When you really want a nice juicy steak and all the sides, but don’t want to blow your paycheck, smart people know to head to Texas Roadhouse. Beloved for its laid-back vibes, huge portions for the price, and high-quality steaks, the steakhouse is the perfect pick for an easy date or night out with friends.
However, like every chain restaurant, it’s worth noting some of the secrets and hacks—if for no other reason than to keep expectations realistic or save a few bucks. Before you slice into your big steak, read up on some secrets Texas Roadhouse would probably like to keep to themselves.
The name is kind of misleading! Founder and chairman Kent Taylor opened the chain’s first location in Clarksville, Indiana back in 1993, with the goal of creating a family-friendly steakhouse. The company’s headquarters is currently in Louisville, Kentucky.
Like so many other restaurants, Texan Roadhouse confirmed in May 2021 that they had to raise prices post-pandemic to keep up with rising costs. CFO Tonya Robinson said the company raised its menu prices by 1.4% so far this year and is ultimately looking to land at a 1.75% increase to offset some of the new financial pressures the company and its operators are feeling due to an increase in workers’ wages.
“The steaks would be the highest grade, then the leftovers from them are used for the kabobs and Dillo bites, and anything else is used to make chili,” wrote a former employee on Reddit. Since each Roadhouse employs an in-house butcher, it makes sense they’d use unsold steaks.
With the exception of the chain’s house salad, the salads at Texas Roadhouse are calorie bombs—the Chicken Caesar comes in at 1,050 calories and 89 grams of fat! Nearly half of that is the dressing. If you add ranch, Italian, blue cheese, Ceaser, or honey mustard, you’re adding over 400 calories. Stick with honey French or low-fat ranch if you want to cut back. But, be warned, even these lighter options are 270 and 240 calories, respectively.
When a new employee asked for tips on making the most money at Texas Roadhouse, a few former and current employees had a similar message: upsell. Upselling is when your server tries to get you to add mushrooms to your steak, or an extra side.
“Upsell. The 6 oz sirloin is a way to nearly guarantee your guest’s meal is okay at best, even if they get shrimp or whatever smothers, etc. The ribeye, the strip, prime if you got it, this is the money,” said one. “ Upsell as much as possible,” echoed another. “Always ask if they want to try the hand-cut steaks or fall off the bone ribs, fresh baked bread and made from scratch sides. Make sure you ask for smothered, loaded, and kickers (for margaritas). Upsell, upsell, upsell!!!!” said yet another.
So, if you’re trying to save money, or your waistline, beware, and learn to say no.
Think you’ll just walk into a Texas Roadhouse with your friends at 7 pm on a Friday night and get a table for four? It’s pretty unlikely. However, thanks to a Texas Roadhouse employee on Reddit, we got the scoop on when to go. “Mondays and Tuesdays you definitely won’t have to wait. Sundays usually are pretty slow too. Thursdays are usually decently busy, but not too bad. Wednesdays are always packed because of our WildWest Wednesday special. Obviously, Fridays and Saturdays will always be busy.” How busy? Check out this photo of the steaks smushed together on the grill during a rush shared by a Reddit user who says he’s an employee. That busy.
This is a good or bad thing depending on your perspective. If you like to order the same thing every time you go out, you’re in luck. However, if you like restaurants that offer fresh specials, or mix it up a little, you’re probably not going to find anything new on the menu. The chain knows what works for its diners. In 2018, FSR Magazine asked Senior Director of Communications Travis Doster about the last time they changed the menu, he said, “We added a steakhouse filet salad. That was one of the more recent ones. That’s been four or five years.” By the way, the Steakhouse Salad beats the Chicken Ceasar. It weighs in at 1,340 calories and 103 grams of fat! A healthier-sounding Herb Crusted Chicken joined the menu in 2019, according to Texas Roadhouse’s official Facebook page.
Everyone loves a good margarita, and theirs are delicious. However, many of them aren’t exactly the healthiest choice. Be careful when ordering a frozen margarita because the classic drink will cost you nearly 500 calories and 83 grams of sugar on top of whatever food you down. Instead, order the original margarita on the rocks for just 170 calories and 14 grams of sugar.
Save some money and calories without even trying when you dine out at Texas Roadhouse, just fill up on the famous free bucket of peanuts. And, if that’s not enough, just ask your server and they’ll bring out a basket of warm, fresh-baked bread with butter. That’ll keep the whole table happy until the steaks arrive! Note: Some Yelp reviewers say that the peanuts come bagged post-pandemic and others have reported that they are completely absent.
A previous version of this article was originally published on May 18. 2022.