If you’re anything like me, sometimes the highlight of any culinary experience is the complimentary bread that you’re given before a meal. I’m a sucker for carbs in all shapes and sizes, but this list is my personal ranking of the best free restaurant bread. Read on to see which doughy item I believe will reign supreme. 

10. The Cheesecake Factory

The Cheesecake Factory has a menu that can only be described as massive (and maybe a bit overwhelming) so it’s no surprise that they serve two different types of bread prior to your meal. So many choices! The french roll tastes like your average baguette, and their soft brown bread is topped with crunchy oats. All bread is good bread, but there is nothing overly special about these two, at least in my opinion.

9. Longhorn Steakhouse

Longhorn serves a large slab of honey-oat bread once you’re seated, and it is the perfect way to start your meal. The caramel-colored bread has a nice crust on the outside combined with a warm doughy inside that is to die for, and comes with cold, salty butter that melts perfectly. I have fond memories of eating here with my family growing up and will always crave this delicious loaf.

8. Panera Bread

Panera’s baguettes are a side option when ordering an entree, and have a nice fluffy, layered interior. I personally have found the exterior to be a bit hard and crunchy, so they can be challenging to eat. However, they soften up a little when dipped in something hot like soup or if they’re just served very fresh, and have a beautiful buttery flavor. These baguettes are a versatile, staple item at the chain bakery-cafe. 

7. Outback Steakhouse

Outback’s bread is similar to Longhorn’s in that it also has a nice honey-wheat flavor, but I found it to be much sweeter, which I enjoyed. It comes with a delightful side of whipped butter that was easy to spread, and the loaf is a much richer brown, a characteristic that makes it a standout. That dark color actually comes from molasses and cocoa powder, which makes the recipe unlike anything else on this list!

6. Red Lobster

Red Lobster’s cheddar bay biscuits are epic, and probably the most unique item on this list because of both their appearance and taste. They are fluffy, cheesy and dripping with a delightful coating of garlic butter, and always served piping hot. However, I put them in 6th place because the restaurant actually sells their biscuit mixture so they are able to be made in the comfort of your own kitchen!

5. Olive Garden

The breadsticks from Olive Garden are a classic, and rightfully so. There seems to be an endless supply of them and I never feel judged asking for another basket (or 3). The bread is brushed with a mixture of margarine and garlic salt, and served fresh to your table. Each breadstick is perfectly chewy and must contain some sort of chemical that makes you want more, because they are truly irresistible.

4. Carrabba's Italian Grill

I have fond memories of eating at Carrabba’s as a child and devouring baskets of their Italian bread. The warm loaf comes sliced, which makes it a lot easier to grab and eat than some of the others on this list. My brother and I would fight for the doughy interior pieces, but even the crusty outsides were amazing when smothered in the salty whipped butter or olive oil and herb concoction.

3. Cracker Barrel

Biscuits might truly be my favorite food. And yes, I’m talking about fluffy and buttery southern-style biscuits, not British cookies. Cracker Barrel’s buttermilk biscuits are made from scratch all day, and are the prime example of what a perfectly flaky, salty biscuit should be. I’m drooling just thinking about them, seriously. They are the best addition to any meal at any time of day and most definitely deserve to be in the top 3.

2. Romano's Macaroni Grill

Macaroni Grill is so underrated, and I think their rosemary peasant bread needs to be praised more often. The square loaf is served warm and glistening with a beautiful layer of butter and salt. I am a huge fan of rosemary and try to incorporate the herb into as many recipes as possible, and I feel like it really elevates this loaf. The bread can be a bit dry, but it is so fragrant and flavorful which is why I think it deserves the #2 spot.

1. Texas Roadhouse

Coming in at number 1 is Texas Roadhouse, and for good reason. Their signature combination of warm yeast rolls and fluffy cinnamon butter is truly unmatched. There have been many nights where I have deeply considered just doordashing a heaping pile of carbs and butter to my home because it is just that good. I would happily go here and just order the signature rolls, no entree necessary. Also, the free peanuts are fun too.

This is a very touchy subject that many people feel strongly about. I know some may be horrified after seeing my low ranking of the Cheesecake Factory, or believe that Cracker Barrel's biscuits should have not even made the list. But I think we can all agree that whoever said the best things in life are free was almost certainly talking about bread, and that each item brings something special to the table (literally).