Chili’s: 10 of their greatest menu items of all-time

Chili's Grill and Bar, photo courtesy Chili's
Chili's Grill and Bar, photo courtesy Chili's /

We’ve decided to take a look at the many menu items served up at Chili’s over the years, and pick which of those Chili’s menu items are the absolute ten best of all-time. Quite the undertaking, yes, but here at Guilty Eats, we pride ourselves in taking on those tasks that entail tough decisions. And when it comes to picking one tasty Guilty Eat from another one, we consider that a very difficult decision indeed.

Chili’s restaurant first opened in 1975. Founder, Larry Lavine, started with a single location; his concept for a casual restaurant that served simple American cuisine caught on over the years, and by the eighties, the restaurant flourished and many more locations sprung up.

Of course the menu expanded slightly, offering up breakfast options, as well as a wide array of Tex-Mex menu items that do very well with North-American clients as well as all over the world.

Chili’s serves the world over, with a whopping 1,606 locations (as of a 2017 census).

So how about we get to it and look at the 10 best Chili’s menu items ever to grace their menu since the mid-seventies?

10. Classic Rib eye

For those meat lovers out there, perhaps nothing beats a classic cut like this. Not too large and served up with veggies, mash and a toasted bun; what else could you ask for, really? The word simple comes to mind, but it’s oh-so-satisfying, and worth the money for sure. You’re not getting steakhouse quality, but it’s good.

9. Caribbean salad with seared shrimp

And when you’re looking for something light, refreshing and tasty with a little protein, there’s no salad on the menu that beats this little number. The fresh fruit here really takes this salad over the top in a good way, only adding to that freshness factor, and the shrimp is an added bonus, really.

8. Southwest Egg Rolls

Who said Chinese take-out is the only place to get a decent egg roll? Certainly not I. Especially with so many great frozen section egg rolls at your local grocery store. But those don’t even come close to these served up at Chili’s. And really, they’re best described as East meets West…the flavors of Asian cuisine meeting up with the hot and zesty flavors of Tex-Mex.

7. Cajun Shrimp Pasta

And once again with the shrimp. They do fish well over at Chili’s. They also have a salmon dish that’s decent, although it didn’t make this list, sorry to say. But when it comes to pasta, simple and tasty wins out over anything oftentimes; especially for me, and a well made pasta dish is often my go-to.

6. Cajun Chicken Pasta

That’s why this menu item also made the list. The Cajun factor to both these dishes adds volumes of flavor to the pasta itself, and it isn’t that typical pasta with tomato feel. There are an array of textures and spices to both these dishes and if it’s a tasty pasta dish you are craving after that long and tiresome day—perhaps even that glass of red wine to take the edge off—then these are the two pasta dishes for you.

5. Texas Dry Rub Ribs

The saucy ribs aren’t always welcome by one and all. In fact, back in my cooking days, I worked at a banquet hall and had to make the ribs we often served for an International Buffet we were catering, and for lack of a key ingredient (tomato paste), I decided to make a dry rub for the ribs. Long story short, they were a hit. And these are a hit for the same reason. Sometimes, simplicity reigns supreme.

4. Mushroom Swiss Burger

The classic cheeseburger is an epic menu item anywhere you go, and Chili’s makes a lot of great burgers. But when you’re sick and tired of the same old, there’s nothing like Swiss cheese to mix it up. And the sautéed mushrooms! OMG!

3. Molten Chocolate Cake

Okay! You’ve got to have something sweet for sure, and the menu over at Chili’s is loaded with great options, but for me, nothing beats this one here. The words ‘molten chocolate’ just scream mouth-watering greatness, and it delivers on all expectations.

2. Spicy Shrimp Tacos

Yes…a third shrimp item on the list. But like I said, Chili’s treat their shrimp right. They get them to have that firm yet not rubbery texture that a lot of shrimp can get at perhaps a lesser restaurant, and in a taco they’re that much better somehow, hence this item’s placement on this list (number 2 isn’t so shabby). And the fact that the protein in this taco is shrimp is refreshing and a departure from other tacos offered elsewhere. Variety’s a good thing sometimes, right?

1. California Turkey Club

Sometimes, nothing beats a club sandwich. And this one here certainly does the trick. It’s turkey, so it differentiates from the chicken variety, which can get a tad boring. But what’s great here, is that that third piece of bread is missing, which would undoubtedly make the late, great Anthony Bourdain very happy, as he hated that third piece of bread in a club sandwich.

"“You know who invented the middle slice? Enemies of freedom. Their mission? Sap our will to live by ruining our sandwich experiences through ‘tectonic slide.’”-via Anthony Bourdain / Appetites"

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Did we miss any of your favorite dishes at Chili’s? Which ones are your go-to items?