My first trip to Texas Roadhouse showed exactly why the chain is so beloved

Texas Roadhouse
  • Texas Roadhouse sales have boomed over the last year. 
  • I visited for the first time, and I found good food and huge portions at fair prices.
  • I had an excellent experience, and I see why customers keep coming back. 

I went to Texas Roadhouse on a Thursday evening, thinking I would be able to walk in and be seated quickly enough.
Texas roadhouse
A location. Texas Roadhouse
I knew the chain was popular, but I was still surprised to find a packed parking lot at the Rochester, New York, location on a weekday evening.
Texas Roadhouse parking lot
The Texas Roadhouse parking lot. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The window advised customers to call ahead to reserve a seat, which I regretted not doing.
Texas Roadhouse exterior
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The restaurant had updated hours posted over the door. It’s one of many restaurants working on reduced hours right now.
Texas Roadhouse exterior
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Walking inside, I realized the restaurant was even more crowded than I’d anticipated from the parking lot.
Texas Roadhouse lobby
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I put our name in at the hostess stand and was told it would be about a 10-minute wait.
Texas Roadhouse hostess stand
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I didn’t mind the wait. I used the time to take in the ambiance, which was unlike that of any restaurant I’d been to before. The restaurant was packed, and I saw maybe two or three people wearing masks, while servers did not. I could almost forget we were in a pandemic.
Texas Roadhouse hostess stand
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The walls were decorated with jerseys and uniforms from the local high-school sports teams right above the hostess station.
Texas Road House decor
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
A large moose head was mounted alongside the uniforms. I don’t know what moose have to do with Texas, but it did add to a homey, country theme.
Texas Road House decor
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Other walls were adorned with neon beer-brand signs, including Budweiser and Blue Moon.
Texas Road House decor
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Nearly all the walls in the massive restaurant were decked out in decor, like these caricatures of some classic country artists.
Texas Road House decor
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I also got some time to check out the butcher station with hand-cut steaks, which is one of the signature features of the chain.
Texas Road House steaks
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Above the steaks were the chain’s iconic rolls, staying warm under a heating lamp.
Texas Roadhouse  rolls
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Another neon sign got at the heart of Texas Roadhouse: beer and beef.
Texas Roadhouse  sign
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Under the sign, wait staff ran in and out of the kitchen, ferrying rolls to the full restaurant.
Texas Roadhouse kitchen
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The restaurant posted frequent hiring advertisements, most likely a symptom of the trouble restaurants across the US are having to attract workers.
Texas Roadhouse hiring
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The waitstaff even wore shirts saying “I

Texas Roadhouse kitchen
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
After a wait of probably closer to 25 minutes, I followed a waitress, holding the coveted rolls, to my table.
Texas Roadhouse table
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
A menu advertised Texas Roadhouse’s drinks, including margaritas that I’d heard I had to try.
Texas Roadhous table
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The restaurant is even bigger than it looks from the outside, and it seemed nearly full as I walked to my table.
Texas Roadhouse
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
As I walked through the rest of the interior, the decor was consistent throughout.
Texas Roadhouse
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
What seemed like at least a dozen animal heads were mounted on the walls, including a classic Americana jackalope.
Texas Roadhouse
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The decor is kitchsy in a way I found unexpectedly appealing.
Texas Roadhouse
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Cacti perched on booths and counters were reminders that the restaurant was supposed to be Southwest-themed.
Texas Roadhouse cactus
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I sat down and opened up a massive menu, which was overwhelming with all its choices.
Texas Roadhouse menu
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Back at the table, the waitress recommended this massive blue margarita, called Kenny’s Cooler after Kenny Chesney.
Texas Roadhouse margarita
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
For $US7.25 ($AU10), it was huge and could easily be shared by at least two people.
Texas Roadhouse margarita
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
After we told the waitress we’d never been to Texas Roadhouse before, she brought us a sampler of some dishes to test: green beans in bacon grease, loaded mashed potatoes with cheese and bacon, pulled pork, and chili topped with cheese and red onions.
Texas Roadhouse samples
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
We ordered the combo appetizer to try out a few dishes, including boneless wings, potato skins, and rattlesnake bites, which were fried jalapeños and cheese.
Texas Roadhouse appetizers
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
We went through the appetizers all too quickly — and all agreed that the dipping sauces and spreads were a highlight. From the horseradish sauce that came with the rattlesnake bites to the cinnamon butter for the rolls, they went perfectly on the dishes they came with.
Texas Roadhouse appetizers
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
Our entrées came, and the amount of food was staggering. I had no idea how we’d even start to finish it.
Texas Roadhouse meal
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I got the country-fried chicken, covered in a creamy white gravy. It was delicious, though I could hardly make a dent in it after the appetizers and rolls.
Texas Roadhouse chicken
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The entrée also came with two sides, which themselves were huge. I chose the mashed potatoes and green beans, which I knew I’d like from the sampler.
Texas Roadhouse sides
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I’m not a big fan of steak, so I wanted to bring along someone who could really evaluate Texas Roadhouse’s signature steaks. My fiancé, Joe, ordered this giant steak, with perfect grill marks.
Texas Roadhouse steak
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The steak was extra rare and smelled amazing.
Texas Roadhouse steak
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
It was served smothered in mushrooms and onions, with a loaded baked potato as one of the sides.
Texas Roadhouse steak
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
My sister was also game to test out the food, so she got a burger and fries.
Texas Roadhouse burger
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The Smokehouse Burger — half a pound of beef with mushrooms, onions, barbecue sauce, and mounds of gooey cheese — was delicious, according to her.
Texas Roadhouse burger
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The giant burger and fries were a huge amount of food for the $US11.49 ($AU16) price.
Texas Roadhouse burger
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
The 16-ounce (453.59g) ribeye, plus two sides, was $US25 ($AU35).
Texas Roadhouse steak
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
My fried chicken was just $US12.99 ($AU18), an even better deal considering I ate it for three meals.
Texas Roadhouse chicken
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
We finally gave up and conceded there was no way we’d finish this food in one sitting.
Texas Roadhouse meal
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
As we packed our food into takeout containers, our server even offered to bring us more rolls, with little covers so we could take the butter, too.
Texas Roadhous table
Texas Roadhouse. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
I’m not the only one who had a good experience at Texas Roadhouse. Sales are exploding at the chain.
Texas Roadhouse sign
Same-store sales are up over 80% over 2020, which was of course low because of COVID-19, but they’re also up 21.3% over 2019 levels. Visits are up too, according to Placer.ai, indicating more customers are visiting the chain and are spending more money.
Texas Roadhouse skull
The chain’s sales are booming, and I can see why. Good food in huge quantities, plus a sense of normality by returning to a well-known restaurant, are more appealing than ever in 2021.
Texas Roadhouse bar
Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].