10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE EATING AT CHILI'S
If you want your baby back, baby back, baby back—then you need to read this. You might love Chili's for it's Tex-Mex menu, but there's so much more to the chain that you ever realized, which is why we're giving you all the dirt on your favorite place to eat.
- 1.Chili's was inspired by two Texas burger joints.Founder Larry Lavine grew up visiting two patty spots, Burger Hour and Goff's Hamburgers in Dallas. So it only makes sense that his concept—with the goal of "giving guests a great burger and a margarita"—was influenced by his childhood haunts. The first location opened in 1975 in (where else?) Dallas.
- 2.The original menu was all chili and burgers.And a couple tacos. You could choose from Texas Red chili or the house's chili pie and five burgers, plus soft tacos or tostadas. And, of course, there were traditional margaritas and sangria.
- 3.It was once related to On the Border.Chili's is owned by Brinker International, which acquired On the Border Mexican Grill way back in 1994. But Brinker no longer owns the competing cantina chain, which means you can't cheat on Chili's and walk away guilt-free anymore. Sorry, folks.
- 4.Every year, the brand celebrates St. ChiliHead DayThis is a made-up holiday to mark the company's anniversary. Apparently it falls sometime around St. Patrick's Day, which is why Chili's came up with such an odd patron saint-like name for its special day. To mark another year in business, the company throws a huge outdoor bash at its original Dallas location a.k.a headquarters—complete with cakes, chili, burgers, and (we assume) plenty of baby back ribs.
- 5.The rewards program is actually worth it.Unlike some chains that make you spend hundreds before you can redeem a small drink, Chili's rewards program offers a bunch of freebies like complimentary dessert on your birthday. Rack up points with every purchase, then redeem them for free lunch combos, free entrees, and free appetizers. Plus, there aren't time windows you need to jump through. Sign up now and get 60 bonus points, which is enough to get a free menu item. Score!
- 6.It produced one of the catchiest commercial tunes of all time.Chanting the name of its signature baby back ribs, the spot was definitely stuck in your head for weeks months after its premiere. "Chiliiiii's baby back riiiiiiiibs.... barbecue sauce." It was so popular it was featured in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and episodes of The Office and Workaholics. N*SYNC even did their own rendition.
- 7.You can take Chili's home with you.No, we're not talking about your leftovers. After receiving countless requests, the chain decided to share its fan-favorite dishes with the freezer aisle. So now you can pick up plates like the chicken fajitas rice bowl and nacho potatoes with beef and bacon to make in your own kitchen—or, better yet, make your office mates jealous at lunch time.
- 8.There's a Chili's in Mexico.Unlike Taco Bell, there's an iteration of this Tex-Mex chain in the land of real tacos and guac. And more in 30 other countries, including Brazil, Russia, Japan, India, Costa Rica, and Canada.
- 9.Those kids' coloring pages are for a good cause.All the colored-outside-the-lines chilis you see posted on the walls? Those are benefitting St. Jude's through a charity partnership with the restaurant chain. After launching in 2004, the Create-A-Pepper program raises funds for research to find cures and help save children in need.
- 10.You can make the fancy "Platinum Presidente" marg at home.Wash down your take-home Chili's meal with a DIY margarita with the brand's how-to video. All you need is some mid- to top-shelf tequila, Cointreau, and El Presidente brandy.