The Ultimate Ranking Of Restaurant Bread

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When you're a hungry diner, nothing is more satisfying than being presented with a beautiful plate of warm, pillowy bread while awaiting your food. Many restaurants across the United States have learned that since their customers love both bread and free things, gracing our tables with free bread is a smart move. But not all bread is created equal, and there is a hierarchy of restaurant bread in this world. We have compiled a ranking of the top restaurant bread so that you know where to go when a carb craving hits. Every bread on this list is offered for free, at least one serving, as part of a meal. The breads are judged on a multitude of factors, including quantity and quality. Additional accoutrements such as dips and sauces are a bonus, but the bread should be able to hold its own without help. After reading this, your only problem will be filling up on bread before your actual meal comes.

13. Bravo! Cucina Italian bread

Bringing up the rear we have Bravo! Cucina Italian bread. Each meal at Bravo! comes with focaccia bread and dipping sauce. The bread comes in little brick-shaped pieces that, while connected, easily pull apart from each other. This design makes it easy to parcel out pieces and share them among people. However, the elongated shape was also clearly chosen to make the bread good for dipping in their oil. This wouldn't be a problem, except that the bread itself really doesn't hold up on its own. Even though one of the hallmarks of focaccia is the use of olive oil, Bravo's comes out dry and without much initial flavor. The dipping oil definitely provides some much-needed flavor, but as one reviewer on Trip Advisor commented, it's too thick and reminiscent of dressing. Others on Reddit opined that the oil was "run of the mill" and that it seemed different from other free bread. Overall, while we would never turn down free bread, this would not be our first choice.

12. Carrabba's bread

Once a fan favorite, Carrabba's went through some menu changes in 2016, per The Ledger. But the changes didn't make everyone happy. One of the hardest blows was the change to their bread. The bread comes as a sliced loaf and is served alongside herbed dipping oil. As reviewers have noted, though, both seem to have gone downhill in recent years. One reviewer wrote that while the bread used to be flavorful and delicious, it is now bland. Another Trip Advisor reviewer from a different location noticed this as well, and wrote that the bread no longer had the warmth and texture they had come to expect. Overall, reviewers were not happy with the changes to the bread. There was a definite loss of both flavor and texture, making the bread no longer stand on its own. This might not be such a dealbreaker with a good dipping oil to compliment it, but as another TripAdvisor reviewer noted, the oil was tough to stomach. What once may have topped the list is now sadly relegated to near bottom.

11. Ruby Tuesday biscuits

There are three biscuits on this list, two are cheddar-based, and these are not the fan favorite. That's not to say they are bad. But with so many delicious bead options, the bar was set high. Ruby Tuesday's biscuits are made using a drop biscuit, meaning the dough is scooped onto trays and not cut. This creates their domed appearance and helps keep all that delicious garlic and cheddar flavor inside. And one thing these biscuits do right is the flavor; they are packed full of it. This also means the biscuits stand on their own and don't require a dip or sauce to make them enjoyable. However, according to one Mashed poll, consumers ranked it as their least favorite free bread. Not a good start.

To make matters worse, Ruby Tuesday has made some questionable choices with the biscuits that leave their customers unsatisfied. One reviewer on Zomato commented that the biscuits were too small, and they never got enough. This sentiment was echoed in a Facebook thread after Ruby Tuesday briefly discontinued offering their biscuits. This led to angry customers, who complained that prior to discontinuing them together, they were always too small and stingy with the servings. In fact, they frequently ran out altogether. The biscuits have now been brought back, but customers will always harbor trust issues with them.

10. Buca di Beppo bread

Buca di Beppo doesn't just give free bread at the beginning of a meal; they go the extra mile and give it to you with take-out meals too. Since many people have chosen or been forced to eat at home over the past few years, this is a nice touch on the restaurant's part to keep everyone in carb heaven. Sadly, the bread that Buca di Beppo is best known for — their mozzarella garlic bread — is not the one that comes free with your meal. Instead, the bread that Buca di Beppo gives out is plain sliced white bread, which some Trip Advisor reviewers described as "basic." Although it appears to be an unexciting choice, others commented that they enjoyed it and that it was a nice part of the meal. The one additional downside, according to one reviewer, is that there just wasn't always enough for groups, meaning they continually had to ask for additional bread. Overall, consumers see this bread as middling to fair and nothing to write home about.

9. Panera Bread French baguette

Panera, come on. Of all the restaurant bread on this list, Panera provides the smallest amount. For each meal that someone purchases from Panera, you get one single chunk of French baguette. If you received a whole baguette with each order, that would be one thing, but you don't. One sliced piece isn't cutting it. You can purchase more, of course, but here we're looking for free restaurant bread, and we don't think that is too much to ask. To make matters worse, as this Redditor points out, sometimes you get an incredibly small piece of baguette. Someone responded that if you point out the piece you received is too small, sometimes Panera will give you more — but not always. Additionally, as another Redditor pointed out, the quality can vary. This is partly because the baguettes are baked fresh and don't use heavy preservatives. That means they are subject to human error and the simple passage of time. So sometimes, they are dry or baked a little differently. The generally crusty outside and soft inside, though, makes this plain bread excellent for dipping in soup or slathering in butter.

8. Longhorn Steakhouse bread

When it comes to the free bread game, Longhorn Steakhouse finds itself somewhere in the middle of the pack. The bread from Longhorn arrives in a loaf that must be sliced at the table, and it comes with butter. The loaf is hearty and dense, which distinguishes it from other light and fluffy bread options on this list. That being said, consumers seem torn on this bread, but not to the typical extremes like some other breads. Longhorn Steakhouse bread managed to find itself on both the best free bread and worst free bread polls conducted by Mashed. While other breads like Olive Garden breadsticks seemed to polarize people, Longhorn bread fell towards the ends of both lists, meaning people didn't feel strongly enough to call it exceptional or terrible. This seems to be exactly where Longhorn's bread is meant to be — somewhere right in the middle.

7. Outback Steakhouse honey brown bread

The dubiously Australian-themed Outback Steakhouse offers a loaf of honey wheat brown bread for the table when meals are ordered. Two loaves of warm and lightly sweet bread are served on a board with a large steak knife for cutting and a side of butter in a little cup. The bread is fine but is entirely nondescript. Additionally, being served in soft loaves makes it hard to cut. Sure, you can use different slicing techniques like turning the bread upside down, as a Redditor pointed out. But would it be so hard for them to pre-slice it to avoid smushing? Finally, according to one Reddit poster who worked for the company, the bread comes in pre-made and is not made on location.

This isn't to say that people hate it, but they don't love it either. According to a Mashed poll, Outback's bread came in last for worst free restaurant bread. This means that of the bad options, it was actually the least bad, which is almost a compliment. But still, if that is the best that can be said for it, it is a pass.

6. Romano's Macaroni Grill rosemary bread

Romano's Macaroni Grill feels pretty confident in their bread game, as they once took aim at another Italian food chain's unlimited breadstick deal in a Facebook post. Do they live up to the hype? Romano's Macaroni Grill offers a loaf of rosemary peasant bread with a side of dipping oil. As some commenters mentioned, it may not beat Olive Garden's breadstick game, but it is indeed a good loaf. Many commenters on the company's Facebook page expressed a love for the bread, stating they wish they could buy it to take home. They also said that the dipping oil it comes with is simply delicious. The bread is crusty, and the rosemary adds a unique flavor not offered by other contenders on this list.

However, if a patron doesn't like rosemary, they likely will not like this bread, as it is the prominent flavor. Additionally, some Trip Advisor reviewers complained that the company began charging for their bread at certain locations. While this does not seem to be the case based on the company's Facebook posts, it was not a welcome surprise to some guests.

5. Cracker Barrel biscuits and corn muffins

Cracker Barrel is an old-timey restaurant known for its fun, homey store that sells expensive rocking chairs, and of course, their free biscuits and corn muffins. They're really excelling in hospitality by offering two choices. Cracker Barrel's biscuits are light and fluffy and cut to beautiful perfection, making them perfect for opening and slathering in toppings. The corn muffins are also delicious and are made in muffin tins. They are both perfect for individual servings, but did we mention they come served with apple butter? Not only is Cracker Barrel serving up quality biscuits, but they're also serving up quality condiments, too.

With two solid options, it is impossible to pick a favorite. When Cracker Barrel asked their customers which one they'd choose, some people refused to pick at all and said both. The main problem is consistency. As one Trip Advisor reviewer noted, it isn't uncommon for either the biscuits or the cornbread to come out below standards. Both can be exceptional, but the lack of consistency keeps them from being top picks.

4. Red Lobster cheddar bay biscuits

Red Lobster biscuits are indisputably delicious; they are the highest-ranking biscuit on this list, after all. The recipe is top secret. People at Red Lobster say that they make a batch of these cheddar garlic-filled biscuits every 15 to 20 minutes. This keeps them piping hot and coming to the table in no time. If this sounds like a lot of biscuits, that's because it is. North American Red Lobsters bake roughly 1 million biscuits every day, per the company

The biscuits are so good, in fact, Red Lobster sells extra orders of them for purchase and has even introduced a box mix so consumers can make their own version at home. What is really striking about them, though, is that you don't get sick of them. One responder on Quora noted that even after working at Red Lobster for 14 years, they still find themselves hungry for these biscuits. Plus, as one commenter on Reddit pointed out, they are generous with their servings, always bringing more than enough for everyone. It may be a seafood restaurant, but we all know the real reason to go to Red Lobster is for those cheesy, flaky biscuits.

3. Cheesecake Factory baguette and brown bread

Between their huge serving sizes and over-the-top decor, Cheesecake Factory's motto may as well be "more is more." We are glad they bring that same energy and enthusiasm to the free bread that precedes each meal. Cheesecake Factory offers two different kinds of bread — one is a crusty baguette loaf, and the other is their distinctive brown bread. On a nuts-and-bolts level, Cheesecake Factory knows what they are doing. They slice the bread part of the way through so that pieces simply pull off, but it still holds together as a loaf. They also provide plentiful packets of butter. And importantly, they give you bread with takeout orders. All of this would be for naught, though, if the bread weren't delicious. The baguette is good, but it is the brown bread that shines. No one seems entirely sure why the brown bread is so good, or what it is entirely. Some, such as those on Reddit, say it likely has some cocoa in it to give color. There are tons of recipes online to recreate this bread at home, and even entire Reddit threads are dedicated to figuring it out. If you don't have the time or inclination to make it yourself, though, don't worry. Cheesecake Factory has your back and sells whole loaves of it for your home enjoyment.

2. Olive Garden breadsticks

When you think of free bread, it is almost impossible not to think of the Olive Garden breadstick. These beautiful, soft, fluffy sticks are flavored with garlicky goodness, easy to hold, and delectably warm and comforting. It is no wonder they have such a cult following. In a poll conducted by Mashed, they were voted the best free restaurant bread. Their popularity knows no bounds, and when competitors at Romano's Macaroni Grill made a snide reference to them on their Facebook page, it was clear who they were talking about. Breadstick lovers flocked to the comment section to defend them. In fact, Olive Garden is so serious about their breadstick that they have specific employees dedicated to making them (via Reddit) and offer a never-ending soup, salad, and breadstick meal (via Olive Garden). Patrons love them slathered in oil and garlic salt so much, you may wonder how many breadsticks you are allowed to eat until they kick you out. Well, to quote Cady Heron, the limit does not exist. According to Reddit, as long as you are at a table, they will keep bringing you bread. We love to see that kind of dedication.

1. Texas Roadhouse rolls

Finally, we come to Texas Roadhouse's rolls. Texas Roadhouse might not have the prominence of its free bread competitors, but that doesn't stop them from achieving baked greatness. In a Mashed poll of best free breads, they came in second despite being a smaller chain. And when a similar informal poll was conducted on Reddit, Texas Roadhouse rolls came out on top. The rolls are light and fluffy and come in generously sized rectangles. They're basically buttery pillows. The rolls work on their own, but also come with butter, and not just any butter, but cinnamon butter. That kind of addition kicks the Texas Roadhouse roll up a notch.

Texas Roadhouse rolls have now taken on an almost cult-like following, inspiring things such as the viral Texas Roadhouse challenge on TikTok, where consumers try to eat as many rolls as possible. Texas Roadhouse thoughtfully does not cut people off; they just keep bringing them. We are indeed lucky to live in a world with Texas Roadhouse rolls.