Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe Feature

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Where to Refuel Around Town

Here are the most popular reliable chain restaurants, particularly for large groups (and large portions):

Elephant Bar. The predominantly Pacific Rim, elephant-size menu at this large chain offers some pleasant Cajun (catfish and jambalaya) and plain old American (New York steak, lemon herb chicken) entrées. Pacific Rim specialties include Miso Yaki fire-grilled salmon and the delicious pan-Asian vegetable and noodle soup with teriyaki chicken skewers. www.elephantbar.com.

Gardu ño's. This gargantuan Mexican restaurant has several equally ample locations in the area. Try the unusually good green-chile clam chowder or the fresh guacamole made table-side for starters, and experience a grilled chimichanga or fajitas for a main course. www.gardunosrestaurants.com.

Morton's of Chicago. The Windy City chain is famous for exceptional service, immense steaks, and entertaining presentations. Its business-formal atmosphere, menus, and operations are replicated at the north Scottsdale location. The monstrous 24-ounce porterhouse or 14-ounce double-cut fillet can satisfy the hungriest cowpoke. www.mortons.com.

Nello's. Leave it to two brothers from Chicago to come up with the motto "In Crust We Trust," and Nello's excels in both thin-crust and deep-dish pies at the five Valley locations. Try traditional varieties heaped with homemade sausage and mushrooms, or go vegetarian with the spinach pie. Pasta entrées are very good, too, and the family-style salads are inventive and fresh. www.nellosscottsdale.com.

Oregano's. Huge portions are an understatement at this eight-branch casual Chicago-theme eatery. Come hungry and feast on tasty baked sandwiches, pizza (deep-dish, thin crust, or stuffed), and pasta dishes. The young, friendly staff and kitschy 1950s decor create a fun and comfortable, family-friendly vibe. www.oreganos.com.

Zoë's Kitchen. Cool, clean, fast, inexpensive, and nutritious, this national chain is great for a light but filling, Greek-inspired meal without the guilt. Each location is uniform in its bright, modern cafeteria-like setting, where first you order, then you sit. Make sure to try the Greek chicken pita or Greek salad, and the coleslaw with feta cheese. www.zoeskitchen.com.

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