Chili’s VegNews Guide

“I want my babyback, babyback, babyback…” Can you name the jingle? Chili’s has been etched in our heads for years while promoting their famous baby back ribs. So what can a vegan eat at a restaurant known for their barbecue-covered rib cages? Many. The next time you sit down in a plush booth or red hightop with a giant chili anchored to the wall in front of you, pull out this guide to ordering the best vegan food at Chili’s.

Chili peppers

Aperitifs

Chile’s menu is a bit of an assortment of chain restaurants. The eclectic selection is reminiscent of a taste of Outback Steakhouse, On the Border and TGI Friday’s. As such, you’ll find Tex-Mex staples like guacamole, crisps, and salsa, all of which are vegan. For a more interesting application, order the Fried Pickles Without Ranch. While these brackish bites are coated in vegan batter, note that this is the only fried option without eggs. Sadly, Awesome Blossom Petals (fried onions) are not vegan. A few other appetizers are animal free with modifications. Classic Nachos can be vegetated by omitting meat, cheese, queso and sour cream. You end up with tortilla chips, pico de gallo, guacamole, black beans, jalapeños, and shredded lettuce. If fries are more your thing, ask to swap fries for fries under these toppings for a cast iron skillet full of loaded fries. Note: a deep fryer is shared between the fries and the fried chicken.

Salads

Every salad at Chili’s comes with meat, cheese, or a combination of the two, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find vegan green here. For a salad that has a little more than chopped lettuce, opt for the Grilled Chicken Salad (without cheese, chicken, or honey-lime dressing) or the Fruity Caribbean salad (without shrimp or honey-lime dressing). Ask for a side of citrus balsamic vinaigrette and avocado to add even more substance to the salad. If you’re looking for something basic to accompany a bigger main course, the house salad made with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and cucumbers is vegan when ordered without croutons or cheese.

Big Mouth Burgers

Chili’s has some work to do in the burger aisle. Although it offers a black bean patty, it does contain milk and eggs, and the only bread option is a bun made with eggs and milk. Here are some homework: call your local Chili’s or write to the company and politely ask for a vegan patty and bun. We are sure that Impossible Foods or Beyond Meat would be more than happy to be a Chili’s supplier.

VegNews.VeganChilis@ veganhotspringsarkansas / Instagram

Fajitas

The kitchen offers a vegetarian option for these sizzling platters using the same egg and dairy infused black bean patty offered for the veggie burger option. To vegetate, replace the galette with plain black beans and don’t ask for a queso fresco, chipotle butter, cheese, sour cream or Santa Fe sauce. You will receive a hot cast iron plate loaded with black beans, roasted peppers and onions, mushrooms, roasted asparagus, corn and black bean salsa, fresh avocado and Mexican rice with flour or corn tortillas. To dig.

Bowl Hacks

You won’t find a menu subsection with that title, but if you look under the Chicken and Seafood section, you will find two Fresh Mex bowls. These are layered with field greens, Mexican rice, pico de gallo, corn and black bean salsa, avocado, cilantro, and tortilla strips, all of which are suitable for vegans. Just don’t ask for meat, pesto, cheese and ranch, and you have a bowl of tasty beans and rice. Add chopped mango for a fruity accent.

Sides

Chili’s is not a steakhouse, but it does offer sides that are adjacent to the steakhouse. Vegan options include steamed broccoli, plain corn on the cob, roasted asparagus, and fries. Ask for a side of the original barbecue sauce (which is vegan) for dipping. On the Tex-Mex side, the corn and flour tortillas, Mexican rice, black beans, grilled avocado, guacamole, salsa and pico de gallo are also vegan. You can easily make your own tacos from this hearty spread.

For more tips on dining out as a vegan, read:
Taco Bell’s VegNews vegan guide
The VegNews vegan guide to the cheesecake factory
Panera’s VegNews vegan guide

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