Red Lobster is the United States' home of moderately priced seafood, even in the dead center of the country. For so many, it's a chain favorite. Does it offer the best seafood you can find in a restaurant? Of course not. But it is reliable, offering many of the same menu items in distant corners of the country (as well as some secret menu hacks). And because of that, it can be a place to grab a comfort meal, whether you're more of a shrimp linguine person or you prefer a steaming bowl of New England clam chowder.
Red Lobster has a lot of decent offerings on its menu. However, like most chain restaurants, it also sells plenty of dishes that are lacking in flavor, texture, and finesse. Therefore, trying to figure out what to order at the restaurant can sometimes be a struggle, especially if you don't eat there on a regular basis.
That's why we decided to rank some of the most popular Red Lobster dishes from worst to best. We'll start with the dishes we'll make sure to never order again and gradually work our way to our absolute favorites on the menu. Where will your go-to Red Lobster order land? Keep reading to find out.
Crispy Dragon Shrimp
Shrimp is probably the most unassuming type of seafood out there. Even people who tend not to like anything that tastes too fishy likely aren't going to have a problem with the flavor of shrimp. It has nearly universal appeal, so why does Red Lobster feel like it has to coat it in layers of flavor and texture that basically obscure the type of meat it is altogether? Because that's exactly what the Crispy Dragon Shrimp is, and we're absolutely not fans.
Not only is this shrimp fried within an absolute inch of its life, but it's then absolutely doused in a sticky, sickly sweet sauce that further obscures what lies inside its shell of breading. This so-called "chili sauce" is supposed to be "mildly spicy," but in reality, you can't taste any spice at all over the overwhelming cacophony of sweetness this dish promises.
"Overboard" is exactly the right term for this disaster of a dessert. The Brownie Overboard consists of what appears to be a flavorless, store-bought brownie (actually, three of them), a scoop of artificial-tasting vanilla ice cream and whipped cream to top it all off. Oh, and don't forget about the drizzled caramel and chocolate sauce, either — otherwise, you may not get enough sugar in your diet.
It's all just too much. If you want to order one dessert to split with the entire family, then the Brownie Overboard may be just what you're looking for. But for those who just want a bite of something mildly sweet after dinner, you're going to be in for a rude awakening when this thing comes out of the kitchen.
If you've ever wanted to order a big plate of beige at a restaurant, then head to Red Lobster right away and order the Admiral's Feast, which is perhaps the least appetizing entree on the Red Lobster menu. You'll get fried shrimp, fried flounder, fried clam strips, and fried bay scallops. And don't forget the fries, of course. The best part is that nothing tastes like actual seafood! Instead, it all just tastes like a pile of barely seasoned breading.
Listen, we love fried food, and if that's what you really want, just make your way to a fast food restaurant. There are places that specialize in that kind of thing. But if you're going to spend the money to eat at Red Lobster, maybe you should at least eat something that actually tastes like seafood.
Creamy Lobster Baked Potato
Do you ever see a dish at a restaurant and immediately assume it was just an afterthought, a way to use up the leftover ingredients from other, more popular dishes? Because that's exactly what we think when we look at the Creamy Lobster Baked Potato from Red Lobster. It's a baked potato... with lobster on top, along with a beurre blanc sauce that is, admittedly, not that bad.
Besides the sauce, though, this seems like a completely pointless dish to even include on the menu. The potato does nothing to complement the lobster — in fact, you're better off ordering your lobster in basically any form besides this. It seems like a completely random combo someone came up with because they had too many potatoes in the back.
Cajun Chicken Linguine Alfredo
When you go to a seafood restaurant, what are you most excited to order? Maybe it's the shrimp cocktail, in all its horseradish-infused glory. Or maybe you're more of a baked salmon person. Perhaps you love deep-fried fish and chips more than anything. But if you sit down at the table at Red Lobster and the first thing you order is the Cajun Chicken Linguine Alfredo, you're absolutely in the wrong place. Pack it up and go somewhere you actually want to eat because you clearly don't even want seafood.
We get it. Sometimes, you get dragged to a restaurant you don't really want to eat at because everyone else in your group likes it. We do appreciate that Red Lobster offers some non-seafood options on the menu. But there's undoubtedly something sad about ordering the Cajun Chicken Linguine Alfredo (which is mid, to say the least) when you go to Red Lobster.
Southwest Shrimp Bowl
Red Lobster's Southwest Shrimp Bowl looks like something you would make from a particularly bad meal kit. It's about as basic as it gets: orzo rice with salad, pico de gallo, sour cream, and tortilla chips. Of course, there's some grilled shrimp in there as well. It's basic, it's boring, and if you ask us, it's not really worth spending your money on, especially if you're hoping for a top-notch seafood meal.
This shrimp bowl is the kind of thing you can easily make at home, even if you're not a talented cook. To us, there's just no reason to actually order this kind of thing at a restaurant. We like that Red Lobster is offering some dishes that seem light and healthy for lunch, but this bowl is never something we'd actually want to order for more than Chipotle-level prices.
Red Lobster knows that some people want to order queso every single time they're out, which is probably why they dreamed up this unnecessarily cheesy Lobster Dip. It's basically just a spinach and artichoke cheese dip with lobster unceremoniously added to the mix. They didn't think about how to make a dip with ingredients that actually complement the lobster. Instead, they seemingly just decided to take the lazy route and randomly throw lobster in dishes that absolutely don't need it there.
We'd rather Red Lobster just offer a plain old spinach artichoke dip and not charge us a premium for the weird inclusion of lobster. You're better off opting for a dish where lobster is the star of the show if you want to get your money's worth.
When you can't decide what to order from Red Lobster, the Sailor's Platter may be up your alley. You'll get shrimp scampi, popcorn shrimp, and fried flounder, along with your choice of side. If you ask us, none of the elements of this plate are really that good (although the shrimp scampi is the best of the bunch). But despite everything on the plate being relatively bland, we like the fact that you can enjoy three different types of seafood all on one plate.
For those who are looking for variety from their Red Lobster experience, the Sailor's Platter may be a solid contender. If you actually want the best food the chain restaurant has to offer, though, there are much better options on the menu.
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake
Is there anything wrong with the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake from Red Lobster? No. But is it something we'd go out of our way to order? Also no. This is perhaps the blandest, most boring dessert you could ever order — it is the literal definition of vanilla. There's the sweet Italian cream filling on the vanilla crust, topped with vanilla whipped cream and finished off with white chocolate shavings. Wow! How boring.
Despite the lack of interesting flavors and/or textures in this dessert, though, it's actually not terrible. There's really nothing to turn you off to the dish, but there's nothing to convince you to take a bite, either. The Vanilla Bean Cheesecake is perfect for those people you know who are annoyingly picky eaters.
Lobster Lover's Duo
If you're looking for a feast, you may want to spring for the Lobster Lover's Duo. This entree is not for the faint of heart (or the faint of appetite), as it comes with not one but two lobster tails. One is from Maine and one is from the Caribbean, but they're both among the better options on the Red Lobster menu. Then, you'll get to choose two sides to enjoy with all that lobster.
Could the lobster tails be more flavorful? Sure. But for a chain restaurant, this is definitely not bad lobster. The fact that you get to try two different types is an indication that they're probably not as fresh as you'd want them to be, but we love the option to get a taste of lobster that comes from two different parts of the ocean.
New England Clam Chowder
You may assume that Red Lobster's New England Clam Chowder wouldn't be that good, but in reality, it's actually not that bad. They certainly don't skimp on the clams, which is a blessing — clam chowder that doesn't contain enough clams is almost guaranteed to be a letdown. It's creamy, and it has a rich, seafood-y broth that complements the other ingredients nicely. This soup is certainly a step up from the stuff you'd get in a can.
However, we probably wouldn't order the New England Clam Chowder as a standalone dish unless you're not feeling well and somehow ended up at a Red Lobster. A cup of it is a nice start to a meal, but any more than that, and it starts to encroach on bland territory.
Salmon New Orleans
For those who love salmon, the Salmon New Orleans at Red Lobster is certainly worth a try. It all starts with blackened salmon. Depending on the location you're going to, you may end up with a dry piece of salmon, but the fact that it's blackened helps create a crispy, crunchy texture that in some ways makes up for any dryness you might experience. On top of the salmon, you'll find shrimp doused in a Cajun butter sauce and tomato-cilantro relish.
Overall, this dish tastes surprisingly fresh — it's a far cry from the ultra-fried entrees you'll see on the Red Lobster menu. It's a bit strange that they give you both salmon and shrimp, but the combo doesn't taste bad together. Add in the two sides you get with the dish, and it's clear to see why this is one of the better entrees available at the chain.
Twin Maine Tails
You don't need to make your trip to Red Lobster any more complicated than it needs to be. The best thing to order at this chain is the eponymous dish: lobster. That's why we think it's a great idea to order the Twin Maine Tails the next time you go. You'll get two roasted Maine lobster tails, served with hot butter and your choice of two different sides. It's both light and filling, low-key but slight fancy-feeling, the perfect dish to order when you feel like celebrating.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that we've had better lobster than the lobster tails you'll find at Red Lobster. But for a chain restaurant, these things really aren't bad. Plus, the price point isn't that bad, either.
Crabby Cheese Fries
The Crabby Cheese Fries at Red Lobster may not sound that appealing at first, but we were pleasantly surprised when we ordered them. Think loaded fries but in a seafood-forward style. The French fries are topped with cheese sauce, lump crab, and a garlic cream sauce that brings it all together. The cheese is a slightly odd addition, if you ask us, but otherwise, all of the different elements of the dish work together well.
This seems like the kind of dish that Red Lobster is capable of really mastering. It's fun, it's casual, and it has mass appeal to a wide array of people who eat at the restaurant. It's a clever, interesting twist on a familiar dish, and we're absolutely here for it.
White Wine And Garlic Mussels
When you're at a loss for what to order at a seafood restaurant, there's one dish that you can never go wrong with: mussels. They have a fairly innocuous flavor, taking on the flavors of the other ingredients you cook them with. Red Lobster's White Wine and Garlic Mussels bring classic flavor combos together to create a delicious, light, and surprisingly elegant dish that you could order either as a starter or as a small main dish to mix and match with a few sides.
You can really taste the white wine here, which lends some nice acidity to the dish, along with the garlic, which, blessedly, they do not seem to skimp on. The mussels are then roasted with tomatoes and green onions, which adds a layer of freshness to the final product.
Fish And Chips
There are few dishes we love more than fish and chips. It's an essential comfort food, exactly what you want to tuck into after a long day at the beach. And luckily, Red Lobster's Fish and Chips are no exception. The wild-caught cod is battered to perfection in a crispy but smooth breading — just how we like it. It comes with coleslaw and tartar sauce, and you also get to choose a side. Naturally, we'd opt for the fries (or "chips") every time, but it's up to you if you want to sub them in for something else.
It's pretty hard to mess up fish and chips, and we're lucky that Red Lobster was able to deliver. Just add some malt vinegar, and you'll have a perfectly decadent meal to enjoy.
Bar Harbor Lobster Bake
When you go to a place like Red Lobster, you may want the opportunity to try a wide variety of seafood. After all, you could always cook a lobster tail at home in your own kitchen. That's why we love ordering the Bar Harbor Lobster Bake. By ordering this entree, you'll get to try different types of seafood all in one dish.
It all starts with petite Maine lobster tails, which are served with shrimp, mussels, bay scallops, and tomatoes. All of that shellfish is served on a bed of linguine, which is dressed with a lovely, light white wine broth. Aren't you drooling already? We love this dish because it's filling, it's flavorful, and ultimately, it's simple. Great seafood shines all on its own, and with this dish, Red Lobster allows it to take center stage.
Cheddar Bay Biscuits
There are few chain restaurant menu items that get quite as much hype as the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, and if you ask us, that claim is well-deserved. Although they have a distinct seafood-y taste to them, vegetarians will be delighted to learn that they actually don't contain any meat or seafood. There is, however, plenty of cheese (so it's not appropriate for vegans), which yields the deeply flavorful, almost gooey bite you love when you eat these things. And as if that weren't enough, they're also baked in-house.
We would easily bypass all of the other items on the menu if we could have an unlimited supply of Cheddar Bay Biscuits for life. Luckily, you can buy them frozen at the grocery store, which helps us to keep our monthly Red Lobster bill down. If you're at a loss for what to try at the chain, make the Cheddar Bay Biscuits your first pick.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.