A vegetarian walks into an Outback Steakhouse. It sounds like the beginning of a joke, and a joke that won't end very well for the vegetarian. There's really no good reason any self-respecting vegetarian would ever set foot in such a place.

And yet, vegetarians find themselves in positions all the time in which they must choose the lesser of certain evils. On a road trip, in a small town, when in the suburbs with grandparents, often chain restaurants are all there are to choose from. Would Outback be any harder or easier to eat vegetarian than, say, Applebee's?

The short answer, unsurprisingly, is that neither is a good pick. But Outback honestly doesn't fare so badly when compared to Applebee's, and in some ways it fares better than many of these chains because it serves one big filling vegetarian entree and a whole lot of sides.

That entree is the “No Rules Parmesan Pasta,” and is basically a big bowl of fettuccine drowned in cheesy cream sauce. No one said this food, even meat-free, was healthy.

And then, unlike a lot of other chains, Outback offers enough vegetable sides to cobble together something resembling a meal. There's steamed broccoli, steamed green beans, and steamed mixed veggies. There's a giant sweet potato with honey butter and brown sugar, which sounds sweeter and more cloying than it actually is — I kind of enjoyed it and I hate sugar in my food. There's mashed potatoes, and a blue cheese pecan salad that's way more sweet and cloying than it sounds. That, I did not enjoy, though you might if you like sugary salad dressing. The rest of the salads have meat on them.

The Bloomin Onion? Fries? They're a no-go: all of Outback's fried foods are fried in beef fat (!!!).

So yes, while eating at Outback might sound like a joke to most vegetarians, it's a joke that could end better for you than you'd assume. Much like Outback in general, I don't recommend it, but it's not as bad as you might think.

See also:

– Outback Steakhouse Review: Please Don't Call This Food Australian

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