What You Should Absolutely Never Order At Applebee's

The first Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar restaurant opened in 1980 in Atlanta, GA. But it wasn't called that until 1986 — initially the restaurant had the rather ponderous name T.J. Applebee's Rx for Edibles & Elixirs. And in fact, the founders, married couple T.J. and Bill Palmer, considered both the names Cinnamon's or Pepper's, passing on those only because they were already taken by other businesses registered in Georgia.

Today there are nearly 2,000 Applebee's locations spread over nearly a dozen countries and in every state except Hawaii. The restaurant is a favorite with millions of families, for casual lunches with friends, after-work dinner and drinks with colleagues, and for anyone who wants a decent meal at a good price.

And indeed many a decent meal is available at Applebee's, which serves everything from soup to salmon to burgers to beer in an atmosphere that is warm and welcoming and with a staff of Applebuddies (yes, that is what the employees call themselves) who are friendly and helpful.

That said, there are also a number of things on the Applebee's menu that you should avoid like the plague, for they may well have a plague-like effect on your tastebuds and body. There is a multitude of nutritionally horrific meals, sides, and dessert options on the Applebee's menu, and there are a handful of meals that are terrible taste-wise, too. Here are 12 Applebee's items that should be a hard pass. 

Applebee's Loaded Baked Potato soup is loaded with fat

The Loaded Baked Potato Soup at Applebee's may be delicious comfort food, but it's little comfort to know some of the stats about the soup, which will more than max out many of your daily recommended values in several categories. The soup is an average of 600 calories per serving, with more than 300 of those calories coming from fat. It has 36 grams of saturated fat, which is 16 grams more of these unhealthy fats than doctors recommend the average adult consume daily. And while the soup does taste great, when you realize what's behind that taste, you may well opt for something else. 

In order to create a batch of the soup to serve four to six people, the ingredients are in part, according to Applebee's own site: "2/3 cup butter, 7 cups milk, 10 to 12 strips bacon, 1 and 1/4 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese, 1 cup sour cream." There are also some potatoes in there of course, but it's the cheese and the cream and the bacon and such that are providing most of the taste. And the calories. And fat and saturated fat and sodium, of which there are 1,290 milligrams, FYI.

Avoid Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad Wrap at all costs

The words "salad" and "wrap" call to mind light, healthy fare you can enjoy without guilt (or self-loathing) and without worrying about the diet you should be maintaining. Now here's the wake-up call: you would need to eat three Big Macs from McDonald's plus a handful of fries to equal the 1,800 calories stuffed into Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad Wrap entree. 

Granted, the meal comes with a side of fries and a vinaigrette sauce that add to the calorie count, but regardless it is a terribly unhealthy meal option. Worst of all is indeed the fact that this meal may seem to many people to be a healthy choice, when in fact, a plate of ribs or a bacon cheeseburger is less caloric and fat-filled. If you must have a chicken salad wrap, at least go for the Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad Wrap, which cuts out more than 100 calories, 120 of which are from fat. Though it's even higher in sodium, so you're still not winning.

The Applebee's Loaded Fajitas pack in the sodium

Sodium is a necessary mineral that helps your body with everything from muscle and nerve function to balancing body fluids and hydration, and your body needs some of this essential electrolyte to function. But when you consume too much sodium, you raise your risk for high blood pressure, damage to the kidneys and other organs, heart disease, stroke, and other maladies.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on daily sodium consumption for adults say that the average adult in good health should consume a maximum of 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. However the CDC finds that most Americans consume more than 3,400 mg of sodium daily, or 1,100 milligrams more than recommended. So how does all of this relate to the fajitas from Applebee's?

Well, if you were to single-handedly consume a Loaded Steak & Chicken Fajita meal from Applebee's, you would be eating 2,700 more milligrams of sodium than the CDC's daily specified allotment, which is also known as well over double the full daily recommendation in a single meal. Which is also known as a very bad thing to do to your body.

Grilled chicken dishes at Applebee's aren't worth the price

Many people eat at Applebee's primarily because the restaurant has many affordable options allowing them to enjoy a restaurant dining experience without a bill that ruins the whole evening. (Or early afternoon or late morning, as the case may be.) If you are watching your budget and still want to eat out, don't order a meal from Applebee's with a grilled chicken breast as its anchor or you won't come near to getting your money's worth for the meal.

A former Applebee's employee (aka Applebuddy, of course) revealed that the restaurant chain pays an average price of around 30 cents per chicken breast used in these meals, many of which then sell for nearly $20. Granted there are also the veggies, rice, potatoes, and other choices of sides you get with that chicken breast. Overall though, you can bet on a meal that sells for $18.99 being a markup of more than fifty times what the restaurant is paying for its ingredients, while retail pricing, in general, is a two-time markup over a company's wholesale prices. On the other hand, at least you're not doing the cooking or the dishes, which is definitely worth something.

Applebee's Strawberry Frozen Lemonade has 76 grams of sugar

Just don't order the frozen lemonades from Applebee's. At least not if you want to avoid contributing to arterial wall inflammation, increased chance of heart failure or stroke, increased chance of diabetes and cancer, restlessness, poor sleep, and the other many negative side effects of consuming too much sugar. These frozen "treats" range from 52 to 76 grams of sugar (Classic has the least; Strawberry is the worst), meaning even the lowest sugar frozen lemonade option has double the daily expert-recommended dose for a woman and 15 grams more sugar than an adult male should consume daily.

For some perspective, a serving of Coca-Cola Classic soda has 26 grams of sugar (which equals about six teaspoons of the stuff) so even that is more sugar than many people should have, but it's nearly three times less sugar than is found in Applebee's Strawberry Frozen Lemonade. If you must have something sweet, try to stick to the fruit smoothies, which at least have some real fruit in them along with sugar content comparable to the frozen lemonades.

Pass on every pasta dish on Applebee's' menu

You have probably heard that it's healthier to eat five to six smaller meals throughout the course of the day than it is to gorge on three large meals at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, the science is still out on that, though experts agree that if you eat healthy foods and watch your caloric intake, when you eat does not matter as much. (Though intermittent daily fasting does seem to have some notable benefits for weight loss goals.)

What all medical science and nutrition experts can agree on, however, is that consuming around three-quarters of your total daily calories in one sitting is not the way to be healthy. So if you order a pasta entree from Applebee's, you should really cut it in half and take 50 percent of your meal to go. If you average together the calories found in their currently offered six pasta dishes, you get an average calorie count of 1,400 calories per entree. And you don't even want to know about the grams of fat or sodium content. (But if you do, it's all on the Applebee's Menu Nutrition Facts site.)

Skip the Hand-Battered Fish & Chips at Applebee's

Health experts advise the average adult in good health consume between 20 percent and 35 percent of their daily calories in the form of fats, which for those of us on or near a 2,000 calorie a day diet means between 44 and 77 grams of fat daily. Let's combine those and divide by two for an average number of 60.5 grams of fat daily.

The Hand-Battered Fish & Chips meal loads you up with 95 grams of fat. One of the main problems with that is the fact that many people think of fish as a low-fat food. Which it can be when preparation does not involve deep frying battered fish. Go for the nine fat gram Blackened Cajun Salmon as a far healthier option, but note it may leave you a bit peckish, as the battered fish dish has 1,430 calories, while the Blackened Cajun Salmon has all of 240. But there are always fries and breadsticks for filling up on. Of course, as we'll see soon enough breadsticks are not the wisest option to add to your plate. 

Applebee's Strawberry Shake is a glass full of sugar

As noted when discussing the frozen lemonade beverages from Applebee's, too much sugar can be a very bad thing healthwise. But whereas the worst offender there had 76 grams of sugar, when it comes to the shakes, one has 61 grams of sugar, another 75, the next worst 100, and then we have the 110 gram of sugar Strawberry Shake. Which also packs in 38 grams of fat, 23 of which are saturated fat, which is over the entire recommended daily limit.

Probably a good idea to skip the Decadent Shakes, based on basic calorie count too: their names don't lie, as the lowest calorie Decadent Shake, Vanilla, has 730 calories, while the Strawberry Shake has 920, or nearly half the standard daily recommended value for your entire diet. In one cup. That's WALL-E level consumption, and in a "treat" you will most likely be enjoying after eating an entire meal that already put you over just about every nutritional metric.

Don't get the Oriental Chicken Salad if you're trying to eat light

The good news is that there are a number of perfectly healthy salads you can get at Applebee's — that is to say salads that are low in calories, low in fat, moderate on sodium, and so on. The bad news is that these are all merely different takes on the house Side Salad, as in House Salad with Honey Balsamic dressing or the House Salad with fat free Italian dressing.

If you order one of the entree salads, don't kid yourself into thinking you're making a healthy choice. Fully half of the main course salads on Applebee's menu have more than 1,000 calories, while several have more than 1,500 calories, like that Oriental Chicken Salad you might think is a solid nutritional choice. Sorry, but it will still set you back 1,560 calories. (We're guessing no one thinks the Big Tex Taco Salad with Beef or with Chipotle Lime Chicken is a good diet option.) Also for reference, more than half of the calories come from fat in all but two of Applebee's entree salads.

Don't order the Southwestern Steak Salad at Applebee's

Customers have spoken and the feeling is quite clear: two out of three diners recommend you don't get the Southwestern Steak Salad from Applebee's. People downvoted the meal by that margin on popular polling site Ranker.com, and in a scathing TripAdvisor review, one patron had this to say: "When [the Southwestern Steak Salad] came to the table the presentation completely turned me off. It looked like something I can make at home. The lettuce was wilted and the meat was room temp. Very disappointing."

Another reviewer on TripAdvisor juxtaposed an image of the salad as advertised by the restaurant — the images were gorgeous of course — next to the actual meal they were served, which looked like a horrific pile of wilted plant mess beside a chunk of C-grade meatstuffs. One customer on Twitter said they ordered the salad and the restaurant forgot the steak.  Sometimes pictures really do say a thousand words, or in this case, perhaps four words are more apt: Never order this meal.

Avoid the Breadsticks with Alfredo Sauce

Consuming too much saturated fat is seriously deleterious to human health. Saturated fat increases the unwanted LDL cholesterol levels in your body and can contribute to a greatly elevated risk for a stroke, a heart attack, or other major health issues. Thus doctors and nutrition experts recommend the average adult consume no more than an average of 17 or 18 grams of saturated fat each day.

An order of Applebee's Breadsticks with Alfredo Sauce has 48 grams of fat per order, which is the better part of three times how much of this junk you should eat each day. Remember, with things like saturated fat, you need to think of not like a certain amount you should get each day, as with, say, calcium and vitamin C, but rather as an allowance. You should not have more than 18 grams of saturated fat daily, but you surely will even if you split this unhealthy appetizer three ways. However, this is assuming you eat basically any other food during the course of the day as well. Please, just skip the breadsticks, it's the one thing to make sure you take away from this article.

Even Applebee's employees pass on the Bourbon Street Steak

You would think that most current and even former Applebuddies would try to speak favorably of the food this affable chain of restaurants offers, but there is one dish that a former Appplebee's employee implored his fellow Redditors to never ever order: the Bourbon Street Steak.

In his anecdote taking down the entree, the ex-Applebuddy said in part: "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."

They went on to recall one particular time when the waitstaff was especially turned off by it. "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," the ex-employee said. "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."

And that was from someone generally complimentary of their time working at Applebee's and with no vested interest in turning people away from the chain. He was merely speaking his truth about a truly bad steak.