have 'deliveroo' where you live, in which case you're extremely lucky and can have it brought to you!
PRICE- Meals are between £6-£12 depending on how many sides you want and what you pick and for what you get, we think it's fairly priced in the chain restaurant market.
Nando's offer a range of 'Fire Starters' such as houmous and pitta or spicy nuts to get you going whilst you wait for your meal but we tend to skip straight to it... so...
1st- You choose how you want to eat your chicken (in a bun, in a pitta or off the bone etc)
2nd- You can choose what flavour you want to have your chicken-simple and plain or more adventurous with the lemon & herb- which we go for every time... increasing on the 'periometer' to 'medium' and up to extra hot peri peri- proceed with caution, this is not for the faint hearted.
3rd- aka, one of the best parts is picking which sides you're going to accessorise your meal with (peri chips, spicy rice, mash etc)
4th- Once you've finished your mains, if you can fit any more, Nando's has a selection of desserts and coffees too. We've never actually tried any of them so won't pretend to have an opinion! BUT, one of my friend's is obsessed with their gooey caramel cheesecake so it must be good!
I RECOMMEND: When I go, I tend to order the 'full platter' with whoever I visit with which is a whole chicken with four sides to share as this works out best price wise at £19.95.
My absolute FAVE sides are the creamy mash and the peri salted chips (both pictured below with some lemon and herb chicken thighs!)- two words, carb heaven.
I always order halloumi and avocado as mini sides too because if you're gonna go all out, do it right.
**For those of you who are vegetarians, vegans or general chicken dislikers... have no fear because you are not left out! My best friend is a vegan who goes to Nando's very often and loves their food. There's a variety of salads, burgers, pittas and wraps with veggie/vegan options such as their Sweet Potato & Butternut burger, made from sweet potato, butternut squash, red pepper, onion and edamame beans. The other is the Supergreen Burger, which combines broccoli, edamame beans and kale (pictured below). For those who may not like chicken, there is the option of steak for certain items too.
Next up is the amazing Chiquito! Part of the possibly more well known 'Frankie and Benny's' family, this restaurant is one of my firm favourites and I've been to their establishment on a number of occasions- and am yet to be disappointed.
There's less explanation required on how the Chiquito menu 'works' so to speak. The one struggle I always have is choosing what on Earth to eat because there's just so much choice and it all sounds amazing (a serious rarity for a gluten free gal)! Chiquito do a specific allergen free menu as well which makes working out what you can and can't have a hell of a lot easier.
PRICE- There are various offers on food at Chiquito depending on what day and what time you go (two courses for £7.95 on certain days for example) and they do student discount too!! Aside from that, prices range from £3/£4 for starters to £9/£14 for main courses and £4 for desserts.
For starters, there's dishes like stuffed potato skins, Pina Colada prawns, garlic bread, garlic mushrooms, sharing platters and more!
Then, you can find the usual Mexican favourites like fajitas (served as pictured below), tacos, burritos, enchiladas and chimichangas to name a few! Then there's steaks, paella, burgers and flatbreads. The pudding menu features the likes of churros, cheesecake, cake, ice cream and baked pineapple and there's a cocktail menu too which we usually order from.
I RECOMMEND: For starters, I looove the bacon and cheese stuffed potato skins which is just enough for two so you've still got some room for mains.
Then for mains, I either go for the gluten free taco shells or the gluten free fajitas. I go for the pulled pork (sometimes with chicken too) option as shown above and they are DELISH. No meal would be complete without a side of sweet potato fries either of course, also pictured.
3) Handmade Burger Co
My third and final choice is The Handmade Burger Co! With only 22* (as of 18.2.19) restaurants around the UK, this may not be as well known as the other two. HOWEVER, it really should be!!
The extensive menu (see above) is filled with every chicken and beef burger option/combo you could think of and there's even the option of wings and several vegetarian options too. They supply an allergen free menu which makes choosing options for those with intolerances a lot easier for people like me and my fellow allergen problem pals. Similarly to Chiquito, HBC offer student discount and have lunch offers too which make things that bit more affordable.
PRICE- It's around £8-£10 for a burger from HBC and sides are around £3-4 for fries/coleslaw etc. The milkshakes are delicious and are quite pricey at about £4 but are well worth it! Because let's be real, we wouldn't question £9 for a cocktail so...
I RECOMMEND: I always get a peanut butter milkshake- made with soya milk for my dairy intolerance and then skip straight to main course- these burgers aren't messing about! I have the gluten free beef burger with bacon & peanut butter (minus the chilli jam) and add mozzarella and crushed avocado as extras. (see below)
It's definitely a cut it in half and shove it in your face situation- which is maybe not the best 'first date' food if you get shy eating in front of others! I unfortunately don't think of these things and tend to be more of a 'this is how I am and if you don't like it don't take me on another date' kind of girl...
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my delectable little foodie insight (food is one of my favourite topics so I could waffle (pun intended) for a lifetime about it. Drop me a message on one of my socials if you want to request another specific food blog!