There are plenty of national chain restaurants in St. Louis, but go to any Midwestern city and you'll find a similar selection. Locally-based chains, however, are unique -- places we can claim as our own, and that usually end up defining (like it or not) St. Louis' culinary identity. Here's a list of some of our favorite restaurants with local origins that are doing their part to de-stigmatize the word "chain."
Courtesy Diner (three locations) Now that a third Courtesy Diner has officially opened, it's clear that world domination is on the horizon -- that Dr. Dan Drake, the pancake guy, is now a minor celebrity is exhibit A. This late night, greasy spoon institution has cured many a hangover, serving slingers with glee. Sit at the counter after midnight and you're guaranteed to overhear an interesting (ahem, drunken) conversation and enjoy ridiculously good diner food.
Lion's Choice (multiple locations) In every way possible, Lion's Choice is way better than Arby's. The chain's signature roast-beef sandwich is technically fast food, but it doesn't taste it: tender and juicy, with thinly sliced beef that practically melts on the tongue. Founded in 1967, you can choose from over 23 different locations, all serving real-deal roast beef.