The Five Best Food Categories For Control Freaks

We thought it was just us-- the satisfaction felt after explaining exactly how our entree should be prepared. It's the Sally Albright syndrome. Although we quickly learned that if you don't like the selection, order something else. Changing a chef's interpretation of a dish means you've messed with the equation. If the outcome is better, great. Worse? That's back on you.

In the last year we've seen a greater influx of DIY joints than we can shake a debit card at. This further drives our point home: People secretly want to micromanage. We may be too busy to shop, prep, cook and clean, but damn, we're happy telling people what to do (or doing it ourselves, for that matter)! Depending on the brand, this easily reduces the cost of variables such as labor. The concept has been around for decades, but now it's a full-on trend. What makes these places "great"? Control, pricing and usually convenience for a product that would otherwise have a greater markup.

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1. Seafood

The Five Best Food Categories For Control Freaks

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If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then Oceanic Fish Grill is crushing on California Fish Grill. Soon to open at Irvine's Woodbury Town Center (Their Craigslist posting says less than a month from now), they tout "Healthy Choices with Organic Herbs and Flavors" with kabobs and salad options. We've spotted at least one other imitator, but what comes to mind instead is the Boneheads chain in Lake Forest. Featuring a South African piri piri chili pepper sauce, customers choose between tacos, sandwiches and simply grilled entrees.

2. Salads

Dave Lieberman

The OG in this category is the family-friendly Soup Plantation, but Saladworks manages to corner the sneeze guard market as "One of the 10 Best Franchise Deals" and "#1 Salad Franchise" from QSR and Entrepreneur Magazines, respectively. Dave's had issues with their dressings previousy, and has called them the love child of Chipotle and Quiznos (two other groups we chose not to address, because five is enough). It's a veggie-loving paradise where prepping ingredients isn't punishment; it's mandatory. They provide possible combinations, but in the end folks are all about, "No tomatoes, extra croutons, dressing on the side!"

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