Our Meal in El Paso at the Texas Roadhouse
We only took our overnight suitcases into the Comfort Inn. Consequently our car was still fully loaded in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn (supposedly secure) and we didn’t want to drive to a restaurant where we’d have to leave it exposed. Close to our hotel was the Texas Roadhouse, a franchise chain we had never heard of (Texas Roadhouse, 5010 North Desert Blvd., El Paso, TX 79912, tel. 912-832-0333, web: texasroadhouse.com). Deserray, at our front desk, gave us a 10% off discount coupon for the Texas Roadhouse and told us she loved the bread they make. We walked over in the 100° F heat (but there was a breeze).
We entered another world—one we had never experienced. The person who seated us asked if we’d ever been to a Texas Roadhouse before. When we said “no” she started to reel off all of the features of their restaurant (“hand cut steaks, fall-off-the bone ribs, made-from-scratch sides, fresh baked breads”) but she was speaking so fast that we only caught a third of what she was saying—and we had her repeat it 3 times! No matter, we knew what we wanted: 1 order to share of the “Fall-Off-The-Bone Ribs,” half slab, for $12.29. That came with a choice of 2 sides. We chose a house salad with blue cheese dressing and a baked sweet potato. Our enthusiastic server, Mayra, asked if we wanted the sweet potato “fully loaded?” We asked what that meant and she said “filled with marsh mellow and caramel sauce”. We asked for the sweet potato plain and for some plain butter, wondering if there could be anything more vile that could be done to a sweet potato. On the table was a big container of peanuts in the shell and we started munching them. They were good. We were brought the “fresh baked bread” and it was squishy (Wonder Bread-like) rolls that were sweet-ish. With the bread came a sweet butter that had cinnamon in it that we thought was awful-really foul. Our house salad came and was surprisingly good, crispy lettuce and filled with tomatoes and carrots. We asked for the dressing on the side and an extra plate and there was plenty of salad for the two of us. At about this time, one of the chirpy greeters brought us a gift that is given to all first time Texas Roadhouse guests of a bag of peanuts with a coupon for our next visit giving us a free appetizer. There is a great deal of enthusiasm with each of the servers—on the back of their T-shirts it says “I love (with a heart) my job.” As we looked around we saw that the other diners were 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds overweight. At about this time, our ribs arrived with some extra BBQ sauce. The ribs were as advertised, fall-off-the-bone, and delicious, as was the BBQ sauce. And the half rack was a lot of meat—too much for us but we finished it anyway. The baked sweet potato (unadorned) was kind of mashed and re-stuffed into the skin and was very good. The manager of the restaurant, Frank Garcia, came to welcome us and he too was Mr. Enthusiasm. He recited the special features of this restaurant and asked us if we liked the ribs. It was kind of fun to have all this attention as newcomers—we wondered what they do for their loyal return visitors. The next shock was the bill—the total price of our meal (and we were stuffed) was $12.1,7 after the discount and with the tax, but before the tip for Mayra. (We brought the rolls we didn’t eat and our gift bag of peanuts to Deserray at our hotel because she said she loves them.)
I unapologetically loved Texas Roadhouse as a college student. I never had their steaks, but the ribs, burgers, Cactus Blossom (their version of the Bloomin' Onion), salads, and rolls were always top-notch. We were always able to get coupons for a free appetizer, and we'd eat like kings and end up with plenty of leftovers to eat the next day, always at a very fair price. I'd probably eat there once in a while nowadays, but I don't live near any locations.
I discovered Texas Road House in KY. Twenty dollars bought a great Rib eye, potato, salad and an on tap Kentucky Ale. My steak was served perfectly rare every time and service was great.
"As we looked around we saw that the other diners were 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds overweight. "
I was going to comment on this but better just left alone.
Texas Roadhouse is a consistently solid choice for casual at home or on the road dining. While the ambiance is very kicked back, the quality of the food for the price is outstanding. I like the salads, blue cheese dressing, burgers, filet, chili, fried pickle chips... sides are good, too. The ribs are tender but, for my taste, there's too much sweet sauce. The biggest thing of all... they always get my beef to the perfect medium rare and it's always nicely seasoned without competing with the beef taste. The second biggest thing of all... service is always welcoming and pleasant and the check is always correct.
We actually had our first meal there last night, at the Newington, NH location, little bit different experience. I had been once a long time ago and didn't remember much, my husband had never been. As a rule, we don't eat at chains, but we were feeling "adventurous"... we had the same spiel as you did when they discovered we hadn't been there. We tried the Rattlesnake Bites and Fried Pickles. The first were not too bad, but the pickles were pretty much inedible. They were the thinnest fried pickles I had ever seen- as a consequence of frying, they were dry and chewy, and bathed in what tasted like a pound of salt. We told our deer-in-the-headlights server, Gen, that we couldn't eat them. Then we got salad, which wasn't too bad except for the ridiculous amount of dressing and the saltiest croutons I have ever eaten. then, instead of free bag of peanuts, we got a large plate with little sample cups of corn, green beans, pulled pork, chili, mashed potatoes, white gravy and brown gravy. It was weird.
Our entrees arrived- husband had an 8 oz sirloin and baked potato, I ordered chicken fried steak (which I love and is not on many menus in this area). I had asked for my gravy on the side. It came. It looked too crispy. I cut into it and the best description I can come up with is cardboard jerky. It was not even 1/8 inch thick and was burnt. I informed our server nicely and asked for a pulled pork sandwich instead. She ran to get the manager, who took one look and offered to switch it out. She brought me the pulled pork, which was fine, but my side of fries again had so much salt I couldn't eat them. Service was fine, I don't get irate or nasty-toned when I have issues, as long as they are resolved properly and these were. Husband's steak was cooked fine, but lacking in flavor, which seemed weird because of all the salt in everything else. We had a long discussion over the state of America, the obesity problems, the fact that I could have made a much better meal for much less $$ and why do these places continue to thrive, blah blah blah. Long story short, it reiterated the reasons why we generally choose not to patronize chains. I assume all TRH prepare food the same way and use the same products; I wonder if anyone else has noticed how terribly salty it is!
We've been to our local branch a few times - it opened here several years ago. The food has always been good, but the over-enthusiastic service and annoying country music usually mean we go to another chain instead. Hate waiting for a refill or needing something while our server has to do some intrusive line dance bit that nobody wants - and the weird sales pitch about the quality of their hand cut *yawn* seems really over the top when we've obviously already committed to eating there.
that said, the food is really great. Just the kind of atmosphere I hate. Did you get a chance to eat, between the enthusiastic servers and managers slobbering all over you?
<The person who seated us asked if we’d ever been to a Texas Roadhouse before. When we said “no” she started to reel off all of the features of their restaurant>
We stopped at a Texas Roadhouse just once. The noise level was SO LOUD we could hardly hear what the server was trying to tell us (specials, etc) - We were essentially yelling at one another. We left knowing full well it was not going to be an enjoyable meal.
Texas Roadhouse is pretty good. Their ranch dressing and salads are excellent. I'd say their steaks are a notch above Outback, but a notch below Longhorn. Prices are very good too.
What irks me is the "fall off the bone" ribs. I don't know who started that whole thing, but fall off the bone is a BAD thing. That means they're over-cooked. The meat should come off the bone with little resistance only where you bit. It takes away the fun of picking up a rib and eating it. That said, they still taste good even if you have to eat them with a fork.
Next week they're doing an all you can eat buffet with steak, ribs and chicken for charity for $20 bucks. I'll be training the whole weekend :)