Of all the classic American comfort foods—from macaroni and cheese to juicy burgers and french fries—meatloaf is in a class by itself. Often made with ground beef, chopped vegetables, and breadcrumbs, and served with equally comforting sides like mashed potatoes, the down-home dish is a monument to resourcefulness, turning ordinary ingredients into something sublime. At least when it's done right.
Besides being tasty, meatloaf has a storied past. According to research, meatloaf has roots in German, Scandinavian, and Belgian cuisine, with many variations existing throughout history and the world. For instance, Greece's version of meatloaf is typically made with hard-boiled eggs.
In contrast, the American meatloaf so popular today is believed to date back to colonial times. Early Pennsylvania German-American settlers often made scrapple, a combination of ground pork and cornmeal.
Today, you'll find meatloaf done many different ways in many different restaurants, from simple diner-style recipes served with creamy mashed potatoes and fresh buttered corn to elevated steakhouse versions made with top-grade cuts of beef.
Whenever you're in the mood for this comfort food, but don't feel like putting in the work to make it at home, check out one of these 10 popular restaurant chains that do meatloaf right.
For years, Cracker Barrel has been a go-to restaurant for homestyle breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's where you can expect menu items with a nostalgic edge, such as chicken and dumplings, roast beef, chicken pot pie, hand-breaded fried chicken, and, of course, meatloaf.
The chain's special meatloaf recipe is made with tomatoes, onions, and green peppers, and it's served with your choice of hand-rolled buttermilk biscuits or corn muffins. Order it with two sides, or tack on an extra side a few bucks more. "I could eat Cracker Barrel meatloaf daily and be completely satisfied," one X user confessed.
Take a trip to Golden Corral if you want unlimited meatloaf. The famed buffet chain, which started in North Carolina in the early 1970s, boasts a stacked dinner menu filled with home-cooked favorites such as meatloaf, fried chicken, pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy, and macaroni and cheese. Menu selections are switched out daily, so call to make sure they have meatloaf available before you head out.
"Who knew that Golden Corral's meatloaf was better than I could get at home? Please, don't tell anyone I said so," one X user shared.
The Cheesecake Factory
There's a reason why The Cheesecake Factory calls its meatloaf Famous Factory Meatloaf—people can't get enough of it. It's flavorful, tender, and presented with creamy mashed potatoes, rich mushroom gravy, grilled onions, and fresh buttered corn. Order it with one of the chain's iconic appetizers, such as the warm crab dip or fried macaroni and cheese, and a dessert, such as fresh strawberry cheesecake or a hot fudge sundae, for a satisfying meal.
Perkins may be synonymous with home-cooked breakfasts, but it also serves a meatloaf that checks off all boxes. The chain offers a savory sweet-glazed meatloaf, enrobed in a rich beef gravy and topped with crispy fried onions. It's served over creamy mashed potatoes and a choice of sides, such as grilled asparagus or buttered corn.
You may know the name Marie Callender's from the frozen dinners and sides sold in grocery stores from ConAgra Foods. There are also restaurant and bakery locations operating under the same name in states including California, Nevada, and Utah. Marie Callender's meatloaf is one you simply can't miss—it's slow-baked with Angus ground beef, onions, green peppers, carrots, and a special blend of seasoning and then covered in a mushroom cabernet gravy.
It's plated with freshly made mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable. Each entrée at Marie Callender also comes with a choice of soup or salad, cut apple slices, and either lemon meringue or chocolate cream pie.
Order the Spicy Jammin' Meatloaf from Outback Steakhouse if you feel like eating a meatloaf with some edge. Offered for under $20, this innovative comfort dish is made with seasoned beef, then seared and topped with a savory peppercorn sauce and spicy Fresno chili jam. It also comes with a choice of two sides, such as a baked potato, fresh steamed vegetables, or sweet potato. (Outback's steakhouse macaroni and cheese is also available for an extra fee). Order it with a refreshing drink and the triple-layer carrot cake, and you're good to go.
For nearly 50 years, Claim Jumper has been dishing out delicious recipes—including chicken pot pie, fish and chips, and chopped Cobb salad—in its dining rooms decorated using inspiration from the California Gold Rush of the late 1800s. Its craveable meatloaf dinner is prepared using a blend of beef, pork, and vegetables that is then slow-baked with tomato sauce. It's served with mashed potatoes, herb gravy, and roasted vegetables.
"Best meatloaf ever (sorry Mom)!" one reviewer commented on the Claim Jumper website. "Everything on my plate was homemade goodness. The portion could be three meals but it was too good I kept eating it. I was completely satisfied and did manage to take home a lunch-size meal and enjoyed it even more the second day."
Slow-baked meatloaf is the norm, but Logan's Roadhouse is really onto something with its grilled meatloaf entrée, which incorporates a smoky barbecue flavor. The chain's grilled meatloaf is covered in a rich brown gravy, topped with Brewski onions and sautéed mushrooms, and served over fluffy mashed potatoes. It also comes with two sides. Choose from corn, cinnamon apples, green beans, steamed broccoli, cheesy parmesan rice, or French onion soup.
Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen
If you're in the mood for a meatloaf dinner that tastes like the kind you enjoyed in childhood, stop by Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen. Started in 1979, the Texas-based restaurant chain makes a tasty meatloaf that rivals Grandma's. Even better? Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen's meatloaf is served with two slices of classic meatloaf and savory brown or country gravy. You also can pick two sides, ranging from buttered corn-off-the-cob and french fries to freshly made coleslaw, loaded baked potatoes, Southern green beans, and more.
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For an elevated meatloaf, check out Steak 48's Prime Steakhouse Meatloaf, which takes this famous comfort dish to a whole new level. At Steak 48, the meatloaf is made with a combination of ribeye, filet mignon, and pork, which is then covered in a black truffle green peppercorn sauce. It doesn't get much more decadent than that—and it's priced accordingly: $48 in some locations. Enjoy it with a roasted beet and goat cheese salad or a fresh burrata appetizer as your starter.
"I personally ordered the meatloaf & not upset with my decision at all," one Yelp reviewer mentioned. "I can't remember why I chose but it was probably the best meatloaf I've ever had- I will say it's a good protein option if you're not wanting a steak. Very nice a flavorful."