America’s Best Casual Chain Steakhouses
America certainly has no shortage of chain restaurants. From super-cheap to outrageously expensive, from pizza to fried chicken, from kid-oriented to adults-only, there’s really a sit-down chain for everyone out there. While the “bar and grill” (Applebee's, Friday's, etc.) might be the most common type of chain, there’s one that’s arguably more beloved than any other: the casual steakhouse.
There are two very different types of chain steakhouses, and for today’s purposes we’re ranking only one of them: the casual chains. While both Outback and Capital Grille specialize in steak, they couldn’t be more different otherwise, so comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. Comparing Outback to LongHorn, on the other hand, well that’s something worth exploring. If you're curious, we've also ranked America’s best upscale steakhouse chains as well as America’s best non-chain steakhouses.
When you think "chain steakhouse," what comes to mind? Odds are it’s a rustic, masculine, brick- or wood-faced building, emblazoned with an eye-catching, brightly lit logo. Inside, there’s a bar with some TVs, plenty of comfortable seating, maybe some cattle paraphernalia on the walls (or boomerangs, in the case of Outback), neon beer signs, and a steak-heavy menu, obviously. But there are plenty of subtle differences, and no chain is exactly like any other.
To assemble our ranking of America’s top chain steakhouses, we took a look at all the casual steakhouses across the country with more than 15 locations (which has been dwindling in the past few years, as chains like Lone Star and Texas Land and Cattle have all but ceased operations), and ranked them according to the variety of steaks on the menu, the quality of the meat used, the overall dining experience and atmosphere, the quality and variety of side dishes and other non-steak menu items, and additional perks like lunch deals, charitable efforts, promotions, and efforts to go above and beyond, like mentioning when specific menu items are in peak season. We assigned each of these categories a point value, tallied them up, and at the end of the day there was one clear winner.