I Ordered A Side Caesar Salad From 6 Popular Chain Restaurants And Found Out Which One Is The Tastiest (And Most Worth The Upcharge)

    "The moment I had my first bite of this Caesar salad, I knew the others simply couldn't compete..."

    Whenever I go out to eat with the girlies, I get hit with a nonnegotiable craving for a Caesar salad the very moment I scooch into the booth. Even though I peruse the other "non-premium" side options, I always end up ordering myself a cute little side salad. They can upcharge me all they want and I won't mind because as far as I'm concerned, crunchy romaine tossed in zesty dressing and sprinkled with fresh parmesan is the height of luxury when you're out on a Tuesday night.

    I decided it was my life's mission to uncover which restaurants are running the Caesar salad game and which ones are chillin' on the bench.

    To accomplish this, I set off on a noble quest and ventured to six common chain restaurants specifically to try one from each of them.

    Here are the restaurants mentioned in this post, and the cost for each:

    Red Lobster: $2.49 to add a side salad

    Applebee’s: $3.49 to add a side salad

    Carrabba’s: All entrees come with a choice of side salad or soup automatically

    Texas Roadhouse, Outback Steakhouse, Longhorn Steakhouse: No upcharge

    After my journey, I'm confident that I've found out once and for all which restaurants have a fresh Caesar side salad that serves up the crunch and flavor we’re looking for, which ones may have some tasty elements but miss the mark on other toppings, and which ones are just wet lettuce complete with runny dressing haphazardly spurted on top. I'll be starting with my least favorite and building up to the bangin' salads that you'll be craving by the end of this list! Keep scrolling to watch the action unfold.

    6. Outback Steakhouse: one crouton to rule them all.

    caesar salad from Outback Steakhouse

    The real culprit? The cheese. Shredded bits of flavorless white.

    woman holding up plate of caesar salad with disappointed face and text that says "respectfully, not the vibe"
    Photo of Outback Steakhouse with text that says "Outback Results: dressing 2/5, cheese 0/5, croutons 1/5, overall taste 3/5, total 6/20"

    5. Applebee's — yep, that's a salad 🤷🏻‍♀️.

    Caesar salad from Applebee's

    However, I did find a powdery element in the mix where I was definitely not looking for it — the croutons.

    croutons on one side of salad bowl and lettuce on another
    Photo of Applebee's with text that says "Applebee's Results: dressing 1/5, cheese 4/5, croutons 1/5, overall taste 2.5/5, total 8.5/20"

    4. Longhorn Steakhouse: Caesar? I hardly know her.

    dry Caesar salad from Longhorn Steakhouse

    Although the cheese and croutons were pretty good, they weren't good enough to keep me from noticing how the salad only had but a whisper of dressing, and how unreasonably gargantuan the lettuce leaves were.

    giant piece of lettuce with text that says "oh, she thicc"
    Photo of Longhorn Steakhouse with text that says "Longhorn Results: dressing 3.5/5, cheese 3/5, croutons 3/5, overall taste 3/5, total 12.5/20"

    3. Texas Roadhouse — well, howdy! 🤠

    Caesar side salad with lots of dressing from Texas Roadhouse
    empty bowl with text "gone but not forgotten" and photo of woman holding a fork
    Photo of Texas roadhouse with text that says "Texas Roadhouse Results: dressing 5/5, cheese 2.5/5, croutons 4/5, overall taste 4/5, total 15.5/20"

    2. Red Lobster — the big salad.

    large side salad from Red Lobster
    photo of salad that says "this bowl was so deep and full"
    Photo of Red Lobster with text that says "Red Lobster Results: dressing 4/5, cheese 5/5, croutons 4.5/5, overall taste 4/5, total 17.5/20"

    1. 🏆 Carrabba's — the shining star of the Caesars.

    plate of Caesar salad from Carrabba's
    woman holding fork with text that says "my first bite and exact moment I knew it was over for the competition" and "my thoughts: uh oh. hot damn."
    Photo of Carrabba's with text that says "Carrabba's Results: dressing 5/5, cheese 5/5, croutons 4/5, overall taste 4.5/5, total 18.5/20"

    Thanks for going on this salad quest with me! I took this way too seriously and I don't regret it. Let me know in the comments if you have a restaurant with a Caesar salad that can (try to) outrank my faves and I'll certainly check it out. Somehow, even after six of these, I'm still going to order a Caesar salad the next time I'm out to eat.