The Best Appetizers You'll Find At A Steakhouse, According To Customers

Steakhouses are well-known for serving succulent and perfectly cooked cuts of beef. These restaurants have mastered the art of grilling steaks to perfection, often using high-quality beef that's expertly seasoned and seared for maximum flavor. As such, it's not surprising that appetizers at such dining establishments often play second fiddle to the main event — the steak. Nevertheless, we believe that neglecting the appetizer section of a steakhouse menu is a missed opportunity.

Despite their secondary status, steakhouse appetizers can be just as impressive and delicious as the main courses. Whether it's the zesty burst of flavor of a crabmeat cocktail or the crispy perfection of fried calamari, starters offer a range of flavors and textures that whet the appetite and complement the overall dining experience. Since starters are often shared among diners, they also foster a sense of camaraderie, turning a meal from a simple dinner to a social event. At the practical level, appetizers are an ideal way to stave off hunger while you wait for your main course to arrive. To come to our conclusion about which steakhouse appetizers are truly stars of the plate, we looked at what customers were saying. Naturally, some steakhouse apps are bound to light up the taste buds more than others.

Outback Steakhouse: Bloomin' Onion

For some, Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Onion is the stuff of legends. Created back in 1988 by the chain's founder, the "Aussie-Tizer" is made with huge onions that measure 4.25 inches in diameter and weigh 1.24 pounds. Each onion is cut into 200 petals, breaded, and deep-fried until golden brown. One Outback employee described the intricacies of the Bloomin' Onion preparation process for Insider, saying, "We have to take a whole onion, cover it [in] flour, submerge it in soda batter, put more flour on it, and finally put it into the deep fryer and hope that it will come out intact." To top off the experience, the Bloomin' Onion comes with the restaurant's special spicy dipping sauce.

The Bloomin' Onion enjoys immense popularity among customers, making up a quarter of all appetizers ordered at the restaurant. This, in turn, translates to a staggering eight million Bloomin' Onions served annually. One reviewer raves about the menu item, elaborating, "I have eaten several Bloomin' Onions in my time, unfortunately, there is always spots that are not done. I understand because I have tried to make them myself. Jeremiah [the server] is the Bloomin Onion King! He managed to cook mine to perfection! Not a bad spot anywhere. He has this item down pat."

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar: Crab Cakes

Combining the delicate, sweet flavor of crab meat with a blend of seasonings and textures, crab cakes hold a special place in the hearts of seafood aficionados. However, not all crab cakes are created equal, with the biggest complaint being that they contain too much filler.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar's Crab Cakes rise above this criticism. In fact, it's safe to declare that crab meat is the shining star of this culinary gem. While we can't vouch for this, one enthusiastic reviewer goes as far as saying: "The crab cakes are 100% crab meat with no filler. Very good! They are not jumbo crab cakes but they are a decent size." To complete the picture, the two crab cakes are served on a bed of roasted red pepper and lime butter sauce.

To get the story straight and help you replicate the dish at home, TODAY asked Chef Russell Skall of Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar for the chain's crab cake recipe. While the appetizer definitely contains lump crab meat, it also comes with complementary ingredients such as eggs, mayonnaise, Creole mustard, cracker meal, Old Bay seasoning, chopped parsley, and lemon juice.

Texas Roadhouse: Rattlesnake Bites

Don't let their menacing name fool you. Texas Roadhouse's Rattlesnake Bites are as unthreatening as they are delicious. Made with a blend of Monterey Jack cheese and finely chopped jalapeños, these fried balls of goodness are crispy on the outside and delectably chewy on the inside. The little morsels are served with a creamy Cajun dipping sauce, although, as noted by the Naples Daily News, they aren't overly spicy. Those wishing to replicate the dish at home can purchase the chain's Rattlesnake Bites Seasoning Blend with cheddar cheese, garlic, cayenne, and bell peppers.

Despite their very obvious lack of meat, the Rattlesnake Bites definitely hold their own among Texas Roadhouse's other menu offerings. This is exemplified by one satisfied patron who says: "My steak was cooked to perfection, but my favorite thing was the Rattlesnake Bites!!! [...] Killer good food!" Another customer agrees with a small caveat, "Love them ... wish they had a better name though!"

LongHorn Steakhouse: Parmesan Crusted Spinach Dip

Parmesan Crusted Spinach Dip at the LongHorn Steakhouse is designed for sharing. Made with four cheeses, the creamy spinach offering is topped with the chain's trademark Parmesan and garlic cheese crust. It's also served with freshly made flatbread chips. Home chef Katie Clark from Simply Side Dishes believes that she's managed to replicate the taste and texture of LongHorn's spinach dip. If you're keen on preparing this dish in your own kitchen, stock up on fresh spinach, heavy cream, butter, flour, minced garlic, and shaved Parmesan cheese.

Reviewers speak highly of LongHorn's star dip, praising both the dish itself and the accompanying flatbread. One happy patron calls their experience at the restaurant "spinach dip heaven," adding, "The chips are warm and crunchy, and the dip is creamy and warm. [...] You will want to come back again and again here." Another customer also applauds the menu item, adding, "More spinach dips should have those fried flatbreads as an alternative [to chips].

The Palm Restaurant: Crabmeat Cocktail

There's a good reason why crabmeat cocktails are so popular. The contrast between the cold and tangy cocktail sauce and the tender crab meat creates a unique balance of textures and flavors. The Crabmeat Cocktail at The Palm is no exception. Served on a purple cabbage leaf, the dish comes accompanied by cocktail sauce, as well as horseradish and lemon for a zesty kick. Those not into crab can opt for The Palm's Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, which comes with exactly the same ingredients but substitutes the crab for shrimp.

The New York Times praises the seafood starter, noting that a serving of horseradish skillfully offsets the harmony between the lump crab meat and cocktail sauce. According to Fervent Foodie, while the Crabmeat Cocktail is indeed delicious, those not accustomed to spicy flavors should exercise caution when indulging in the horseradish. The review describes the tangy condiment as anything but ordinary, using descriptors such as "breathtaking," "nose-hair-burning," and "atomic."

The Capital Grille: Pan-Fried Calamari With Hot Cherry Peppers

If you're in the mood for a top-notch starter, it's hard to go past The Capital Grille's signature offering — the Pan-Fried Calamari With Hot Cherry Peppers. Pan-fried in flavorful garlic butter to golden perfection, the dish features calamari rings and tentacles coated in a medium-thick crust. The cherry peppers, which the Sarasota Magazine calls "an addiction among regulars," add a fiery kick to the culinary experience.

So what makes the Pan-Fried Calamari With Hot Cherry Peppers such a hit with hungry diners? For starters, the calamari is both crispy and well-seasoned, with the tentacles crunchier than the rings. The blog also notes that the peppers bring a touch of tangy and juicy flavor to the dish with just the right amount of heat. In a similar vein, another reviewer calls the menu item a "classic," adding, "[It's] always fresh and I love the touch of spice!!" Furthermore, other diners have used glowing adjectives such as "heavenly," "outstanding," and "awesome" to describe the dish, leaving little doubt that the dish delivers a memorable culinary experience.

Churchill's Steakhouse: Carpaccio of Prime Beef Loin

There's probably no better place to indulge in beef carpaccio than at a steakhouse. After all, steakhouse chefs have access to the finest cuts of beef, as well as a deep understanding of the meat's characteristics. Churchill's Steakhouse is par for the course. The Washington restaurant's Carpaccio of Prime Beef Loin is made with high-quality aged USDA prime beef. Blending silky and tender texture with the rich flavor of shaved raw beef, the beloved Italian dish comes with an olive tapenade, capers, minced shallots, Dijon mustard, a splash of extra virgin olive oil, and toast points.

Churchill's Steakhouse recommends pairing the Carpaccio of Prime Beef Loin with a glass — or bottle — of 2015 Toil Oregon Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley. This choice is rooted in the wine's rich, dark berry undertones, which elegantly complement the delicate, thinly sliced beef. Regardless of whether they have followed the establishment's wine recommendation, patrons seem happy with the beef carpaccio, with one reviewer calling the dish "outstanding." Another satisfied diner agrees, saying that the dish was both well prepared and expertly seasoned.

Ruth's Chris Steak House: Chilled Seafood Tower

While Ruth's Chris Steak House's Chilled Seafood Tower isn't the most affordable appetizer out there, it's certainly one of the most indulgent and visually impressive. To be more precise, the small version of the platter, designed for two diners, is priced at $79, while the larger rendition for four will set you back a cool $158. The dish includes a variety of seafood delicacies, such as Maine lobster, jumbo cocktail shrimp, king crab legs and knuckles, and colossal lump crab meat — all beautifully presented on ice. The extravagant platter is accompanied by a classic cocktail sauce and a sriracha-lime seafood sauce.

Given the Chilled Seafood Tower's impressive appearance and ingredients, it's little wonder that it has earned top marks from customers. One contented reviewer calls the plate "the bomb," adding, "The seafood tower was huge with large tasty lobsters crab and shrimp." Another patron corroborates this, saying, "We started with the seafood tower, which I wanted to try as I have never had cold crab legs and lobster tails. This was delicious with extra large shrimp, lobster tail and claws, king crab and also crab meat with two dipping sauces."

Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House: Tuna Tartare

Tuna tartare, a dish traditionally associated with seafood and sushi restaurants, may seem like an unexpected option at a steakhouse. While Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House's rendition of the tuna favorite defies tradition, it's also a welcome addition to the chain's menu. Moreover, the appetizer stands as a testament to the fact that more and more restaurants are embracing the idea of offering a wide variety of dishes to cater to diverse palates and dietary preferences.

Beautifully presented, the chain's Tuna Tartare comes garnished with black tobiko and avocado. The prawn chips, truffle hot sauce aioli, and ginger soy emulsion complete the delectable picture. While raw tuna may not be for everybody, the dish has definitely hit the right notes with some of Del Frisco's patrons. Forbes has described the plate as "nicely chopped and spiced." Meanwhile, one very impressed diner likened their meal at Del Frisco's to "dying and going to heaven," highlighting the Tuna Tartare as "out of this world." Enough said!

Morton's The Steakhouse: Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops

At $27 for three pieces, the Morton's Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops aren't exactly cheap. However, for those who don't mind the hefty price tag, the appetizer offers a delectable combination of flavors and textures. Served on a base of sautéed spinach, the broiled scallops come with a zesty apricot and horseradish sauce, as well as grilled lemon.

Those wishing to sample the dish at a fraction of the price at home will find plenty of Morton's bacon wrapped scallop copycat recipes on the internet. In fact, the dish is surprisingly simple to recreate. According to Good Taste, all you have to do is bake a few bacon slices, wrap them around the scallops, place them on skewers, coat them in butter, and roast them in a flat pan. Voilà!

One reviewer waxes lyrical about Morton's bacon wrapped scallops, describing them as beautifully golden on the outside and delightfully translucent on the inside. The blog also highlights that the texture and flavor of the bacon really enhance the overall culinary experience. One reviewer agrees with this assessment, saying, "The scallops [were] nicely seared with the bacon, providing a nice smokiness."

Black Angus Steakhouse: Wagon Wheel Sampler

Perfect for indecisive individuals or groups of friends with diverse tastes, the Black Angus Steakhouse's Wagon Wheel Sampler is just as varied as its patrons. The starter includes crispy fried garlic-pepper zucchini for a satisfying crunch and a burst of savory flavor. The platter also comes with zesty chipotle buffalo chicken tenders, a shrimp cocktail, and loaded potato skins filled with cheese and bits of bacon.

Despite its budget-friendly price tag of $20.99, the Wagon Wheel Sampler has been described as "humongous," making it ideal for sharing with friends and family. Another reviewer says that they have been indulging in the sampler since they were a child, elaborating, "I always get this when I come, [don't] have to think [about] which appetizer I want since it has a little bit of almost everything." Indeed, there's nothing quite like the sense of nostalgia to amplify the taste of a meal.

Saltgrass Steak House: Range Rattlers

Foodies who enjoy a little fried goodness will love kicking off their meal with Saltgrass Steak House's Range Rattlers. For those not in the know, range rattlers are deep-fried jumbo jalapeños stuffed with shrimp, Monterey Jack cheese, and cilantro. The dish comes with fried stringy onion and a ranch dressing for dipping.

When one Range Rattler fan asked for a recipe for the starter on the Texas Fishing Forum, another avid angler and cooking enthusiast was quick to respond with their take on the dish. As it turns out, the recipe is pretty straightforward. Start by blanching the jalapeños, then peel off the skin and remove the seeds and membranes. Afterward, fill them with a mixture of cheese, cilantro, jumbo shrimp, and bell peppers. Finally, coat them in a beer batter and fry until they turn golden brown.

The Range Rattlers are a favorite among diners, with many noting the appetizer's generous portion. While this makes the rattlers ideal for sharing, the dish is probably too big as a starter for one person. In fact, one patron calls the dish a "Texas sized portion," elaborating, "We started with the Range Rattlers. We are used to jalapeño poppers, which are kind of small. These were about the size of your fist. Giant jalapeño with a shrimp inside and plenty of cheese. We ordered six and should have ordered four."

Smith & Wollensky: Angry Shrimp

Despite its somewhat unusual name, Smith & Wollensky's Angry Shrimp presents a harmonious marriage of succulent shrimp and a symphony of spices. The crispy Cajun-inspired battered shrimp comes on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and spicy lobster butter sauce. For those interested in making their own angry shrimp at home, Chef David Burke from Smith & Wollensky has shared the chain's recipe for the dish with TODAY. Aside from shrimp, the recipe calls for BBQ oil, chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt. To make the starter, simply baste the shrimp with the ingredients on the grill. Unfortunately, the recipe for Smith & Wollensky's lobster butter sauce remains a secret.

Smith & Wollensky's Angry Shrimp has garnered praise from diners, with many saying that it's visually appealing and comes with just the right amount of heat. One Yelp reviewer says: "They were sooo crispy and had a kick to them for sure. I would totally recommend [the dish to any] shrimp lovers." Another patron concurs, saying, "We tried the angry shrimp appetizer, which was well presented with the mashed potatoes and tasted real good."