Final exams are just around the corner, which means I’ve been spending my days either writing flashcards until my hands are numb or regretting every decision that brought me to law school (I think of it as a costly detour on my way to opening a brewpub).
On Friday night, however, my fiancée fortunately convinced me to venture into the world. The world of Applebee’s.
Made famous as the setting of a climactic scene in the Will Ferrell comedy “Talladega Nights,” Applebee’s is oft regarded as a tacky place with big, frozen drinks and cheap entrees. Rightfully so. However, most people might not be aware of the unbelievable value of its late-night menu.
After 9 p.m., the ’Bees (that’s what seasoned veterans call it) slashes the price of every appetizer in half and serves up some wild drink specials. For just $5.50, you can snag a nice-sized pitcher of Yuengling (or one of the light triplets if you must). Two dollars more will get you a pitcher of cider, Shocktop or a Sam Adams seasonal.
It’s not just beer. A price of $8.99 will get you a margarita pitcher, either frozen or on the rocks. The margaritas come in a bunch of flavors, too: strawberry, pomegranate and mango, just to name a few. If this is somehow not enough for you, sangria is also reduced.
The ’Bees really shines when it comes to the appetizers though. The prices are reasonable during standard hours but watch out: things get wild during the happy hour. For between $2.50 and $5, you can get the following: brewpub pretzels with beer cheese dip, green bean crispers, onion rings, spinach and artichoke dip, wings (boneless or regular), cheeseburger sliders, mozzarella sticks, grilled chicken wonton tacos, chili cheese nachos, potato twisters, queso blanco and steak and chicken quesadillas. Phew!
First, the lady and I split a pitcher of pomegranate margarita on the rocks. Usually we get the frozen strawberry margarita, but for you, dear reader, we decided to go crazy with it. I’m glad we did too, because it was delicious. Joe, our friendly neighborhood bartender, mixes a solid ’rita (everything is abbrev’ed in the ’Bees). No complaints here. We later, foolishly, ordered a pitcher of Sam Adams Summer Ale. I was too full from the food.
I should mention that the late-night menu is half-priced but full-sized. There is no skimping at the ’Bees. All the apps are affordable, so compromise is left at the door. Get whatever you want. We did.
I wanted the steak quesadillas and some chicken wonton tacos. Boom, done. The fiancée wanted the brewpub pretzels with beer cheese dip and spinach and artichoke dip. Got it. She tried to order the green bean crispers too, but I was able to talk her out of it with the help of Joe the bartender. For some reason, she forgot how robust the portions are.
The food is decent, too, especially for a chain restaurant. The spinach and artichoke dip is always pretty good (we always get that) but the stars of the show were the chicken wonton tacos and the brewpub pretzels. The pretzels came with a cheese dip made with Blue Moon, and while I didn’t get as drunk off the cheese as I’d hoped, it still made for a really satisfying late-night snack. We ended up having to take some of the food home with us.
There were only two issues we had. The first being all the teens hanging out, swagging and having a YOLO motto as their generation often does. Youngsters don’t make for the best boozing environment. Second were the two young ladies sitting next to us at the bar. Look chicas, if you’re going to talk about someone, don’t whisper and look directly at them. We always notice; we’re a classic power-couple. We’re used to the attention.
All in all, we go to the ’Bees about once a month and always enjoy ourselves. As a creature of habit (and a person most comfortable with a routine), it’s nice knowing what to expect. The menu seldom changes (although the pretzels were new) and the prices remain affordable. We’ll be back in May for ’ritas and maybe some ’grias.
Applebee’s is located at 260 Noble Blvd., Carlisle, as well as at 6055 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg.
Michael Gleeson is a second-year student at Penn State Dickinson School of Law who likes brewing his own beer, cooking and blasting around town on his moped.