October is baseball heaven and football's early-season shakeout, the last month before Blazers fans get really depressed. And at your neighborhood Applebee's (ours is at 1439 NE Halsey St., 503-284-8040, applebees.com), it's $1 mothafuckin' margaritas all day, every day, all month.
Few press releases have ever spurred our editorial staff to swifter action: We rushed down within minutes of reading about it to drink two Dollaritas™ apiece, batch-mixed into tupperware and poured into weird little beer mugs filled with ice cubes.
The cheap margaritas are here, we're told, to remind America that Applebee's is also a bar. But it is not a bar. The physical bartop and rail are a horseshoe island in a sea of heavy booths and heavy eaters. In its clunky corporate reliability and naive huckster branding—one sign cheerily announces $12.99 all-you-can-eat riblets on Thursdays—Applebee's is a retreat from both ecstasy and tragedy. Nothing good or bad is possible here.
The half-rack of ribs tastes nostalgically like those frozen Tony Roma's ribs my father used to bake in the oven. An onion-laden burger is so full of fat and sugar, the bun seems to dissolve. A mere $25 buys a steaming hill of calories, including burger, ribs, mashed potatoes, fries, green beans and onion rings.
And as for those Dollaritas? They taste a little like lime Kool-Aid. Each little mug is a sweet and sour bomb lit with a fuse of budget tequila. Four dollars buys the sugar-spinning buzz of two grown men. The Dollarita is, perhaps, a miracle. The mood outside these walls may be apocalyptic, but Kansas-based Applebee's is the still-smiling face of fake America.