It doesn’t matter how high class you are, even if you prefer your martini shaken and not stirred. Few can resist the allure of half-price apps as the day slowly comes to an end. With tantalizing promises of one buck beverages, Applebee’s has rightfully claimed its stake in the world of affordable chain restaurants since it opened its first location in 1980 (via Applebee’s).
While many restaurants tailor their menus to simplicity with a focus on the type of cuisine, Applebee’s, touted as the "Neighborhood Bar and Grill," has a menu that reads like a laundry list of all-American delights, complete with plenty of fried delicacies. As you navigate the potential minefield of a menu choice that could potentially result in a freezer-burned entrée or disappointing appetizer, what should you really order?
Though the restaurant chain may have received some flack over the years, like the one former line cook who, according to their Reddit post, calls it ‘Microbees’ for the chain’s alleged use of microwaves to cook darn near everything on the menu. However, Applebee’s does, in fact, have appliances other than the microwave and dishwasher. You’ve just got to know what to avoid. We’re spilling the tea on what dishes the employees of Applebee’s won’t even eat so you can be better informed for your next visit.
Applebee’s staff doesn’t recommend the dollar drinks
It’s Friday night and you want to kick back with your crew over a few cocktails after a tough work week. We’ve been there, trust us. Problem is, you’re one week out from payday. This means that you’re looking for an affordable, yet fun drink option that doesn’t have you home alone sipping a glass of Two Buck Chuck. Thanks to Applebee’s launch of the $1 cocktail of the month, you can save yourself from self-loathing and belly up to the bar or restaurant table, cocktail in hand. These drinks, served in 10-ounce mugs, rotate each month and have been known to cater to the season or even a holiday. One May saw a festive Margarita for Cinco De Mayo, reports VinePair, while in celebration of Mardi Gras they launched a dollar Hurricane (via Delish). Let the good times roll, right? Eh, not so much.
What’s the trouble with these drinks? They seem to be nothing more than mere sugar bombs with minimal amounts of alcohol. Mass-produced in a literal bucket according to Huffington Post, these drinks combine low-quality alcohol with gallons of a cheap mixer. When one Reddit user asked what the difference was between the $1 Long Island Iced Teas and the regular, a former employee reported that "the regularly priced drinks actually have alcohol in them. That’s the difference." Mic drop. Sorry to put you on blast, Applebee’s, but, like other mixed drinks, the dollar drinks are too good to be true.
Staff cautions against stir-fried Applebee’s dishes
Are you that picky customer who’s always badgering the waiter with requests and modifications? Well, dear picky eater, you may want to avoid this type of dish on your next visit. In a Reddit thread where current and former employees dish all, one Applebee’s staff member gave us good reason to never order anything stir-fried. According to this user, many of the items at Applebee’s are precooked and even pre-packaged, making it impossible for the customer to make any substitutions. They explain that "It is impossible to take out certain ingredients i.e. peppers in the stir fries."
Employees go on to explain that while they could remove the undesirable vegetable from the mix by hand, it would certainly not be time effective. In addition to time management, this could also cause issues when it comes down to the customer’s dietary needs and allergy concerns. The moral of the story is that, if you think a particular meal is pre-packaged and might contain something that you want to be modified, move right along.
Applebee’s rib platter isn’t all that appetizing, says staff
While Applebee’s serves up plenty of fried goodies in the form of boneless wings and mozzarella sticks, it was the restaurant’s Riblets that put them on the map. Often offered as an all-you-can-eat promotion, this cult favorite features juicy pieces of pork, cut from rib tips, that are then slathered in sweet barbecue sauce. Complete with a side of creamy coleslaw and French fries, these may sound like a good idea for the hungry patron, but you may want to think again.
According to Business Insider, this style of cut may have a smaller bone than traditional ribs. Even worse, the portion of the meat you get from each cut is also much smaller than other options. While it may not be so much of an issue if Applebee’s is running the all-you-can-eat promotion, if you’re paying out of pocket for one serving, you’ll likely leave with a rumble in your tummy. One former employee tells Business Insider "If any customer showed interest in the riblet platter, I would strongly suggest the half or full rack of original ribs instead." In a heated chain discussing these bits of pork on Reddit, one user who happened to be a former employee baldly commented that "Friends don’t let friends eat Applebee’s." Point noted. Sometimes there are things you simply should never order at Applebee’s.
Applebee’s staff avoids anything on the low-calorie menu
With calorie counting, the usually delightful task of going out to dinner can be drained of any fun. Many restaurant chains have been quick to adapt to the dietary needs of their customers, ready to hop on board with in an attempt to attract customers. What was once impossible to do years ago is now feasible as dieters can dine out with ease thanks to many spots now offering a selection of clearly marked items just for them. So, to welcome dieters trying to lose an extra few, Applebee’s launched a new low-calorie menu back in 2012 (via Foodbeast).
With this under-550 calorie menu, diners were led to believe that they could still have that same great flavor with much less guilt. The health-conscious could finally indulge in some sizzling chili lime chicken or even a roasted garlic sirloin, ads implied. Yet, according to Redbook, one employee divulged that not all of the offerings are actually under 550 calories. The dishes are calculated using the Weight Watchers point system, an arguably inefficient method that means some items have well over their claimed amount of calories. Furthermore, just because an item is lower in calories does not mean it can’t max out your daily allotment of fats and salt. One former Applebee’s employee joked on a Reddit thread that "most of it is loaded with so much fat and sodium that it’ll kill you just by looking at it funny."
Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger isn’t a staff favorite
There are many reasons you may want to avoid a burger when ordering out. Besides the potential of it being cooked into an inedible, well-done hockey buck by an inexperienced or uncaring cook, restaurant burgers are often riddled with empty calories, saturated fat, and sodium. Sometimes, it can also be kind of confusing. As a monster of a mashup, the Applebee’s Quesadilla Burger is a baffling hybrid. Is it a burger? Is it a quesadilla? It’s both actually, and your waistline is going to pay for it. According to CBS News, this entree will set you back a staggering 1,240 calories, with 103 grams of fat and 3,530 milligrams of sodium. Yikes. We’re experiencing heart palpitations just thinking of it.
If we’re going to risk our health to that extent, what we put in our mouths had better be other-worldly delicious. One Reddit user and employee states that the burger is merely "okay. Five Guys make a better burger in my honest opinion." Another proclaims that it’s "the worst thing I have ever eaten from an Applebee’s." Perhaps you should consider heading to a different spot when your next burger craving hits.
Mashed potatoes don’t make it to the Applebee’s staff menu favorites
A side of mashed potatoes sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? Heck, we’re not even so holier-than-thou that we can’t enjoy a side of instant mashed potatoes from time to time. But, when we eat out, don’t we all expect something as simple as mashed potatoes to be made from scratch? Are we asking too much? We think not, since there are precious few ingredients that go into the ultra-simple dish. Yet, that may not be the case for the side of mashed potatoes available from Applebee’s.
One former line cook explained on Reddit that because of the sheer amount of pre-cooked and pre-packaged items the workers would refer to it as ‘Microbees.’ Another employee went on to explain: "the location I worked at switched from making mashed potatoes from scratch and started using frozen, pre-made red-skin mashed potatoes in a bag." If you absolutely must have the mashed potatoes along with your sirloin, we get it. But, you’ve been warned. It’s not exactly fine dining if it comes out of a plastic bag in the kitchen.
Applebee’s Steak isn’t recommended
We’re always down for a good steak. When a quality piece of meat is cooked to perfection, it can’t help but make tastebuds sing in harmony as you enjoy every last morsel. But, when a lackluster piece of beef is improperly cooked, it leaves much to the imagination, not to mention a pretty disappointed diner. While you can cook up a nice steak fairly easily by yourself, it’s also true that you sometimes want to leave the work up to others. But should you order a steak from Applebee’s?
In a Reddit thread discussing this Applebee’s menu item, one user notes that a steak was somehow "undercooked and burnt" at the same time. The reality made it even more cringeworthy when another user realized that the sad steak salad came out to more than $22. A former staff member, who calls himself a former "Crapplebee’s manager", explained: "honestly, it’s freezer burned, vacuum packed, faux color-saturated meat. You pay 20 dollars for an appetizer, 2 entrees, and drinks; you get what you pay for. Regardless of this salad being $22, profit margins come from somewhere and Applebees is failing." If you’re still asking yourself ‘Where’s the beef?’, just head to one of these steakhouses that serves up quality steaks worthy of your hard-earned dollars.
Chips are a surprising staff thumbs-down at Applebee’s
Chips and dip are a safe bet when looking for an appetizer that is sure to please everyone, as long as you promise not to double dip. A staple at many parties, chips are an affordable way to get the evening going. But, there is absolutely no reason you should ever order it when dining out, as the price markup alone is enough to send us running out the door. Applebee’s does claim that their chips are freshly made in-house from white corn, but they still arguably taste just like the standard bag of chips you could pick up from any grocery store.
In a Reddit post from an Applebee’s line cook, one user poses the question about which menu item is the most improperly priced offering. The employee doesn’t hesitate and states simply, "Chips LOL." If you’ve got a hankering for chips and absolutely must have it, may we suggest pairing the chips with something other than their standard jarred salsa? Their spinach and artichoke dip is actually pretty decent and remains a safe bet from their appetizer list.
Applebee’s lava cake isn’t a staff favorite
Do you have a wickedly powerful sweet tooth? You’re not alone. There’s something fundamentally and utterly satisfying about ending a meal with just a bit of sweetness. Or a lot. We’ve never been known to shy away from the occasional scoop of ice cream or a luscious piece of homemade cheesecake. In a survey shared on Restaurant Business, an estimated 70 percent of people eat out for dessert at least once a week. Given that consumer trend, of course, Applebee’s is on board to satisfy our every dessert craving.
Their caramel apple blondie is pretty legit in terms of standard chain restaurant dessert offerings, but let’s imagine that, today, you’re craving something of the chocolate variety. The triple chocolate meltdown sounds like a safe bet, doesn’t it? It’s a chocolate cake that is fudge-filled and topped with white and dark chocolate and even comes with a scoop of ice cream on the side. Unfortunately for you, that is not a fresh-baked item that pops out of the oven and onto your table. In a Redbook interview with a former employee, it’s revealed that, upon receiving an order, an Applebee’s employee grabs pre-made, molten lava cake out of cold storage and simply microwaves the treat. We think we’ll take our business elsewhere for the final course.
Applebee’s staff don’t really recommend the gluten free items
Gluten-free is a term thrown around often in the diet industry, but for many, their gluten intolerance is critical. People with celiac disease or other gluten intolerance issues must pay close attention to their foods in order to live a long, healthy life. Navigating a menu’s gluten-free options can prove to be a difficult challenge. Besides the item needing to be free of all gluten, it also can not be cooking in the same fryer or grill. One mistake with cross-contamination and this could be a big-time liability for any restaurant. Allergy issues are nothing to joke with, especially in the restaurant biz.
On the blog Find Me Gluten Free, which discusses the challenges of dining out on a gluten-free diet, many readers have taken to the forum to discuss how terrible the gluten free offerings are at Applebee’s. One user claims: "They told us they got rid of their separate fryer. They also couldn’t say if the meat was safe, even without buns. They seemed to have no idea about dealing with food allergies and the manager seemed annoyed" Another reader warned: "Speak to a manager about your allergy. Otherwise, I’m not confident in their ability to prevent cross contamination." Over on Reddit, one employee further confirmed other diners’ suspicions when they wrote that "the chips are fried in the same oil as everything else, so watch out for that one."
Applebee’s staff can’t really recommend the oriental chicken salad
New year, new you, right? So, you’re kicking your resolutions into high gear and finally going to lose those stubborn pounds. Of course, there’s no reason to deny yourself the pleasures of eating out and so you vow to only order a salad. The Oriental Chicken Salad is a longtime staple on the Applebee’s menu, so you might assume that it’s safe. Sadly, it holds more calories than a standard burger, with its two majority ingredients being sugar and chicken fat. Chicken fat? Yep. This one will set you back an astonishing 1,560 calories, according to Applebee’s itself.
One restaurant staffer writing on Reddit claimed that "I work at an Applebees now and it disgusts me when people order 2 extra oriental dressings. [They] are like 300 calories per 4 ounce ramekin." Another goes on to state that "My sister worked there – she told me that was one of the least healthy things you can order on the menu because of the salad dressing. And then she would tell me how people would order extra dressing and then pat themselves on the back for being healthy and ordering a salad." If you’re looking to avoid gaining five pounds in one meal, avoid this seemingly healthy salad at all costs.
Even the Applebee’s cheese sticks aren’t the tastiest
Who doesn’t love a perfectly fried mozzarella cheese stick? We’ll wait. In the best version of this dish, ooey, gooey melted mozzarella cheese is encased in flavorful bread crumbs and crisped to perfection in a fryer. It’s then served with a side of marinara dipping sauce. Sounds nearly impossible to screw up, doesn’t it? Well, Applebee’s isn’t exactly known for its freshly prepared dishes. Like their other fried offerings, these arrive at the restaurant from a factory as rather sad frozen bits of cheese and breading. A user on Quora explains, "I refer to this type of ‘casual’ restaurant as ‘factory cooked’. Most of the food that you buy in chain restaurants is cooked in a factory and reheated at the store."
A general rule of thumb when deciding upon what to order can be summed up by this Applebee’s employee writing on Reddit, who states that "most anything that comes out of the fryer goes into it frozen."