A Trip to TGIFridays in Upstate New York

There are a lot of chain restaurants in New York City—Red Lobster, TGIFridays, Chevy’s, Olive Garden—and most of them can be found in Times Square, where tourists love to congregate, and, curiously, shell out a ton of money for the similar dining experiences they can get in a lot of places in the U.S. where chain restaurants find a home.

So when my friends and I walked over to the TGIFridays next to our hotel this weekend for a quick bite and drink, we weren’t expecting much. We didn’t have a car, and it was our only dining option. We were given a drink menu, and were told that drinks were “2 for 1.” We were then handed a dining menu and became privy to their “2 for $10″ special: One appetizer and one entree for $10.

“I got two scotches for $5!” one of our fellow friends from the city exclaimed from the bar. His mind had been equally blown. Two scotches! For five dollars!

Now, TGIFridays is not the place to go if you’re looking for anything healthy to eat. Most things are fried. Most things have cheese on them. That doesn’t mean their food doesn’t taste good, because let’s face it, fried food generally tastes good, but healthy this food is not. They had a “slim menu” where you could choose items that are “750 calories or less.”

I got the “2 for $10″ special, and ordered the “spinach florentine flatbread,” which was enough to be a meal on its own (I happily shared with everyone at the table):

 

For my entree, I got a pulled pork sandwich, but skipped the fries for a salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Everyone at the table kept talking about how cheap everything seemed to be—probably because we’ve lived in New York City for too long.

Here’s what the five of us ordered:
• 2 margaritas
• 2 glasses of pinot grigio
• 2 mojitos
• spinach florentine flatbread (appetizer)
• fried mozzarella (appetizer)
• bruschetta chicken pasta (entree)
• 2 strawberry field salads (entree)
• pulled pork sandwich with garden salad (entree)
• black bean burger with french fries (entree)

Total, with tax: $70.12

Our minds were blown. We left our very fun, and very kind waitress a 40 percent tip. We could afford it.

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18 Comments / Post A Comment

i feel like the food to drink ratio is way off here. THE DRINKS WERE BASICALLY FREE!

jfruh (#161)

Man, do NOT put Chevy’s in the same category with those other pud-chains, CHEVY’S IS THE BOMB, CHEVY’S 4 LYFE

madrassoup (#929)

Mike, I get what you’re saying, and have been there (just this weekend, in fact, but substitute a restaurant in Queens for a Friday’s upstate), but I think your emphasis on the food not being “healthy” is a weird thing to latch onto as a disclaimer. Especially when no one would ever argue that the strength of New York restaurants (even the cheap ones!) rests upon their healthiness. Restaurants in general have bad reputations for putting more butter and oil on your average plate of pasta than you’d use on four at home, and that’s a rule that applies at every point on the price and elegance and swanky spectrum. The math here should not be about the ratio of money to healthiness, but the ratio of money to flavor.

Anne (#33)

I want to know where everyone whose “minds were blown” were born and raised. How soon you forget…

Brunhilde (#78)

@Anne I was raised in a county the size of Delaware that to this day has no stop lights, and I think it took me longer to adjust to the stoplights than the prices. Mostly because everyone told me to stop bitching about it, real estate in San Diego being approximately 50 billion times more expensive than my hick mountain town. That being said, I still have a little pause at produce prices in Seattle vs. California, until I remember that all the food is grown in CA and there’s probably transportation costs built in.

Megano! (#124)

That is the one good thing about Toronto — restaurants are pretty dirt cheap. Or at least the ones I like to go to are? In any case, I eat pretty well.
Those drink specials are pretty great though.

Are there onion rings on top of that pulled pork? Because if so I am officially sad that there are no TGIFridays in Vancouver…

novembertea (#2,203)

To me, Friday’s has always been a lose-lose kind of place – the food is not to my taste and it is expensive. If you want to splurge, though, go there and try the “June Bug” drink – it is delicious!!

Jimmie (#2,210)

Mike, I was also semi-shocked that you could get a beer for $2.50 in there. I got a huge reuben sandwich and a beer for under $10, without my usual 13 percent HST Ontario tax. @Megano, Can you share where the cheap restaurants in TO are, because I live there, and you can’t get out of any place without spending 20 bucks for a meal and one drink by the time you tip the waiter. :-)

Megano! (#124)

@Jimmie Well I mostly go to Asian restaurants, like Vietnamese, Sushi, etc (Ginger, Sushi Queen, and Manpuku are my go-to cheap places). Also I used to live in Ottawa, where restaurants are waaaay more expensive.

kellyography (#250)

This happened to me at a Red Lobster in St. Louis. And also at Blueberry Hill. I had two drinks at each establishment, and spent less than $10 each time, including tip. Going to suburbia can sometimes be a fun getaway.

nonvolleyball (#305)

@kellyography but…Blueberry Hill isn’t in the suburbs, & isn’t a chain. StL is just cheaper than a lot of other major cities.

kellyography (#250)

@nonvolleyball Ha, as a native St. Louisan, I am well aware of this. I was commenting on going to places like in the article (upstate New York, central Jersey, Florissant, MO [where the Red Lobster was] etc.) and could have just been a little clearer.

nonvolleyball (#305)

@kellyography I figured as much, but I shuddered to imagine some unsuspecting visitor thinking the unique & iconic Blueberry Hill was actually an Applebee’s-style local chain.

Slutface (#53)

99 is the best chain restaurant. HANDS DOWN. Gold fever wings!

You guys should probably all move to Chicago. TGI Friday’s prices to be had without actually having to go into a TGI Friday.

awk (#840)

One time I grew up in a town “finally” got an Applebee’s while I was in college. The townspeople (including myself) were appalled at the idea of having to pay $4.50 for a Miller Lite. Still, the place was wildly popular.

ujas2134 (#4,045)

I traveled to New York City the last month, I bought plane tickets for all the family members from SAA for the next week, it was very easy. A friend told me about TGIFridays and how cheap is their food so I decided to give it a try, unfortunately it was closed and we had to eat at McDonald’s.

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