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Week No. 18 • Applebee's

The Quesadilla Burger at Applebee's includes pico de gallo, lettuce, pepperjack cheese and Mexi-ranch sauce. Applebee's is located on Highway 61 near the intersection of 61 and County Road 47.

Over the last 17 weeks, I've had the honor of eating 17 different burgers at 17 different area restaurants. All 17 were served on buns.

No. 18 is a bit different.

I enjoyed the Quesadilla burger at Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar on Highway 61 in Hastings last week. The inside was what you'd expect: pico de gallo, lettuce, pepperjack cheese and Mexi-ranch sauce. But instead of nestling all that between a bun, it's all placed between two grilled tortillas.

For what it's worth, you could also get it with chicken instead of beef.

The variation was a welcome choice. And it came at about the halfway point of this whole series. In other words, I've had plenty of buns.

Plus, the burger was cheesy, gooey and good.

I got mine for $8.49 and added onion rings for $1.49.

Applebee's has a good selection of burgers on the menu.

My typical favorite is the big Brewtus Steak Burger, a 10-ounce piece of chopped sirloin with cheddar cheese and bacon. They have mini bacon cheeseburgers and, get this, a Fritos Chili Burger. It's an Angus burger topped with Fritos Corn Chips, steak chili, cheddar jack cheese, red onions and jalapenos.

Another interesting option is the Bruschetta burger. It includes fresh bruschetta, pesto sauce and mozzarella cheese on focaccia bread.

Don't like burgers?

Well, there's plenty to choose from at Applebee's.

There's a lunch special starting at $5.99 that includes soup and a sandwich.

About Applebee's

Applebee's got its start in Atlanta, Ga., when Bill and T.J. Palmer opened T.J. Applebee's RX for Edibles & Elixirs.

They sold the concept in 1983 and by 1986, franchise restaurants started popping up across the nation.

There are now more than 1,990 Applebee's restaurants in 49 states and 17 countries.

What Christina says

Regina Medical Center dietician Christina Gapp looked over Applebee's menu and had this to say about healthful options there:

"Applebee's reminds me how much I love the Chicken Oriental Salad, and now I have found out that it packs in over 700 calories and eight carbohydrate choices (for the diabetics out there).

"Well, that isn't too bad, as there are some high calorie items on the menu. The good news is that there are some lovely choices for those of us who don't have willpower to eat half and take the rest home: Weight Watchers selections. I have tried some of these, and they are excellent in at least two ways - they are portion controlled and that means we don't have to think about how much we eat, and they make it easy to "stick to a plan" to follow our nutrition goals.

"If you check out the menu, you can see lots of color on the plates at Applebee's, and that is a good sign for health and wellness. Eye appeal dominates when it comes to menu acceptance.

"So how can we cut the carbohydrates at the meals over the holidays? I am thinking ahead for extra goodies that only pop out at this time of year! At home, try these tips:

1. Add ginger to a fruit glaze (blend berries, ginger, fruit juice concentrate and toss with fresh fruit);

2. Add cinnamon to coffee before brewing;

3. Top oatmeal with allspice, mace, or nutmeg; and

4. Drizzle citrus juices over fruit.

"At Applebee's, try iced tea with squeezed lemon from the lemon wedge.

"So you want the dessert shooter? Keep in mind that size is small here, which is good; however, this little treat adds about 300 calories. I thought you might want to know ... I won't tell about the regular desserts.

As always, if you have ideas, comments or suggestions about this piece, please let me know. My phone number is 651-437-6153 and my e-mail address is crichardson@hastingsstar