Chili’s Grill & Bar has a solid Lone Star pedigree. Larry Lavine opened the first Chili’s on March 13, 1975 in Dallas on the corner of Greenville Avenue and Meadow Road, and offered a short menu of chili, burgers, fries and tacos. A bowl of Texas Red was $1.50, a Terlingua Burger cost $1.65 and a frozen Margarita was $1.50.
The second Chili’s came along three years later in Houston, and by 1983, when Norman Brinker bought out the business, there were 23 restaurants in six states. As of 2017, the chain had more than 1,600 locations worldwide.
One of those stores is in Sherman, and as it had been a while since I visited a Chili’s, a friend and I decided to stop by for lunch.
The menu has expanded considerably since those start up days, and now has several pages of appetizers, burgers, steaks, ribs, salads, sandwiches and more.
As a rule, I pass over the hamburgers in big restaurants on the grounds that a burger is a burger, but that is probably a mistake on my part. Several people had praised the hamburgers at Chili’s, and they did look good in the pictures, so I decided to have the bacon cheeseburger, sans the onion. It came with fries and extra pickles. My friend, who does not eat all that much and looks for value, decided on a bowl of tortilla soup.
Chili’s does not have a lunch menu as such, although they do offer a few lunch combo special with a soup or salad and lunch size portion of the very limited choice of entreés.
My burger made a nice presentation on a tin tray with a metal basket of fries and a small cup of extra pickles. With a knife stuck in the bun, much like Arthur’s Excalibur was stuck in the stone, I wondered if I could claim a kingdom if I could pulled it out, but alas, nothing followed save the opportunity to slice the burger in half for easier handling. Good thing too, as the hamburger was thick and the soft brioche bun made it even thicker.
It was a good hamburger and, with the fries, which were also tasty, made for a satisfying lunch. Across the way, my friend finished off the tortilla soup, which was heavily augmented with cheese, and then dipped in on the fries on my tray that I didn’t finish off.
Though we like to save room for dessert, each choice was almost as much as some of the entrées, we went without. We also drank water, as is the case with so many restaurants these days, the price of beverages is confiscatory in nature.
The fact that Chili’s has been part of the landscape for 44 years demonstrates that they have figured out how to keep pleasing their customer base, and their menu selections are broad enough that most diners will find something to try when they visit the restaurant.
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