12 Popular Texas Roadhouse Menu Items, Ranked Worst To Best

Texas Roadhouse is the greatest steakhouse/casual dining chain ever to come out of ... Indiana? Yes, you read that right: The restaurant with a big silhouette of the Lone Star State in its logo doesn't even have Texas roots. But we won't hold that against it; Indiana's a lot closer to Texas than Tampa (Outback Steakhouse's birthplace) is to Australia.

You may be familiar with Texas Roadhouse as the place that gives you free peanuts along with its bread basket. Sadly, the free peanuts at Texas Roadhouse are no more, at least at some locations. We did not receive any during our visit, which made us sad but is surely a good thing for peanut-allergic people with a passion for casual dining. Peanuts or no peanuts, Texas Roadhouse has a long, enticing menu filled with steaks, ribs, seafood, and bar snacks executed with a little bit of Southern/Southwestern flair.

We did a little research and came up with a list of some of the must-have items that Texas Roadhouse fans love, ate them all, and ranked them. Is the food at Texas Roadhouse worth a fistful of dollars, or will it leave you wanting to get out of Amarillo by morning? You'll have to read on to find out what we thought.

12. Cactus Blossom

This is Texas Roadhouse's blatant copy of Outback's Bloomin' Onion.  It even comes with a creamy Cajun horseradish sauce that is quite similar to Outback's Bloom Sauce. While it may be a cover of another chain's signature item, we'll evaluate it on its own merits. Even setting aside the plagiarism issues, this is the worst dish we tried at Texas Roadhouse. There is an inherent problem in these onion flower-style dishes, and it's that a whole onion is much larger than, say, an onion ring, and therefore must stay in the fryer for longer to cook all the way through. That long ride in the oil bath gives it more time to soak up grease, which the Cactus Blossom certainly did; it was sodden with oil. 

The onion itself had a nice, sweet, caramelized flavor, but the oily breading did it no favors. It also fell victim to a lack of seasoning. There's plenty of sodium in this dish (5000 milligrams to be exact), but to us, it could have used more salt (and other spices too). The horseradish sauce on the side was pleasant, but it also tasted strangely flat and lacking in seasoning.

11. Boneless Buffalo Wings

We all know that so-called boneless chicken wings aren't actually wings that have been de-boned, right? When you order this appetizer, you'll receive something between a chicken nugget and a chicken strip, depending on which establishment is serving them. Texas Roadhouse's iteration of the concept leans toward the chicken strip side of things: Each "wing" is a fairly large chunk of solid white meat chicken, not a weird nugget-like pureed meat croquette like some lesser boneless wings are. Unlike the Cactus Blossom, the wings are abundantly seasoned; the breading tastes like it contains a spice-and-herb mixture not unlike what you'll find sprinkled into KFC chicken.

This appetizer tasted good, but it was undone by two flaws in execution. First, the meat was dry. White meat chicken dries out easily, especially if it's cut into small pieces, and these wings felt like they spent a little too long in the fryer and got overcooked. Second, the wings weren't tossed in enough Buffalo sauce. We ordered them hot instead of mild, and even so, there was only the barest hint of capsaicin to be found. They tasted more like fried chicken with a little bit of soggy sauce than like actual Buffalo wings.

10. Tater Skins

The Texas Roadhouse menu notes that this appetizer is served with sour cream, but ours came with ranch, and we're glad they did. The chain's ranch is excellent: zippy and tangy with enough salt and herbs to make it sing. The Tater Skins really needed the tangy sauce, because, on their own, they were disappointingly bland for a dish made with so much bacon and cheddar cheese.

These skins are baked rather than fried, which is perhaps Texas Roadhouse's attempt to make them less greasy than fried potato skins. If so, it doesn't work; the blanket of cheese melted on top of the taters lends plenty of grease to the proceedings. However, since they aren't dunked in oil, the skins aren't as crispy as we would like. The cheese provides texture and not much else; we wish the chain would use a sharper cheddar that actually had some bite to it. The bacon bits taste good, but they have a weirdly tough texture, perhaps because of their stint in the oven. Texas Roadhouse Tater Skins taste good with enough ranch on them, but they're not a particularly great version of this concept.

9. Ribs

Texas Roadhouse ribs literally fall off the bone. The meat is so soft that it is hard to pull off individual ribs while keeping it intact. However, while the pork is tender, it's also quite dry. It seems like the ribs are slow-cooked and then finish on the grill with barbecue sauce, and we'd guess that the final grilling stage is what dried them out. The meat itself was well-seasoned with salt all the way to the bone but didn't taste of much else. We really wish these ribs were smoked for extra flavor.

The meat may have been disappointing, but Texas Roadhouse's ribs were saved somewhat by the barbecue sauce. They come glazed in a small amount of sauce, but we asked for an extra cup on the side once we realized how dry the meat was. It's legitimately excellent barbecue sauce that avoids the trap of being too syrupy-sweet. The sauce has some smoky notes that help cover up the lack of smoke in the pork. It's also very savory and doesn't taste overly ketchup-y. With enough sauce, the ribs ended up being pretty tasty.

8. Steak fries

If we had been served fries that were fresh from the fryer, they would probably be higher on the list. But we have to evaluate each menu item as we ate it, so the fries drop a couple of spots. They seemed like they had spent several minutes sitting under a heat lamp before they reached our table, and as a consequence, they weren't particularly crispy or hot. However, they had potential. The thick-cut fries actually tasted like potato, which you don't get from fast food fries that are typically overwhelmed by a pure deep-fried salt flavor. The insides were a little dense rather than fluffy. We prefer fluffy fry interiors, but that's more a matter of personal preference than something that's inherently wrong with Texas Roadhouse fries.

The fries are well seasoned, which is key. They're just the right amount of salt, and there's some other special seasoning magic going on. It's pretty subtle, but we thought we picked up onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper at the very least. Ultimately, we were disappointed the fries weren't fresh, but they still tasted pretty darn good when dunked into ranch dressing.

7. Texas red chili

This hearty offering follows Texas chili con carne rules: no beans. Other than that, it's fairly standard chili, just like what you've eaten at potlucks, cookouts, and diners a million times before. It's well done, but it's not particularly exciting. If you like your chili hot, you'd better ask for Tabasco. This stuff tastes like chili powder, but it's not spicy at all. The most dominant flavors are the classic Tex-Mex pairing of ground cumin and black pepper (it's particularly heavy on the cumin). The tomato-y broth is savory and not overly acidic.

This chili's texture hits the mark. Despite the lack of beans, it's thick, rich, and hearty, and there's a ton of meat. We like that there aren't a lot of chunks of vegetables — you get pieces of ground meat coated in a smooth sauce. The garnishes help elevate this cup of chili from okay to solidly good. The freshly-diced, crunchy red onions and smooth, melty cheddar both play their roles perfectly. Texas Roadhouse chili also makes a good topper for other items on the menu, but it's certainly satisfying on its own.  

6. Sirloin steak

We had no idea what to expect from the 6-ounce sirloin at Texas Roadhouse. Sirloin can be tough or tender, and we didn't know if the busy grill cook would nail our preferred medium-rare doneness. We're happy to report that we received an incredibly tender, perfectly pink steak with beautiful grill marks on it. In fact, this steak was so tender that the texture didn't read sirloin to us; it was almost as soft as filet mignon. Texas Roadhouse has to be doing something special to this steak to make it so soft. Perhaps it's wet-aging, or it could even be some kind of mechanical tenderization, but whatever it is, the meat could be cut with a butter knife.

In addition to the melt-in-your-mouth texture, the 6-ounce sirloin had plenty of flavor too. There was some savory beefiness, but even stronger was the smoky charred taste from the grilled exterior. It tasted like a backyard cookout in the best way. We do, however, have to dock some points because the steak tasted like it was barely seasoned. Yes, there's a salt shaker on the table, but we're at a restaurant — we don't want to season our own food.

If you're a steak sauce person, Texas Roadhouse's signature steak sauce is pretty great. It tastes like slightly thickened, sweetened Worcestershire sauce with a ton of black pepper in it. There's also A.1. on the table too, but we'd stay away from that. It's too sweet for a good steak.

5. Loaded sweet potato with caramel and marshmallows

Let's clear up any confusion: Even though you'll find this item in the "sides" section of Texas Roadhouse's menu, the loaded sweet potato is a dessert. That's not uncommon for American sweet potato dishes; just think of all the sugary sweet potato casseroles you've likely consumed at Thanksgiving. It's as though the only way to convince people to eat the "healthier" version of a potato is to douse it in sucrose (which we're pretty sure negates a sweet potato's nutritional benefits).

Whether you decide to eat this after your steak or alongside it, there's no denying that this is a mighty tasty sweet potato. The skin is pretty tough and leathery, but we find that's true for sweet potatoes generally; it's just isn't as good as regular potato skin. The flesh inside is creamy and smooth and decadent even without the toppings. But really, the toppings are what we came here for. The marshmallows have a nice brûlée on top that gives them a toasty, s'mores-like flavor. The caramel isn't complex but it gets the job done, with notes of brown sugar and cinnamon that complement the sweet potato. If this had some texture, it would rank even higher. Candied pecans would have really put this over the top.

4. Rattlesnake Bites

These tasty fritters are made with the components of a jalapeño popper — diced jalapeños and jack cheese — and served with a side of creamy Cajun sauce. The gooey cheese core is surrounded by some kind of starchy layer that keeps the fritter together during the frying process, but what it's made of is a mystery to us ... a tasty mystery.

Much like the other fried items from Texas Roadhouse, Rattlesnake Bites have a confounding lack of crispness, but other than that they're a solid (and innovative) bar snack. The cheese isn't flavorful, but it's melty, fatty, and satisfying, and the hefty dose of chopped jalapeño helps a lot in the flavor department. Also, Snake Bites aren't soaking in grease, which makes them seem almost light in comparison to a Cactus Blossom. We housed all of these, which is more than we can say for anything else that came out of Texas Roadhouse's deep fryer.

3. Loaded baked potato

A baked potato might seem like a boring thing to place this high on the list, but trust us when we say that Texas Roadhouse knows how to do it right. This is a baked potato for people who like to eat the skin — the exterior of the spud is rubbed with oil and salt before it enters the oven, making the skin more than just a fibrous afterthought. The inside of the potato is perfect as well. It's incredibly soft and fluffy, and so light that you can easily scoop it out with a soup spoon. Somehow, the interior of the potato tastes seasoned too; all the salt's not contained to the skin.

Even plain, this would be the best potato side dish at Texas Roadhouse by a country mile, but the toppings make it truly special. There's nothing outside the box here; it's the usual loaded baked potato suspects like mild cheddar, bacon bits, and sour cream. But what more can you ask for? Food cliches become set in stone because they work, and this loaded baked potato hits all the right notes. The bacon bits are tastier here than they were on the Tater Skins — no tough and leathery texture this time around. The cheese is also better, probably because it is shredded and not melted, so it isn't leaking grease everywhere.

2. Grilled shrimp

Given how it often goes at chain restaurants, we were worried that the grilled shrimp would be drastically overcooked. Shrimp is a delicate protein, and a few too many seconds on the grill can make it go from juicy and succulent to chalky and disappointing. We were pleasantly surprised to find our concerns were unwarranted; the shrimp came out perfectly cooked, with moist, translucent interiors and charred exteriors. Interestingly, the shrimp actually had a decent amount of the smoky flavor we were missing in the ribs. They really tasted grilled, which we appreciated.

The spice blend on the shrimp was also incredible. Unlike the seasoning mixes on the steak and the Cactus Blossom, it had a personality; there was a robust spice profile with hints of cayenne, paprika, dried herbs, onion, garlic, and maybe even some celery seed. It tasted like a halfway point between Cajun and Old Bay seasoning and complemented the sweet seafood taste of the shrimp perfectly.

The grilled shrimp skewers were served on top of some garlic bread, which was the only weird part of this dish. In theory, garlic bread is a great idea, but at Texas Roadhouse it's made by griddling the chain's signature rolls in garlic butter. The rolls, however, are too sweet to serve as the base; it's almost like eating garlic bread made out of pound cake. Fortunately, the shrimp were so delicious that we didn't mind the sugary garlic bread.

1. Fresh-baked bread with honey cinnamon butter

It seems like every beloved chain restaurant has free bread that steals the show. Whether it's Olive Garden's breadsticks, Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay biscuits, or Outback's Bushman bread, often a meal at a casual dining establishment is just an excuse to Hoover down as much bread as possible. Is it that the bread at these places is really that great, or that the rest of the food just isn't that exciting? We'll leave that up to you to decide, but either way, the fresh-baked bread is the best thing at Texas Roadhouse.

Each roll is a little pillow of joy, with a light-as-air crumb, moist interior, and soft crust. They're borderline cake-sweet and each roll is brushed with butter. You can tell they're actually scratch-made not just because of their delightfully soft texture but also because they have a bit of the yeasty, fermented flavor you get in truly fresh bread. If the rolls themselves don't have enough sugar and butter for you, they're served with whipped honey cinnamon butter for dipping. The butter doesn't really taste like honey, but there's plenty of sugar and cinnamon in it. The combination is delicious. If we had to dock point anywhere, it would be that this item goes slightly too far in the dessert direction. It would be even better if the butter was salted to cut through the sweetness a little bit.