Outside LongHorn Steakhouse

LongHorn Steakhouse officially opens on Tuesday, Dec. 4 in Midvale, but Salt Lake magazine got a first taste, along with Governor Gary Herbert and a packed house of VIPs, on Thursday night.

A ribbon cutting with the governor was held before most guests, who were anxiously waiting at the door, were let in to take in the Western atmosphere and dinner selections from the chain restaurant, finally coming to Utah.

"We're happy to make Utah our home and help create jobs," says Mike Southworth, managing partner for the location. 

In the next few years, Southworth says six to eight LongHorn Steakhouses will be open in Utah, including locations in South Jordan, Ogden and Sandy. Each location will put 80–100 people to work, and if other Darden Restaurants in Utah are any indication, they should do pretty well. The parent company also owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden. 

When you try it for yourself, Southworth recommends the Outlaw Ribeye (18 oz. cooked over an open flame). Since it's such a big steak, he says to get it with a side of broccoli (mac and cheese is also a popular choice). But why not just get the ribeye at another chain? "When comparing ourselves to competitors, we talk about how fresh our steak is," Southworth says. "We keep it simple."

And even though the grand opening wasn't simple (the place was packed with parties sharing tables, and unfortunately, dessert), food came out quickly and service was attentive. Let's hope it stays that way after opening.

In classic Utah style, my wife ordered root beer to drink. Southworth personally made sure she got a bottle of IBC. If you'd rather go for a hard drink on your visit, there's a full bar. 

IBC Root Beer

Appetizers were the Wild West shrimp and parmesan cheese stuffed mushrooms.

Stuffed mushrooms

Dinner was a 7 oz. steak and salmon, 6 oz. chicken breast, mashed potatoes and asparagus and that 18 oz. ribeye Southworth boasts. All meats were great, especially for a chain steakhouse, but what caught our table by surprise was the mashed potatoes. They had a great texture—not too airy or heavy, just right. Your fork slides right into them and potatoes don't slide off it.

Our dinner plates at LongHorn

During the meal, Angel Madera, who runs the kitchen, came by to make sure everyone was satisfied. His personal favorite on the menu is also the ribeye, because of its bold seasonings which he wasn't ready to reveal.

The Outlaw Ribeye

For dessert we had Mountain Top Cheesecake, Chocolate Mountain Stampede and our table's favorite, Carmel Apple Goldrush. Our server, Enjoli, let us in on another dessert we'll have to get for lunch one day and then hit the gym: Golden Nugget Cheesecake (deep fried pieces of cheesecake). 

Our server, Enjoli, with our desserts

The Midvale location will also open for lunch and has a stage for live music.

Southworth says the steakhouse is pretty involved in the community, with fundraisers coming up for Salt Lake City Parks and Public Lands and a program to donate unused food to local food banks.

A longhorn over the bar

We'd say to go before it really starts to feel like a chain and the others open. Even after, it's a good place for the family every now and then. It has comfortable atmosphere with eye-catching Western decor, like antlers, boots, cowboy portraits, and of course, longhorn heads. And like Southworth and Madera, we'd suggest the ribeye.

Now, if we can just get a Yard House ...