A lot of people may be thinking about Chili’s right now after that whole deal where they took away a free Veteran’s Day meal from a veteran after not believing that he was a veteran even after he showed his discharge papers and military ID. And they didn’t believe that his service dog was a real service dog. And allegedly there might have been some racial bias behind it as well. But another reason to think of Chili’s is that they’re one of the first chain restaurants, possibly even the first, to change their regular pile of chips nachos to the less appealing single serving nachos.
There was a time in my youth when I had never heard of such a thing as a single serving nacho, because when I was a youth such a thing did not yet exist outside of the fanciest of restaurants that would also serve their interesting takes on nachos. Then one day a young Derek went into a Chili’s for nachos and was greeted not by a pile of chips but instead five or six lightly toppinged chips, and had no idea what the heck was going on. It was as though a whole new vista of reality had opened up before him, only it was a terrible one and nothing was ever going to be the same again. Now every time I wanted to order nachos I had to inquire if not specified if I would be receiving a classic delicious pile of chips or just a few dainty betoppinged ones. Dark days indeed.
But that was years ago, and I’ve become aware and accepting of so many more types of nachos, as awareness and acceptance is what one should strive for in their old age. Of course I am much more accepting of your normal big ol’ pile of chips nachos than stupid artsy single serving nachos, but I realize that tastes can change as the years go by and figured I should give them another try. With that decided I went back to Chili’s for another order, but not the Chili’s I used to go to because that closed and was replaced with a Hooters, and we all know about their nachos.
So after driving to the next closest open Chili’s I got the Classic Nachos with Fajita Chicken, instantly taking issue with them being called “Classic Nachos” when they are anything but. An interesting thing about their nachos, they use completely different chips than the ones they give you with chips and salsa. Their chips and salsa variety look made in house, but are super thin and I doubt they could hold the weight of a single nacho topping, so while tasty and delicious if you take them home to use in your homemade Chilaquiles (and if you are looking for a really delicious chilaquiles recipe I have one for you right here) they would not be good for nachos. Instead they have some special large format spiced or seasoned chips specifically for the nachos, which I have nothing against and were pretty tasty. The fajita chicken was also really good, not all gross and dried out like a lot of restaurants would have made it. Presentationwise, also very easy on the eyes.
Indeed nothing is “wrong” with these per say, other than the fact that they should really be a pile of chips rather than the single serving variety. Their issue is that they are completely by the book, which might be the problem with them being made by a marketing group at a restaurant chain rather than by some crazy chef at a single restaurant wanting to do something interesting. Single serving nachos are meant to be an artistic expression of culinary master made flesh, or chip in this case, and not the most cost effective version of a food people have heard of thought up by committee. A soul, that’s what these lack.
Chili’s is kind of like a Twinkie. Every 10 years you wonder why you haven’t eaten it in a while so you do, and then you remember that it’s exactly as advertised and you are satiated again for another 10 years. Their Southwest Eggrolls were as delicious as always as were their margaritas, their nachos were their nachos, and their burgers were not nearly as good as their burgers used to be, as well as much smaller and having much less bacon. I don’t know if I need to go back and try their nachos again any time soon, but I don’t regret having done so, even if they lacked a soul. What I do regret is not getting more of those tasty Southwest Eggrolls. They may have replaced the Chili’s I used to go to with a Hooters, but until Hooters can make a Southwest Eggroll they will never be replaced in my heart.