For all the food connoisseurs and folks, who like to dine out a lot, I thought I would take a moment to offer some suggestions and comments about places around the Shoals that I think excel at various offerings and while I may miss some, and usually do, it is a personal list of my own selections for what I look for when choosing where to dine. Mind you I'm no expert but I'd much rather talk food than politics or religion so here goes
Meat & 3 vegetables or Family Food - Cracker Barrel & Garden Gate however Garden Gate is closed on weekends.
Steaks - Longhorn, Outback (Filet, Ribeye, & Prime rib), Georges Ribeye, & Oh Bryans for Ribeye's, and Ruby Tuesdays for Sirloins.
Seafood - Red Lobster, Cracker Barrel (Cod Fish on Fridays) and for Shrimp - New Orleans Transfer (fried), Georges (fried/butterflied to me is some of the best in the area or available also Georges says that Red Snapper is the fish on their seafood platter and if so then it's a great deal but often Red Snapper is very difficult to find and often what ends up being sold for Red Snapper is actually another fish, still good, but not Red Snapper. Frankly I don't know if Georges fish, on their seafood platter is Snapper or not), Red Lobster (Scampi, Grilled, and Fried) , and Outback (grilled & fried). For Lobster and Crab I only like Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse.
Catfish - Purposely left off the Seafood category, I like Swamp John's in Muscle Shoals. Newburns is good but for value Swamp John's is a far better value but both offer great, farm raised, catfish and both offer good hush puppies. I might also mention that Champy's also has very tasty catfish and easily is some of the best around the Shoals area.
Fried Chicken - Champy's. almost hands down. As for the dedicated fried Chicken places I prefer Popeyes and their mashed potatoes, unlike KFC, are fresh and not the instant variety and other sides are usually very good. Another thing about Popeyes is that like Champy's it's usually very fresh. No one beat's Champy's for freshly cooked, right out of the grease, Chicken but Popeyes usually has much hotter and fresher chicken then say KFC or Bojangles. Other than Champy's and Popeyes there are the dedicated places that deal with Wings & Tenders and for those I like Chick-fil-a and Zaxby's the best.
Breakfast offerings - Bojangles for their Gravy Biscuits and their Steak Biscuits and actually McDonalds for their Egg McMuffin and Sausage Biscuits. As for a set down restaurant and breakfast you can't beat Waffle House. To me Waffle House is far better than Cracker Barrel and also much more affordable. Waffle House does a great job in cooking eggs, as requested, and their Hash Browns and other breakfast offerings are usually better than the competition. Unknown to many Waffle House also offers a 10% senior discount but you have to ask for it.
Mexican/Tex Mex - Rosie's Cantina hands down but I also like Casa Mexicana and Fiesta Mexicana for a more budget friendly choice.
Italian - Ricatonis & Olive Garden are my choices here but for Pizza the Pie Factory is the best Pizzas in the area, at least that I've tried.
BBQ - For Pulled Pork sandwiches I like 306 BBQ located in the same block as Rosie's in Downtown Florence, For BBQ Chicken I like the Wilson Dam Location of Southern BBQ as well as Smokin on the Boulevard which has great BBQ Chicken and at a great price but you have to take it home for there is no provisions for eat in and I'm still on the hunt for the best Ribs although I really like Sam's Grille's Ribs of the ones I've tried around the area but I've heard Smokin' on the Boulevard has some really great ribs.
Hamburgers - Ruby Tuesdays has a great burger but also Five Guys and Staggs has to be mentioned. As for the routine, regular, chain burger places I prefer the charbroiled taste so have to say Burger King gets my pick. For those times when you just get a cravin though I find Krystal has a pretty good burger and one thing that they give you that no other burger chain, around here, does, is a Steamed bun but I hesitate mentioning Krystal and Burger King in the same sentence as the others. For Chili I also like Krystal but it's almost the only game in town, around here, because I haven't tried Waffle House chili so I have to say the BEST Chili award has to go to Steak & Shake but unfortunately there isn't one in the Shoals area but it bears mentioning anyway because they do have the best Chili that I've found. As for other restaurants that offer Chili I like Texas Roadhouse first then Sam's Grille has good Chili.
Oriental - Chinese - Rice Box at 7-Points Shopping center is the best Chinese I've found and I don't particularly like Chinese but of the ones I have tried Rice Box is the best. Japaneese - no doubts here as it would be UMI but I've also had some pretty good food from Ichiban's in Sheffield.
Buffet - While I know there are some local, mom & pop type offerings in this category I have to say I'd prefer Golden Corral and they aren't even open yet. Ryan's used to be decent but they allowed things to go down hill and just can't compete with Golden Corral with what they offer and their quality, if you can even use Quality along with Buffet Restaurants. Actually I think Golden Corral does a good job and can't wait till the one here opens.
Sandwich Shops & Subs - Hand's down I would pick Firehouse Subs if they had a local location for their Steamed sandwiches and meats are the best. Locally though I'd have to say Lenny's followed by Momma Goldbergs.
Salad Bar - while not a category I'd have to give the award to Ruby Tuesdays a great bar and their croutons and the best, but I also feel that Legend's Steakhouse (downtown Florence) comes in second followed by Oh Bryan's (Tuscumbia) and Stanfields Steakhouse (Rogersville & Ford City) have good Salad Bars.
I know I've left off other categories and omitted other places but these are just the ones that came to mind at the time. Hopefully I can learn more from others who might take time to contribute their choices and thoughts.