14 Popular Casual Chain Restaurant Chocolate Cakes Ranked Worst To Best, According To Customers

Slice of chocolate cake
Slice of chocolate cake - Gmvozd/Getty Images

There's nothing better than ending a nice dinner with a slice of decadent chocolate cake. The luscious texture and sweet, buttery flavor give you an instant hit, and there's science behind why chocolate cake gives you such a feel-good boost. According to the Australian Academy of Science, chocolate contains chemicals and compounds that stimulate pleasure centers in the brain. With that in mind, it's no wonder chocolate cake is a dessert staple at so many chain restaurants.

Chain restaurant chocolate cake recipes vary vastly, from classic chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing to warm molten chocolate lava cake, and silky chocolate cheesecake. Some versions are dusted with cocoa powder, drizzled with fudge sauce, or served with ice cream on the side. Others are served straight-up, showcasing the chocolate in all its glory.

No matter which style of chocolate cake you prefer, there's no doubt that some restaurant chains have better versions than others. For all the chocoholics out there, we've ranked 14 chocolate cakes from popular casual chain restaurants to help you determine where to get your next dessert fix. We've ranked these based on customer reviews and we'll explain more of our methodology at the end. But for now, bring on the chocolate!

Read more: The Most Overrated Chain Restaurants In The US, According To The Mashed Staff

14. Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake - Cracker Barrel

Chocolate Cake from Cracker Barrel
Chocolate Cake from Cracker Barrel - crackerbarrel/Instagram

Cracker Barrel is known for its Southern comfort food like fried chicken and country-fried steak. The desserts are just as regional with offerings like peach cobbler and the chain's famous Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake. The dish features chocolate cake and chocolate fudge frosting infused with Coca-Cola. If you dine in, the cake also comes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you've never had Coca-Cola cake before, you may be tempted to try the chain's version. However, there are several reasons why you should steer clear of Cracker Barrel's Double Fudge Coca-Cola Cake. First, the sugar is off the charts. According to the company's nutrition guide, one serving contains 84 grams of sugar. In addition, the cake gets some pretty bad reviews from diners. One TripAdvisor reviewer said that it, "Tasted like it came out of a box, dry as a bone, didn't taste like it used to either." Another disgruntled diner left a Google review that said, "The chocolate cake was nothing but a dry, rectangular piece of cake from a pan."

13. Triple Chocolate Meltdown - Applebee's

Chocolate cake from Applebee's
Chocolate cake from Applebee's - applebees/Instagram

Founded in 1980, Applebee's now has over 1,600 locations across the United States. The brand aims to be approachable and affordable, offering all-American dishes like burgers, boneless wings, and riblets with fries. If you're looking for something sweet and chocolatey to add to your meal, the Triple Chocolate Meltdown is the chain's version of a molten chocolate lava cake. It consists of chocolate cake filled with fudge, drizzled with more hot fudge for good measure, and served with vanilla ice cream on the side.

Part of the appeal of a good lava cake is cutting into it and seeing all that warm chocolate filling ooze out. Unfortunately, that's not always what you get at Applebee's. Many diners say the cake is dry and either lacks chocolate in the center or the fudge inside is hard instead of gooey. One customer commented on TripAdvisor, "Perhaps most disappointing of all was the Triple Chocolate Meltdown. Clearly a frozen cake novelty that is zapped in the microwave when ordered. The "hot" fudge was clumpy and cold in spots." The flavors may not be terrible, but the sad center places Applebee's chocolate cake second to last on our list.

12. Belgian Chocolate Soufflé Cake - California Pizza Kitchen

Chocolate cake, California Pizza Kitchen
Chocolate cake, California Pizza Kitchen - cpk/Instagram

Just like the name suggests, California Pizza Kitchen specializes in pizzas. If you love BBQ chicken pizza, you can thank the chain for that, as they popularized it in 1985. Pizzas aren't the only thing on the menu though. CPK also offers soups, salads, pasta, and desserts. There are four sweet treats on their menu: the Butter Cake, Key Lime Pie, Red Velvet Cake, and the Belgian Chocolate Soufflé Cake. The latter is a warm chocolate cake served with hot fudge, cacao nibs, and whipped cream. A scoop of vanilla Häagen-Dazs ice cream is optional.

Unfortunately, the Belgian Chocolate Soufflé Cake fails to impress many diners. One Yelp reviewer remarked, "When you think of a soufflé you think of something airy and light. But this was just not that. The flavor was there, but the texture felt very off. It was like eating a deflated undercooked brownie mix." Other customers comment that it tastes microwaved and that it's disappointing for the price. When it comes to dessert at CPK, the Butter Cake gets much better reviews. If you still need your chocolate fix, take one Yelp reviewer's advice and ask to have your Butter Cake topped with chocolate sauce.

11. Warm Chocolate Cake - Bravo! Italian Kitchen

Chocolate cake from Bravo Italian
Chocolate cake from Bravo Italian - bravoitaliankitchen/Instagram

Bravo! Italian Kitchen is all about indulgent dishes like hearty meatballs, lasagna, and chicken parmesan. The chain also offers an array of desserts to finish off your Italian feast. If it's chocolate you're after, the Warm Chocolate Cake sounds tempting with its promise of a molten chocolate center. The cake is complemented by crème anglaise and vanilla bean gelato. Molten chocolate cake can be utterly decadent if done correctly, but many diners find that Bravo's version doesn't quite hit the mark.

Complaints about the Warm Chocolate Cake seem to come down to temperature and texture. More than a few patrons reported that their cake came out cold and that it ruined the experience. One diner said on Yelp, "We ordered dessert (chocolate lava cake) and when it was brought to the table, it was a congealed mess, not hot." A Google reviewer said the cake was like a "lukewarm mushy brownie," while another Google review stated that the cake had "no molten center and was like dense curdled custard." If you're a fan of molten chocolate lava cake, you may find Bravo's take on it disappointing.

10. Ultimate Chocolate Cake - IHOP

IHOP chocolate cake
IHOP chocolate cake - ihop/Instagram

IHOP may stand for International House of Pancakes, but as anyone who has visited the chain knows, there are plenty of other items on the menu to tempt you. The Ultimate Chocolate Cake aims to please chocolate fanatics with multiple cocoa-infused layers. These include a chocolate cookie crust, chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, and chocolate chips. The cake was added to the menu in 2023 along with the Cinnamon Dippers dessert. Based on how few reviews there are about the cake online, it's clear that it hasn't exactly wowed diners.

While some IHOP patrons comment on how chocolatey the Ultimate Chocolate Cake is, others found it failed to impress. One Yelp reviewer said the cake was quite small and simply called it, "gross." Another patron left a Google review stating that the cake was "kind of frozen." It's simply not one of IHOP's popular menu items and that may be because so many of their pancakes and waffles are already sinfully sweet. Adding chocolate cake to the mix may seem like overkill, or as one Reddit user sarcastically put it, "Nothing like dessert with breakfast after having dessert for breakfast."

9. Sogno Di Cioccolata Chocolate Dream - Carrabba's Italian Grill

Chocolate Dream, Carabba's
Chocolate Dream, Carabba's - carrabbas/Instagram

Founded in Houston, Texas in 1986, Carrabba's Italian Grill offers hearty Italian dishes that are inspired by family recipes. While their mains are often praised by diners, the desserts get mixed reviews. In particular, the Sogno di Cioccolata "Chocolate Dream" seems to have guests divided with some saying the dessert lives up to its name and others who think it's more like a nightmare.

The Chocolate Dream features layers of fudge brownie, chocolate mousse, and whipped cream, all drizzled with chocolate sauce. Those who like it use adjectives like "decadent" and "divine." However, there are just as many diners who say it's pretty unappetizing. For example, a customer on Yelp commented, "The Chocolate dream cake is definitely frozen and tastes like a freezer." Another customer left a Google review stating that it was "dry as if it had been sitting out for a day or two."

8. Chocolate Wave - Red Lobster

Chocolate Wave cake at Red Lobster
Chocolate Wave cake at Red Lobster - redlobster/Instagram

After a decadent seafood dinner at Red Lobster, you may be tempted to order a slice of chocolate cake to top off your meal. That is if you haven't filled up on loads of Cheddar Bay Biscuits. But be warned — the calorie count places the Chocolate Wave on our list of restaurant desserts you should avoid at all costs. A single serving of this rich chocolate cake with fudge frosting, vanilla ice cream, and fudge sauce rings in at a whopping 1,100 calories. It also packs 93 grams of sugar.

Priced at around $10, the Chocolate Wave isn't exactly cheap either. However, despite its cost and the calorie count, some diners have okay things to say about the dessert. Some say the portion size is good and the cake has great cocoa flavor. However, some find it a bit sugary and slightly underwhelming. One Google review stated, "The cake was really rich and sweet. Good, but the vanilla ice cream it came with seemed low quality."

7. Chocolate Stampede - LongHorn Steakhouse

Chocolate Stampede, LongHorn Steakhouse
Chocolate Stampede, LongHorn Steakhouse - longhornsteaks/Instagram

LongHorn Steakhouse prides itself on serving succulent steaks, along with an array of tempting sides like loaded baked potatoes and mac and cheese. If you have room for more after your steak dinner, the Chocolate Stampede is an enticing dessert option. The dish comes with not one, but two slices of cake consisting of six different types of chocolate, and it's paired with two scoops of vanilla ice cream. According to LongHorn, it's "so big, you'll need the whole herd."

Although diners have some good things to say about the Chocolate Stampede, there are a few reasons it ranks in the middle of our list. For one, it contains an astonishing 2,460 calories. That's more than double the amount that Red Lobster's Chocolate Wave contains. However, we placed it slightly above the Chocolate Wave because it's priced similarly at around $10, but you get double the portion. As one Google reviewer said, "You can't beat the Chocolate Stampede if you don't mind an extra 2,500 calories; it's big enough for 4 people."

6. The Great Wall Of Chocolate - P.F. Chang's

Chocolate cake P.F. Chang's
Chocolate cake P.F. Chang's - pfchangs/Instagram

If you're craving Pan-Asian cuisine, P.F. Chang's does some decent takes on popular dishes like chicken lettuce wraps, wonton soup, shrimp dumplings, and beef with broccoli. The desserts are more Western-inspired with offerings like the New York Cheesecake, Apple Crunch, and Chocolate Soufflé. If you want to go into chocolate overload, The Great Wall of Chocolate is a six-layer cake interspersed with velvety chocolate frosting and coated with crunchy semi-chocolate chips. It's served with fresh fruit and raspberry sauce to cut through the richness of the chocolate.

The Great Wall of Chocolate has a lot of things going for it. First off, the portion size is huge. As one TripAdvisor reviewer commented, "What a cake! So much [that] we had to take half home." One Google reviewer said it was "enough for four people to share." Customers also comment on how rich and chocolatey the cake tastes and how the raspberry sauce adds a tart touch. At about $12.50, it is slightly pricey though. It also contains 115 grams of sugar. If you're set on trying it, we recommend sharing it with a dining companion or even the whole table.

5. Chocolate Cake - Portillo's

Chocolate cake, Portillo's
Chocolate cake, Portillo's - portilloshotdogs/Instagram

Chicago-born chain Portillo's is famous for its hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, and incredibly rich chocolate cake. The cake is so popular that the chain also serves it in milkshake form. According to Portillo's website, the cakes are made in-house every morning and feature two layers of cake sandwiched between and encased by two pounds of thick frosting. At about $4 for a slice or about $30 for a whole cake, it's also a steal.

The secret to Portillo's moist, fluffy cake is mayonnaise. It may sound bizarre, but as David Warner reported for Registry Tampa Bay, "That dollop of mayonnaise does the trick. Portillo's cake is indeed very moist, with a pleasantly velvety crumb." The thick icing also adds to the richness of the cake. As one diner said in a Google review, it's the "perfect balance of sweetness, chocolate, and moisture." Portillo's chocolate cake is not for the faint-hearted though, and some customers find that it can be overly sweet for their tastes.

4. Black Tie Mousse Cake - Olive Garden

Black Tie Cake, Olive Garden
Black Tie Cake, Olive Garden - olivegarden/Instagram

Say what you will about Olive Garden, but there's no disputing it's many people's go-to spot when they want a reasonably priced Italian-inspired meal. The chain is best known for its crave-worthy breadsticks and tasty pasta dishes, but many diners say you shouldn't sleep on the desserts. Chocoholics might want to skip the Chocolate Lasagna, as it ranked as the worst Olive Garden dessert according to a Mashed poll. Instead, set your sights on the least hated dessert, the Black Tie Mousse Cake.

This layered cake starts with a base of dense chocolate cake, followed by a layer of dark chocolate cheesecake and a layer of creamy custard mousse. The final layer is a coating of chocolate ganache. The cake is also surrounded by chocolate chips. It's rich, smooth, and intensely chocolatey, but balanced out by the light custard and the crunchiness of the chips. It gets mostly favorable reviews from diners with many loving the chocolate flavor and contrasting textures. The only complaint some people have is that it's a bit small for the price.

3. Molten Lava Cake - Chili's

Molten Chocolate Cake, Chilli's
Molten Chocolate Cake, Chilli's - chilis/Instagram

With over 1,200 restaurants in 49 states, there's a good chance there's a Chili's close to you. The casual restaurant chain specializes in Southwestern fare like fajitas, ribs, steaks, and burgers with toppings like avocado and jalapeños. If you're hankering for dessert, the Molten Chocolate Cake is one of Chili's most popular menu items. The chocolate cake has a gooey hot fudge center and is topped with a scoop of ice cream with hardened chocolate sauce. The cake also gets a caramel drizzle for an extra hit of sweetness.

The Molten Chocolate Cake has plenty of fans who come back for it time after time. One Google reviewer said, "I usually like to go there simply for the sake of the Molten Chocolate Cake." Another patron left a Google review that said, "The Molten Chocolate Cake has been my all-time favorite dessert for the last 20+ years." Diners comment on the huge portion size, how warm and gooey the center is, and the great combo of the ice cream, sauces, and cake. A few diners commented that their cake wasn't heated up enough, but those seem to be isolated incidents.

2. Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake - Cheesecake Factory

Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake, Cheesecake Factory
Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake, Cheesecake Factory - cheesecakefactory/Instagram

If there is one place you should be able to get a decent piece of chocolate cake, it's the Cheesecake Factory. The chain has several cakes on the menu that feature chocolate, but based on many customer reviews, the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake is one of the best. TikToker lilkenney03 said, "It's extremely rich. That chocolate is so freaking good ... You can hardly taste any cheesecake. It's straight-up pure chocolate." In the Daily Meal's ranking of Cheesecake Factory flavors, they said of the cake, "Crafted with precision, it flawlessly combines multiple chocolate delights into one exquisite dessert."

The Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake cake starts with a layer of flourless chocolate cake topped with chocolate cheesecake, both of which are made with Godiva chocolate. Those layers are then topped with a light and creamy layer of chocolate mousse, chocolate powder, and a single square of Godiva chocolate. The result is a soft, moist cake that many say tastes as good as it looks. The only thing that holds this cake back from taking second place is that it might be too rich for some folks.

Static Media owns and operates Daily Meal and Mashed.

1. Chocolate Island - Bahama Breeze

Chocolate Island at Bahama Breeze
Chocolate Island at Bahama Breeze - nursefatchet/Instagram

Caribbean-inspired Bahama Breeze takes the cake (pun totally intended) with its Chocolate Island dessert. This dreamy creation includes a rich fudge brownie base topped with airy chocolate mousse, which is then drizzled in chocolate sauce. It's served with a vanilla bean crème anglaise sauce, topped with a dollop of whipped cream, and sprinkled with sliced almonds. It provides the perfect balance of denseness, lightness, smoothness, and crunch.

It's hard to find many negative reviews about Bahama Breeze's Chocolate Island. Most guests gush about how delicious it is. One Google reviewer summed it up nicely saying, "It had a brownie that was both chewy and fudgy. And a great vanilla bean sauce with whipped cream. Lastly, you get a fantastic added texture with the sliced almonds." The majority of guests seem to think the portion size is great, the flavors are spot on, and it's decadent without being too sweet. In fact, some diners go so far as to say it's their favorite dessert of all time and the best they've ever had. As one Google reviewer simply put it, "OMG."


Molten chocolate cake
Molten chocolate cake - Gado/Getty Images

To rank the best and worst chocolate cakes from chain restaurants we scoured the internet for customer reviews. We looked at what diners were saying on sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor, as well as food reviews on TikTok and YouTube. We considered factors that make or break a chocolate cake like moistness, texture, and of course, chocolate flavor. Calories, sugar content, and price also came into play. These are the chocolate cakes that customers thought were worth indulging in or skipping altogether.

Read the original article on Mashed