The Cheesecake Factory — one of America’s finest restaurants and fight me if you think otherwise — has finally opened in New York City (a place heretofore completely devoid of culture). Completely unsurprisingly, people have been lining up around the block in order to take advantage of the restaurant’s relaxing atmosphere (once you actually get in), gargantuan menu, and the best bread basket on this side of the equator (pro-tip: they’ll bring you a basket composed only of the nice honey wheat brown bread if you ask really politely).
Here at Uproxx, we’ve discussed the merits of The Cheesecake Factory several times in the past year, and the benefits of enjoying a meal at this fine eatery are numerous: From giant portions, to celebrity sightings, to the opportunity to see drunk suburban moms just trying to have a fun day in the big city (or the big galleria). Once, on a visit at the San Francisco location, I even got to see an entire friendship go up in flames — complete with someone storming off and then having to wait for the elevator five feet away from their former best friend/now mortal enemy — while drinking what could only be accurately described as an alcoholic milkshake with enough sugar in it to give Wilford Brimley cause for panic. Does stuff like that ever happen at NOMA?
All that should be enough to explain why the restaurant is seeing more action than a shoe store hawking the new Yeezys (btw, Kanye also loves The Cheesecake Factory), but if it doesn’t, let’s take a trip through some of the restaurant’s 250+ menu items to further cement the fact that this quaint eatery is proof of a kind and benevolent god exists. [And also loves us (but knows that we are at our best when he bestows his love in moderation, which is why there are such long lines).] And before you get on me for extolling the virtues of a menu that boasts more items than five restaurants put together, just because Gordon Ramsay is always on about how “a smaller menu makes a restaurant successful,” let me hit you with this: Literally everything at The Cheesecake Factory tastes amazing. Everything. (And again, we can fight if you disagree; meet me in the parking lot behind the restaurant at 4pm. I’ll be the one with cake all over my face.)
Fried Macaroni and Cheese
There are cheese sticks, there are cheese triangles (they have this at a restaurant near me and it’s just as disappointing as it sounds), and there’s The Cheesecake Factory’s fried macaroni and cheese, which are little mounds of heaven, the sight of which would send your doctor into an apoplectic fit.
There are two ways of eating these, on their own (fine) or on a burger (amazing), but you really can’t go wrong when what’s coming to your table is mac and cheese that’s been lovingly shaped into a ball and then deep fried until it’s crisp on the outside and hot and gooey on the inside. Make sure to give yourself a second before you bite into these things, because they are hot when they first arrive. And if you burn off your taste buds before you get a chance to really taste the joy-clouds, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice that will haunt you until your final days.
Trust me, you’ll be on your deathbed and one of your annoying kids who just wants their inheritance will ask if you have any regrets about your life and you’ll forget their many failures and just think about that time you ate your fried cheese balls too fast. You don’t want that!
Loaded Baked Potato Tots
There’s no reason that potatoes should taste better when they’re in tot form, but let me tell you something: They absolutely do. They taste amazing and there’s not one person either you or I know who could disagree with that. In fact, the only problem with TCF’s loaded baked potato tots is there aren’t enough of them. Forget your entree and just get three orders of these.
If you’re still on the fence, here’s what you need to know about these little manna nuggets: They’re golden brown (natch), they’ve got green onion and bacon already inside them (inside them) when they arrive, and arguing over who’s going to get the last one will probably ruin your entire marriage.
Oh, you fancy, huh? And you’re kind of on a budget, too? Well you came to the right place because 1) there is no restaurant fancier than The Cheesecake Factory (provided that an Olive Garden is not yet open in your town), 2) the prices are ultra reasonable. I once paid something like $45 for a filet mignon and then just spent an entire afternoon griping about the cost of meat in America. At TCF? You’re going to get the same amount of meat for less than 30 bucks. With a choice of side. And if people I know are to be believed, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a Cheesecake Factory filet mignon and one they’d sell you at a more upscale restaurant where the waiters wear tuxedos.
Listen, I know you can get an entire sampler of these things and try each one of the restaurant’s signature egg rolls, but let’s not kid ourselves here — despite the fact that they’re completely vegetarian and are therefore sometimes seen as less than, the avocado egg roll is the supreme option when you’re choosing an appetizer. Not only is it crispy and filling, but it comes with those crunchy noodle things that everyone is going to look at you at weird for eating (“they’re a garnish!”) but are so goddamn delicious that they should be available as a side dish on their own.
Bistro Shrimp Pasta
One of the best things about The Cheesecake Factory — besides the actual cheesecake, which we will get to in literally one second, so hold on okay? — is the fact that while everything on the menu is delicious and makes you feel adventurous, there’s nothing particularly strange or challenging on the menu. That includes this dish, which sounds exotic and French, but is mainly spaghettini with shrimp, arugula, and a lemon sauce that your grandparents will rave about long after the trip to the restaurant is just a precious distant memory.
Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake
There’s a reason this beautiful disaster is so popular: It’s the most delicious thing you will ever cram in your face hole. Don’t believe me? Get in your car and drive down to The Cheesecake Factory and try it. Tell me that the whipped cream isn’t perfect. Tell me the ratio of regular cake to cheesecake isn’t divine. Tell me you wouldn’t risk an amputated foot someday if it meant you could eat a slice of this once a day for the rest of your life.
Do you see what I’m getting at? There is nothing more wonderful than Cheesecake Factory cheesecake (it’s right there in the name of the restaurant!). And there’s not one menu item worth more praise than the red velvet cheesecake. It’s worth waiting in line three hours for.