Here in The States, restaurants featuring Italian, Mexican, and Chinese cuisine occupy nearly every corner and have long been a piece of our food culture. Conversely, very few in our history have boasted an Australian theme. That is, until Outback Steakhouse came onto the scene in 1988, since grown to over 1,000 locations both within the U.S. and internationally.
Of course, the chain's menu is largely made up of Americanized dishes disguised by cheesy Aussie names. But, the overall sentiment is still there, and what the restaurant lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in food quality and consistency. If you've taken a trip Down Under before — or simply seen its persistent T.V. commercials — you know that some of the steakhouse's most popular dishes include shrimp on the "bahhbie" (queue the Australian accent), the iconic Bloomin' Onion, and, of course, exceptional cuts of steak. These foods are the staples Outback hangs its (Akubra) hat on.
But, the mouthwatering choices don't stop there. Although they aren't always in the limelight, the following menu items are must-tries when you visit your local Outback Steakhouse. And, each dish is a prime example of the chain's dedication to providing an assorted variety of both top-notch and reasonably-priced foods.
French Onion Soup
The French have blessed us with an endless list of iconic fare from crêpes to quiche to Beef Bourguignon. Undeniably, French onion soup also deserves a spot on this list and is another star example of French food that has become ingrained in our culture. Crocks of the simple yet savory soup can be found on menus all across the country in cafes, bistros, and even at chain steakhouses like Outback.
At the Australian-themed restaurant, you'll find a classic rendition of French onion soup. This is not to be confused with the chain's Walkabout Onion Soup, which had a creamy cheese broth and is unfortunately no longer a regular menu item. No, the French Onion consists of sweet caramelized onions sitting in a dark and rich broth. Then, for the pièce de résistance, a hulland rusk sits on top–carefully soaking in the juices–and is followed by a generous layer of bubbling and melty white cheese. The cheese pulls that result can't be beat and it's as comforting as it is filling, hitting the spot every single time.
Wings are probably not the first kind of cuisine that comes to mind when you think of a steakhouse. But, Outback's version of the appetizer has attracted attention and fans for reasons beyond just its silly name. Speaking of which, don't worry. The Kookaburra Wings are, in fact, chicken wings and are not made from the native Australian bird.
The wings come in a choice of mild, medium, or hot sauce — for when you're feeling more daring or need to clear your sinuses. But, what makes them really pop is the breading. Before sauce even comes into the picture, each drum and flat is liberally coated with a blend of the steakhouse's secret spices. This adds a staggering amount of depth to the dish and makes for an order of wings that is unlike what you'll find anywhere else.
Plus, you can always count on the Kookaburras to be crisped to perfection. And, if ever the spice gets to be too much, a side of blue cheese dressing and celery sticks are never too far away.
Smoked Cinnamon Pecan Old Fashioned
Whether you're visiting Outback for a work lunch, happy hour, or a treat yourself kind of dinner, you may also be wondering what's good on the ol' drink menu. Cocktails like the Sauza Gold Coast 'Rita or the frosty peach-inspired Wallaby Darned are two that stand out as long-standing Aussie favorites. But, why not try something a little more sultry and alluring, with the perfect sweet twist?
The Smoked Cinnamon Pecan Old Fashioned is one of the chain's cold weather specialties, re-introduced every year around November just in time to warm up your holidays. The boozy drink starts just like a classic Old Fashioned with a trusted combination of bourbon–Woodford Reserve in this case–and Angostura Bitters. But then, house-infused cinnamon pecan syrup is thrown into the mix, taking the edge off this otherwise bitter and robust cocktail. Plus, the presentation is the best part–and we're not talking about the orange twist garnish. This Old Fashioned is brought to you in a literal display of smoke and mirrors through the use of a cocktail smoker. But don't worry, it has nothing to hide, and this process is what gives this cocktail its wonderfully oaky and smoky tang.
Salted Caramel Cookie Skillet
Forget the overdone, albeit cleverly named, Chocolate Thunder From Down Under. The Salted Caramel Cookie Skillet is the new it dessert from the steakhouse. The sweet concept is similar to what the American restaurant chain BJ's Brewhouse coined a "pizookie," or an oversized cookie most often baked in a cast iron skillet and topped with ice cream.
Outback's own version follows this same format. At its core, the dessert consists of a warm and gooey salted caramel cookie — which shouldn't come as a surprise given its name. But, white chocolate bits, pretzels, and almond toffee also get folded in before it's baked as an added surprise and layer of crunchiness. A scoop of vanilla is spooned on top right as it comes out of the oven so that just the right amount melts and soaks into the cookie base. All of this–plus the fact that it's shareable–makes for the perfect nightcap and last course following a hearty steak dinner.
Nestled among the other potato-based sides on Outback's menu–including Homestyle Mashed Potatoes, Aussie Fries, and a Baked Potato–you'll also find the unassuming Sweet Potato. Not to mention, sweet potatoes are also chock full of vitamins and minerals, are great for gut health because of their antioxidants and fiber, and can even help to support brain function and your immune system.
That is all well and good. But, the reason why the Sweet Potato is one of Outback's best and most underrated sides is largely thanks to its honey butter and brown sugar embellishments. The butter has a way of seeping directly into the orange flesh, creating a melt-in-your-mouth experience. And, the brown sugar is the cherry on top which turns this superfood vegetable into more of a decadent dessert we crave. But it's amazing, and it is totally worth a mention on this list of underrated Outback items.
Prime Rib Sandwich
Prime Rib is a staple on Outback's steak menu. It comes in either Classic or Outback style, and both are slow-roasted, hand-carved, and seasoned to perfection. But, this high-profile cut also comes in a delicious sandwich form at the Aussie chain that's debatably even more delicious and shouldn't be overlooked.
The Prime Rib Sandwich comes with heaps of tender and juicy steak piled on a toasted baguette. Grilled onions and mushrooms can't be forgotten and melty Provolone cheese is layered on top in addition to a slathering of Outback's Spicy Signature Bloom Sauce. But, it doesn't stop there. The sammie is served alongside a cup of French onion au jus which shares similarities with the restaurant's French Onion Soup. As you dip and dunk the sandwich into the au jus, the bread and meat swell with an extra layer of rich and savory flavor. Dribbles of juice will inevitably end up all over your plate and maybe even down your hand or arm. But, you'll find yourself unbothered, as the dish is just that good.
First introduced in 2021, Tasmanian Chili has become a regular on Outback's menu. But, this certainly isn't your grandma's chili recipe. First off, it's missing one of the main ingredients you typically find in the dish: beans. Instead, all the attention is given to the meat, which is actually generously sized pieces of steak rather than ground beef. A rather fitting choice for a steakhouse. Diced tomatoes and onions are also thrown in for good measure, and the entire cup or bowl is designed to warm you up in more ways than one.
The name "Tasmanian" Chili acts as a sort of warning sign that what you're about to consume may be hot. This realization hits upon your first bite as the spice level is cranked up just enough to wake you up, but not wicked enough to send smoke billowing from your ears. Plus, a shredded cheese blend with green onion is served on top to balance out the heat and add some extra flair.
This chili is also not terribly unhealthy, minus the somewhat inflated sodium count. So, unless you're a stickler for salt, you can enjoy it as an appetizer or a side sans the guilt. On top of the Tasmanian Chili, spice seems to be a serious trend at the steakhouse as of late. The chain released a line in 2023 that revolved around hot honey. And, the Spicy Jammin' Meatloaf is another new must-try entrée.
Outback Center Cut Sirloin
Cuts like a ribeye or filet mignon garner a great deal of attention at Outback, and at all steakhouses, for that matter. But, the chain's more reasonably-priced Center Cut Sirloin is also worthy of praise. It's a workhorse at the restaurant, never claiming to be fancy with added bells and whistles, but always a reliable and palatable choice.
Just like all of Outback's steaks, the sirloin is coated with the restaurant's signature blend of 17 spices. The actual makeup of this seasoning is kept well under wraps. However, the restaurant has disclosed on Facebook that it "includes several unique peppers, chosen from global boutique markets and blended with select herbs and spices to inspire the crave factor in our award-winning steaks."
Before arriving at your table, the sirloin is also seared and cooked to your temperature preference. It comes in three size options including 6-ounce, 8-ounce, or 11-ounce. And, guests are invited to dress it up with various toppings like grilled onions, sauteed mushrooms, garlic butter, or go all out with the famous Toowoomba topping of seasoned shrimp, mushrooms, and creamy Creole sauce.
Sure, Chili's Grill & Bar is responsible for the catchy "baby back baby back ribs" theme song that's still stuck in consumers' heads. But, did you know that Outback has a saucy version of the dish that's just as delicious?
Down under, there are countless meat and entrée options that aren't steak, and the Outback Ribs certainly top this list. Available in either a full rack or half rack, the baby back ribs are first smoked before being doused with Outback's tangy BBQ sauce and lastly grilled, creating the perfect charred exterior. Once bitten into, however, the meat is juicy, and tender, and falls off of the bone with ease. As is the case with its Signature Seasoning blend, the chain isn't forthcoming with its rib sauce recipe. But, copycat recipes venture to guess that ingredients such as ketchup, molasses, vinegar, onion, garlic, mustard, and even bacon may be at play.
Bloomin' Fried Chicken
Even from its first emergence in 1988, Outback's Bloomin' Onion has ruled the restaurant as an Aussie icon, and now over eight million of the appetizers are ordered by consumers each year, according to the Outback website. After taking note of this unprecedented success, the chain has since worked to recreate that flavor sensation in any manner possible. Bloomin' Fried Shrimp, The Bloomin' Burger, and the Filet Sheila topped with Bloomin' Carrot Crunch have all graced the menu at one time or another. But, one of the most accomplished spinoffs has to be Bloomin' Fried Chicken.
The entrée starts as your average boneless chicken breast. But, then it is hand-battered in the beloved Bloomin' Onion seasoning and fried until golden brown. If you've had the Onion before then you know it offers just the right amount of kick. Add a drizzle of the spicy bloom sauce on top, and you have a match made in heaven. The chicken comes out juicy and crispy with just the right amount of bold flavors.
The Bloomin's Fried Chicken is served with a choice of two sides. But, you can also find it in sandwich form or even served alongside a Center Cut Sirloin Steak as one of the chain's Steak 'n Mate Combos–the best of both worlds when you can't decide between poultry and beef.
As the weather gets warmer and flowers begin to bloom, something new also sprouts up at Outback. And, no it's not the famed "Bloomin'" Onion, although we could see how you could think that. It's actually the Strawberry Salad, which was first introduced in 2022, and it's as light and refreshing as it sounds.
The item gives you a taste of summer with a mix of both arugula and romaine lettuce, ripe strawberries, cinnamon-flavored pecans, and bleu cheese crumbles. All components live in harmony, basking in a light glaze of raspberry vinaigrette dressing. And, guests even have the option to throw some added protein in with a choice of either grilled or crispy chicken, turning it into a full-blown meal rather than just a side order.
When it's in season, the Strawberry Salad joins three other staples on the menu including the House Salad, Caesar Salad, and the Blue Cheese Pecan Chopped Salad. Plus, Outback fans will be happy to know that the previously discontinued Classic Blue Cheese Wedge Salad also made a comeback this past year along with the new Hot Honey lineup. Hopefully this time it's here to stay.
Loaded Mashed Potatoes
If you talk about the "meat and potatoes" of something you are likely referring to the most important and fundamental parts. This certainly rings true at Outback, where juicy steaks are more often than not paired with some kind of spud-inspired side dish–making for one of the simplest yet most integral meals at the steakhouse.
Of course, the Homestyle Mashed Potatoes are a quality choice. But, if you're looking for something with a little more pizazz to sit adjacent to your cut of meat, then the loaded version of the dish is a must-try. Typically, it's a baked potato or even fries that are garnished with various toppings. But, at Outback, mashed potatoes receive this special treatment as well.
The side dish looks a little bit like this: the chain's standard creamy and carb-filled mashed taters covered in shredded Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, sour cream, bacon, and green onions. It is a small upcharge, listed as a "Premium Side". But, that's a small price to pay for this cheesy treat.
The Outbacker Burger
You would be hard-pressed to find a chain steakhouse or casual dining establishment that didn't include an obligatory hamburger on its menu. But, at Outback, it isn't a food that is overlooked in the kitchen and thrown together just for the sake of it. It's clear the recipe was crafted with care.
The Outbacker Burger itself is actually seasoned with the same 17-spice blend found on the chain's steaks, for a more diverse flavor profile and an extra boost of boldness. The chefs behind the scenes also do a great job of charring the patty ever so slightly while still keeping the inside moist and flavorsome. Lettuce, tomato, and onion add a snap of freshness and mustard is the condiment of choice. But, the real showstopper has to be the house-made pickles. They are a rare, one-of-a-kind touch that adds that tiny hint of tang and spice you never knew was missing from an average, everyday burger.
With an order of The Outbacker, customers also receive a freshly-made side. And, the whole meal rings up to a very modest price–especially when pitted against some of the more high-profile steaks found on the menu.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.