Pros: the world's best chicken fingers, good steaks, large portions, reasonable prices
Cons: loud, peanut shells get out of control, small kids don't like it
Texas Road House has the best chicken fingers on the planet. Period.
Their steaks are good, fries excellent, burgers large, rolls yeasty (but small), chili terrible, blooming onion disgusting, desserts boring, and vegetables limpid, but for me it all comes down to the chicken fingers,
Have I mentioned I love their chicken fingers?
Appetizers are very hit or miss. In case you haven't figured it out yet I love their chicken fingers. They're probably the best I've ever had anywhere. They use a light crispy batter that often jags off from the pieces at interesting angles and leaves little crispies at the bottom of the basket. They remind me of the fish pieces at Long John Silver's which are an all-time favorite.
Other appetizers aren't nearly as good. The Cactus Blossom, their version of the blooming onion, has a very heavy batter with an almost sour taste and a bitter aftertaste. I generally adore any fried onion appetizer but this one is pretty much inedible. The Rattlesnake Bites, fried jalapeno and cheese puffs, are very spicy but fairly flavorless. The potato skins are okay but average in every way.
They also offer buffalo wings, cheese fries, and ribs. I've not tried any of them. Appetizers run from $5-8. At $6 the chicken fingers is by far the best option. Five large fingers served with steak fries and a creamy honey mustard sauce, I often order it as my meal when dining alone.
Chili and Salads
You might expect a Texas-themed restaurant to have good chili but you'd be wrong. It's watery with only a handful of beans and chunks of meat scattered throughout the bowl. Large semi-cooked chunks of tomato and diced red onions finish out the ingredients list. Like the Rattlesnake Bites it's very hot and very tasteless. If you do decide to try the chili, order a bowl since it's about four times the size of the cup and only 80 cents more.
I've never had any of the meal salads. They're not terribly exciting, basically garden salads or caesar salads with and without chicken. I suspect the chicken fingers salad would be excellent, but then again I'd happily eat the chicken fingers for dessert.
The side garden salad is generally excellent. They use romaine and iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, egg, cheese, and croutons. I wish they also had onion and cucumber, but the ingredients they do use are very fresh. I always end up eating more of the salad here than just about anywhere else. It's also quite large for a side salad and uses lots of protein between the heaping piles of egg and cheese so I suspect folks who aren't starving could pair it with a potato for a meal and be quite happy.
The dressings are fairly boring but decent. They have ranch, italian, thousand island, and honey mustard. The portion is generous; I order mine on the side and always have well more than half left. Side salads purchased a la carte run $3.69 and meal salads run $8.
Texas has a handful of burgers and chicken sandwiches. Other than the plain option, they're pseudo-Southwest style drenched in barbeque or chipolte sauce. Their plain burger is a cheeseburger which always makes me feel like I'm paying extra for cheese I won't eat and is one reason I've not tried their burgers. They do look good though, large and accompanied by a heaping pile of steak fries for around $7.
Texas offers a variety of steak, ribs, chicken, and fish dishes. The steaks are mainly different sizes of sirloin, filet mignon, T-bone, and prime rib. The hearty cut sirloin is my favorite. At 12 ounces, it tends to be very lean and very tasty. The filet is excellent, available as either a traditional steak or served in smaller pieces over rice.
They also offer a 10 ounce chopped steak which, if you have them hold all the extra stuff they slather on (onions, mushrooms, and jack cheese), is a tasty comfort food and a fairly inexpensive option at $8. Other steaks run from $9 for a 6 ounce sirloin to $19 for an 18 ounce T-bone steak.
Most of the chicken dishes are grilled breasts with various marinades and toppings. They do have a roasted half chicken if you prefer and offer a chicken fingers dinner but unless you really want a salad it's not worth the extra $3. It, like most of the other chicken options, is $9.
The fish options are simple - baked schrod, fried catfish, and grilled salmon. I don't really care for fish but a friend of mine swears by their salmon.
They also have full or half racks of ribs and several ribs and xxx combos. I've never tried these either.
Almost all of the entrees come with your choice of two sides. In addition to a side salad or cup of chili you can get mashed potatoes, steak fries, baked potato, baked sweet potato, rice, mixed vegetables, or baked beans. All of the potato options are excellent but the sweet potato is a step above. The rice is okay although a bit bland if not mixed with some sort of sauce or gravy. The baked beans are good but a bit on the spicy side.
The only side I don't recommend is the mixed vegetables. A mix of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and squash, they were very overcooked to the point of being mushy and washed out.
Boring about sums it up. Cheesecake, apple crisp, and brownie sundae. I've not tried any.
The service is generally decent but not great. It can take a while to get drinks or drink refills but you will generally see your server a few times through the meal to ask for anything you need. Special requests regarding omissions are almost always remembered and honored but extras are often forgotten.
I have had problems with my server disappearing for long periods of time or taking an inordinately long time to show up initially but this is rare and hasn't happened at all recently.
Texas Road House is definitely not the place to go if you're looking for elegant dining. It's crowded without much space between booths and it's fairly loud. Country music blares out of loudspeakers and crowd noise is fairly constant. Peanut shells litter the floor and the walls fairly drip with old signs and other weird hangings.
Unlike at the similar Logan's Roadhouse, I've never had any trouble hearing either my server or my dining companions so the noise generally doesn't bother me. The peanut shells can get a bit out of control; I've seen several people slip on them. I would avoid Texas if you have any mobility issues.
Most younger kids seem to have real problems with this restaurant. Several kids I've sat near seemed terrified of some of the wall hangings while others didn't like the noise. Invariably toddlers end up screaming and slightly older kids end up whining or throwing a tantrum. I would avoid Texas Road House with kids under six.
Texas Roadhouse is far from perfect but it offers large portions of good food at reasonable prices. Plus, in case I haven't mentioned it before, they have the best chicken fingers on the planet. Give them a try.