The Restaurant Nearly 40% Of People Consider A Guilty Pleasure

Everyone has a different relationship to dining out. Whether it's a casual night out or a formal dinner, going out for a meal can be quite an endeavor. There are a lot of factors to consider, from the food's cuisine and health benefits to the affordability of the menu. But sometimes, you want to go to a restaurant that you know is indulgent. You don't care if it's cheap, healthy, or even reasonable. You took the night off cooking, and you want a dish you'd never make yourself.

Mashed conducted a survey asking what restaurant most Americans consider to be a guilty pleasure. After 656 responses, the winner was clear: The Cheesecake Factory is the spot that a whopping 39.02 percent of people consider their culinary guilty pleasure. A large percentage is fitting, considering the size of their portions.

The other top contenders for guilty pleasure restaurants were Chick Fil-A, with 18.75 percent of the votes, Olive Garden, with 16.77 percent, and In-N-Out Burger, with 12.96 percent. Less popular choices were Applebee's and TGI Friday's, with 4.12 percent and 4.42 percent, respectively.

Why the Cheesecake Factory is a guilty pleasure

If you've been to The Cheesecake Factory even once, or even just know anything about it, it doesn't take much to realize why it won by a landslide. For one, the menu is a far cry from any single laminated sheet found in the average eatery. Rather, it resembles a novella, stretching an impressive 21 pages and 250 items, according to Thrillist.

Within that menu, you'll find a wide array of food items, most of which are very large. Some of the most notably indulgent dishes include the Louisiana Chicken Pasta, Pasta Napoletana, and cinnamon roll pancakes, all of which exceed the FDA's daily recommendation of 2,000 calories. The blog Cheapism counted 21 dishes from the restaurant that have more than 1,250 calories, which is the number of calories in a typical slice of the Factory's cheesecake.

Even vegetarians and vegans get their chance to indulge at The Cheesecake Factory these days. Spoon University rounded up 14 items on the restaurant's menu that are vegan or can be easily made vegan. Sure, it's a small fraction of the 250 total offerings, and one of those options is just edamame, but it's something.