Coming across a juicy Reddit thread that lists all the horrible goings on at restaurants is always a little scary… you want to look, but should you? Is your favorite food at your favorite eatery listed? And if it is, what disgusting things are you about to learn? Maybe you prefer to keep your head in the sand on this particular issue — ignorance is bliss, right? But for those of you who think knowledge is power, combing these discussions is a must, if for no other reason than to (hopefully) clear a certain restaurant’s name.
To help you out a little, we picked through the endless comments to find out exactly which menu items restaurant chain workers recommend against most strongly. But be warned… your beloved P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps, Applebee’s dollar cocktails, half the menu at Buffalo Wild Wings, and more favorite dishes may be on the chopping block after reading this.
As always, with Reddit AMAs, take these claims with a grain of salt. Every employee hasn’t necessarily experienced these things, and each location could be different from the next. Well, we hope so, anyway.
The dollar cocktails at Applebee’s
A cocktail that costs one dollar seems to good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, you know the old saying… it probably is. That theory was confirmed when someone claiming to be a disgruntled Applebee’s bartender sent Darron Cardosa, better known as "The Bitchy Waiter," a video to share with his followers. In the video, we see the Dollarita being made, and honestly, it does not look delicious. Apparently it’s a mixture of one gallon each of bottom shelf tequila and generic margarita mix, and then three gallons of tap water. And it’s all made in a bucket, as one might expect dollar cocktails to be.
Another video shows that Applebee’s makes $1 Long Island iced teas using the same bucket method, but it’s still not exactly what you’d expect. You know how Long Islands typically have five different liquors in them? Well, the Applebee’s bargain version takes care of that with just one bottle of booze (apparently all of them combined?). It’s a mixture that the bartender who made the video says smells like "rubbing alcohol mixed with playdough." Mmm.
Bottom line: If Applebee’s is offering any kind of dollar drink, it’s obviously not going to be a craft cocktail. But hey, if you don’t really care what it tastes like–or what bucket it was mixed in–by all means…
The soup at TGI Fridays
Vegetarians beware—a TGI Fridays employee has a word of caution about the food, particularly their soups, saying, "… anything ‘vegetarian’ actually isn’t. All the soups have meat or meat bases in them." Now, if we’re talking French onion, we should probably assume that beef stock is involved, but white cheddar broccoli cheese? Not so much. Your best bet is to ask a lot of questions, and if you’re still suspicious, go with the salad.
The buffet pizza at Cici’s
Buffets are hit and miss on a good day, so this tidbit from a former Cici’s employee might not come as much a surprise: "Worked at Cici’s pizza for 3 years. Don’t get pizza from the buffet. That buffet pizza has probably been sitting there for a good solid hour. We used to press the spatulas into the old pizza to squish the juice out and make it shiny again. It’s free to custom order any mini pizza to be made right then and there."
Anyone else having a hard time scrubbing the image of "squishing the pizzas to get the juice out" from your brain?
The porterhouse T-bone at Texas Roadhouse
The menu description makes It sound extremely tempting: "Filet and New York strip come together for one 23 oz. Texas-sized USDA Choice steak." But before you start drooling, there’s something you should know. According to one Redditor, the porterhouse T-bone is probably the last thing you should order.
The employee says, "At Texas Roadhouse, my managers have always told me not to suggest the porterhouse T-Bone steak. It’s the only steak we don’t hand cut in the restaurant. It’s shipped in frozen, and it’s generally considered our not so good steak."
Anything with mussels at Bonefish Grill
Great mussels are a culinary experience you’ll think about for days. Unfortunately, you’ll also think about bad mussels for days, but more in the way you’d think of a horror movie—it’s not even that good while it’s happening, and the aftermath can be really traumatizing. Like, Exorcist level traumatizing, in more ways than one (*cough* projectile vomiting *cough*).
Of course, not all neglected mussels will lead to a Linda Blair moment, but this Redditor’s warning doesn’t exactly leave us wanting to test the theory. They suggest not ordering "anything with [mussels] from Bonefish Grill." Why? Because the Redditor "used to work at one that left the [mussels] under the sink, in the dish washing area, for hours on end, before placing them back in the walk in cooler."
Anything fried at Buffalo Wild Wings
So you’re at a wings joint, but you’re a vegetarian—what to do? Do what any herbivore does in a carnivore’s world: Order the fried pickles, mozzarella sticks, and onion rings, of course. If only it were that easy…
A former Buffalo Wild Wings employee has a word of caution about the non-meat items on their menu: "I used to work as a manager at a [Buffalo Wild Wings]. If you’re vegan or Hindu (no cow product kind) do not eat anything fried. It’s all beef tallow in the friers. Very delicious, but it’s not widely know that it’s in the friers. So from a religion/belief stand point stay away."
This fact is actually disclosed on the Buffalo Wild Wings nutrition, allergen, and preparation guide, which states that "beef shortening is used to fry products." Looks like this Redditor speaks the truth. Sorry veg-heads.
The Bourbon Street steak at Applebee’s
No steak should taste like licorice, and yet, according to this Redditor, one at Applebee’s does: "…don’t get a bourbon steak from Applebee’s. It’s like a black licorice tasting steak. It makes no sense. I’m convinced that every one of those I ever cooked was someone trying it for the first time. I remember one time we accidentally cooked an extra one, and we offered it to a waitress to eat. She took one bite and immediately spit it out. She kept asking us all night ‘what did you guys put on it?!’ She was convinced that we had put something nasty on it to mess with her. We didn’t do anything to it… that’s just how bad they were."
When another Redditor suggested "It’s steak with sautéed mushrooms and onions, you can’t really screw that up," another commenter replied, "Yeah, at some places that ‘sautéed’ veggie s*** sits in a quarter pan under lamps or in a warming drawer soaking in some sort of butter substitute. It started out in a blast oven to make it hot fast, and got moved to the line soon after."
The chili mac at Steak ‘n Shake
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: the "mac" in question here is nothing like the blue box cheese and elbow pasta we all know and love. According to their menu, the Steak ‘n Shake mac is actually "spaghetti topped with chili beef and our special chili sauce." But it turns out that "special chili sauce" might actually be grease.
One employee strongly warns against this dish, saying, "Currently employed at Steak ‘n Shake. In my opinion, you should never order any kind of mac, chili mac or mac supreme. We are told to put in more grease than beef. So if you are really craving it, specifically ask for it dry. You will get less grease and more beef."
It’s a good tip, but what if the extra grease is what makes it so good?
The dessert at Texas Roadhouse
If you’re one of those "always save room for dessert" types, you might want to rethink your position when dining at Texas Roadhouse. Several employees have less than positive things to say about their employer’s end-of-meal treats, with one Redditor confessing, "[The desserts] are all awful and even our CEO says he doesn’t want people having room [f]or or wanting to spend time on them."
Another employee chimes in to say, "…we have brownies that are the same taste and consistency as hockey pucks." And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, one more Redditor agrees saying, "Does your store still do the mini birthday brownies? Thank God we switched to just ice cream for birthdays—those little brownies could chip your teeth with how stale they got." So if the servers offer you a free birthday dessert, you know what to do…
The veal Marsala at Carrabba’s Italian Grill
It’s never a good sign when a menu item is seldom ordered, and that’s exactly why one former Carrabba’s Italian Grill cook advises against the veal, especially when topped with the Marsala sauce. The Redditor explains, "I worked at Carrabba’s for quite a few years as a cook… What shouldn’t you eat? Well, the veal was usually a few days old as it wasn’t a big seller… Also worth noting is that the lemon butter and Marsala sauces are literally 90-95% butter so don’t chug either of them."
The mixed drinks at TGI Fridays
More bad news for cocktail lovers… Apparently TGI Fridays’ mixed drinks don’t pack much of a punch when it comes to getting buzzed. One employee warns, "I wouldn’t advise getting any drinks unless it’s just hard liquor. [W]e basically just fill the cup with ice and sugary flavor with a splash of alcohol." Lesson learned: Stick to shots, beer, and wine.
The Oriental chicken salad at Applebee’s
Another "fat as an ingredient" warning comes from a former Applebee’s employee, and this time it’s about a salad: "I used to work at Applebee’s. The Oriental chicken salad dressing is pretty much sugar and chicken fat." So maybe it’s not the most low-cal thing you could order, but it’s probably pretty darn tasty. Fat is flavor, as they say.
The baked beans at Steak ‘n Shake
Aren’t those little crocks that the baked beans from Steak ‘n Shake come in just adorable? Well, they might be cute, but one employee says they might not be very clean: "Stay away from the baked beans at Steak ‘n Shake, the little containers they cook them in never get completely clean no matter how many times they are washed." Womp, womp.
The chips at Applebee’s
You know that chips and salsa can’t cost much given that 99 percent of the restaurants serving them give them away for free. But not Applebee’s. At Applebee’s you pay for the chips and salsa. Coincidentally, those chips happen to be the most overpriced thing on the menu, according to one line cook. And at over four bucks, we’d probably all agree with that.
The lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s
Fans of the famous P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps might want to look away, because more than one Redditor took the happy hour favorite to task, and they all shared a similar sentiment when it came to how that tasty chicken filling is prepared.
One user pulled no punches, saying, "The P.F. Chang’s Chicken lettuce wrap meat is all the trimmings from the meat cutting guy all ground up. Mostly fat." Another chimed in, saying, "I previously worked at a large chain Chinese restaurant that rhymes with bangs. Those of you that eat the chicken lettuce wraps and think they are healthy, you’re wrong. They are 100 percent white meat, what they don’t tell you is that it is all the fat, skin and connective tissue from the breast ground and seared before being made into the lettuce wrap mix…" And yet one more Redditor piled on, saying, "…they’re made out of the leftovers and remnants of the chicken used for the actual entrees. They’re almost entirely made out of fat and gristle."
On the up side, at least it’s delicious fat and gristle.
The Garden Bar at Ruby Tuesday
The Ruby Tuesday Garden Bar boasts a selection of "over 55 tantalizing ingredients" with which you can create a perfect salad, including "fresh garden greens" and "crisp vegetables." But according to one former employee, those greens may not be so fresh and the vegetables may not be so crisp. Wilted lettuce and soggy cucumbers aside, they also had unsettling things to say about the mayonnaise-based dishes at the salad bar.
"Former Ruby Tuesday’s employee here. Don’t eat anything at Ruby Tuesday’s but in particular stay far, far away from the salad bar. Most of the food is passed its expiration date and we were instructed to just pick out the brown and rotted bits before putting it back on the bar," the Redditor explained. "They even had us alter expiration labels in case of health inspections. This includes mayo heavy dishes like the egg, ham, potato and pasta salads."
And you thought sneeze guards were the only thing you had to worry about at the salad bar.
The syrup at IHOP
If open jars of jams, jellies, and other condiments on diner tables freak you out a little, you’re never going to want to eat breakfast at IHOP again, as this former employee has some very bad news about the maple syrup you’re about to pour all over your short stack.
"Always ask for ‘to go’ syrups at IHOP. That s**t on the table has probably been there for years, with just a bit added to it to fill it up. The warm stuff they bring you goes back, gets dumped back in the pot, then re-served. Little kids suck on that s**t and god knows what else goes on. Yuck," the Redditor colorfully explained.
The good news is at least we now know to avoid communal syrup in favor of (hopefully) hygienically sealed containers. Will you look high maintenance with your request? Maybe. Is not eating germ syrup worth it? Absolutely.
The mixed veggies at Panda Express
Maybe you’re not expecting farm-fresh ingredients when you go to a fast casual Chinese restaurant, but it’s always nice to know that the ingredients are, at the very least, not moldy.
It’s for this reason that one Redditor has warned against customers ordering the mixed veggies at Panda Express, saying, "Most of the food at Panda Express is kept in a more sanitary environment than you would expect but I wouldn’t get the mixed veggies, fairly often we would get shipments of carrots that were clearly bad, like gooey and moldy but I was told to cut around the gross parts and then the carrots still got used."
And the bad news doesn’t stop there. They also relayed their cringe-worthy observations of the equipment used to blanch the veggies, explaining, "Also the blancher rarely gets cleaned or properly and gets used to clean off the wok ladles after every other dish gets made so there’s usually debris from other dishes just sitting in the water."
The fettuccine Alfredo at Olive Garden
Sometimes you just want a basic fettuccine Alfredo — nothing fancy, no bells or whistles, just that simple pasta and that rich, creamy white sauce. And if you’re looking for basic Alfredo, why not go to Olive Garden? It’s cheap and it gets the job done, plus you can take advantage of those unlimited breadsticks.
But one Redditor suggests that the next time a fettuccine Alfredo craving hits, you stay home. Here’s why: "Fettuccine Alfredo from Olive Garden. It’s a ripoff. It takes 20 seconds to make the dish. Servers purposely wait to send orders to the kitchen just to make it seem more authentic. Save $15 and make it yourself at home…"
They’re definitely not wrong. With a $1 box of pasta and a $3 jar of sauce you could be eating Alfredo for days at a fraction of the cost. And really, all you have to do is boil water. You can handle that.