If you've watched even a little of the baseball playoffs, you've probably seen T.G.I. Friday's pimping its new appetizers: "Crispy Green Bean Fries," "Fried Mac & Cheese" and several other abominations.
It's tempting to swear off chains forever. Believe it or not, though, they're not all bad. If you're searching for a tasty, cheap, relatively healthy and fast meal, try Noodles & Company. Check out my review here.
One fast-casual joint St. Louis still lacks is Chipotle. Not only does Chipotle make an awesome burrito -- much better than Qdoba's, in my opinion -- it's renowned in the restaurant biz for its eco-friendly practices. Every now and then rumors swirl of an impending opening somewhere in the area (usually in west county). I've sent the company an e-mail asking whether it has specific plans for the area.
St. Louis will get two new chains in the coming months. Pei Wei Asian Diner will be opening near the intersection of Olive and I-270, in Creve Coeur. Pei Wei has a menu format somewhat similar to Noodles & Company, with diners able to mix and match meats and sauces. Look for long lines: Its parent company is the incredibly popular P.F. Chang's.
Downtown will welcome Simply Fondue, a small Dallas-based chain. My fiancee, who grew up in Dallas, tells me I should be excited by this development.