A mid-range American chain restaurant. Bennigan's, founded in 1976 in Atlanta, is supposedly all about Irish culture, but a closer look at the menu pretty much belies that entirely. It is papered with "Slainte!"s, and serves a variety of Irish alcohol (Guinness, Bushmills, Jameson's, etc.), but otherwise you are looking at a pretty thoroughly American bar and grill. There are various hamburgers, salads, chicken sandwiches, steaks, and desserts available, plus a full bar. Nothing particularly Irish but the names of some entrees (and, if you want to be offensive about it, the bar).

That said, I like Bennigan's. For one thing, they list Guinness as an appetizer! You have to appreciate a move like that. They take pride in the fact that their pints are "Bennigan's full pint"s, an inch or so taller than most pint glasses: it is plastered all over the beer menu. So when you order a beer, you get a lot of beer.

There are a couple interesting sandwiches, like the Monte Cristo:

This is the sandwich all other sandwiches aspire to be. It's stacked with ham, turkey, Swiss and American cheeses on wheat bread, then battered and fried 'til golden. Dusted with powdered sugar and accompanied by red raspberry preserves, you'll love this Bennigan's classic.

Weird! But interesting. There are also a variety of rather large hamburgers, which are, well, huge and good. They have Boca burgers to substitute for beef if you so choose, or happen to be vegetarian. The prices are decent: in the $7-$12 range for most items.

And then you can transform into me and always, always eat their french onion soup. Soup. Soup. HUNGRY!

The atmosphere is ok: it's a "large restaurant and bar paneled in dark wood" ambiance. Think of a bar extended into a large restaurant. The decor is stereotypically Irish pub, with Guinness ads and mirrors and glass lamps hanging over tables. It's cool and varnished and pretty nice. If you go in the middle of the afternoon, it's quiet, and you can sit and have long conversations without worrying about displacing the table. And it's big enough that the waitrons can afford to let you, all by yourself, take over a booth or table, have some soup, and just do homework for a while.

There are clearly some problems with Bennigan's as well. The vegetarian options pretty much consist of something called a salad and the aforementioned Boca substitution, for one. Oh, and alcohol. But the food is not really all that interesting. It's a pretty typical selection for a large mass-market restaurant chain.

It can get pretty noisy at peak times: this is a family restaurant, to an extent, and people bring their little kids. They also bring their largish groups of friends. If you want somewhere quiet, go at an off hour. On the other hand, this is a restaurant that can accomodate both families and large groups. So you can go there when you can't find anywhere else that can seat your group, or that has food your kids will eat.

Altogether, though, it is a decent choice for lunch or dinner if you just want some regular food. There is usually little to no wait for seating (except at peak times), and the service is decent: not too much attention, not too little. It's inexpensive, and you have a decent beer selection. So. Bennigan's is not where you want to go if you are into particularly exotic foods, but it is a good solid place to go.

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