I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (2024)

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Review by Amena Ahmed

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (1)

  • I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn to see which chain offered the best food.
  • The Capital Grille offered a top-notch dining experience with amazing French onion soup.
  • LongHorn's French onion soup wasn't my favorite, but my steak was delicious and affordable.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (2)

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I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (4)

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Many popular chains are owned and operated by the same parent company, but that doesn't mean they're all created equally.

Darden Restaurants owns and operates over 1,900 restaurants, including popular chains like Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Yard House, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, and more.

I decided to try two of Darden's popular steak-house chains — LongHorn Steakhouse and The Capital Grille — to see which one offered the best value.

To keep things fair, I ordered the same meal from both restaurants — French onion soup, a medium-well filet, and cheesecake. Here's how my experiences at both restaurants compared.

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I started at LongHorn, a casual-dining chain restaurant.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (5)

LongHorn is a casual chain restaurant that began serving steak in Atlanta in 1981. In 2007, the chain joined Darden Restaurants and now has over 500 locations in the United States, Puerto Rico, and El Salvador.

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The restaurant had cool decor and felt clean and cozy.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (6)

With country-inspired wall hangings and chandeliers made of deer antlers, I felt immersed in an environment that created a well-curated dining experience.

Upon being seated, I was given complimentary whole-wheat bread and butter.

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I ordered French onion soup as an appetizer.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (7)

I ordered a cup of French onion soup as an appetizer, and my server was nice enough to lower the price from $3 to $2 by inputting it as a side with my steak.

The cheese on top of the soup was crusted perfectly, but the broth's creamy texture threw me off. The flavor wasn't bad, but it was a little strong for my liking.

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I ordered a 9-ounce filet cooked medium-well with a side of mac and cheese.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (8)

For $31, I ordered a 9-ounce filet cooked medium-well.

Each steak at LongHorn comes with a choice of certain side dishes, but I decided to order the mac and cheese, which came with a small upcharge of $3.

LongHorn's mac and cheese had a layer of bacon and a creamy four-cheese blend. It was topped with Parmesan and breadcrumbs, which paired well with the smoky bacon.

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The steak was buttery and melted in my mouth.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (9)

I was surprised at how delicious my filet was. Although it was cooked a bit more than medium-well, I still enjoyed it.

There were no fatty bits, and my knife slid through it easily. Overall, I had no complaints, which was nice, given how affordable the meal was.

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I made sure to leave room for dessert and ordered cheesecake.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (10)

I ordered LongHorn's cheesecake, which is topped with a caramel drizzle, whipped cream, and pecans. I'm not usually a huge fan of caramel, but I thoroughly enjoyed the drizzle on this dessert.

The consistency was extremely soft and creamy, and it didn't taste overly sugary, which I loved.

For $10, this was the biggest piece of cheesecake I've ever had.

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For $46, my meal at LongHorn was nearly perfect.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (11)

From the speed of the service to the quality of each dish, I'd definitely return to LongHorn. I thought $46 for a hefty steak, side, appetizer, and dessert was an amazing deal. The only change I'd make next time is ordering a different soup.

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Next up was The Capital Grille, an upscale chain restaurant.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (12)

The Capital Grille is an upscale chain restaurant known for its steak that's dry-aged in-house for 18 to 24 days.

Founded in 1990 in Providence, Rhode Island, The Capital Grille was also acquired by Darden Restaurants in 2007. However, this chain is smaller than LongHorn, with only 72 locations in the US, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

I made sure to book a reservation in advance, which was recommended on its website.

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The interior was dark, sleek, and chic.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (13)

The Capital Grille felt extremely upscale — it was dimly lit with mosaic-like chandeliers, and every employee was dressed in matching uniforms, which differed based on their roles. There was also a dress code for guests.

Like LongHorn, I received a complimentary serving of bread, but this chain offered more variety, including pumpernickel with raisins (my favorite).

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For a fair comparison, I ordered the same meal, starting with a French onion soup.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (14)

For an appetizer, I ordered the $13 French onion soup. I was impressed with how massive the serving of soup was — and how well-balanced the flavor was.

The cheesy layer took up about half of the bowl, which I loved.

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I ordered a 10-ounce filet mignon, which didn't come with a side.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (15)

As a main dish, I opted for the 10-ounce filet mignon cooked medium well for $56. Unlike the meal at LongHorn, this steak didn't come with a side. Instead, sides are encouraged as a shareable option between two to three people.

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My meal came out quickly, but I thought the exterior was a bit overcooked.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (16)

Every steak at The Capital Grille is cooked with the chain's signature in-house butter. This was great for me since I don't like steak sauce. The butter had an umami flavor and complemented the meat very well.

The char was just OK, as the exterior was more cooked than I'd have liked. Other than that, the center was cooked amazingly and was very soft.

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Although I was super full, I ordered the cheesecake with berries.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (17)

Between the entrée and dessert, I was offered a warm towel to freshen up, which was a sweet touch.

The $13 cheesecake, prepared brûlée style, came with delicious berries and a compote-like sauce.

This was definitely my favorite part of the meal, as the sweetness was great and not overbearing. I just wish it was a bit bigger, as it was a lot smaller than LongHorn's version. In total, my meal cost $82 before tax and tip.

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Overall, I felt like I got a better value at LongHorn.

I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (18)

I had a great experience at both chains, and the steaks and desserts were comparable. Although my French onion soup was way better at The Capital Grille, I got more bang for my buck at LongHorn.

I enjoyed my meal more at the cheaper chain because of its more relaxed atmosphere, lower price point, and bigger portions. In the future, I'd only return to The Capital Grille for a special occasion.

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I ordered the same meal at The Capital Grille and LongHorn Steakhouse. The bigger chain definitely offered the better value. (2024)
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