When you really want a nice juicy steak and all the sides, but don’t want to blow your paycheck, smart people know to head to Texas Roadhouse. Beloved for its laid-back vibes, huge portions for the price, and high-quality steaks, the steakhouse is the perfect pick for an easy date or night out with friends. However, like every chain restaurant, it’s worth noting some of the secrets and hacks—if for no other reason than to keep expectations realistic or save a few bucks. Before you slice into your big steak, read up on some secrets Texas Roadhouse would probably like to keep to themselves.
1. The Margarita’s no bargain
The price of the frozen margaritas at Texas Roadhouse is right to be expected—about $10 or so for a huge drink. But if you’re thinking about ordering one, know that they cost the restaurant only $2 to make. Yes, it sounds crazy, but according to Thrillist, it’s really very simple. The restaurant buys big jugs of margarita mix for $25, and then they use the same cheap tequila you can pick up for $12 at most stores. So just like that, these tasty drinks are made for pretty much zero cost to the restaurant!
2. You really do get your money’s worth with the bread
If you’re tired of places serving tiny scraps of bread—or not even offering it all—then Texas Roadhouse is the place for you. Thrillist reports that instead of buying small rolls or hiring a baker to make them fresh, Texas Roadhouse actually hires prisoners through an outside company to knead the dough for their breadsticks and loaves of sourdough. Like the margaritas, restaurant owners are only paying pennies per loaf for this service, meaning you’re getting your money’s worth when you eat roughly 25 breadsticks with your meal.
3. The restaurant is known for quality, not quantity
Texas Roadhouse isn’t all about the breadsticks and oversized drinks—you just have to know what you’re ordering. Before you commit to a 16-ounce steak, make sure it’s really what you want. Most of their steaks are only 8 ounces after they’ve been cooked, and then they’re cut in half before serving. This means you’ll actually be getting four 4-ounce steaks once everything’s said and done. If you love steak, it’s the way to go, but if you’d rather spend your money on drinks or breadsticks, don’t feel pressured into ordering something you won’t eat.
4. Your server’s not in it for the money
If you’re lucky enough to have a server who just so happens to be absolutely wonderful, don’t think too hard about why they’re doing such a great job. According to Thrillist, servers at Texas Roadhouse are paid only $2.13 an hour plus tips—so if you’re particularly generous, they might be a little more into it than usual. Whether or not that’s true for your server, the point is that they don’t expect to get rich off of what you pay them—so feel free to give them some extra love if they do an amazing job!
5. Their salad dressings are loaded with fat and calories.
With the exception of the chain’s house salads, which are fat-free, pretty much everything else has too many calories and fat to count. If you’re not paying attention while ordering (or if your server doesn’t tell you), you could end up scarfing down a salad with 1,400 calories or—if it’s one of their “famous” salads—more than three days’ worth of fat. The website Eat This, Not That! highlights the “Steakhouse Ranch,” which includes a whopping 790 calories and 50 grams of fat per serving—plus an entire day’s worth of cholesterol. So if you’re looking to skip on some unnecessary calories or saturated fat, be mindful before you order a salad at Texas Roadhouse.
7. They’re almost always busy.
Think you’ll just walk into a Texas Roadhouse with your friends at 7 pm on a Friday night and get a table for four? It’s pretty unlikely.. In fact, you’re probably going to end up waiting outside for a few minutes or more—and that’s if you get in at all. Business Insider reports that the chain is only open from 4-10 pm on weeknights and 5-11 pm on weekends, meaning they see a steady flow of customers every day. So unless you get there early, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a long wait. 8. The steak seasoning isn’t all-natural
8. Beware their high-calorie cocktails.
It’s not just the salads and entrees you need to be careful about—those delicious-sounding cocktails can rack up some calories, too. A “Call-O-Blanc” margarita with sugar cane-infused tequila, triple sec, and lime juice has 420 calories and is served in a 32-ounce goblet. And if you’re looking for a refreshing sangria, the “Chill Out” variety has 410 calories. Thrillist reports that most other Texas Roadhouse cocktails are around 300 calories or more, so be mindful when you order your next round!
9. Maybe skip the chili.
Chances are you’ve heard of the Texas Roadhouse chili, but if not, all you need to know is that it’s got way too many calories aside. A cup of the stuff has 670 calories, which is more than most people’s entire lunch. It does have plenty of protein at 30 grams per serving, though—so maybe split it with five or six friends!
10. It could be more expensive than you remember.
Don’t think that stopping in after work will make things easier for you. Business Insider reports that Texas Roadhouse isn’t actually open every day from 4-10 pm—so if you find yourself hungry around dinnertime on a Monday or Tuesday evening between those hours, you’re only option is to order something off the menu. And if you’re looking for a cheap meal, good luck—the only options under $10 are baked potatoes, side salads, and Texas toast (which is really just white bread).