Top 10 TGI Friday’s menu items

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15: Jamie Foxx participates in a Brown Sugar Bourbon tasting during Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits TRADE DAY at the Grand Tasting hosted by Wine Spectator during the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One at Pier 76 on October 15, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 15: Jamie Foxx participates in a Brown Sugar Bourbon tasting during Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits TRADE DAY at the Grand Tasting hosted by Wine Spectator during the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Capital One at Pier 76 on October 15, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images for NYCWFF) /

Did anyone say happy hour? Be ready to be enticed folks, because you’ll see the word whiskey a whole heck of a lot in this article and in these menu items. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. After all, we are talking about the TGI Friday’s menu here.

The very first TGI Friday’s opened in New York in 1965 and was opened by Alan Stillman. The reason for him opening the bar is perhaps by now a very curious one, but heck it got the ball rolling so to speak.

According to Wikipedia, he opened the first location in New York because it was full of stewardesses, fashion models and secretaries, and he made the investment, took the plunge…put in $5,000 of his own money, borrowed an equal amount from his mom, and opened up a business and all for the goal of, hold on a second…wait for it…meeting women!

Stillman’s reasoning at the time:

"“There was no public place for people between, say, twenty-three to thirty-seven years old, to meet.”via Wikipedia (link above)"

It was established eventually as one of the first singles bars. Betty Friedan, who was an activist, feminist and writer, actually wrote about the TGI Friday’s phenomenon and the impact it had on the dating scene in America in her book, The Feminine Mystique.

"“I don’t think there was anything else like it at the time. Before TGI Fridays, four single twenty-five year-old girls were not going out on Friday nights, in public and with each other, to have a good time. They went to people’s apartments for cocktail parties or they might go to a real restaurant for a date or for somebody’s birthday, but they weren’t going out with each other to a bar for a casual dinner and drinks because there was no such place for them to go.”"

Stillman had his own take on it all, and actually stated that a famous Tom Cruise character was based on him.

"“Have you seen the movie Cocktail? Tom Cruise played me! I was lucky enough to do it for three years — he only did it to make a movie. Even today, the advantage of being the guy behind the bar is huge. Why do girls want to date the bartender? To this day, I’m not sure that I get it.”via"

You can’t make this stuff up, people. But God bless him, he started something and today the chain has a whopping 869 locations as of 2020, and a menu that is sought after by foodies…hence the purpose of this here piece.

What are the best menu items at TGI Friday’s?

TGI Friday’s has a special place in my heart, and no, being from Montreal, there isn’t a location all that close to me. I have to travel to indulge in this menu and I do so whenever I get the chance.

The first time I sampled the exquisite goods, so to speak, was on a trip to Philadelphia back in 2006. I had gone to the beautiful city on a tour of the Rocky franchise filming locations. Okay…so I had gone to try out Pat’s King Of Steaks as well; after all I’ve always been a foodie.

But on that fist day, it was all about that Rocky film. I had been really captivated as a child by those films and by Stallone’s rise amongst the ranks—he using his writing to make it and all. I can’t say I wasn’t inspired, seeing I became a writer and all.

But on that first day, I walked all the way from Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where my hotel was, to Kensington! Yes I walked. I had made a map before embarking on this adventure—the days of Map Quest; no cell phone GPS I’m afraid…sorry kiddos—and I failed to realize just how far that was.

Anyways, I got there eventually, so intent on sightseeing, I made little time to eat. Needless to say by the time I got back, seeing all of the locations (Mighty Mick’s gym (by then a dollar store), Rocky’s house, Adrian’s pet shop…even the bar where he and Paulie would stop for drinks…), I was famished. And what did I find right there on the same block as my hotel? You guessed it… TGI Friday’s.

The expression ‘it was love at first sight’ comes to mind here folks. And yeah, good old Friday’s and myself are still tight to this day. So much so in fact, I know a thing or two about their current menu, and which are the best things to hit, so without further ado…how about we do away with this trip down memory lane and get to it?

10. Foxx on The Roxx Boxx

Actor Jamie Foxx actually started his own line of Bourbon—specifically a brown sugar bourbon—and TGI Friday’s partnered up with the mega star to include his bourbon in their BBQ sauce recipe.

The special sauce tops many of the proteins offered at the restaurant, and this one has ribs and wings, slathered in this sauce and is served with fries.

9. Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich

Sometimes you’ve had enough with ribs, beef burgers and maybe even wings (I didn’t say I was done with these treasures, but some might), and well if you are a little fed up, sometimes there’s nothing like a fried chicken sandwich. This one has it all, the fried chicken, the lettuce…but what takes this one over the edge is the avocado and aioli.

8. Carlo’s Bakery Rainbow Cake

Okay, so desserts on a list like this? I’ve never really stayed away from that before, and really sometimes dessert definitely stands out. And we do sometimes eat with our eyes…I mean if something looks good, right?

Well, sometimes something so colorful just screams ‘try me,’ and you won’t be disappointed with this one. Six layers of rainbow colored vanilla cake, vanilla cream, sprinkles and a scoop of ice cream! Hello!

7. Oreo Madness – Fully Stuffed

Okay, so I’m still on dessert. But the magic word is involved here: Oreo. Are you with me? And it’s a giant Oreo at that, stuffed with ice cream, and covered in sprinkles…and judging by the last entry, you know how I feel about those sprinkles.

6. Million Dollar Cobb

I like to indulge in a Cobb Salad anywhere I go. If it’s on the menu, I’m game. It satisfies all cravings and is fresh. You’ve got your protein, your veggies, your dairy, all in one bowl, and TGI Friday’s makes a delicious bowl of Cobb…worth a million dollars I’d say. (See what I did there?)

Bacon, grilled chicken, Jack cheese…do I really need to keep going?

5. Cajun Shrimp and Chicken Pasta

I also need a pasta dish at a restaurant, and this one hits two cravings I often get: Chicken and shrimp. Add some deliciously sautéed pasta to the mix and you’ve got a party, a Cajun party. Now who doesn’t have a blast at one of those?

4. Chicken Parmesan Pasta

Now to stick to the pasta theme for just a second, this one combines what I feel is the best way to prepare and/or eat a chicken, and that is the wonder that is the chicken parmesan recipe…deep fried chicken breast, topped with tomato sauce and cheese. I’ll stop there.

3. Signature Whiskey Glaze Sesame

I don’t know why but this one reminds me of General Tao. Okay, so maybe it’s the sweet factor to the Whiskey glaze and the sesame combination, but the whiskey takes these deep fried strips of chicken to that drawer the good old general perhaps keeps in his desk drawer…you know for those extra long days on the job. No shame, General Tao. We all understand.

2. Surf ‘N’ Whiskey Turf

And also, a dish I’ve spoken about to great lengths. Back in my cooking days, I prepared a lot of surf n’ turf, and that’s always what I ate when shift came to an end. Like the Cobb Salad, it’s all there, but here you get mashed potatoes and delicious fried fish.

The TGI Friday’s version comes with sirloin, deep fried shrimp (dusted in Cajun seasoning), mashed potatoes, and garlic butter broccoli.

1. Philly Cheesesteak Burger

And taking us around full circle…I had gone to Philadelphia on that trip in part to try the greatest place to have a cheesesteak sandwich (I’m a Pat’s guy all the way), and on that first day, I had TGI Friday’s instead. Coincidence that they have a cheesesteak burger on the menu, eh? And a delicious one at that.

An ode to Golden Corral and the long-lost all you can eat buffet. dark. Next

Is anyone else wondering if Mr. Stillman ever met Mrs. Right? Wikipedia says he married by 1975, but it doesn’t say if he met her at his restaurant. Anyone know?