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Drive-Thru Gourmet

Hoffman: Applebee's brings the flavor with All You Can Eat riblets and chicken tenders

Applebee's brings the flavor with endless riblets and chicken tenders

Drive-Thru Gourmet - Applebees All You Can Eat Riblets
The All You Can Eat riblets at Applebees are lean and dripping with sauce. Courtesy photo

This week, I reached out for a plate of All You Can Eat Riblets, plus one refill, at Applebee's, America's "Neighborhood Grill + Bar," with 2,000 restaurants coast to coast.

(Full disclosure: There was a third plate, but since we're talking about pork ribs, I didn't want to sound like a pig.)

Here's the All You Can Eat breakdown
The first plate has 12 ounces of appetizer-size ribs, mostly in the 1-inch to 4-inch range, plus french fries and cole slaw. Stop your worry, this is real rib meat of real rib bones, none of that fakeroo McRib nonsense.

Total calories: 1,150 (including the fries and slaw). Fat grams: 68. Sodium: 1,630 mg. Carbs: 74 g. Dietary fiber: 7 g. Protein: 62 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: $12.99.

Each refill plate has 6 ounces of riblets and fries, packing 740 calories and 41 fat grams. I had to order that third plate? I've got to change things and fast. (Starting tomorrow.)

Applebee's is also running an All You Can Eat Chicken Tenders deal. The starter plate has seven tenders, fries, slaw, and honey Dijon mustard sauce, and will set you back 1,460 calories and 83 fat grams. Re-orders, with three tenders and fries, tack on 950 calories and 55 fat grams.

You may have to leave through the double doors in the back.

These riblets pack the flavor
Let's focus on the riblets, since they're the signature dish, and these meaty bones deserve their lofty place in Applebee's hierarchy of neighborhood joint comfort food. The riblets are tender and lean, with tons of flavor and drippy with your choice of Honey BBQ or Spicy Texas BBQ sauce.

Don't be embarrassed to keep your server hustling back to the kitchen for more riblets. Half the people in Applebee's have chins glistening with sauce. It's a race to see what they'll run out of first — riblets or napkins.

Applebee's does All You Can Eat right. They let you switch back and forth between riblets, tenders, and sauces. And the servers know the drill — you'll want your money's worth, and more of everything. So they're quick like bunnies to bring refills.

I've been in some "never-ending shrimp" places where you practically have to tackle a server to ask for refills — and then they bring you three measly shrimp. You want to say, "Stay right here while I eat these, because I'm going to want more. Why don't you just bring me 15 shrimp now and save yourself some walking?"

The chicken tenders are pretty much what you expect, but bigger and more chickeny than fast food tenders. These don't have the drive-thru ratio of 1 part chicken, 5 parts breading.

For $12.99, Applebee's has one heck of a deal, for one heck of a lot of food.