Taste These Broken Wings: A review of the wings at casual dining restaurants Applebee's and Chili's

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By: Michael Tomko
miketomko@outlook.com

Michael Tomko

I went to try some new wings for lunch last week and chose the casual dining chains Applebee’s and Chili’s. I had a college professor who once said, “No one ‘plans’ to go to Denny’s, people just ‘end up’ at Denny’s.” I believe the same could be said for these chains.

Typically no one’s favorite restaurant is Applebee’s and people don’t spend their 25th anniversaries at Chilli’s, but the restaurants do have their usefulness. For example, they are good for meeting up with a group of people, since everyone knows where the Applebee’s in town is; if you chose the Bob’s Rib Emporium, on the other hand, you would have to deal with directions and strange neighborhoods.

They are also good for blind and first dates. If you take someone to a Mexican place, they may not like Mexican food. If you take them to a steakhouse, they may end up being a vegetarian. But if you take them to Chili’s, they can get whatever they want.

You may also be on a long, tiring road trip, and when you get to your hotel, there may be a local Italian restaurant across the street that could have either the best or the worst pasta you’ve ever eaten. But at least you know what to expect if you go to the Applebee’s next to it.

So, these places may be a little overpriced, and the quality of food may not be quite “homemade,” but they have their purposes.

Applebee’s

The wings at Applebee’s looked pretty good at first. They were large and steaming hot, and you could see the spices covering the wings in the sauce. But I did find the sauce a little bland. It didn’t have that savory kick that gets your saliva glands churning in the back of your jaw. It was only a two out of four on the heat scale, but the bartender told me later he brought the regular buffalo instead of the hot buffalo sauce.

What I really didn’t like was the taste of the chicken. It was a bit dried out and had that freezer taste to it. I understand that most wings arrive frozen at the restaurant; they don’t usually have chicken farms in the back. The large size of the wings and blandness of the sauce didn’t help mask that flavor.

The price was $9.69 for 10 wings giving a very large CPW (or cost per wing) of 97 cents. The wings weren’t anything exceptional, but they weren’t horrible either. They are on par with most of the other food you get at a casual dining restaurant. It is also very hard to eat these wings when you are staring out the window at a Buffalo Wild Wings.

Chili’s

There is nothing really wrong with the wings at Chili’s, but there is nothing really special about them either. They use a traditional Buffalo sauce, which is probably Frank’s Hot Sauce and butter. I give them a 2 out of 4 on the heat scale. The wings were hot and unbreaded, but the skin wasn’t very crispy.

My biggest beef with these wings is the price. The cost is $9.49, and they only bring you 8 wings. The CPW of 119 cents is around the highest you are going to see. On top of that, the wings were very small. I would recommend passing on the wings at Chili’s, not so much because of the taste, but the price.

Any Ideas?

I have a request for some of you people out there who are reading these blog posts.

I am very familiar with the Elkhart/Goshen area, as I have lived and worked here for the past 11 years. However, I have not gotten out as much in the larger South Bend/Mishawaka area. I am planning to go out there to try wings in some of the chains in the large commercial areas, but what I am looking for is the local, neighborhood places – hole-in-the-wall bars and such.

So if you know some places that are unique and may have some good or different wings, let me know in an email (miketomko@outlook.com). I could just randomly drive around that area and stop in some places, but it would be helpful to have a little guidance.

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