My completely unscientific survey of restaurant parking lots has found Texas Roadhouse to be the busiest place in the metro at dinnertime, just ahead of Hu Hot. I tend to notice such things from a distance. It took me years to discover that big chains Cracker Barrel, Outback and Culver’s delivered decent food for reasonable prices. When Zagat’s far more “scientific” survey rated Texas Roadhouse’s steaks third best in the country among chains (Outback was first), I decided it was time to see what has been packing their parking lot.
Texas Roadhouse is a 17-year-old chain from Indiana. Like most transplants, it works hard to simulate authenticity. Its music, piney wood furniture, ubiquitous cactus and neon beer signs were as Texan as the many dead things mounted on their walls, including white tail deer, antelope, elk and big bass. I quickly discovered why Zagat did not cite the place for good service. Upon entering for the first time, I found heavily perfumed, gum chewing hostesses talking to each other while three parties waited to be seated in front of a door blasting arctic air. No one was offered a chance to wait at a warm, empty bar. When I was seated, with no choice among scores of empty tables, I listened to a long spiel without being able to understand any words except for “legendary“ and “margaritas.” I was appeased with free peanuts but was ordered to leave the shells in an empty bucket...Read More>>”