I Worked At Longhorn Steakhouse. Here's What I Learned About It

After working at Longhorn Steakhouse for nearly a decade, I have learned more than a few things as a front-of-house and back-of-house employee. From serving and bartending to expediting entrees and spending time as a prep and line cook, I want to give you a secret inside scoop on all things Longhorn.

Whether you're interested in working there or can't get enough of that parmesan-crusted chicken and wild west shrimp, you will surely appreciate some of these fun facts and hidden hacks about the franchise. Who knows, you might even switch up your usual order and discover a new favorite entree. At the very least, I hope you can learn something new about Longhorn Steakhouse, a restaurant that you already know and love.

After so many years working for the company, I'm still drawn to the delicious entrees and excellent service longhorn steakhouse continues to offer. Now, let's get on with the juicy details of menu hacks and what it's really like to work at Longhorn Steakhouse.

Shrimp-and-lobster chowder is not what you think it is

Okay, I know this might hurt a few devoted shrimp-and-lobster chowder fans out there, but I personally can't believe this soup has made it over the years. With so many other delicious foods that have come and gone in Longhorn steakhouse's history, this one has somehow made it through the test of time. Here's the thing: This soup is more like a glorified peppery corn chowder. If you are lucky enough to get a few popcorn shrimp in your cup or bowl, then that's great and exciting for you. 

If you happen to get a spoonful of lobster in there, well, I hate to tell you, but it's actually just more shrimp. The chowder uses a lobster base for the creamy broth, but that's as much lobster as you will ever get in one spoonful. 

You can parmesan crust just about anything

If there is one commonality across all Longhorn Steakhouses, it is that parmesan-crusted chicken is hugely popular amongst guests! Using homemade ranch dressing, grated parmesan cheese, some garlic, herbs, panko breadcrumbs, and more cheese, longhorn has designed a creamy ranch topping that I recommend for anyone (who loves dairy) to try.

In fact, with almost a decade of Longhorn employment under my belt, I have seen just about everything parm crusted. Some of the most memorable include parm-crusted salmon, steak tips, chicken tenders, and mashed potatoes, and they actually all sound delicious. Consider upgrading your burger, sirloin, or filet with a parm crust topping as a unique way to enhance your dinner next time you go in.

Receive a free appetizer with Longhorn's email club

Longhorn Steakhouse has an email club where you will receive a free appetizer just for signing up. That's a great deal considering the delicious appetizers. Starters range from $6.99 to $12.49, as of this publication, and you won't be bothered with annoying marketing emails (too often), so I believe it is more than worth it. Another great bonus most people don't know about is that you'll receive additional perks and coupons on your birthday.

If you're new to eating at Longhorn, you really can't go wrong with any of the apps, but my favorites include the wild west shrimp and cheddar-stuffed mushrooms. The wild west shrimp is popcorn shrimp that are hand-battered per order, then fried and tossed with pepperoncini, red cherry peppers, and garlic butter, served with homemade ranch dressing.

Mushroom lovers might appreciate cheddar-stuffed mushrooms filled with herbed garlic cheese and topped with parmesan panko crust topping. Be sure to save some of that complimentary bread to sop up the leftover creamy four-cheese sauce, in what is essentially a cheese fondue hack, before enjoying your main entrée.

Request cinnamon sugar butter for your bread

Many love the complimentary Longhorn bread that comes to the table with drinks, but if you're a sucker for something a little sweeter, ask your server to make a quick cinnamon sugar butter combo for you.

Servers have access to a cinnamon sugar mix because the food expedited (the person who prepares dishes for delivery from the kitchen) is required to sprinkle some over the sweet potatoes as entrees come out. All your server has to do is sprinkle some into a ramekin containing butter. Once it arrives at the table, pull out your knife and mix it into the butter. The on-the-house bread you receive is honey wheat, which pairs beautifully with a sweet-and-savory cinnamon sugar butter.

You can swap your steak seasonings

Whether you order any of the appetizers, steaks, or chicken entrees, you'll notice immediately that Longhorn boldly seasons all the food. This allows guests to request a light amount of seasoning if they don't enjoy overly salty foods. Here's the thing about seasonings at Longhorn — you can request different seasonings that don't normally come on the specific steak you are ordering.

Prairie dust (one of Longhorn's secret recipes) is used for foods like chicken, pork chops, French fries, and much more. Flat-top and char seasonings are almost identical; the only difference is that flat-top seasoning contains dill seed, but char seasoning does not. When dill seeds cook over an open flame, it burns and gives off an unpleasant taste, so I do not recommend swapping the two.

Now, if there is one seasoning you ought to try, it's the seven-pepper seasoning. It usually comes over the seven-pepper sirloin salad, but I recommend you try it over whatever steak you order. It will seriously spruce up a boring sirloin and tastes perfect on a New York strip. 

Servers have a ton of side work

Side work varies by every company, but after working in a number of food service establishments, Longhorn goes above average on server-specific side work duties. Servers are required to complete front-of-house (FOH) side work, back-of-house (BOH) side work, and silverware duties before leaving for the day.

Here's a breakdown: FOH tasks involve refilling sugar and sweetener packets, and salt and pepper shakers, cleaning tables, vacuuming under tables, and checking for gum and crumbs around tables. Simple enough, right? Then they move on to BOH tasks, which vary depending on what you have been assigned. Servers can find thorough instructions listed on the wall if you need help remembering every detail.

Every server (aside from closers) must polish and roll a large box containing about 60 rolls of silverware. While finishing your last few tables and working through these tasks, you'll find yourself sticking around for an extra hour or longer if you are new to the gig. Serving closers are in charge of signing other employees out, and duties fall on them if you haven't finished properly, so don't bother doing a half-assed job. Managers require that signoff before you go home.

The menu changed significantly after the pandemic

A lot has changed in restaurants since the pandemic, but one of the biggest shifts Longhorn made was getting rid of the popular seasonal menus. Before 2020, Longhorn used to deliver seasonal menus every three months as a way to introduce new menu items. Unfortunately, with supply chain issues that followed, the brand chose to forgo the continuous changes for a menu that remained constant.

If you were a huge prime rib fan, you certainly felt the pain that followed the disappearance of slow-roasted prime ribs. Unfortunately, the price of beef reached an all-time high and the restaurant's trust in allowing hourly employees to cut prime rib from the loin per order accurately meant that the company saw significant money losses across the country. Prime rib was never a money maker to begin with, but the company allowed the financial losses to take place for several years before making the difficult decision to cut prime rib from the menu. I hate to say it, but the chances of ever enjoying that steak at Longhorn again are slim to none.

Some locations secretly offer Pittsburgh rare

Pittsburg rare is a unique cooking method, which is done by rapidly cooking your steak on very high heat to allow the outside to form a charred crust and the inside to stay rare. Some call it a black-and-blue steak. Regardless, the cooking method is excellent for folks who love their steak to come out to the table still mooing.

Select Longhorn locations may be able to accommodate this request, and it all depends on whether or not the kitchen is equipped with a burner. There's only one way to know and that is to ask your server. If you love a crispy crust full of seasoned flavor but enjoy the inside of your steaks cool and red, then give a Pittsburgh rare steak a try.

Save money by going to Longhorn Steakhouse for lunch

If you want to enjoy a satisfying meal, but don't want to spend big bucks, consider trying Longhorn during lunch hours. Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., you will find many excellent combinations ranging from $8.49 to $10.99, at the time of this publication. Sunday is the exception because Longhorn serves dinner all day and the lunch menu is unavailable.

Longhorn offers a decent variety of smaller portioned lunches that won't break the bank but still taste lovely. If you want to enjoy a little steak without paying full price, I recommend grabbing the seven-pepper salad combo. The peppery steak tastes amazing over fresh greens, and you can select a soup or side to accompany the meal. A few other popular options include the strawberry chicken salad combo, which comes with a soup or side. The burger and crispy buttermilk chicken sandwich is also popular and oh-so-tasty. 

Longhorn has an exhaustive list of menu add-ons

There is one secret many don't know about Longhorn Steakhouse's menu: You can create all sorts of combinations by using the secret add-on menu. Each server is trained to use a point of sale (POS) system, a type of software and hardware that allows employees to place guest orders. Within Longhorn's POS system is a secret little section that allows servers and bartenders to add on all sorts of food selections. For example, if you want to filet for dinner but you're also craving parmesan-crusted chicken, you order a filet and create a combo by adding a 6-ounce parmesan-crusted chicken.

Chicken tenders, salmon, and half or full racks of ribs are all additions you can consider adding to any existing adult entrée. Other add-ons include one or two skewers of red rock grilled shrimp, a lobster tail, or sirloin steak. Add-ons are great if you want more than one protein without paying for two additional sides.

You can request a nutrition and allergen guide

With serious food allergies on the rise, many restaurants have taken action to help keep people safe. Longhorn has always taken food allergies seriously and will cook your steak or chicken wrapped in foil to ensure cross-contamination doesn't occur during the cooking process. Several years ago, the brand took an additional step in providing a nutrition and allergen menu guide to help guests better understand what ingredients are used in meals. It covers an overall breakdown of calories, fat, sodium, and other nutritional information but also offers an extensive allergen guide, which is updated regularly. 

Although Longhorn Steakhouse kitchens are not gluten-free, the menus offer details on how to order meals for gluten-restricted diets. For other allergies, be sure to take a look at the extensive allergen guide, which tells you what allergen-containing ingredients may be found in some of the meals provided.

Steaks are always fresh and never frozen

One thing you will find true of any quality steakhouse is that steaks are always served fresh and are never frozen. Longhorn is no exception to the fresh steaks rule, and the employees follow strict procedures to ensure they have prepped enough for the lunch and dinner shifts. Most Longhorn Steakhouse locations receive two weekly deliveries of steaks to keep up with the high demand and ensure quality freshness for every order. Sirlons, New York strips, filets, and all other steaks come fresh and then are stored in the walk-in fridge.

On the morning of service, prep cooks come in with the opening manager to prepare side dish portions, appetizers, and all the food needed to meet the needs of hungry guests before 11:00 a.m. hits. Steaks are panned and prepped based on precalculated estimates using guest counts for the restaurant based on sales from previous years.

Char-grilled steaks reign superior all day

Steaks are cooked one of two ways: on the char grill and the flat-top grill. The flat-top grill is a large grill with a smooth surface grill where flames don't have the opportunity to reach the food. The char grill is fitted with parallel grates so hot flames can pass through them. We love flames, and so do steaks.

Steaks that cook on the char grill include the outlaw ribeye, the porterhouse, and the T-bone, which are all of higher quality than some of the other steaks on the menu. But, even if you were to order something like a filet or regular ribeye, I recommend requesting it is cooked on the char grill! The seasoning, plus the flame-kissed lines, deliver a superior flavor all day long. The char flavor enhances your steak in a way a flat-top grill simply can't.

Order the ribs without barbecue sauce

Longhorn does a great job with its signature barbecue ribs. Between slow cooking them for several hours to boldly seasoning them just right, I find that there's little doubt you'll end up with tender and flavorful pork. For anyone looking for a low-sugar or keto-friendly version of those ribs, you can ask for them to come out dry, without barbeque sauce.

Or, consider requesting them with barbeque sauce on the side; just be sure to clarify you don't want any barbeque sauce on them. Because the cooks throw fully cooked ribs on the char grill by order, the sauce is only basted once they throw a rack on the grill and it begins to warm. You'll immediately notice that the ribs are flavorful, even without sauce. 

Upgrade chicken with sweet chili ginger sauce

Several years back, Longhorn introduced a new appetizer called spicy chicken bites. Essentially they are a few chicken tenders chopped into small bite-sized pieces that are dredged and fried. Once they are fully cooked, the line cook will coat them with a sweet chili ginger sauce. Well, I won't lie; that sweet chili-ginger sauce is banging!

Next time you are looking for something new and exciting, turn to this sauce to amp up any chicken entrée. You can request to have your chicken tenders tossed with the sauce. Or, order a grilled chicken dinner and have it glazed over each piece. You'll also love trying the crispy buttermilk chicken sandwich on the lunch menu, complete with a generous coat of that same orangey sweet sauce. 

Amp up your Moscow mule with this hack

In my opinion, Longhorn used to have fantastic margaritas, but, sadly, the chain has gotten rid of its best flavors. Some of the most popular flavors included the black-and-blue margarita and the watermelon margarita, both of which I found to sell like crazy. Today, Longhorn Steakhouse still carries the Texas, the perfect, the Don Julio, the strawberry, and the mango margaritas, but they simply don't add up to the forever gone flavors of the past. Luckily, there are plenty of other refreshing bar drinks for you to try. 

If you're looking for something different, I recommend the Moscow mule, a spicy cold beverage that uses a ginger elixir instead of classic ginger beer. Call for your favorite vodka, then ask for a splash of strawberry puree. I find there is just something about the spicy ginger paired with a sweet strawberry puree; the two flavors make a delicious duo.

Longhorn Steakhouse is huge on quality guest experience

Longhorn Steakhouse does not mess around when it comes to ensuring the guest is well taken care of. In fact, team members are taught not to use the word "customer;" folks that come in and eat are to be called "guests" instead, as a way of instilling that Western hospitality class. Servers are also trained to learn Longhorn R.U.L.E.S, an acronym that covers the value of a quality guest experience. 

The letter "R" stands for "recognize guest by name" to ensure servers help repeat guests (aka regulars) feel valued and appreciated. The letter "U" stands for "unexpected personal touches." If a guest mentions they love those candied pecans on the chicken strawberry salad they ordered, that is your opportunity to surprise them with a small side of extra pecans when you deliver entrees. This small and unexpected personal touch should make them feel special and heard. 

"L" stands for "legendary steaks," which servers are trained to be knowledgeable about. "E" comes with two standards: "enthusiastic hellos and goodbyes" and "execution." Finally, "S" stands for "superb recovery." Mistakes will inevitably happen, but the server's actions to amend the mistake will make all the difference. The Longhorn rules have been around for a very long time as a way to ensure that guests are appreciated and well taken care of during every visit. 

Small additions will jazz up your dessert

Longhorn has introduced and gotten rid of several desserts over the years. Now you will only find a few options, including the chocolate stampede cake, the strawberries and cream shortcake, and the "new" cheesecake. Some locations may differ slightly, but you will find these are what survived the test of time.

Not everyone knows this, but there are a few things you can do to spruce up your dessert. Because ice cream is available, you can add a scoop or two to any dessert. Otherwise, consider ordering a cup or bowl if you don't want anything too filling. You can ask for toppings like caramel or chocolate sauce, strawberries, candied pecans, or whipped cream. For something really light, consider ordering a cup of fruit, which will come with mandarin oranges, strawberries, and red grapes.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.