Another thing you’ll learn about me… is I love trying out new restaurants…. One of the things I enjoyed and miss from my pre-pandemic days was dragging one of my friends off to a new place that I heard about. Like in most things in my life, I am not too picky. There is not a lot that gets under my skin. One of my first jobs was waitressing at a burger joint, (I also have a love a good burger.) so I know the stresses of the job. Since my friends are all over when they come to visit, I am always looking for someplace good to break bread with them. Apparently Red Robin was founded in Seattle in 1969. I didn’t hear of it until well into the 2000’s but I am sure that is only because I am no where near Seattle.
Enter Red Robin. I began seeing the commercials for this place in my neck of the woods about 10-12 years ago. (circa 2008ish). The odd thing was that up until that point, any time you saw a commercial for something it was because they were building it at least about 20 minutes from you and if it hadn’t already opened… would be in the next 30 days. But try as I might, I could not find one near me. It was an odd cycle because the commercial would play… I would try to find it near me (which at this time was imperative because I didn’t have my own ride so it would have needed to be something I could walk to.) when I could not locate a place… I would sulk about it then forget about it. And the damn commercial would play again. Thinking back on it makes me laugh because it wasn’t one of those that played all the time, only once in a blue moon… There was so much time in between that I would forget the name of the place. But I lived kinda in the sticks… without a car the search was hopeless.
Fast Forward to 2014 – I was invited to go to Nashville with a guy that I used to know. It was his mother’s birthday… It was a place that I had never been so that intrigued me. We got in the car and left for the week. We did a lot on that trip… but one of the things that stood out to me was sitting in the truck, watching the scenery pass me by… (my favorite leisure time activity when I am not driving.) We pass by a shopping center where I notice Red Robin. I had to make a case for stopping and eating there. Hard to when I had never laid eyes on one. But how can you mess up a burger joint?
I think that the first think I remember was that they actually had a bar and served alcohol. It was almost like a combination of Steak N Shake (where I used to work… ) and a Taco Mac… where I also used to work. (Shout out to waitresses.) Seemed handy… simple operation and execution.
The other thing I remember was the menu was extensive. There was pages and pages of different things. Drinks, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, soups, burgers (of course), desserts and shakes. I love a place that has variety. I also love a place that has enough to intrigue me to come back and try it all. Therefore I plan to make many more trips to it in the future. I figured I would start with something simple. (Anytime I try something out for the first time, I usually go with something not too extravagant. Nothing that will turn me off right away. That’s just me.) I got the crispy chicken sandwich. Pretty good. Wish they had a spicy version… (I am picante myself.)
There wasn’t a whole bunch of fries which I love with any good sandwich. Steak fries are the best and it was a bummer to run out so soon. I soon figured out that there was a reason for that. They have bottomless fries. If I allowed them I could still be eating fries galore. When I asked for ketchup, I was delighted to find that they had a sweet and spicy ketchup. Check out the list here: (https://www.redrobin.com/pages/everyday-value/sauces/) So no downsides for me. My job now was to push the Red Robin agenda… on any and everyone. My first victim… MY SISTER… (Cue maniacal laughter.)
My sister being much younger than me… was a bit skeptical in the place that I picked. Mostly because I was about an hour away from where we lived. (After coming home from Nashville, I made it my mission to locate a place near me. There were three. All were a good distance from me… but when I got my car… I could con friends into going, especially if I drove.) My sister and I decided that we were hungry but she was tired of the same old same old. I told her that we could ride down to Red Robin.
Good Times. It is always fun to bring someone to a place that you love and watch them fall in love too. She didn’t think anything of getting in the car and letting me drive… I figured that I had about 30 minutes before she started asking questions. Right at that mark, she looked around and asked where we were… where were we going… how much longer? Etc etc. I told her it would be worth it when we got there. We get there and walk in and she was in awe from the time we walked in to the time we left. My sister loved the place. She was just as taken with the selection as I was and we ordered a bit of each thing. In Nashville, the first time around I was on a time limit. This time around… since my sister and I are on the same page… We decided that we were going to pick 2 appetizers, 2 different sandwiches, and fries and onion rings. We really did have a great time.
Nothing like boneless buffalo wings to start you off and a bit of strawberry lemonade. Wish they were a bit spicier but it was a great presentation nonetheless. You can order the wings in your choice of sauce: Buzz with bleu cheese, Whiskey River BBQ, Banzai, or Island Heat. If you get a chance to go definitely spring for the buffalo wing appetizer. Then the burgers came. Blue Cheeseburger (The Black and Bleu) for me and the Smoke and Pepper burger for my sister. Let me tell you… we were not disappointed. For burger joints, my favorite go-to is usually a Buffalo and blue cheese combination. I love it and this one was great. I usually don’t like the grilled onions on my burger (they are too slimy for bread to me.) But it somehow worked here.
My sister and I ate a bunch. So there was no room for dessert. That saddens me to this day… but I shall return and partake at some point. The only other thing to mention is the cost. The service is always great when I go… so I’ll be focusing on the price.
Red Robin prides itself on having gourmet burgers. That comes at a price. My first sign should have been that it sold alcohol. They have several tiers of burgers (Tavern, Finest, and Gourmet) that range in price from $7 – $15. If your appetizer runs you about $10 and the burgers run a good penny. For a full meal, you could be looking at $60 bill or more depending on how many people are with you. I felt it was well worth the price. But it is good to know beforehand. I can’t wait to get closer to one so that I can drag Leah out with me for good food and even better company.
In the end, I give it 8.5 out of 10. It currently sits at my number one with Burger 21 coming in second and Burgerfi coming in third.
My next victim was my friend B. She lived out in the sticks… further than me. She comes into town periodically and we hang out. So when I asked if she was hungry and she said yes… I decided to ask her to come to Red Robin with me. I usually don’t tell people beforehand that the ride out is going to be far. But just like my sister, B started asking question about 30 minutes in… and when we pulled up she seemed ready to figure out what we are doing. Like… why all the way out here? She ended up loving the place too and ordering to go meals for her families. She was impressed with the drinks… the onion ring tower, the bottomless fries, and the great burgers. It was a good time.
My sister and I carried on the tradition now to drag people who have never been to Red Robin. Our next victim? My brother. I sent my sister some Red Robin gift cards since all of us had birthdays in October. (It is so funny that I could go down the street and get gift cards to a place that is no where near me.) Apparently, there is a location close by and they head there for birthday dinner. They loved it. Another one down. Another one bites the dust. It was fun to share in something you love with people you care about.