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Since 1981, Longhorn Steakhouse has been throwing premium cuts of meat on their grills. After 40 years, it has lost nothing of its American charm and popularity. Impeccable service, fresh meat, and innovative dishes make it one of the USA’s most famous steakhouses. Today, it has over 500 locations in North America and even a handful in Puerto Rico.
The place is famous for meat. Sure, there are other things at Longhorn, but the specialty remains and will most likely always be meat.
Still, let us imagine that you’re driving along the interstate when a sudden snowstorm forces you to pull off the highway. As visibility is becoming limited, you see a sign in the distance; it looks like an animal with longhorns.
As a proud vegan, going into a place that sports an animal as their logo would not be your first choice, but the circumstances give you no other option, and it looks like nothing else is open. The wind is hauling all around and rocking your vehicle with tremendous power. You step out of your car and seek refuge in the restaurant.
Of course, it had to be a steakhouse, you tell yourself, but the place is warm, the people are friendly, and it beats driving on a sleek road. And besides, you’re starving. So, you ask your waiter, “What are the vegan options at Longhorn Steakhouse?” The waiter’s shrug inspires nothing good.
Finding vegan options at Longhorn Steakhouse is comparable to catching flies with a pair of chopsticks. In Longhorn’s defense, a steakhouse isn’t expected to cater to vegans. Still, if you happen to be there and you have no other option to choose from, you’ll be able to find something vegan enough on their menu. Just don’t expect a massive number of options.
Read on to learn about Longhorn Steakhouse’s history, concept, and menu. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to name a few fun facts about the place and know what you can expect as a vegan dieter when you walk into Longhorn Steakhouse.
A Brief History
It all began in Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia, when George McKerrow Jr. and his buddy Brian decided to become entrepreneurs. They opened what was then called Longhorn Steak Restaurant & Saloon. The place looked rather shabby, but it made good steaks. The business was okay until a freak snowstorm changed everything in 1982.
That’s when Longhorn offered “drinks $1.00 while it snows” to stranded motorists. Longhorn was in luck that evening; it was one of the few places with electricity during the storm. You can imagine the magic of the night; the snowstorm is raging outside, and the warm merrymakers are cheering inside. That’s what gave Longhorn its first boost of popularity. After that, the restaurant took off; they had over 50 locations across the states within ten years. Today, you can find Longhorn Steakhouses in four countries.
Longhorn Steakhouse is Western-themed. The restaurant has a casual feel that reminds you of old westerns. The place is decorated with just the right amount of Western memorabilia. You’ll find steer heads on the walls, old paintings, and vintage photos. When you enter the place, you’re greeted with warmth. The mood is merry and relaxed. It’s a fitting atmosphere for a date, family dinner, or an all-out party. In short, you can expect a fun vibe that will make you feel at home.
Here are a few of my favorites:
1. The original restaurant was once an adult bookstore before George McKerrow Jr. turned it into a steakhouse.
2. To help you take your BBQ skills to the next level, Longhorn Steakhouse has a hotline to help you with your grilling techniques.
3. Longhorn Steakhouse lets you recreate your favorite Longhorn dishes using the recipe page on their official website. There, you’ll find their recipes and useful tips.
As you can expect from a steakhouse menu, it has a massive selection of meat cuts. That makes it difficult for vegan dieters, but let’s see if we can find something that will make your visit to Longhorn Steakhouse enjoyable, nonetheless.
In a nutshell, the Longhorn Steakhouse’s menu looks like this:
- Legendary steaks & combos
- Chicken, seafood & more
- Entree salad
- Sides, salads, and soups
- Steakhouse drinks & beverages
Let’s look at each section to make sure we don’t miss any potential vegan-friendly options.
The quality of an appetizer can often make or break your dining experience. It’s meant to calm your hunger and prepare you for your main course. You won’t have to worry about that at Longhorn Steakhouse because none of the options are vegan. And none of them can be modified to make them vegan-friendly.
Legendary Steaks & Combos
This section’s name doesn’t inspire much hope, but let’s see if there’s a way to make something work. Nope, you have no options here. It’s all about “legendary” meat in this section.
Chicken, Seafood & More
This section isn’t any better. It includes chicken, salmon, baby back ribs, pork chops, beef burgers, grilled shrimps, and a beef sandwich. There aren’t any vegan options in this section.
Salads are a safe bet in most cases. Unfortunately, the entrée salads at Longhorn Steakhouse look like meat on beds of greens. You have the choice of grilled chicken, chicken tenders, salmon, or sirloin steak. You could order any one of the salads from this section and ask them to remove the meat, chicken, or fish, but that would be plain silly. I recommend staying clear from this section and focusing on the next section of the menu.
Sides, Salads And Soups
The sides menu section is where you’ll be able to find something that will appease your hunger. You can make a makeshift meal by combining these:
- Mashed potatoes (you must ask for no added butter)
- Baked potato (ask for it without any toppings as it comes loaded with sour cream, butter, and bacon)
- Sweet potato (ask for it plain since it comes with butter)
- Seasoned French fries (they look innocent enough, make sure they aren’t topped with any sauces)
- Mixed green salad (no croutons, no cheese toppings)
- Strawberry pecan salad (no feta and only order the white vinaigrette, all other sauces aren’t vegan-friendly)
- Steamed broccoli (ask for no butter)
- Steamed asparagus (ask for no butter)
- Bread (ask for no butter)
Longhorn is known for having superb desserts, but as a vegan, you’ve learned that dessert at non-vegan places is almost always out of reach. The same can be said about the dessert selection at Longhorn Steakhouse. None of the desserts are vegan-friendly.
Steakhouse Drinks And Beverages
Order a glass of La Crema Pinot Noir and a side of bread, and your good to go. They also have a great selection of craft beers and a decent lineup of cocktails.
It’s always interesting seeing what a restaurant thinks kids should eat. In this case, no major surprise; it’s steak, chicken breast, chicken tenders, burgers, and mac and cheese. Sorry, you won’t have an excuse to order from the kids’ menu this time.
Your Vegan Menu
Your vegan menu at Longhorn Steakhouse is made up of items found on the menu’s sides section. However, the fact that their menu offers some options is quite surprising. It is a steakhouse, after all, and they mostly target customers who like to eat meat. Either way, here’s your menu:
- Mashed potatoes
- Baked potato
- Sweet potato
- Seasoned French fries
- Mixed green salad
- Strawberry pecan salad
- Steamed broccoli
- Steamed asparagus
- Bread (ask for no butter)
It’s a complete copy and paste from the sides menu.
Is It Worth The Trip?
After looking at the history, concept, and menu, this should be easy to answer. Longhorn Steakhouse remains true to its name. It’s a steakhouse, and so it focuses on serving a variety of meat to its customers. Now, if you end up there due to a snowstorm, invitation, or company dinner, you’ll be able to eat something, but it won’t be the most memorable meal you’ve had.
Restaurants and people in the U.S. are becoming more aware of veganism. Most people recognize the diet as a real movement, and restaurants are making an effort to provide vegan-friendly options. But should a steakhouse have the same approach? Asking a place that serves meat as a business cannot be concerned with vegan dieters. A better question is: should vegans eat at steakhouses? Think about how much meat a chain like Longhorn Steakhouse uses in a year. For that reason, eating at such a place should never be an option for vegans.
Vegan living is more than a diet; it’s a mission to make the world a better place.