Whoever said there's no such thing as a free lunch clearly never tried to make a meal entirely out of steakhouse bread. A basket of complementary rolls or mini loaves is a staple among these higher-end restaurants and can serve as a pretty solid meal all on its own. Many steakhouse chains offer signature bread creations completely free of charge to tide diners over until their meal arrives. Of course, you'll be paying for your meal, which may end up being a pricey affair. Yet, while there may be some embarrassing things you can order at a steakhouse, asking for another helping of the free bread is always a cool move.
No matter how many strict rules you may have to follow at a steakhouse, it all seems worth the extra trouble as soon as the complimentary bread arrives. There are so many takes on steakhouse bread given for free, we thought it would be a good idea to identify which steakhouse chains provide the best table bread and share what makes their creations so delicious. We've assembled our list based on customer reviews, personal opinion, and first-hand experience, developing a proprietary recipe to help you determine which steakhouse chains provide free bread most worth tearing into.
Read more: The Best Steakhouse In Every State
The bread of choice at Outback Steakhouse is a hearty honey wheat brown bread, riding the fine line between earthy and sweet. Molasses is a key ingredient and a major factor in the rustic flavor. Overlook the resemblance of this dark-crusted bread to a potato or the fact that it has even been mistaken for pumpernickel. With one slice, you'll know the carbs you're enjoying are unquestionably from a sweet, wheat-based bread. Who wouldn't welcome a warm basket of this bold bake with a buttery scoop on the side, just waiting to make you happy while you wait for your order?
Such a tempting steakhouse starter dish can barely be contained within the walls of Outback. Copycat recipes abound online, with home chefs using their detective-like palates to decrypt the magical mix and recreate their best take on a molasses-sweetened loaf. A Reddit conversation even calls out the possibility that Outback uses cocoa powder and even coffee in its loaves, helping turn the wheat flour an even darker brown and adding complexity to the bread's intriguing flavor. If you're not ready to conjure a secret formula and resurrect these loaves in a home kitchen, a trip to Outback Steakhouse is all it takes to partake.
Texas Roadhouse is so proud of its free table bread, that it announces on the company website that fresh-baked rolls are turned out every five minutes for peak enjoyment. No matter when the bread arrives at your table, you'll know that it's been baked as recently as possible, resulting in warm complimentary carbs served at the height of its flavor. A pat of the restaurant's sweetly seasoned honey cinnamon butter makes these warm wonders even more indulgent. And in case you think there's a quota on how many rolls you're allowed to have with your meal, there's good news: it's unlimited, meaning you can ask for more from appetizers through dessert, if dessert bread is something you're into!
It isn't just tableside service where Texas Roadhouse shows off its free bread generosity. A Reddit user notes that after asking for a few extra rolls with a two-dish takeout request, he was rewarded with an entire bag of the baked beauties. Getting free bread even with a to-go order? This is one steakhouse that goes above and beyond to make sure its bread is paired with its entrees and sides, no matter where its customers choose to dine.
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill knows that bread missing from the tables is a sure sign you're in a bad steakhouse, which is likely part of why the outlet makes sure to include its distinctive rolls as part of every table setting. To achieve its one-of-a-kind loaf, Firebirds uses semolina flour that is made from durum wheat, which is coarser and more protein-packed than many other types of wheat flour, and bucks imparts a nutty flavor. The loaves are also baked in a wood-fired oven, a process that adds irresistible flavor to baked goods and ties in with the restaurant's open-flame cooking practices. The restaurant makes sure to include its bread with takeout and delivery orders, too, providing a loaf for every four items ordered and letting customers choose the table where they indulge in their free bread. Who doesn't love a restaurant that gives you options?
You won't be alone if you blush a little when you see your Firebirds bread for the first time. These rolls are voluptuous enough to capture attention for their shape, which closely resembles the peach emoji texters use to represent something entirely different. Once you get past the whimsical form your Firebirds loaf takes, you can get down to the business of slicing and digging into this uniquely tasty take on table bread. Customers have left Tripadvisor reviews to explain how much they enjoyed the loaves, served hot and baked on the premises.
Shula's Steak House
As one of Disney World's prime dining locales, Shula's Steak House pleases visitors to its steakhouse-within-a-resort location with complimentary loaves of freshly baked sourdough. This bread form has existed since ancient Egypt, though the sourdough that comes to your table is bound to be far fresher! The prospect of a steaming loaf of this popular bread priming your palate for the rest of your meal is enough to make you forget the other plates you're expecting.
The chewy outer crust and soft, steamy center make it a multi-textured bite that may require a bit of work, especially when you're breaking off a chunk instead of cutting precision slices. With rustic bread like sourdough, there's no shame in getting a little aggressive, especially when your efforts will yield such delightful results.
Shula's serves its sourdough loaves at both its namesake and its Prime locations, giving diners at both the opportunity to indulge. Tripadvisor reviewers have left glowing reviews for Shula's sourdough, and Disney World visitors laud the simplicity of the bread, which makes it no less delicious than a more complex variety. It's a fantastic accompaniment to the dishes on the menu, as well as a perfect snack to whet your appetite before you order.
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Though it doesn't charge a penny extra for its bread, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar makes sure to include its complementary bread course as part of the company's online menu. Guests wondering ahead of time if the bread will be plentiful can rest assured that their appetite for glorious carbs will be satisfied. For anyone hoping to eat more cheaply at this top-shelf steak restaurant, making the most of the table bread isn't a bad idea, especially considering Fleming's status as a mid-priced steakhouse. Making your money go as far as possible includes maximizing every morsel, and Fleming's parmesan-crusted loaves are a tasty way to extend your cash reserves — at least until dinner arrives. Even serious bread aficionados like Beth C. on Yelp are ready to call out their adoration for this delicious creation.
Fleming's is so enamored of its own bread game, that it even posts enticements on its Facebook page, posting distracting photos of fresh bakes slathered in a duo of delicious spreads, one flavored with Champagne and brie, and the other made zesty with red onion and Cabernet. Adding thoughtful touches like this elevates the bread course to the realm of gourmet, not a surprising move from a premier steakhouse. Such elegance provides memorable moments at every stage of a diner's experience. And you thought you'd just be eating free bread!
Morton's The Steakhouse
Morton's The Steakhouse may have good reason to be such an expensive steakhouse, but when it comes to free bread before the meal, this chain delivers. An enormous dinner roll topped with crispy onion bits makes this bread course a sumptuous centerpiece regardless of the rest of your order. This bake resembles egg-based deli rolls that can be used to make picnic sandwiches, though it would take quite a bit of charcuterie to fill a loaf of this size! Good to know there'll be enough to share with everyone at your table, though it wouldn't be wrong for you to take extra just in case. With glowing Tripadvisor reviews like the one titled simply "ONION BREAD!", you know the sort-of bread theft will be worth the dirty looks you'll get.
Morton's is none too shy to put its best bread forward when promoting its foods on Facebook and Instagram, with snapshots that make this loaf feel like an influencer in the world of baked goods. One Tripadvisor reviewer describes the taste as like an onion-flavored focaccia, a description that's sure to sound like baked heaven to lovers of an aromatic loaf with bold flavor. Anyone looking to bring the goodness home can head to Grubhub and order a loaf for around a mere $2.20 (as of this writing), which is surely a bargain for gourmet bread in any market, though the free in-restaurant bread comes with atmosphere aplenty.
Black Angus Steakhouse
Diners would expect that Black Angus Steakhouse, being an establishment that says it never uses frozen steak, would also come through when it's time to deliver bread. That sort of expectation is richly rewarded with the restaurant's scrumptious molasses bread, a taste so welcoming it makes the company's website splash page service pledge. The deeply-hued crust topped with a sprinkling of whole oats has a homey Old West kind of spirit that transports tasters to a cowboy campsite, if only in their imaginations. These compact rolls are personal size, allowing each diner the pleasure of enjoying their own portion of bread instead of hoping there's enough of a central loaf to go around.
It appears that none other than Martha Stewart herself has a recipe for a similar bread. A video on the celebrity chef's YouTube walks home bakers step-by-step through the process of making their own replica loaves, using oat flour in addition to the oat topping. For fans of the bread Black Angus brings to the table, making a knock-off may satisfy the carb cravings that might arise between visits. But the sensation of watching the waitstaff deliver the first warm rolls to your table can only happen at the restaurant. We can vouch wholeheartedly for the quality of these sweet, soft loaves, which we think are best enjoyed with as much butter as possible spread on top.
The Capital Grille
Sometimes a steakhouse goes out of its way to impress bread connoisseurs with its selection of free treats. Such is the case with The Capital Grille, which serves up a bountiful basket brimming with no less than four different kinds of fresh bread. Lucky diners will find among this quartet a naan-like flatbread, onion focaccia, walnut-studded slices with raisins, and seed-topped rolls. It's a veritable smorgasbord of bread, each with its own distinct character and winsome flavor, with something for nearly every palate that might be sharing your table. While other steakhouses are content with just one signature bread, this ambitious eatery quadruples the stakes. A Scottsdale Yelp reviewer gives the basket top marks, proclaiming, "10 stars for the bread. It was amazing. I couldn't stop myself from eating it."
Is it possible these free breads are baked off The Capital Grille grounds? A review of the Paramus, New Jersey location credits Tom Cat Bakery for the basket, casting doubt that the bread is made in-house. Adding to the mystery, a page on the company's website lauds the pastry chef for creating its sweets and desserts but makes no mention of its seems-to-be-a-big-deal bread selection. Whatever the source, The Capital Grille makes sure its guests can partake in one of the most creative craft bread baskets in the steakhouse chain game.
Smith & Wollensky
It's quite a clever path Smith & Wollensky takes when it provides free bread to waiting patrons. Rather than serving its rolls freestyle or tossed into a basket, the steakhouse leaves them in the pan they were baked in. The result is bubble-like buns that look like they're escaping their serving dish. Are you getting more free table bread than you bargained for, or has the bakeware shrunk in the oven? Once you break one of the bursting rolls free, the answer becomes irrelevant. All you know is you have bread to enjoy — bread that no one is making you pay for — and that is answer enough. A Tripadvisor reviewer even favored the bread over the rest of the steakhouse experience!
Of course, even free bread shows up on someone's bill. In the case of steakhouse dining, it's the restaurant that typically consumes the charge. How much could it possibly cost to churn out bread that guests don't pay for? The word, at least according to The Washington Post, is that the cost to Smith & Wollensky is .60 per order of free bread. For bread that's considered a gift with purchase, more than half a dollar is pretty steep. But hey, at least you're not paying for it ... not directly, anyway.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House
Lumpy, bumpy, light, and fluffy rolls all nestled together and soaked in butter; that's what guests can expect from the table bread at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House. Delivered in a pan that suggests it came from a specialty bake shop and landed at the center of your table, the bread at Del Frisco's is a dazzler of a pre-meal course. Even the photos posted online by enthusiastic diners show a fluffy creation with a gentle crusted crown, baked until golden and practically drowning in a flood of buttery topping. It's a creation otherworldly enough to warrant TikTok reviews that show just how marvelous this free feast is.
Is it possible that the secret behind Del Frisco's beloved bread is that it's really frozen bread with a few upgrades? A Reddit thread claims the restaurant uses bulk dinner rolls that get brushed with butter and honey, plus a bit of sea salt. But we think learning the possible secret doesn't diminish the anticipation of waiting for your first round, knowing all your patience will be rewarded with a thoughtfully presented version of a dish that might be overlooked at home. As the saying goes, no risk it, no biscuit.
Oblong bliss in bread form is an apt description for the loaves currently being slung by LongHorn Steakhouse. With honey wheat bread as the house recipe of choice, this supreme steak server gives clients something sweet to nosh on before and during their meals — and if you pace yourself, you can even enjoy it afterward. Sure, stand-in recipes for home versions may make it possible to bake your own. But who wants to go to the trouble when there's a restaurant that's happy to take the work off your plate? A huge part of the free bread experience is the environment in which the free bread occurs, too. A Tripadvisor reviewer mentions the impulse to take the bread home, which would prevent the home baking work while letting you recapture the magic. For every problem, there's a solution, and this one is less work than the alternative.
A warning to all who love LongHorn bread: a SouthCoast Today review noted a visit during which the so-called "unlimited" bread came to the table only once. The simple solution would be to politely flag down the waitstaff and make another request. In our opinion, a true fan of free steakhouse bread would never let something so fixable hinder their enjoyment.
Saltgrass Steak House
The most delicious untold truth of Saltgrass Steakhouse may be how phenomenal the restaurant's free bread is. Online photos show the outlet's free bread to be near-perfect spheres of caramel-colored crust with two pristine slashes across the top. Talk about an artful presentation! Commenters on a Yelp thread claim that the bread is actually beer bread made with Shiner Bock, served with honey butter. Combining the two most perfect uses for yeast in the culinary world into a singular creation designed to satisfy discerning diners is a boss move, best left to the more thoughtful steakhouses like Saltgrass.
Saltgrass is so secure in the process for its signature bread, the restaurant has a video on its YouTube channel showing the step-by-step method of crafting the rolls. The 10-second clip shows the dough being mixed and shaped by hand, then removed from the oven and served with a knife sunk in the side like a butter-spreading Excalibur. The excitement of watching free steakhouse bread being made from scratch is enough to inspire new customers to visit, just to give the finished product a taste. This is a bake best savored to the last crumb.
Read the original article on Mashed.