How Does Restaurant Food from the Grocery Store Stack Up? Rhett & Link Find Out

On a May 2021 episode of Good Mythical Morning, Rhett & Link set out to try a bunch of grocery store versions of signature dishes from chain restaurants, and competed to see if they could identify which came from a restaurant and which came from the frozen aisle. It was pretty clear throughout the taste test which dishes were made in a restaurant kitchen versus an oven at Mythical HQ, but that didn’t necessarily mean they were better. Here are all the dishes they tried from “better than the restaurant” to “clearly worse.”

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P.F. Chang’s Orange Chicken

This one was the only one where both Rhett and link fully agreed that the frozen version was better. It was a lot moister, plus it has carrots, edamame, and water chestnuts, along with the chicken, while the restaurant has none of that. They also thought this one just all around tasted better. Link even marveled for a few minutes at the consistency of water chestnuts and claimed that they are like no other texture until Nicole burst his bubble with a gentle reminder that jicama exists. Either way, they liked this better than the restaurant version even though it tasted microwaved. As for the real restaurant version, they thought it was dry, and really nothing but the fried chicken (which was a bit strange to them). They concluded, “it tastes fine.”

Auntie Anne’s At Home Classic Pretzel Dogs

This one was also pretty clear on which Pretzel Dog came from where. The restaurant one looked handmade by Annie, that is to say, a bit messier than store-bought. The bread was more bready, and it didn’t look as good as the store bought but it tasted a lot better. How much more tasty was it, you ask? Link says “10%, it’s not drastic.” As for the store-bought one, it had a great uniform aesthetic. The guys pointed out that “you would think this is the one they would have at the restaurant, right? ‘Cause it’s so pretty.” They even called it pristine – it definitely looks like it was machine-made versus being handmade by Annie. This one was a bit too chewy, but Link pointed out that if you’ve got to reheat them anyway, the two options don’t differ all that much, which pushed it into second.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix

The restaurant’s ones were smaller, fluffier, drier, and had more cheddar in the mix. They also tasted better. The store-bought ones, however, were not that bad. These come not frozen, but as a biscuit mix, and upon first taste Rhett said they were “as I remember it” so they can’t be too far off from the restaurant ones. These did actually look better than the restaurant ones, but tastewise they just didn’t quite cut it.

TGI Fridays Mozzarella Sticks

There was a CLEAR difference between these two – the restaurant ones looked toasty and exciting (aka greasy, flecks of herbs, more golden brown). Conversely, the frozen ones looked lumpy, lighter in color, and just generally store-bought lookin’. The restaurant-made sticks were truly three times as tasty—like, they just kind of screwed up when they set out to make a frozen version that channels the restaurant version. That’s not to say that the store-bought ones are totally terrible; Rhett & Link described them as “not bad but not good either.” Link did like the dark marinara sauce that came with the store-bought ones\\.

Boston Market Chicken Pot Pie

Rhett and link blindfolded themselves for these last two because telling which was which was too easy when they could see the foods. They didn’t have a whole lot to say about this one except that the restaurant one was so much better, and once they took off their blindfolds they noted that it looked a lot better too with a nice big crust and ripped pieces of chicken instead of cubes, which is what the store bought had.

Cheesecake Factory At Home Original Cheesecake

They took one bite of the restaurant-made cheesecake and said, “Ooooh, that is good!” It tasted a lot better than the grocery store version, which Link described as “actually a little watery.”

About the Author

Jessica Block

Jessica Block is a freelance contributor to Sporked, a comedian, a baker, a food writer, and a firm believer that Trader Joe's may just be the happiest place on earth. She loves spicy snacks, Oreos, baking bread, teeny tiny avocados, and trying new foods whenever she can. Also, if you give her a bag of Takis she will be your best friend.

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