National steakhouse chains, ranked worst to best

While steakhouses might not be as popular as they used to be, there's nothing quite like an expensive cut of meat expertly prepared and then served hot to your table. If you select the right steakhouse, you are almost guaranteed to love your meal and impress whoever you're with.

While there are a few fantastic national steakhouse chains in the United States, there are many steakhouse chains that might not be the smartest choice. If you don't know the difference, you could easily get ripped off. Since steakhouses usually cost a pretty penny, it's well worth the time and effort to learn which chains are the best and which are the worst. It doesn't matter if you're setting down at a fine-dining establishment or at a more casual steak eatery, you expect to get what you pay for, and we're here to help you do just that.

The following list ranks the national steakhouse chains, according to our own experience, with the best steakhouses we found located at the end of the list. Before you head out for a costly dinner, look over this ranking to make sure your taste buds will be pleased and your money will be well spent.

17. Bonanza Steakhouse

If you're craving a delicious steak, stay far away from Bonanza Steakhouse. This chain tries to combine the best attributes of a traditional steakhouse and a buffet restaurant — but fails spectacularly. Instead of steakhouse quality at buffet prices, you get steakhouse prices at buffet quality — and that's as bad as it sounds.

Beyond steak, Bonanza Steakhouse also serves a wide array of seafood, chicken, and other American favorites that completely and utterly underwhelm. If you're forced to order off of the menu, order anything but the steak. None of the food is good, mind you, but the steak is the worst of the worst. The best value at this steakhouse is actually their salad bar, oddly enough.

Be warned that Bonanza Steakhouse and Ponderosa Steakhouse are essentially the same thing, as both are owned by the same parent company. Do yourself a favor and avoid both with an equal amount of vigor.

16. Outback Steakhouse

With more than 700 locations in the United States and catchy commercials with scrumptious-looking steaks to draw your attention, there's a good chance that you've been to an Outback Steakhouse. Unfortunately, that also means there's a good chance that you've been disappointed, as that is the prevailing emotion you may feel as you're leaving this restaurant. Not only is Outback Steakhouse way too expensive for what you get (especially compared to other restaurants of the same caliber), in our experience, the quality of the meat never lives up to what you see on the commercials.

Outback Steakhouse is primarily known for its Australian theme. If you buy into the hype, you'd think that this restaurant chain serves authentic food that Australians eat while they're tossing around boomerangs, boxing kangaroos, and avoiding dingoes. However, it turns out that the food is not real Australian cuisine at all. In fact, the founders had never traveled to the land down under prior to opening their first location.

15. Logan's Roadhouse

The quality of food you find at Logan's Roadhouse is very similar to that found at Outback Steakhouse. The main difference is you get slightly more bang for your buck at Logan's Roadhouse — plus, you don't have to deal with the fake Australian shtick.

That said, Logan's Roadhouse is far from an elite steakhouse. You can find tender ribs here, and the Margarita Cheesecake is legitimately yummy, but the steaks leave a lot to be desired. The flavor is lacking, and the texture is iffy at best.

One cool thing about Logan's Roadhouse is that the restaurant gives you a bucket of shelled peanuts at your table. Sadly, following a lawsuit after a woman fell down and broke her leg, there have been reports that they no longer allow you to throw the peanut shells on the floor. Throwing peanut shells used to be the best part about visiting a Logan's Roadhouse, and it added to this restaurant's casual charm. Now, there's nothing to distract you from the boring food.

14. Black Angus Steakhouse

Black Angus Steakhouse has 39 locations, primarily in the state of California. In fact, there are no locations east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. That said, if you live on the East Coast, you're not missing out on much of anything.

Once upon a time, Black Angus Steakhouse served great food. With a history dating back to 1964, this chain built a reputation of serving top-quality steaks at fair prices. Tragically, the quality of food at Black Angus Steakhouse has only gotten worse and worse and worse as the years have passed. Today, any magic this steakhouse used to possess is long gone. It serves run-of-the-mill steaks at inflated prices.

Amazingly, Black Angus Steakhouse's quality decline seems to be picking up the pace. Before too much longer, don't be surprised if this restaurant is at the very bottom of this list. As it stands, the food here is no longer worthy of any type of recommendation.

13. Wolfgang's Steakhouse

While the steak at Wolfgang's Steakhouse is a lot better than the steak you find at most casual steakhouses, it's not quite good enough to justify the price tag. If you go to this restaurant, be prepared to spend about $50 per steak. While the rib eye steak, specifically, is very flavorful, it's just not notable enough to be worth the money.

The high prices would be easier to digest if it weren't for the fact that Wolfgang's Steakhouses are uncomfortable and loud. This is not the place to go if you're trying to close a business deal or want to have an in-depth conversation with a date — the atmosphere definitely doesn't match the expensive price tags attached to these so-so steaks.

Also, don't get confused and think that this steakhouse is the brainchild of Wolfgang Puck. It's from a different Wolfgang — a man named Wolfgang Zwiener. While Mr. Zwiener has more than 40 years of experience in the industry, the confusion caused by the name of the restaurant resulted in a lawsuit.

12. Saltgrass Steak House

Saltgrass Steak House is basically the opposite of Wolfgang's Steakhouse — both in good ways and bad ways. Saltgrass Steak House offers an extremely comfortable dining experience with friendly, attentive waiters. The prices at this restaurant are relatively low, and it has an impressive assortment of appetizers and desserts.

Unfortunately, the quality of the steaks at Saltgrass Steak House just isn't there. In an attempt to camouflage the disappointment, the restaurant covers all its steaks with a flood of yummy garlic butter. But while the garlic butter is a tasty gimmick the first time or two you have it, eventually, you will realize that the wool is being pulled over your eyes. Beneath the butter is a steak that lacks the flavor or the satisfying texture to survive on its own.

If you want to go to a Saltgrass Steak House, you won't have much luck on either the East Coast or the West Coast. Most of its locations are in Texas, but you can find this steakhouse throughout the heartland if you look hard enough.

11. Morton's The Steakhouse

Morton's The Steakhouse used to be a dependable destination if you wanted a world-class steak. It claims to have the best steak anywhere, and at one point in time, that may have been close to being true. However, these days, you're taking a gamble if you go to this steakhouse. Sometimes the steaks are outstanding — but other times, the steaks there are so rubbery that you'll have a difficult time swallowing. Unfortunately, the prices are the same, no matter what you end up with.

If you're headed to Morton's The Steakhouse, order the Filet Mignon, which it offers in three different sizes starting at six ounces. If you're lucky, you'll get an amazing steak that you will talk about for the rest of the week. But if your luck is bad, be prepared to be totally dismayed. If you get a steak that has a rubbery texture, all you can do is eat as much as you can and take the rest home for your dog. Fido will be thrilled, but you might be incensed.

10. Shula's Steak House

Shula's Steak House was the creation of legendary NFL head coach Don Shula, who is best known for leading the Miami Dolphins to the only undefeated season in league history. You might think that a football coach knows a thing or two about filling up hungry people who love to eat — and you'd be right. While this steakhouse offers a fine dining experience (and the prices to match), the portions are large, and the steaks are worth the money you'll spend. If you go to Shula's Steak House with a big appetite, order the 48 oz. Porterhouse, and there's no way you'll leave without feeling stuffed.

What holds this steakhouse back from being higher in this ranking is the lack of quality options on the menu. While the steaks are really good, the seafood is mediocre, the appetizers are a letdown, and even the cocktails manage to underwhelm.

While most of the locations are in Florida, you can also find Shula's Steak House in a few other states, including Arizona and Illinois.

9. Texas Roadhouse

Texas Roadhouse is the result of what would happen if Outback Steakhouse traded in its Australia theme for a Texas theme and actually prioritized the flavor of its food. It even has a better version of Outback's iconic Bloomin' Onion called a Cactus Blossom.

Texas Roadhouse is definitely a casual steakhouse (with casual steakhouse prices), but don't think the laid-back atmosphere means the steaks will disappoint. Far from it. In fact, their steaks are much better than you might expect considering their fairly low prices. The tenderness of the Dallas Filet will cause you to drool with delight. If you want something unique, try the Road Kill. While the name isn't the most appetizing, this steak is covered with jack cheese in addition to mushrooms and onions that have been roasted to perfection. 

Texas Roadhouse is an especially good steakhouse option if you're going with a family, as the kids menu will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. With locations in all but one of the 50 states, you can likely find a Texas Roadhouse near you, whether you're in Texas or any other state in the country.

8. Smith & Wollensky

Smith & Wollensky is a fancy steakhouse that isn't afraid to spice things up. While their standard rib eye isn't spectacular, their Cajun Marinated USDA Prime Dry-Aged Bone-In Rib Eye is definitely worth ordering. This steak is very flavorful, however if you don't enjoy spicy foods in general or Cajun seasoning specifically, you should probably skip it. But if you're a Cajun connoisseur who can handle more spice in your life, plan a trip to the closest Smith & Wollensky — you won't regret it.

This place is a little bit on the pricey side, but if you are looking for something more affordable but equally as fun, ask for a Strip Tease. This completely safe for work meal comes with a prime New York strip steak, tasty asparagus, and tater tots that have been blessed with parmesan cheese and truffle oil.

In the United States, Smith & Wollensky has seven locations including restaurants in New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Las Vegas. They also have a pair of international locations in London and Taipei.

7. Mastro's Restaurants

Mastro's Restaurants is a marvelous steakhouse where you need to either go big or go home. Don't order the normal steaks on the menu. The Porterhouse, Bone-In Ribeye, and the New York Strip are all above average but not worth writing home about. If you're at Mastro's, you owe it to yourself to try one of the Japanese A5 Wagyu steaks. Sure, you'll spend a whole lot of money — but your taste buds will agree that it is well worth the hit to your wallet.

If you've never eaten A5 Wagyu, you should know that this is some of the highest quality meat on earth. Its soft texture and fantastic flavor will be a shock to your senses. Beware, though, that you might not be able to go back to regular steak again.

Mastro's Restaurants also has a lot of seafood options on the menu. But you'd be wise to stay away because these dishes aren't good enough to justify the inflated price tag.

6. Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House

If you want a fine dining steakhouse experience but don't want to risk paying an arm and a leg, Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House is a great place to go. Everything about this steakhouse is fancy, from the decor to the wine list

While all their steaks are worth ordering at least once, it's the 45 Day Dry-Aged Prime Ribeye that steals the show.  It's not cheap, but this is a steak that is well worth the money. The amount of flavor packed into one slab of meat is almost criminal. Even if you order it extra well-done, the flavor will knock your socks off. 

Though Mastro's Restaurants has seafood that should be avoided, you can order the seafood from Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House with confidence. Their salmon and sea bass dishes are particularly outstanding.

The only issue with this steakhouse is the lack of tasty sides. The best side is the Creamed Spinach that has bacon, cheddar cheese, eggs, and mushroom. All their other sides, while fancy, are well below average.

5. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

While Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is operated by the same company that owns Outback Steakhouse, you'd never know it. The two restaurant chains are worlds apart.

The menu at Fleming's is so thorough that it can be overwhelming. But as long as you know you can't go wrong, you can enjoy pondering each and every offering. Be sure to start off with one of their great appetizers, like the Sweet Chili Calamari or the Pan-Crisped Pork Belly. And then be sure that you end it with a Walnut Turtle Pie or any of their other scrumptious desserts.

While other steakhouses offer a wider variety of steaks, all of Fleming's steaks are really, really good. They may be more expensive than more casual steakhouses, but the quality of their steaks means you're actually getting a pretty good deal. If you want a recommendation, go with the Newport Filet Mignon, especially if you like your steak medium-rare. It's small (only six ounces) but delicious.

4. LongHorn Steakhouse

Of all the casual steakhouse chains in the country, LongHorn Steakhouse reigns supreme. At this restaurant, you get high-end steakhouse quality at casual steakhouse prices.

The 14 oz. Delmonico is one of the best steaks you can find anywhere in the world, in our humble opinion. LongHorn Steakhouse expertly trims the steak, adds its one-of-a-kind seasoning, and then grills it over a fire. The result is stupendous. If you love rare steak, go with a rare Delmonico and your life may be changed forever.

Whether you're coming here for lunch or dinner, this restaurant has menu options that are sure to excite. Of their appetizers, the Fried Pickles and Texas Brisket Queso are fun and tasty. And although many steakhouses have chocolate lava cakes, the Molten Lava Cake at LongHorn Steakhouse is better than anything the competition can offer.

With more than 600 locations in the United States, it's always worth the drive to eat a meal at the closest LongHorn Steakhouse.

3. Ruth's Chris Steak House

Ruth's Chris Steak House has a reputation for having spectacular food — and that reputation is absolutely deserved. It has the art of serving gloriously flavorful steaks down to a science. If you're looking to impress, Ruth's Chris Steak House will always get the job done.

Of all the steaks there, the Cowboy Ribeye is the one that stands apart from the rest. Even if you typically don't like bone-in steaks, give this bad boy a try. This majestic steak is 22 ounces of USDA Prime cut ribeye that will keep your taste buds riveted from the first moment it enters your mouth until the final bite.

If you are in the mood for some surf and turf, you can't go wrong with the Petite Filet & Shrimp. This Ruth's Chris Steak House specialty comes with half a dozen large shrimp and a pair of ultra-tender medallions. The lobster at this steakhouse is also well worth your hard-earned money.

2. The Capital Grille

The Capital Grille is a lot like Ruth's Chris Steak House. Why is it a spot higher in the ranking? It comes down to the variety on the menu. While Ruth's Chris Steak House keeps it relatively simple, The Capital Grille has an ambitiously robust menu that doesn't disappoint. No matter which meal you select, you will walk out of this steakhouse with a giant smile on your face.

The Gorgonzola and Black Truffle Crusted Dry Aged Bone-In NY Strip is a mouthful just to order, but it's well worth the twisting of your tongue. This tender steak is popping with a unique flavor that everyone should taste at least once in their life. Also, the Dry Aged Porterhouse Steak from The Capital Grille is the best porterhouse you will ever eat.

Of any steakhouse on this list, The Capital Grille also has the best seafood. The Sushi-Grade Sesame Seared Tuna literally melts in your mouth, while the Pan-Seared Sea Scallops will cause you to fantasize about the next time you'll visit this steakhouse.

1. The Palm

While it's nearly impossible to escape this steakhouse without spending at least a couple hundred bucks, splurging at The Palm will never leave you feeling an ounce of regret. The food is so good, in fact, that it will feel like a bargain.

Of all the steaks there, it's the 12 oz. Center-cut Filet Mignon that is the cream of the crop. At The Palm, it's the quality of the meat that makes all the difference. Their beef is fed only corn, selected by an expert to make sure only the best of the best makes it into the restaurant, and is aged at least 35 days. After that long process, the result is a steak that blows all other steaks out of the water.

The Palm also serves outstanding lamb and perfect seafood, and its starters are all very, very good. Add in an extensive wine list and exquisite cocktails, and this is the place where you will want to celebrate all of your life's special moments.