My 10 Favorite Restaurant Appetizers

You sit down at the table and pick up the menu. The first thing you see: an enticing listing of restaurant appetizers to choose from.

The variety and quality of restaurant appetizers vary from eatery to eatery, but here are the favorites I’ve found so far. I’d be eager to hear which ones you love the most!

1. Outback Steakhouse: Bloomin’ Petals

When I go to Outback Steakhouse, I’m usually alone, so I order the personal-size version of the chain’s famous “Bloomin’ Onion,” the “Bloomin’ Petals.” In addition to not being a whole onion, the petals version features more crust on the individual petals, which do a better job of holding onto that spicy sauce that accompanies either version.

2. Outback Steakhouse: Aussie Fries

Also from their “Aussie-Tizer” menu, their Aussie fries are regular french fries topped with melted Monterey Jack, Cheddar and chopped bacon and served with a homemade ranch dressing.

3. Zaxby’s: Fried White Cheddar Bites

Much of Zaxby’s menu follows a “Z” theme, so salads are “zalads” and “appetizers” become “zappetizers.” The cheddar bites are breaded pieces of white cheddar served with marinara dipping sauce.

4. Zaxby’s: Spicy Fried Mushrooms

Breaded sliced mushrooms come with Zaxby’s Zesty Sauce. Without the sauce, the mushrooms aren’t that particularly spicy, but they’re still good.

5. Applebee’s: Monterrey Jack Sticks

These haven’t been available for a while, but when they were being served at the Applebee’s near me at the time, they were never listed on the menu; regular visitors just knew they happened to exist. Unlike Mozarella, the Monterrey Jack sticks didn’t present the problem of those long, chewy cheese trails. And instead of marinara sauce, these sticks came with a really good honey mustard that had a sweet flavor that complemented the cheese really well. I was sad the day I learned they were no longer available.

6. Bonefish Grill: Bang Bang Shrimp

This is a really simple dish: crispy shrimp, tossed in their signature creamy, spicy sauce. But the flavor is fantastic.

7. Fleet Landing (or Most Seafood Restaurants): She-Crab Soup

In Charleston, she-crab soup is a very popular dish. Fleet Landing is a local restaurant here and theirs is the best I’ve found so far, but most seafood restaurants serve their own take. If you’ve never had it, it’s a thick soup — almost a bisque — with Atlantic blue crab meat and roe (where laws allow) in a heavy cream and crab stock. For flavor, chefs often include a bit of dry sherry.

8. Most Mexican restaurants: Guacamole

It’s only been in the past decade that I decided to give guacamole a shot. I think it was the color that just didn’t do it for me. But as soon as I tasted it, I loved it. I prefer my guacamole with as little cilantro as possible and with no tomato or jalopeño.

9. O’Charley’s: Overloaded Potato Skins

These are thick crispy potato skins with cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, hickory-smoked bacon and green onions and served with sour cream on the side. Frankly, I don’t consider them “overloaded,” but I say that without checking the calorie count.

10. Most Greek restaurants: Tiropita

Tiropita is a Greek layered pastry made with layers of buttered phyllo and filled with a cheese-egg mixture.

That’s my list. I’d love to hear yours.

Which restaurant appetizers do you just have to order when you visit your favorite spot?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.