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Applebee's - Worst National Chain Ever?

I would - literally - sooner eat at a McDonald's than an Applebee's. And their pretention that they're offering something that could possibly be confused with real food, not prefab frozen deep-fried garbage, just makes it worse.

Not that I'm opinionated or anything...

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  1. Id probably put Applebees in the same boat as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Olive Garden, Chilis, Friday's, Red Lobster, Chipotle, Burger King, Dominos, Wendys, Ruby Tuesday's, Buffalo Wild Wings, PF Changs, Bucca di Beppo, Panda Express, Subway, & Quiznos(Iam probably forgetting a few). They are all pretty dreadfull & I avoid all of them.

    7 Replies
    1. re: swsidejim

      Some of the ones you named actually have a decent dish or two. I don't think I've ever had anything remotely tasty at Applebee's any of the times I've had the misfortune of eating there.

      1. re: mollyomormon

        not that I have experienced, and I have had the misfortune of going to all of the places I listed at least once(darn lunches with coworkers doing the choosing of where we go). :-)

        1. re: swsidejim

          Although I can't say that any of those would be a first choice, I agree with molly that there are decent options to be had at some of those places. Chipotle, while not a great (or authentic) Mexican spot uses good fresh ingredients. I once stopped in to get burritos for the kids just before thy closed and despite a half full steam table tray of rice, they prepared a fresh one for me because the other tray had been sitting a while. It's not excellent but it's a pretty good option as far as fast food goes.

          1. re: ferret

            different strokes, and different tastes for different folks, its all good.

            1. re: ferret

              For a quick, cheap meal chipotle is a good standby in Long Island NY. There aren't a lot of options because it's a very small menu that never seems to change but what they do have is always fresh and tastes home made. I don't think it's fair to lump it with other chains that do not use fresh ingredients.

              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                not fair...? good grief...., it was my list of places I think are as bad or worse than Applebees. Just my opinion, its great you fell find merit in Chipotle.

                For the record the worst lunch I have had in the last 5 years was @ Chipotle(darn coworkers insisting we try this place) . Terrible, bland food(didnt taste very "fresh" to me...), & bad customer service. Luckily I have many local tacquerias as a better option.

                1. re: swsidejim

                  Keep in mind that a lot of these places are independently owned and therefore the chipotle I go to in Nassau Long Island may be of better quality (or apparently a lot better quality) than the one you went to.

      2. C'mon 'hounds. Sure it is easy to savage all chains, and obviously most of us would choose independent tasty places for any occasion. And with some research, in most areas we'd be able to find a nonchain alternative.

        But even in the morass of chains, there are different approaches and target groups and price points. For me, the most awful abomination of a fake restaurant is any Olive Garden, with the faux family ads and the frozen-defrosted-microwaved entrees. But I'm willing to listen when there is a recent posting that the soup-salad-breadstick lunch worked ok, especially at under $10 with table-service for a group. On the other end, P.F. Chang's is far from authentic Chinese, costs at least double, and would certainly not be my choice if there was any acceptable independent hole-in-the-wall around. But if you search the boards many really like their lettuce cups and there are many other suggestions for dishes 'hounds have enjoyed. Most of us get hijacked into an office lunch or a family get-together planned by others on occasion, so realize that the company and not the chow is the focus, it isn't your last meal, and maybe you can order a drink and choose a least offensive dish from the usually extensive menus. Hey, if Applebee's is known for fried food I've heard they are offering a special on shrimp -- how bad can that be to tide you over?

        6 Replies
        1. re: nosh

          I actually really like some chain dishes but the stuff I've had from Applebee's has just been so bad! My former sister-in-law worked there and even when it was free, it was still just not good.

          1. re: nosh

            Based on what I read on these boards and on personal experience in a large metro area: I'm starting to wonder if the big chains are losing the one attribute that's made them appealing in the first place, which is consistency. The locations in the less affluent parts of town frequently mirror the worst of what I've read here, while in the more affluent areas the restaurants manage to provide good-quality (if somewhat uninteresting) food, perfectly acceptable ambience, and decent service.

            It may be worth noting that some of the chains apparently are trying to reposition themselves, too. The Ruby Tuesday on the better side of town, for example, has upscaled a lot since I previously ate at one about 10 years ago. Staying on topic, Applebee's seems to have gone in the opposite direction. I remember some decent burgers and sandwiches when the chain first appeared. The last time I ate there (in a large group) all the food except the entree size salads looked pretty much inedible.

            1. re: Emm

              i've noticed a LOT of variation in different locations of the same chain. i love getting wendy's mandarin chicken salad when i go on road trips. some locations have fresh, high quality lettuce and identifiable chicken meat. but inexplicably, a few towns over, the lettuce mix will have a much higher ratio of iceberg lettuce to real lettuce and weird, gummy -textured approximate chicken with chunks of hard, white unappetizing fat attached. it's intriguing to me how drastic the differences can be in the same chain.

            2. re: nosh

              I've been in that situation and tried the soup/salad/breadstick combo. It's purely awful! The soup is watery, as is the salad dressing and those gummy white bread sticks have no more personality than either of the above. Really, how much is it for the same combination at any small independently operated local Italian joint anyway?

              1. re: nosh

                My issue with these joints mirror yours somewhat but have to do with the hidden stuff

                I go into Burger King i know what im getting myself into. Two whopper jr's (no cheese no mayo so they make them hot) and valu fries. 900 calories. 4usd, and im out of the door in 7 minutes. I know its bad for me, and i do it anyway.

                But the Applebee's of the world upsell is "healthy/family/real food" until you realize that the quesadilla burger you just ordered is 1500 calories and over 100 grams of fat. with another 500 calories in an order of fries, your meal just delivered three days of fat to your system and cost you 20usd (okay, 10 for the burger and 3 for the fries, 3 for tea, dont stiff the waitress, you are coming up on 20)

                Dont get me started on "california pizza kitchen pasta salads!" which can end up in the 2000 calorie range ( thats THREE KFC double downs!!)

                Im a personal responsibility guy, if you KNOW your are ordering a 3000 calorie meal then i guess you have made a decision that sex with another human is not in your future and thats fine ( though as a health care provider it makes giving even decent health care to your 400 lb body MUCH less possible)

                but, corporate, dont try to sell me that your sysco frozen entrees and unlimited breadsticks are superior to the fried chicken at the supermarket where i can at least get some real fruit juice to drink with my dinner and maybe, maybe, some oatmeal and a banana for breakfst.

                1. re: nosh

                  "...Olive Garden, with the faux family ads ..." Hey -- my grandniece appears in two of those commercials. Hmmmm... I guess you're right; they ARE faux family.

                2. Au contraire...through a business relationship, I have a lifetime supply of free food passes at Applebee's, and I find some of the appetizers and asian salads and other items to be quite tasty. The store near me is a high traffic location, and service personnel are well trained to be cheerful and not to neglect anyone.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Veggo

                    So, do you eat there 1,095 times a year?

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      LOL, of course not, the're not open for breakfast...:)
                      Once a month is adequate; I need my Mexican and my homemade toxins.

                    2. re: Veggo

                      Which location Veggo? I ate at the one out east on 70 and the whole experience was pretty dismal. Similar results at the Applebee's on Main in Sarasota.

                      1. re: Agent Orange

                        The one on 301 off I-75 near the Ellenton Outlet Mall.

                    3. When did you last eat at an Applebee's?

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ccbweb

                        If you're asking me (the OP), it was about six months ago, when my wife and I were on a road trip and it was the only food available anywhere near the motel we ended up at one night. If anything it was even worse than my memories of it from a few years back when I used to get dragged along to it for occasional work lunches.

                        1. re: BobB

                          I was (asking you) and thanks for the reply!

                          We, too, had an awful meal at an Applebee's in a hotel in, I think, Missouri somewhere. (We were on a cross country roadtrip and I can't honestly remember which town it was.) It was the hotel restaurant and provided the room service. Wow, it was bad.

                          On the other hand, I have reason to have to be in the hospital for extended periods of time a few times a year and one of my friends is a fan of our local Applebee's here in Charlottesville, VA and will occasionally bring me takeout. As is always the case, a good staff in a restaurant can make a huge difference and the folks at the local Applebee's do a reasonable job and the food is always halfway decent in my book.

                          But I've never eaten _in_ the restaurant, so clearly its not that good.

                          1. re: ccbweb

                            what wouldn't taste good next to most hospital food?

                      2. Are you joking? In a world where TGI Friday's exists, nothing else will ever be the worst national chain ever. Fittingly, they even have Douchetard Supreme Guy Fieri, the one-man embodiment of the midlife crisis, as their spokesman. But they sucked and sucked hard long before that.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                          The only times I've ever been to Friday's is at the Newark airport during long flight delays. Otherwise I'd never know the wonder that is fried mac & cheese. Truly a menu item that was thought up at 3AM at the tail-end of a drunken R&D meeting. As a 13 year-old growing up in the 70's this menu would have been nirvana back then. As it is now, it's the food equivalent of a theme park -- you'll try it just so you can make it out the other side alive.

                          1. re: ferret

                            Theme park is not too far off. I think that was originally festival food. I know I've seen it at a renaissance festival. LOL, medieval fried mac & cheese, yet it somehow made more sense in that context.

                        2. Yea , Crapplebees is pretty bad. There is a low, middle and high ground of chain food - They are in the low catagory. There was an article in the paper the other day thet the new person running the chain came from IHOP and is looking to shape things up

                          The food is miserable there, fried and greasy. Additionally the place just looks dirty

                          For the following poster - PF Changs is at the high chain group - they just hate any and all chain food i guess. bad news is that in most US towns it is hard to find independent restaurants (for the most part). I travel alot of the hidden gems are tough to find

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: tfed

                            Crapplebees - that's pretty funny....we refer to it as Applepukes although the ones in Florida do sponsor a pretty amazing 2 for 1 drink specials at all sorts of crazy hours. I've personally never had anything there that I consider good but that's just me

                            1. re: tfed

                              See, I actually enjoy a number of chain restaurants, but you could never pay me to eat at P.F. Chang's. It amazes me that the one in Boston's theatre district survives: I just want to pull people aside and say "You do know that Chinatown is about three blocks that way, right? Where you can get food four times as good for one-fourth the price?" I have to assume that the people who eat there are suburbanites scared to death of the terrible, frightening parts of the city where they may actually see people who don't look like them.

                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                People go to chain restaurants for consistency and no suprises. I love chinese food and will eat local but alot of ethnic chinese is one step north of beef and broccoli made for american tastes. Most towns do not have a chinatown - they may have chinese takeout but that is not the same

                                1. re: tfed

                                  Yes, but I was talking about this particular P.F. Chang's in this particular city, which is indeed three blocks from a Chinatown where you can get food that is, I assure you, far better than beef and broccoli and miles ahead of the garbage they're serving at P.F. Chang's.

                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                    Not to mention which, many Americans would not like more authentic Chinese cuisine. The beef they use in beef & broccoli in my experience is very, very low quality or at least extremely cheap as it's always really fatty and full of gristle everywhere I've been that's not "Americanized" Chinese. And the broccoli has barely seen a flame. There's a difference between raw and al dente and I think a chain like a PF changs might get this more to where someone like me would like it than perhaps a more "authentic" place.

                                    Some things are just not better when they're "authentic" if you grew up liking the Americanized version. When I went to Mexico I was really excited to try "real" Mexican food and again and again I found it to be not to my liking at ALL, and I finally accepted that I like "tex-mex" and not authentic Mexican. It's been the same experience with Chinese.

                                    Now Italian, I want the authentic. Everyone is different.

                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                      It took me a couple reads of your first paragraph to understand what you were getting at, but now I think I understand what you're saying.

                                      But here's the thing: there's no such thing as "authentic" beef and broccoli, because it's not really a Chinese dish. Beef and broccoli is one of the classic dishes of cheap, low-quality Chinese-American restaurants. You might find beef and broccoli on the menu at a decent Chinatown restaurant, but it's only going to be ordered by people who are willing to go as far as going to Chinatown, but not so far as to give up stuff they're familiar with, like beef with broccoli or General Tso's chicken, in favor of delicious but potentially less familiar dishes like, say, salt and pepper squid or ma po tofu.

                                      So by your logic, what P.F. Chang's is offering is a higher-end version of what's already inauthentic, largely inedible crap. To me, that's not really a selling point. It's like saying, "This place makes the best school lunchroom tuna casserole ever!"

                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                        I understand what you're saying, but people's taste buds vary. For those who are looking for NON-authentic Chinese, that's the dish they want, and they DO want something that's higher quality, so that's why they'd chose a PF Chang's over the "authentic" place. If they ate the dishes they crave at the authentic places, they wouldn't like them. It's not about whether or not you want to covert them to eating tofu and squid instead of beef & broccoli, or whether that's an authentic Chinese dish or not. If they want that dish, they want it prepared consistently with good quality ingredients. you don't always get that in an "authentic" place as they are more concerned with making dishes like your tofu and squid, which they should be.

                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                          Actually, I believe that there are really good Chinese-American restaurants out there -- I'm still sad that the one in my immediate neighborhood went precipitously downhill when it was sold a couple years ago, because it had been comfort food par excellence -- just that P.F. Chang's is not a "high-quality" version of Chinese-American cuisine, just a high-pretentiousness and high-priced version of a type of food that should be both tastier and cheaper than what that overrated craphole shovels out.

                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                            Its been a long time since I was in Boston's Chinatown regularly but I suspect it hasn't changed much in 50 years. We used to favor "House of Roy" - as one would suspect from the name, it was quite Americanized, it had all the standards on the menu along with many many non-standard dishes, and they were all cooked well using GOOD ingredients (as most of China is a poor country, the use of quality ingredients is NON-AUTHENTIC). We loved the semi-Americanized food and Boston's Chinatown offered plenty of places that the folks lining up for PF Chang's would have enjoyed.

                                            Boston's Chinatown also had some really authentic Chinese restos - a friend from Hong Kong took me to one that he said was GREAT. I didn't care for it at all. I guess I also like the Chinese equivalent of Tex-Mex

                                            1. re: rich in stl

                                              You'd be surprised. I've seen massive changes in Boston's Chinatown even in the last decade.

                              2. re: tfed

                                Had to crack up on your post, tfed! I call it "Crapplebees" too, much to my husband's annoyance. I can only stomach their Asian chicken salad, and not very often either. My husband, tho..He's got an unhealthy obsession with their loaded mashed potatoes. He gets graving for them that baffles me. I know I could -make- something close to this at home, but he insists on going to Crapplebee's. Makes me want to scream, I tells ya.

                                1. re: Honeychan

                                  I LOVE your Freudian typo "he gets graving" . That sums it up nicely doesn't it?

                              3. Yes, it is...unless perhaps one happens to wonder into a Ruby Tuesday

                                1. Oh God, last Sunday found us in Richmond, Indiana, delivering our daughter for her senior year. When we asked her and her three house mates where we could take them for lunch, they asked us, "What's your favorite chain?" As we had none, they settled on Ruby Tuesday. It was vile. Filthy plates at the salad bar, along with lots of limp produce. Grossly over-cooked and tasteless burgers. Service that included spilling two glasses of ice tea, then disappearance of server. Plus, it cost more than en excellent meal in our hometown. Why do people eat at these places? Gack!

                                  1. My husband and I went there last week.....he got the Brewtus burger and I got the bacon cheeseburger and they were pretty darn good! His was huge....filled him up and he is a big guy....and the fries were excellent.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Lindseyup67

                                      Well, at 1,390 Calories (or roughly 60% of an adult's daily requirement) it darn well better fill him up ... :)
                                      http://abcnews.go.com/print?id=5602535

                                    2. I frequent certain chains, and have NEVER been to one as horrible as Applebee's. Everytime we drive by one we turn green...

                                      So, yes, BobB, you're entitled to your opinion.:)

                                        1. re: zin1953

                                          Of all the American chains that had to grace Ontario, why did one of them have to be Applebee's? This restaurant is absolutely disgraceful!!!

                                        2. Hey, enough all of you heartless critics! Don't you remember that team bus getting to the restaurant just after closing time, but the staff let them in and fed them anyway? And then they surprised the coach by hanging up his photo. Sorry, I need to wipe away a sentimental tear...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: nosh

                                            The part they DIDN'T show you was like in the movie "Waiting" where the food got...adulterated.

                                          2. Sometimes I get dragged to Applebee's because there's one near the twins' preschool. I order a burger and walk out reasonably happy. (But I'm always happier when we go to the Texas Roadhouse next door or the Foster's Grille (a growing VA burger chain) a few doors down.

                                            LOL I just read the entire thread and I see that another "big guy" got the Brewtus burger at Applebee's. That's what I got the last time I ate there. It was really not that bad.

                                            Now, Olive Garden I find beyond redemption -- but do they have a burger on the menu??

                                            1. Yes. It's the worst national chain. I've eaten at a few different chains. While I can't say the food at any of them was anything great, I don't look back on my occasional trips to Friday's or Chipotle and with disgust. It was just what it was. It was greasy food and a fruity cocktail.

                                              Applesbees OTOH takes it to a whole new low. The food tastes as cheap as it looks. even the stuff that I once thought was okay (I used to like their riblets) has gone downhill. Drinks are watered down.

                                              Applebees always has the worst service too. I've been encouraged to order dessert and handed a dessert menu only to have the waiter come back with the check before I even ordered that dessert. I went there late with some friends a few years ago and you could tell the waitstaff wanted us out of there. They asked us all for our IDs hoping we wouldn't order drinks (we were all of age). Places like the Outback have been friendly and helpful no matter where I've dined. Applebees has always been the exact opposite.

                                              1. I hate Applebees, but I think Joe's Crab Shack is far worse.

                                                1. Ohhh I actually think Olive Garden is THE WORST! At least Applebee's has more American fare, OG massacres Italian food with runny and watered down sauces, drenched salad, flavorless breadsticks etc. If you have some relation to an Italian mother/gmother/nana etc, been to Italy, or eaten at an authentic Italian place in nyc or another city then how can you go to OG and not find it pretty terrible?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jacquelines

                                                    I hate OG, too, but have to say that some of the worst Italian food I've eaten has been in Italy, particularly Venice. Have had great fare in Italy, as well, but there's a lot of mediocre food around, even in highly-touted restaurants. The best ever was a little place in Brescia called La Sosta. The best Italian food I've ever eaten, or expect to eat.

                                                  2. I try to avoid chain restaurants like the plague, so I don't know if Applebee's is the worst, but I can say that I had the WORST DINNER there I ever had in a restaurant. I think the one I went to was in Torrey Pines, near San Diego. I didn't know the area and had never heard of Applebee's. It was the day before the start of a big three-day exam and I just prayed it wasn't an omen. By the way, don't even get me started on IHOP or Dennys'!

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                                      IHOP potato pancakes were killer, but they don't do them anymore, so I will never again darken their door.

                                                    2. You are absolutely right. I ate there approximately 5 years ago and said I will never eat there again. Unfortunately one month ago my wife and I gave it a second chance and it was our greatest mistake. Yes, for sure we will never ever to eat in any Applebee's again.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: rangerdadh

                                                        I'm with you, Ranger. I wanted to like it, but it was that bad! Never again!

                                                      2. y'know, this thread actually makes me want to try applebees. i've never had it (is it not common in the northeast?). but anything this reviled has to be worth checking out at least once!

                                                        (i doubt it can be that much worse than some of the (very un)friendly's i've been forced to eat at on roadtrips.)

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: cimui

                                                          It's worse than Friendly's. For real.

                                                        2. Agreed! Applebee's is DISGUSTING! I don't love Friday's or Chili's or any of those chains...but Applebee's is the only one I absolutely refuse to go to. I had a burger there once and it made me nauseous.

                                                          1. i can't remember the last time i ate there - oh it was riblets in the S. Bronx next to NYC's first target. They were disgusting. The name itself is disgusting to me.

                                                            1. Applebees is pretty mediocre but in our part of So Fl there isn't much open after 9 for dinner. I usually have the chicken salad with mandarins etc which is fine enough. The 2 for 1 drinks is pretty good. The servers know us so we get great service but it's not a cheap dinner for what you get.

                                                              Our local IHOP which is the other late nighter has gone downhill.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: smartie

                                                                I had that problem in Central Fl. I was working until 11-12 for around a year and by the time I got home, Applebee's was the only place open long enough to get an actual meal and drink. It wasn't that horrible, but then again, my memory is fuzzy from 9-10 years ago.

                                                              2. We went to an Applebee's last year after a soccer game. The service was painfully slow and the food arrived cold and tasted off to me. I did complain to the manager and received a gift certificate in the mail several weeks later. Okay, I'll give them another chance, so we tried a different Applebee's. I ordered some sort of chicken pasta entree. My meal came and I couldn't find any chicken in it! I felt stupid calling the waiter over and asking about it, maybe I had misread the menu? He brought the menu back because he didn't know either. Sure enough I was right. I received a side of chicken to go with my pasta. This is a no-brainer for me. Not going back!
                                                                Shelley

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: shellsbutt

                                                                  I've never written on this particular board but now feel COMPELLED to! I HATE Applebee's, T.G.I. Friday's, Chili's, and all chain restaurants. I think they're awful vile places that remind me of the crappy town I grew up in where all you could find were chain restaurants and the idea of going to the local pub to get a good burger was a joke so everyone went to Applebee's or Friday's to hang out, drink and have a crappy burger. I should add Friendly's, IHOP and especially the Olive Garden to my list. Essentially, all chain, family "sit-down" places I abhor and would rather sit on the side of the road eating a McDonalds hamburger (and yes I know that's a chain but somehow it's fast food so I expect it to be lousy) while on a trip then to have to endure a meal in one of those restaurants.

                                                                  Ok, I feel better now...

                                                                2. I could not agree with you more.

                                                                  I am forced to eat here every once in a while with friends and I just dread it. Dry, flavorless, and unappetizing selections. It takes me forever to pick something. And I am not talking about one location. I've eaten at the brand new one in Manassas, one in New Jersey and a few on the road for business.

                                                                  1. As fun as it might be to have yet another chain-restaurant dogpile, I don't find Applebee's objectionable. If you go in after 9:00 PM the appetizers are half-price, and you can get a plate of tasty chicken wings for about $3.

                                                                    1. Gee, I feel so naive and insulated. I have never darkened the door of a major chain restaurant (except for burger joints) since the 60's when dad used to take me to HoJo's. Guess I haven't missed much. No that famous Maine chain Pat's Pizza is another story....

                                                                      1. Ok, I'm not sophisticated. I don't care. But I really like Applebee's Dynamite Shrimp appetizer. After 9:00 it's only $2.75, plus I'm 55 so I have a senior card which gives me an additional 10% off. Both my husband and I like it.

                                                                        As far as sandwiches, my husband really likes the Chicken Cowboy Sandwich, I really like the Roasted Turkey & Bacon Ciabatta Sandwich.

                                                                        I used to go to Applebee's for lunch with a friend. We would divide the Quesadilla Grande without chicken appetizer for a meal, then have room to split a dessert.

                                                                        I may be in the minority, but there are items at Applebee's which I will gladly eat.

                                                                        Of course, some things like the onion rings are best not ordered.

                                                                        I've always had good service at the Applebee's in Bloomingon, MN (the one on Lyndale).

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: MNSunshine

                                                                          What do they do to ruin their onion rings?
                                                                          -BnF

                                                                        2. Just had to add my .02...I, too, think Applebee's is one of the worst chains. We (DW & I) have given them several "chances" at 3 or 4 different stores, and the results were equally bad. Now we don't even consider it, even after 9 pm when all the good places have stopped serving. A couple of bad experiences at Ruby Tuesday's has landed it on the "do not call" list as well.

                                                                          Tho I consider most chains overpriced for the quality of the food, two more that are near the bottom, and so far unmentioned, are Salsarita's and Moe's Southwest Grille. Faux Mexican at its worst!

                                                                          OTOH, as a fan of thin crust pizza, Pizza Hut is the only place where I can get one in my area, and their "Thin & Crispy" is pretty not bad. Chili's has been acceptable in my area as well.

                                                                          Texas Roadhouse is the exception to the chain rule, tho I can only go there with business associates, as DW has a peanut allergy, and they are *everywhere* at TRH. The food there is too notch and the service is decent, (And I am anal about service!) I used to think the same about Outback, but their food seems to have slipped of late.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: al b. darned

                                                                            Can't beat Happy Hour...Half-Price Appetizers. Burgers, Quesadillas, Chicken. It is worth it for that price if nothing else.

                                                                            1. re: al b. darned

                                                                              chevys in nj. mexican chain....... its real bad .

                                                                            2. Applebee's I can deal with. I think Chili's is the absolute worst ever! Followed by Sticky Fingers-totally overrated.

                                                                              1. I thought it was okies, went to one in Buffalo...

                                                                                the worst I thought was tgi fridays...

                                                                                1. Ahhh-my in-laws favorite restaurant, Applebees. Aren't I lucky? :) The riblets are vile, but my vote for worst overall is Bob Evans. Their food is bad to inedible.

                                                                                  PF Chang's lettuce wraps are good if you ask for the sauce to be made medium hot.

                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: turqmut

                                                                                    Bob Evans is decent for breakfast, but the rest of their food would make a nice salt lick.

                                                                                    1. re: turqmut

                                                                                      I agree with you about Bob Evans...and so, too, did lots of other people in this area, because all of the Bob Evans' around here closed. I think Cracker Barrel is just as bad...no, worse, because you have to walk thru the "gift shop" and the odor of the smelly crafts and candles. And the food is just as bad.

                                                                                      1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                        But... Cracker Barrel is a great place to freshen up when on the road and rent audio books.. You can rent the book in one city and drop it off in another. Those darn audio books make for a very pleasant trip.

                                                                                        The food, on the other hand, is not much different that you would get at any chain, down home cooking place. Lots of food, little flavor.

                                                                                        1. re: Rene

                                                                                          When we used to travel through Indiana alot visiting relatives back in the last century, my wife loved the Bob Evans and Cracker Barrels for breakfasts. However, after she ate at couple of different spots in other places, and had bad meals, we've never been back, and she holds her nose when we pass any signs on the interstates. Back to the thread topic...we haven't eaten at an Applebee's since they closed one in our old neighborhood ( a dozen years ago) because they were serving beer to the local high school ball teams. It wasn't great then, just the only place within 2 miles of our house that was a sit down restaurant.

                                                                                    2. Denny's!!! Ain't never been and never want to. My kids even groan about it, but I guess that the price of staying out so late.. Do I sound like an old parent??

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                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                        Wouldn't pass judgement unless you have had the chance to suffer.....uh, I mean try one out. Now, we like Cracker Barrel. Smelly gift shop and all. At least the Crack Barrel in Kingman, AZ is pretty good.
                                                                                        -BnF

                                                                                        1. re: Big N Fat

                                                                                          I have suffered, so I can...

                                                                                          if it's late, and we are really hungry, and we are really to tired to cook, maybe. Otherwise there are much better places.

                                                                                      2. I gave up on Applebees after trying the greasy, nasty fiasco that was the bruschetta burger. Greasy, soggy bread, overly garlicked pesto and tasteless mozzerella, served with a side of equally greasy, soggy garlic fries. It put me off anything remotely greasy or even buttery for a good week, and it's put me off Applebee's forever.

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                                                                                        1. re: spellweaver16

                                                                                          imagine the above as carryout and consumed 30 minutes later.

                                                                                          ugh. No matter how much I owe my MIL and no matter how much I love her, I WILL NEVER EAT APPLEBEES FOOD AGAIN!

                                                                                        2. Previously, I would have said "oh, it can't be that bad." But I ate lunch there yesterday and it was awful!

                                                                                          1. In New Jersey, a man by the name of Ed Doherty would have to say-literally-.......NO.

                                                                                            http://www.northjersey.com/business/n...

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. Applebees - I used to hate it. But then I developed certain rules. I stick mainly to appetizer-type foods there or their weightwatchers menu. The weightwatchers menu is a great idea, btw. Made it very easy for me when I was following the diet and made me willing to eat there. I never, ever order anything pasta-related there. I like it less than most chains but don't hate it with the passion with which I loathe Pizzeria Uno.

                                                                                              1. I don't think I had ever eaten at an Applebee's until this past week. I was staying at a hotel and it was the most convenient option to walk to. I got the Grilled Shrimp and Spinach Salad and thought it was pretty good. The dressing was a tad too sweet but the shrimp were cooked properly and the spinach was fresh. I will probably stick to salads there if I'm ever in a similar situation again.

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                                                                                                1. re: Erika RollerGirl

                                                                                                  Beware that hope... The few times I've tried to play it safe when eating at Applebee's was through the salad option. "Gritty and bland" are the two ways I'd use to describe the salads, especially their Caesar.

                                                                                                2. once ever few years I will drive by and see an "all you can eat riblets" or "half priced appetizers" sign and give it another try....and everytime I leave and say "we are never coming back." The ONE and only thing I did like there - the onion pedals - they discontinued. No More.....for a few years at least.

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                                                                                                  1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                    I love Applebees; the prices are reasonable, the staff helpful, the food vivacious and flavorful, the portions plentiful, and the ambience delightful.

                                                                                                    Oh who am I kidding -- I hate Applebees so much, I've never eaten there.

                                                                                                    Now TGI Fridays...what does the "TGI" stand for? Treatment for Gastrointestinal Illness? I "ate" at a TGIF in Las Vegas (at the Gold Coast Casino and Gambling Hall) and that "food" was the worst excrement I've ever put in my otherwise pristine mouth.

                                                                                                    At least at Olive Garden, you're family, so you can openly hate everyone.

                                                                                                    1. re: CucumberBoy

                                                                                                      Olive Garden's slogan should be, "We'll seal you in a barrel full of lye until you change color."

                                                                                                  2. I never understood what was so special about Applebee's, but they somehow have a big following. Some people obviously think it's cool or trendy to go there...

                                                                                                    They have a *few* good things on their menu, but the portions are usually small and the prices high. The last time I went there, I decided it would be a LONG time until I come back (and probably only if somebody else insisted on it).

                                                                                                    1. I've had some crappy stuff at Applebees, but some not-so-crappy stuff as well. I don't find it as bad of a chain, relatively speaking, as others, although I'm sure location is a factor (I've mostly been to the one in Deptford NJ and in Philadelphia once or twice.)

                                                                                                      I find their salads actually pretty decent as long as I get the dressing on the side so the plate's not swimming in it. And I have an unhealthy addiction to their spinach and artichoke dip with those really thin, oversized tortilla chips...

                                                                                                      That said I'd stay away from most of the actual "entrees" as I've had some pretty pathetic steak there before. The simpler the better seems to be the key.

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                                                                                                      1. re: sockii

                                                                                                        Ugh. Their spinach dip is made out of glue. It's so disgusting.

                                                                                                        We recieved a random giftcard to Applebee's, so we gave it a try. We stopped after the dip, out of fear for our lives.

                                                                                                      2. I think they're TERRIBLE, but Olive Garden is the worst. Applebee's is the silver medalist in the Nasty Chain Olympics, but Olive Garden takes the gold each and every year.

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                                                                                                        1. re: Glam Foodie

                                                                                                          You may be right, but I have no way of knowing - I've never yet eaten at an Olive Garden, and if my luck holds up I never will.

                                                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                                                            Get down on your knees and thank God every single day that you haven't - I STILL recoil at the thought of the two tragic meals I've eaten there!

                                                                                                            1. re: Glam Foodie

                                                                                                              oh stop. the salad is rather good and as long as you stay away from the red sauce dishes the food isnt THAT bad. Authentic? no. Over salted and full of fat and calories? yes. The worst meal I have even eaten? not even close.

                                                                                                              Applebees on the other hand....... the one time every 1-2 years I end up there I wonder to myself how they stay in business.

                                                                                                              1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                ITA. Salads at OG are edible. Salads at Applebee's have some weird fake flavor in the vinaigrette. Also they got my order entirely wrong and I didn't even think their burgers were edible. What is one supposed to eat there?

                                                                                                                1. re: fara

                                                                                                                  I think that flavor is the cheap oil (or oil that is past it's prime).

                                                                                                                  I've experienced that at a few places before. Not good.

                                                                                                        2. Add me to the list of those who despise Applebee's. I'm a vegetarian so I have a special hatred for their salads, which all (the last time I was there) had meat or seafood on them. Seriously. And EXPENSIVE.

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                                                                                                          1. re: IndyGirl

                                                                                                            one of my daughters' is vegetarian and she agrees with you, very little choice for her apart from overcheesed dishes or take the meat out of a salad or pasta.

                                                                                                          2. I've had much better food at Applebee's than at McDonald's.

                                                                                                            And no, you can't "freeze/deep-fry" a salad.

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                                                                                                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                              That sounds like dare to me. Challenge accepted.

                                                                                                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                                Yes, I quite like the salads there. I appreciate the Weight Watchers menu as well, but I generally stick to salads.

                                                                                                              2. Cracker Barrel is at the top of my list. I ate there once and had their "brisket" which was nothing like what was pictured. What I got was some heavily processed lunch meat with fake red food dye smoke rings and an awful fake smoked flavoring. Everything on my plate from the green beans to the mac and cheese all looked like it was straight out of a can or a cheap frozen dinner.

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                                                                                                                1. re: Atomic76

                                                                                                                  I couldn't agree more, people who complain about AB's have probably never been to a CB or a Golden Corral.

                                                                                                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                                                    I disagree. I've been to Cracker Barrel like 10 times. Every time much better than Applebee's. If you've been to Cracker Barrel, and you say it sucks, you probably went for lunch. Every smart person knows you only go to Cracker Barrel for breakfast, which is amazing there. Also, I don't know if you live in some part of the country that doesn't know how to make good BBQ type food, so I can't judge you on that, but in my opinion, Cracker Barrel is MUCH better.

                                                                                                                    1. re: JamAnndddddJelly

                                                                                                                      I would also say.....!2 bucks for AYCE Fried Chicken, Salad and Ice Cream makes Golden Corral a pretty good value. If there was one up in the Northern part of Jersey....I would not be ashamed to admit I would go there.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JamAnndddddJelly

                                                                                                                        love the blueberry pancakes at Cracker Barrel...

                                                                                                                  2. yes. hate it. Our local one is horrible, with bad service, too.

                                                                                                                    1. Old country buffet, Bob Evans re both far more vile than Applebees