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Applebee's or Chili's?

(I know...I am completely bored right now.)

Just wondering, I personally prefer Applebee's. They have more selective items on their menu if you are dieting. I have not been to Chili's in about 2 years...am I missing something?

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  1. Haven't been to either in a number of years, but it seems their food and atmosphere were about equal. Same with TGIFriday's, etc.

    1. I haven't been to either frequently or in a few years, but I preferred Chili's. They had some sort of 7-layer salad the last time I was there, and it was pretty tasty. Applebee's menu seemed to be more, "Here's a chunk of meat and a side dish."

      1. Soup and salad at either is fine.

        1. Southwestern Egg Rolls at Chilis.

          1. If I were forced to go to one, it would be Chili's. They do have some healthy options and are noted on the menu with a symbol of some sort. Have not been to either in years. I do seem to recall Applebee's advertising that they have some items that are listed with Weight Watchers points on them.

            1. I see Chili's as lesser of two evils, but only marginally.
              Might be colored somewhat by the fact that my office (NYC) is upstairs from what has to be the most expensive Applebee's in the US.

              1. I read an article in the recent past that said one of the reasons that Applebees has succeeded is that they are, indeed, "all things to all people". I think that is true. I will say, their Oriental Chicken Salad (or whatever it is called) does kick some butt. Chili's, though, is great for on-the-go casual. I love the way it gets parodied on NBC's "The Office".

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tehama

                  Applebees is NOT vegetarian-friendly, however. I think (If I remember correctly) that even all of their salads had meat in them. Really annoying. For that reason I prefer Chilis. They've always improvised some kind of vegetarian alternative for me--like fajitas or salad with no meat (and for less money).

                2. I was in this exact predicament last night ... sadly. I accompanied my boyfriend where he had evening business about 2 hours outside of Boston. At about 9 pm we were both starving and the freeway sign had 2 options -- Applebee's or Chili's. Considering the food is nothing to get excited about we oped for Chili's simply because they have a summer special on (overly fruity) Margaritas! So I guess, in short, my decision would be the one with the best bar!

                  1. i think they are equally mediocre. i was forced to eat at Applebees the other day and was pleasantly surprised by one of the Tyler Florence entrees (pan fried chicken with salad and shaved parmesan).
                    i think the dinner chains are trying a little harder lately

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jeffbatl

                      I will give Tyler Florence credit for really upgrading the Applebee's menu. (Applebee's is one of my least favorite places to dine.) The problem is that the restaurant's cooks cannot carry out the recipes and do not deliver what he is intending for them to do. I don't complain as we always used to always be dragged off to McDonald's with the in-laws.

                      Their new strategy in Chicagoland is to promote alcohol on all their signs inside and out side their restaurant. Just what we need with all the DWI around here.

                    2. If you have a choice between the two, flip a coin, both are equally bad at what they do.

                      1. Chili'sm by a landslide. Their old timer burger with fries is one of the great meals in any fern bar.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: steakman55

                          Agreed on the burger. And if you start off with one of their Top Shelf Margaritas, it all looks good.

                        2. Chili's is awful! They don't even sell chili anymore. Last time I went it tasted like school cafeteria food! Stale bread, overdone meat, cold veggies! When I complained, I got a "whatever" attitude from the manager!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: randyjl

                            Huh? Chilis serves bread? Are we talking about the same place? Chilis is a tex-mex kind of chain. I don't even think they have cooked vegetables on the side on their menu (as your post would suggest). Color me confused :)

                            1. re: IndyGirl

                              He's probably referring to sandwiches (buns) when he says bread... and Chili's does have a mixed seasonal vegetable mix (or at least they did two years ago) which were awful and got sent back to the kitchen for something else last time I ate there.

                          2. Both are pretty dreadful, but the only time I've eaten at either would be those going-away or birthday lunches for co-workers at the local mall (fun, fun). I'd rate Bennigans over both, come to think of it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: wontonton

                              We have an Applebee's in Canada more specifically in Ontario and it sucks ass!! I rarely dislike American chains but I think Applebee's is horrible. I have been to Chilis a couple of times and have been impressed both times I was there.

                            2. I have eaten my share of several times in each of these over the years, and at this point I would rather eat almost anywhere else. I think I'd be desperate for Olive Garden over these. Really. Even though a burger or whatever would be hard to mess up.

                              1. In my opinion, there is really no difference in the food, it's the same chain store crap at both of them. We go occasionally because they are open past midnight and have liquor. If I had to choose, I would pick Applebee's because it is always cleaner. The last time I went to Chili's, it really wasn't that busy (about midnight) but it looked like a tornado had gone through the place. The whole time we were there, I never saw anybody clean it up. If we weren't so old, I would say let's just go to a regular bar and order their snack food which would be of the same quality.

                                1. As a vegetarian the answer is Chili's. Until about a year ago Applebee's had nothing except fries on their menu that a vegetarian didn't have to special order. That includes a damn dinner salad (bacon bits). Applebee's is improving though; they now have one vegetarian entree on the menu. Whoo-hoo.

                                  And, until recently, the only wine available at Applebee's was Sutter Home 375 ml bottles.

                                  Edited to add this may only apply in the Twin Cities market.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: MplsM ary

                                    Echo this! Applebees (as I note in my above post) SUCKS for vegetarians! I can't beleive they are so widespread and don't try any harder than they do. It's pathetic. Lots of people (not just vegetarians) like to go without meat now and then, and they could at least have a meat-free salad. It's not that hard, right??

                                  2. I have never had much of an affinity for either, but today the boss wanted Chilis so that is where we ate. I had the BEST salad I have ever had in a franchise. It's the grilled caribbean chicken salad and it is just perfect. Well seasoned chicken atop greens, fruit pico, mandarin oranges, tortilla stripes, and a not overwhelming honey-lime dressing. If you end up at Chilis that the thing to get. As far as Applebees, my experience is that everything is bland.Watered down for mass appeal I suppose.

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: ArikaDawn

                                      It strikes me that most people, myself included, find themselves eating at either place because it's at the mall close to the office or otherwise work related. Does anyone actually conciously plan to visit either on their own time?!

                                      1. re: wontonton

                                        I know several people who frequent applebees for cheap drinks and app.s they really enjoy after work.
                                        I, myself used to go to places of this ilk more often, but being on CH has encouraged me to try more local individually owned places and restos off the beaten path. After having wonderful experiences at the smaller places I've tried I have a hard time enjoying the often bland offerings at chains like these, the salad today being an exception. I am definitely someone who has been converted from frequenting chains now that I've begun to experience REAL food.

                                      2. re: ArikaDawn

                                        salads at restaurants--especially chains like these--always seem like the healthier option but always are surprisingly sooo fattening.

                                        1. re: Jacey

                                          One of the main reasons for that is that most of the dressing choices are basically spoonfuls of pure fat. Asking for dressing on the side is a must if you want your salad to actually have a chance of being a healthy meal.

                                          1. re: Bob W

                                            Well, yes, that is obvious, but also most of these restaurants have salads that the masses would like and load on the bacon, cheese and croutons (fun toppings). People often miscalculate the calories and assume it's low-fat/healthy just because it's over greens. However, another misconception is that vinegrettes are less fattening than other dressings. They usually have more cals if not more.

                                            1. re: Jacey

                                              Yes, I realized after I posted that those other "innocent" toppings are also prime sources of unhealthy fats.

                                              Then you have "healthy" salad bars that include both truly healthy fresh veggies and other goodies like pasta salad. One scoop of something like that and you've blown it.

                                      3. If I must choose - Applebees.

                                        1. To be perfectly honest I'd skip a meal rather than eat at either of them. I'd drink though.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                            Given a choice, I'd go with Applebees. There is a new one near my house, and convenience is a factor. But as much as I like most of what Chili's serves, at least half of what is on the menu comes with beans. Black beans, usually. I hate beans (yes that was me in the other thread, bashing picky eaters). Applebee's entrees seem to be pleasantly bean-free, which means I dont have to ask anyone to "hold them" when I order.

                                          2. Applebee's is disgusting, even the name makes me shudder. the food to me is airplane food that has been marketed well. like the oriental shrimp platter or something, coat something in a can of High fructose corn syrup and call it Asian! The ribs: go behind the back of mcd's and steal some mcribs, let simmer in a slightly higher quality barbecue sauce and serve. the antithesis of food that i would eat. i remember the bad meals I have had there, that is how much i have hated it!
                                            chili's has decent bar food. note to above: beans are good for you, beans beans the magical fruit...I enjoyed my chicken tacos I got last time I was there, especially the black beans they served with it. they definitely do a better job.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: fara

                                              Heh; a buddy used to work at Applebees, but he called it "Applesleaze." I can never get that out of my mind when I think of the place.

                                              1. re: IndyGirl

                                                I've eaten at both far more times than I care to expand on, and hands down I'd have to go with Chili's ( at least here in California).

                                                1. re: EAH

                                                  Another California vote for Chili's here. I only ate at Applebee's once but the ads they had running awhile back where they were melting cheese all over their steaks made me gag a little. (Looked like a slab of American cheese) Chili's burgers and chicken wings are good enough in a pinch.

                                                2. re: IndyGirl

                                                  People always come up with most endearing nicknames for restaurants they work in. I have one girlfriend who worked in both Captain Disease and Taco Hell in highschool.

                                              2. If I had to pick one, I'd say Chili's. They make a decent chicken fajita and if I'm looking for a quick dinner post movie in the burbs it's fine for what it is.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: lisaf

                                                  I agree. Chili's is the lesser of two evils here.

                                                2. Chili's is far superior to Applebee's imo. But no, you're not really missing anything. I do like their chips/salsa, southwest eggrolls & grilled chicken sandwich (the one with swiss, bacon & honey mustard). When at Applebee's I go for the Oriental Chicken Salad, I also like the luch pairing with the grilled shrimp spinach salad & tomato florentine soup not bad for $6.99. My kids love their Mac & Cheese (actually I do too!)

                                                  1. Chili's is way better, but as other's have said, they are both chain food. Applebees is not at all on my rotation. Even when traveling with a group (and thus not in charge of picking dinner spots), I will whine and fuss if someone suggests Applebees. Not so much with Chilis - they have decent burgers, and pretty good chicken tacos.

                                                    I would also put the other few "American pub food" chains higher than A. TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesday, Red Robin, etc are all better. But of that style, in my experience, Chili's wins.

                                                    1. I just had the most heinous lunch at Applebee's in Norwalk, CA today. This "En tree Sampler" special looked good on paper, but the only thing decent was these cute little bacon cheeseburgers. The spicy fried shrimp and the Tuscan cheese dip (Lord knows I should know better than that) was just the most over processed pablum imaginable.

                                                      And the obsequious service - constant up selling, hard push for customer feedback and contact information, and Stepford-esque table banter was too much to bear. I hope that these corporate focus-group facilitators know that overbearing service reflects poorly too.

                                                      1. if you want basics ie: burger w/fries salad, both are ok but beyond that no way no how either one
                                                        from what i see of the people at both is(typical after work bunch go there not for the food but for the friendly atmosphere and pay more attn to good conversation rather than the food)

                                                        1. actually, for you fellow veggies, the veggie patch pizza (on app menu) is, as far as chain restaurants (ie...you're desperate) edible and is even almost tasty. paired with a salad and a sparkling water, it serves it's purpose without upsetting the palate or tummy.

                                                          1. Definetly Chilis. My friends and I usually meet there for dinners because it has something that everyone likes and the chips and salsa are really good.

                                                            Applebees is only good for 1/2 off appetizers after 10 and those aren't even THAT good.

                                                            1. Applebees is WAY BETTER!!! I go to Chilis with my friends and i always eat one bite of my food because it is so nasty. Chilis only has spicy food while Applebees has a variety of food. I understand that some people feel as if Applebees doesnt have any vegetarian food but if you look hard then i bet they would have something for vegetarians

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: bunnybop57

                                                                With all due respect, that comment is absurd. One thing I immediately discovered on my very first visit to Chili's years ago was that, despite the name and hot pepper logo, the food is just like any other chain restaurant food -- some might be a little spicy, but most is not at all.

                                                                Sort of like the first time I went to an Olive Garden, expecting real Italian food. Oh to be young and stupid again.

                                                                The food at Chili's is better than that at OG and Crapplebee's, but to say all they have is spicy food is ridiculous.

                                                                1. re: Bob W

                                                                  It's beyond ridiculous, actually. Hardly anything served at Chili's is "spicy."

                                                                  Applebee's food is ghastly. Chili's is at least somewhat edible.

                                                              2. Neither. Surely you can find some real food.