We had been thinking for some time about trying out Texas Roadhouse on South Florida Avenue in Lakeland, it just took us a while to get there due to work and other scheduling issues. Texas Roadhouse is a chain that was founded in 1993 in, of all places, Indiana. They have numerous locations throughout the U.S. and even some international restaurants.
The restaurant exterior and interior are modeled on a classic roadhouse look, with plenty of wood and neon. The hostess who seated us did seem a bit disoriented, as though she was perhaps new on the job, but once we were seated our server took over and we enjoyed outstanding service. Country music was playing on the sound system, and while we’re not typically fans of country music, it fit the setting and was never too loud to interfere with conversation.
As we were seated, we were provided with yeast rolls that smelled and tasted delicious. The rolls came with honey butter. I like this idea of serving bread while seating the customers, and I appreciated something different than the generic butter that most restaurants provide. Each table also had small buckets with peanuts. We didn’t actually eat any of them (my wife is allergic), but it was another example of Texas Roadhouse doing things differently than the typical chain.
The menu included one of our favorite appetizers, fried pickles, so we started with that. Peach iced tea to drink. We were involved in conversation and didn’t notice a long delay in getting the appetizer, but our server apologized for the wait nonetheless, which we still appreciated. Our server was a young man who the manager told us had recently been promoted. He really provided outstanding service during our entire meal. The company’s web site talks about “putting employees first.” I’m always skeptical of that kind of talk from corporations, but in our limited experience the staff at Texas Roadhouse seemed to be enjoying their jobs and doing good work. As for the pickles, they were excellent, there were plenty for us to share, and they came with a generous side of ranch dressing.
For her main course, my wife chose an 8-ounce sirloin steak – that came with two sides selected from a pretty long list, and she went with mashed potatoes with gravy and buttered corn. I chose the 3-piece fried catfish meal (4-pieces is also an option), that also came with two sides, and I selected apple sauce and a fully loaded baked potato. Their menu also offers chicken, burgers/sandwiches, and other seafood options.
The food lived up to the photos in the menu. My wife had an “OMG” reaction to her steak, which was cooked exactly as she ordered (our server confirmed that when he brought the food, another nice touch). I hadn’t eaten catfish in a long while and this was delicious, the breading was tasty and not too heavy. It came with a Creole mustard sauce, which was quite good and not too spicy. The sides were also good, I especially liked my baked potato. Everything tasted freshly made and substantial. There was plenty of food for us to enjoy a good lunch and bring home leftovers for lunch the next day. Our server even commented that we would enjoy good naps later on – and he was correct!
A wonderful experience. We’re not always big fans of chains, but lunch at Texas Roadhouse was delightful and we absolutely plan to return. With tip (more than our usual 20% because it was such a good meal) our total was $45. Texas Roadhouse has numerous Florida locations; in Polk County, they are in Lakeland at the Merchants Walk shopping center on South Florida Avenue, just north of the Polk Parkway. Give them a try!
If we have inspired you to visit Texas Roadhouse, or if you have already been and want to share your experience, please do so via the comments section below. And if you have Polk County restaurant tips, we would love to hear from you via our Contact Us page. Thanks for stopping by and happy eating!