Western Sizzlin Vs. Sizzler: Which Steakhouse Chain Is Best?

Western Sizzlin and Sizzler are two classic American steakhouse chains that have been around for decades. While they share some similarities, there are also some key differences between these two beloved brands.

In this article, we’ll break down the pros, cons, features, and FAQs to help you decide which steakhouse chain is best for you.

A Brief Comparison Table

AspectsWestern SizzlinSizzler
Founded1962, Augusta, GA1958, Culver City, CA
# of Locations~90~90
LocationsSoutheastern USWest Coast, CA focus
Menu FocusSteaksSteaks, Ribs, Salmon, Shrimp
Cooking StyleMesquite wood grillOpen flame grill
Signature ItemsNoneSalad bar, Cheese toast
Price Per Person$15-$30$15-$30
Takeout/DeliveryCall-in, 3rd party deliveryOnline ordering, delivery
Loyalty ProgramNoneDiscontinued (Sizzler Club)
Brand ReputationRegional favoriteNational nostalgia

A Brief History of Western Sizzlin and Sizzler

First opening its doors in 1962 in Augusta, Georgia, Western Sizzlin is a southeastern US-based chain known for its flame-grilled steaks. It differentiates itself by cooking steaks over an open “mesquite wood grill” in each location. As of 2023, there are around 90 Western Sizzlin locations, predominantly in southeastern states.

Western Sizzlin

Sizzler, on the other hand, was founded in 1958 by Del and Helen Johnson in Culver City, California. The original Sizzler Family Steak House branded itself as an “Australian-style” steakhouse when it first opened up.

Sizzler expanded nationwide throughout the 1960s and 1970s, becoming known for its signature steaks, salad bar, and “Sizzler cheese toast.” At its peak popularity in the 1990s, Sizzler had over 230 locations. Today, after a decline in the 2000s, Sizzler maintains around 90 locations, mostly on the West Coast.

So while both chains originated around the same time, Western Sizzlin has maintained a strong southeastern regional presence, while Sizzler grew rapidly nationwide before declining back to a West Coast-focused brand.

Also Read: Comparison Between Chicago Steak Company And Kansas City Steaks

Key Differences Between Western Sizzlin and Sizzler

  • The Steakhouse Dining Experience

When you walk into a Western Sizzlin or Sizzler, you’ll notice they share a similar casual, family-friendly steakhouse atmosphere. Both chains offer a full-service dining experience with steaks cooked over open grills in each restaurant.

However, Sizzler locations tend to have more of a polished, retro 1950s diner aesthetic in their furnishings and decor. Western Sizzlin locations offer a bit more of a rustic, lodge-like wood-heavy decor.

In terms of service, customers at both chains can expect attentive but casual wait staff helping them through the ordering and dining experience. Neither Sizzler nor Western Sizzlin aim for a fancy, white-tablecloth steakhouse vibe – it’s more about good times and good value for the whole family.

  • The Steakhouse Menus: Key Items Compared

While the atmosphere may be similar between Sizzler and Western Sizzler, their menus do show some clear differences when you dive in. Here are some of the highlights:


Both restaurants are centered around flame-grilled steaks, but they take different approaches. Western Sizzlin is all about the mesquite wood char-grilled flavor on steaks like the New York Strip, T-Bone, and Porterhouse among other wet-aged USDA cuts.

Sizzler, on the other hand, doesn’t focus on any single grilling style. You’ll find New York Strip, Tri-Tip Sirloin, and Top Sirloin steaks along with options like barbecue ribs, fried shrimp, and grilled salmon. So Sizzler aims for more variety versus Western Sizzlin’s steak-focused menu.

Salad Bar

One of Sizzler’s signature features through its history has been the “Sizzler Salad Bar” allowing guests to create their own fresh salads and cold side dishes. Western Sizzlin locations do not offer self-serve salad bars.

Sizzler Cheese Toast

Unique to Sizzler is their famous “Sizzler Cheese Toast” – thick slices of texas toast grilled and topped with cheese. It’s become a nostalgic signature item you can’t get anywhere else.


Sides are pretty standard steakhouse fare at both chains, featuring options like seasoned fries, baked potatoes, rice pilaf, and dinner rolls. One unique item at Western Sizzlin is the option to substitute sides for a soup or salad bowl. Sizzler’s signature salad bar provides an alternative for sides as well.

  • Beverages & Desserts

Expect to find soft drinks, iced tea, coffee, beer, and wine options at both restaurants. Sizzler and Western Sizzlin also offer ice cream-based desserts and sundaes.

So in terms of the core menu, Sizzler aims to provide a little more variety beyond just steak, while Western Sizzlin doubles down on steak options and grill-focused flavors. But both deliver a solid range of American steakhouse classics.

  • Comparison of Price Point & Value

Given their more budget-friendly and family-focused positioning among steakhouse chains, both Sizzler and Western Sizzlin offer reasonable prices and good value for money spent:

  1. Entree prices for steaks, ribs, chicken, etc. range from $9-$25 at Western Sizzlin and $11-$23 at Sizzler. So very similar price points.
  2. At Sizzler, the salad bar is a good value add-on starting at just $5 with entree purchase.
  3. Sizzler also offers a range of combination meal deals that bundle mains with salad bar access and cheese toast, starting around $15. Good for families looking to save.
  4. Overall, customers at both chains can expect to spend around $15-$30 per person for an entree, side, and drink. That delivers good steakhouse value compared to pricier sit-down chains.

While steaks may be a couple dollars cheaper at Western Sizzlin, Sizzler combos and salad bar even out the value proposition between the two brands nicely.

How Do They Handle To-Go and Delivery?

Both Western Sizzlin and Sizzler adapted their service models to accelerating take-away and delivery trends over the last decade. Here’s a quick comparison on how they handle it:

  1. Western Sizzlin offers call-in take out at all locations. Delivery is available through third-party apps like DoorDash and Grubhub where available.
  2. Sizzler also offers call-in take out, but has more directly integrated third-party delivery into its online ordering system. You can order take-out or delivery directly from the Sizzler website or app.
  3. One limitation for both chains is that signature items like Sizzler’s salad bar and cheese toast don’t always translate perfectly to take-out and delivery. But customers can still enjoy the full entrees and side dishes.
  4. Sizzler does seem to have invested more in its online ordering capabilities to adapt to a mobile delivery world. Western Sizzlin’s model relies more on calling the local restaurant directly.

So while both allow take-out and delivery, Sizzler may have an edge on convenience through its integrated digital ordering options. But you can satisfy your steak craving from either chain without dining in.

Which Brand Has More Locations?

As we covered in the history overview earlier, Sizzler reached its peak in the 1990s with over 230 locations across the United States. However, the brand has declined over the last 20 years down to around 90 total locations today. Most Sizzler restaurants still open are in California, with a few remaining in states like Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and Nevada.

Western Sizzlin has maintained a more consistent regional presence, predominantly in southeastern states like Georgia, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee where it originally established itself in the 1960s and 70s. The brand has around 90 locations today, similar to the current Sizzler footprint.

So in terms of geographic coverage, Western Sizzlin has a stronger foothold in the Southeast, while Sizzler focuses primarily on the West Coast with some locations in the Southwest. Sizzler had a much larger national presence decades ago, which has contracted back to its western roots today.

Loyalty Programs: Do They Offer Discounts?

Neither Western Sizzlin nor Sizzler have major loyalty programs for return customers today. Sizzler used to offer a “Sizzler Club” loyalty program with discounts and bonus offers for members, but it was discontinued in 2018.

Currently, the only discounts available are through limited time offers advertised on the chains’ websites or social media pages. For example, Sizzler occasionally promotes a 15% off deal for online orders. Western Sizzlin may advertise special savings on certain entree and side combinations.

But there are no ongoing loyalty programs for return visits at either steakhouse chain. The value comes from reasonable menu prices across the board rather than discounts for loyal guests. Of course, coupons may be available via third-party promo code sites as well.

Which Brand Has the Stronger Reputation?

Both Western Sizzlin and Sizzler garnered loyalty over the years as affordable steakhouse chains known for grilled steaks and upbeat ambiance. However, Sizzler does seem to have a stronger nostalgic connection, especially for those who grew up visiting their local Sizzler in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The signature salad bar and cheese toast created fond memories for many customers.

Today, Western Sizzlin has maintained a solid southeastern fanbase that continues to enjoy no-frills, mesquite wood grilled steaks at reasonable prices. The brand doesn’t aim to be fancy – just a dependable spot for good steakhouse classics.

Sizzler maintains a loyal West Coast following, especially in its home state of California. But the declining national footprint has made it more of a regional nostalgia brand versus the nationwide steakhouse icon it once was. The salad bar, cheese toast, fried shrimp, and surf-and-turf options remain favorites for long-time Sizzler devotees.

Overall, Sizzler enjoys more national brand equity, even if limited geographically today. Its signature menu items and family-focused concept are lodged in customers’ memories. But both chains have their loyalists to this day.

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Which Steakhouse Chain Comes Out On Top?

When weighing all the key considerations, is Western Sizzlin or Sizzler the better overall steakhouse chain? Here’s a quick breakdown of the key differences and strengths of each brand:

Western Sizzlin

  • Strong regional presence in Southeast
  • Better focus on quality grilled steaks
  • Signature mesquite wood grilled flavor
  • Ranch casual ambiance and decor


  • Wider national brand recognition and nostalgia
  • More varied menu beyond just steak
  • Signature salad bar and cheese toast
  • Retro 1950s diner decor aesthetic
  • Strong West Coast footprint

For steak purists who prioritize high-quality grilling and seasoning, Western Sizzlin may have the edge. Those craving more variety and signature sides like Sizzler’s salad bar may prefer that chain.

Based on national brand strength and fond memories, Sizzler could be considered the winner. But for dependable char-grilled steaks at good value, Western Sizzlin wins regionally in many southeastern minds.

Ultimately it’s a matter of individual preference between two classic American steakhouse chains. No matter which you choose, you’re sure to enjoy a satisfying steak meal in a comfortable, family-friendly setting. Both Western Sizzlin and Sizzler deliver decades of grilling experience at prices families can afford.

Also Read: Differences Between Fogo de Chão And Chima: Which Brazilian Steakhouse Is Best?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Still trying to choose or learn more about Western Sizzlin and Sizzler? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is Western Sizzlin and Sizzler the same thing?

No, Western Sizzlin and Sizzler are competing American steakhouse chains. They each originated in the early 1960s but have always been separate brands.

What happened to Sizzler?

Sizzler experienced rapid nationwide growth through the 1970s to 1990s, reaching over 230 locations. But the brand contracted back to around 90 mostly West Coast locations after declining popularity in the 2000s. It remains a regional favorite with nostalgic brand equity.

Is Sizzlers American?

Yes, Sizzler was founded in California and is considered an American steakhouse chain, known for signature items like its salad bar and cheese toast.

Where do Sizzler steaks come from?

Sizzler uses USDA Choice grade steaks from cattle raised in the Midwestern United States. Top sirloin is their most popular cut, but they also offer New York strip, tri-tip sirloin, ribeye, and filet mignon options.

Is Western Sizzlin or Sizzler better?

There is no definitive “better” option. Western Sizzlin may be preferable for steak purists, while Sizzler offers more menu variety. They provide similar family-friendly, budget-conscious steakhouse dining experiences but with different strengths.

The Final Take

While newer steakhouse chains have come and gone, Western Sizzlin and Sizzler have stuck around for 60+ years for good reason. Their tried-and-true formulas emphasizing value, variety, and a casual welcoming atmosphere have sustained generations of devoted customers.

Both brands have their regional strongholds – Western Sizzlin in the Southeast and Sizzler out West. Consumers just looking for an affordable, satisfying steak in a comfortable environment can’t go wrong with either. Plus, each chain has their unique hooks, whether it’s Western’s mesquite wood grilling or Sizzler’s salad bar and cheese toast.

In the end, the longevity and continued local popularity of both Western Sizzlin and Sizzler proves there’s room for different takes on the classic American steakhouse. When you want the hearty flavors of juicy grilled steaks and sides without breaking the budget, these two chains deliver quality, value, and consistency. That’s why they’ve earned their place in the meat-loving hearts of so many consumers over the decades.

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