Longhorn Steakhouse, here we come! For those who have not enjoyed the dining experience, let me offer a little peek at what you’re missing if you should travel the I-85 corridor from Atlanta to the South Carolina border – that’s long enough to work up an appetite!
Longhorn is a steakhouse chain with restaurants scattered from Maine to Florida. Their decor theme is Old West, complete with open timber ceilings and heavy wood furnishings, steer heads on the wall, iron and cowhide light fixtures, and cowboy gear hanging on the wall. But let’s get to the good stuff.
Two appetizers stand out as their regulars. Their Texas Tonion is the breaded and fried onion petals served with a nippy sauce for dipping, lightly drizzled with sour cream. The other is the Western Cheese Fries. This is a generous serving of french fries with mild chili spooned over the top, and nicely covered in cheese that is melted in place over the top, and sprinkled with bacon bits. We like to ask for ranch dipping sauce with this. It easily serves two – or you can ask for a half order. Both are fresh, hot and flavorful.
For the spicier appetizers, their Firecracker Chicken Wraps with lime-avocado dip will warm you up, along with Buffalo Wings or Ranch House Chili.
Longhorn is famous for it’s steaks, as well as a looney set of commercials a few years back featuring the ‘big haired lady’, Flo. Flo’s filet is their signature filet mignon, tender and tasty, with the standard trimmings or something a little different, such as their sweet potato with butter and cinnamon sugar. The most popular cuts, such as ribeye and sirloin are available in their quality, hand cut steaks. They also offer a few enhancements, such as a filet with Portobello mushrooms, or one with Fontina cheese and mushroom stuffing.
Ranking right up there is their bourbon-marinated salmon filet, and Longhorn offers several great combination plates. For me – their ribs should be their legend. Ordered by the half rack for lunch or the full rack (a good foot long), these are tender, moist, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs that are brushed with Longhorn’s sweet and tangy barbeque sauce and char-grilled. They come with some jalapeno slaw, but a delightful option is the steamed veggies and that sweet potato. These ribs are generous, and excellent; they are more tender than Sonny’s or Outback’s (sorry, guys!) baby backs, and you get more for the money. We always get a second meal from ours, which makes them a good buy, and the staff will pack up a to-go cup of sauce for you.
One of the Longhorn Steakhouses near Atlanta is located along the main exit off I-85, North to Gwinnett Mall, at one of the many connecting roads that goes to the Mall’s perimeter road. Recently opened is a new Longhorn at the Banks Crossing/Commerce exit for Highway 441, just a block South of the highway. There is also one in Athens, Georgia, if you should attend a function at the college; it’s on Alps Road just South off Route 78. And if you want to cross into South Carolina before stopping, take Exit 19A to go South off of I-85, and down into Anderson – keep looking to the left, it’s a few miles down. Each of these is worth the drive. The moderate to upper-moderately priced entrees give you plenty to eat, with delicious preparation. I’ve only gotten to dessert once or twice, by careful planning and packing of most of my dinner, but their Chocolate Stampede is quite good, as is the Caramel Apple Goldrush and the Ghiradelli Brownie Sundae.
But you don’t have to take just my word for it. In Athens, the locals have voted Longhorn Steakhouse a favorite for years and the Restaurants and Institutions magazine reported that Longhorn had been awarded it’s Consumer’s Choice in Chains recently as America’s Favorite Steakhouse. Give them a try – you’ll likely be back many times.