Map: The Most Popular Chain Restaurants By State

Americans are notorious for our love of fast food, and now, thanks to Thrillist, we can identify the home (founded or headquartered) of individual chain restaurants by state. The clever-map-creating folks over at Thrillist HQ impressed us all with their Booze Map of the USA, but their latest map, “Red, White, & Food” (full-size here), leads me to believe that they might just be getting started with these diagrams. Some of the findings illustrated in this map won’t come as much of a surprise — like that fact that Washington is linked to Starbucks, New York to Sbarro, California to In-N-Out, Vermont to Ben & Jerry’s or Ohio to Wendy’s — but other chain restaurant homes seem less intuitive.Other maps we love:

World Health Map
Fascinating Map Of London
Cold War-Era Map Of No-Go Zones For Soviets
French Wine Metro Map
Hipster Heat Map
Map Of World Currency
Zombie Survival Map
US Stereotypes Map
US Highways As Subway Map

Undiscovered New York: Times Square (?!)

Undiscovered New York is a series that investigates New York’s unexpected and off-the-beaten-path attractions. The places left off the “NYC tourist trail.” But like all good things, the series must come to an end. This week marks our final post. It’s not because we’re tired of the Big Apple – far from it. The effervescent shine and never-ending energy of New York will linger in our bloodstream for many years to come. But with the end comes a new beginning: there’s no better way to finish up than by helping visitors continue exploring this magical, one-of-a-kind metropolis on their own terms. And to prove it, we’re going to show how to visit one of New York’s most generic, overblown and monotonous tourist spots with fresh eyes. Lookout, we’re heading to Times Square!

Times Square is arguably New York City’s most famous tourist destination. Each day, thousands of visitors descend on this tiny pulsating strip of land, ebbing and flowing among Broadway shows and deep-fried chain restaurants, imbuing the area with a constant sense of energy. But this vitality has a way of robbing Times Square of all its fun. For an area that was once the city’s most notorious den of vice, it’s undergone a remarkable clean-up, morphing to a destination of squeaky-clean fun and glitzy nightlife. Yet for all these family-friendly charms, Times Square still retains vestiges of New York’s gritty charm and out-of-the-way attractions – you just need to know where to look.

Want to discover a forgotten gathering of magic and mystery in an old-school New York cafe? How about some of the city’s best BBQ north of the Mason-Dixon? Or perhaps some gorgeous vintage architecture from the days of old, hidden in plain view behind gaudy neon billboards? It’s time to leave your biases at the door – this week, Undiscovered New York is taking a fresh look at Times Square. Click below to see what we found…
The Magician’s Table – Cafe Edison

These days, magic is a dying art. The glory days of magic on Broadway are long gone and the craft has gone underground, finding favor at childrens’ birthday parties and the occasional Las Vegas casino. But if you’re looking relive the surprise and wonder of magic’s glory days, head over to Times Square’s Cafe Edison for the weekly Magician’s Table. The Society of American Magicians has held weekly meetings at this defiantly old-school cafe for over 60 years, dating back to the days when Times Square was a hotbed of New York’s flourishing magic scene. Magicians and regulars have been enjoying card tricks and the cafe’s top-notch Eastern European favorites like Matzo ball soup, Kasha varnishkas and blintzes for over 25 years.

Hidden Architecture
With all generic strip-mall restaurants and chain stores serving Times Square these days, it’s easy to forget the neighborhood is home to some of New York City’s most impressive architectural relics. Walk just a block or two from the frenzied movement of Broadway to corners like 46th Street and 7th Avenue, where visitors will find a the shocking remains of New York’s famous theatrical past, housing a facade with four statues from famous Broadway shoemaker Israel Miller. Just a few blocks south on 40th Street between Broadway and 6th Avenue are the “40th Street Philosophers,” a group of incredibly detailed building sculptures hidden in plain view. For all the flashy digital signage and gaudy lights in the area, it’s surprising to realize there’s plenty of historic New York architecture if you just stop and look around.

Killer BBQ
You don’t have to head to Texas, Kansas City or North Carolina to get some of the country’s best barbecue. It’s actually found near Times Square at Virgil’s Real Barbecue, which has been dishing up down-home favorites like pulled pork sandwiches and chicken fried steak to patrons from around the world. Considering your average dinner in Times Square involves some kind of cheesy nacho popper or fried shrimp, Virgil’s represents a defiant culinary stake in the ground for anyone who cares about quality well-made food.

With that, our odyssey here at Undiscovered New York comes to a close. Over the past year, we hope you’ve had a chance to explore New York’s five boroughs with fresh eyes, discovering all this vast, multicultural, history-rich city has to offer. Hopefully the next time you find yourself in the Big Apple, you’ll step off that well-worn tourist trail and head off in search of fresh adventure. Because in a city like New York, you never know what might be waiting for you around that next corner. See you soon!

Bob Evans Restaurants: In Memory of Bob

I never met Bob Evans, but I’ve written about him–not him, exactly, but his restaurants. You can’t be the Calendar Events editor and the Restaurant Guide editor at Ohio Magazine without mentioning Bob Evans restaurants at least once a month. When those were my jobs, the magazine ran “The Best ” restaurants type article. Bob Evans received the top number of nominations for one of the catagories even though it wasn’t eligible. The contest rules stated “no chains.” Ohioans are relentless when it comes to hearty, comfort food, and the ballots for Bob poured in.

Bob Evans died yesterday at age 89 leaving quite the legacy. Ted Strickland, the governor of Ohio even made a statement about Bob’s impact on more than the Midwest gastric experience. Bob’s is a story of how loving one place, his farm in southeastern Ohio grew into a mighty business that served folks passing through. Originally, he sold meals and sausage to truckers after WW II. These days, you can barely pass a major highway exit in Ohio and in several other states without seeing a Bob Evans sign. There are 579 restaurants in all.

While I don’t frequent Bob Evans restaurants often, I can’t remember the last time I ate at one, I always associate them with the joy of breakfast on a road trip. The last one I went to was on I-70 between Wheeling, West Virginia and Columbus. I can picture the biscuits and that bottomless cup of coffee.

Besides going to a restaurant, you can also get the Bob Evans down home experience at the Bob Evans Farm where Bob lived with his family for 20 years. The family farm has been turned into a museum and craft store, plus it still functions as a farm, although none of the animals here will end up on a breakfast table. From April to December the farm is open to tourists. Click here for the activities calendar. One day, I’ll make it here. It’s been on my places to go with the kids list for years.

In the meantime I may head on over to the closest restaurant to my house (about two miles) and have a biscuit and think of Bob. One of my friends who worked at Ohio Magazine with me suggested all the writers who’ve had a Bob connection in any way should have a gathering in his honor. We’re thinking about it. He’s given us all something to write about.