Brunch

Chili’s American Grill and Bar comes to Sri Lanka

  • Texas-inspired brand bringing a new dining experience to the city

Chili’s American Grill and Bar fired up its grill and opened its doors for the first time at the One Galle Face Mall in Colombo on 16 August 2021.

This is the first location in Sri Lanka operated by veteran franchisee Mukund Hospitality (Pvt.) Ltd., who has previously partnered with Chili’s American Grill and Bar to open locations throughout North and East India.

The restaurant, which represents the latest Chili’s American Grill and Bar design, brings the concept of modern casual dining to the city. The restaurant is approximately 7,400 sq. ft. in size and seats 240-plus guests and will be open daily for lunch and dinner and for dine-in, takeaway, and delivery.

Even though the event was held in-house, at Chili’s, customer safety is considered an utmost priority. We learnt that all operational staff are fully vaccinated whilst following all the Covid-19 protocols. Consequently, Chili’s has implemented a “zero-touch policy”, which ensures there is no direct contact with the food at any given point while preparing the order, assuring hygiene and safety of food. The restaurant has gone above and beyond to create an atmosphere that puts diners at ease, giving them the chance to relax and enjoy their meals, during the current stressful times.

Speaking virtually at the event, Mukund Hospitality Director Rishi Bajoria commented: “We’re excited to bring Chili’s Fresh Mex favourites to Colombo. We have an enthusiastic, energetic team eager to serve guests looking to come together with friends and family for delicious food and drink in a fun and relaxing setting.” He further added that at Chili’s, they are dedicated to delivering fresh, high-quality food with a unique point of view. 

The menu 

The Texas-inspired “Fresh Mex” menu offers a variety of dishes including Sizzling Fajitas, Hand-Crafted Burgers, Fresh Mex Rice Bowls, Hand-Shaken Margaritas, and signature desserts. Brunch had the opportunity to sample a five-course appetiser meal. We tried the South Western Egg Roll, Signature Wings, Cheese Poppers, Signature Smoked Wings, and the Big Mouth Bites along with a Chocolate Milkshake to wash it all down.

The South Western Egg Roll had flavour notes similar to that of a taco, and almost the same ingredients as well (minus the eggs, of course). The rolls were wrapped with flour tortillas stuffed with chicken, black beans, corn, jalapeño, jack cheese, red peppers, and spinach, and was served with a side of avocado ranch. We did enjoy them, but like we said, if you’ve had a taco before, the egg rolls were simply an innovative way to plate a taco. The Cheese Poppers one cannot go wrong with; it is simply a panko-crusted cheese bite with Monterrey Jack, cheddar cheese, and a hint of coriander leaves, again with a sauce for dipping. Panko breadcrumbs are the elite of all breadcrumbs, so they gave the cheesy goodness the elevation it needed; the cheese wasn’t as gooey as we’d like although the dish was hot, so that was a bit disappointing, but cheese, even on its own is always a treat, so we can’t complain. Next up, the Signature Wings that come hand-tossed in tangy wing sauce served with a cool ranch dressing. They offer an option of bone-in or boneless wings; we were served the bone-in wings. We really liked the wings; the sauce had a very interesting tingly flavour that we assume is where the tang comes in and when combined with the cool sauce, the texture in your mouth is amazing. Kudos to Chilli’s for playing with flavours and winning! The smoked wings are smoked in-house over pecan wood, which is where that earthy flavour comes from. The dish was not as good as the Signature Wings (we guess that’s why they are called the Signature Wings) but the Chilli’s classic BBQ sauce was a nice touch.

The Big Mouth Bites are essentially four mini burgers with American cheese, sautéed onions, and a house-made jalapeño aioli; from the three options they had, we were given the veg patty burger. While some would say it’s a hit or miss, for us it was a definite miss. Although, we must say, our personal hatred of vegetables may be showing here. But we found the burger to be flavourless and bland; Chilli’s needs to seriously rethink this option. Even the aioli was met with grimaces all around the table. Seeing as Chilli’s is famous for their burgers, we were quite surprised at how disappointing this one was, but we suppose Chilli’s is not the place to go for veggie options. Hopefully the meat burgers are better.

We were also served a side of fries and onion rings – nothing special there; the fries could have been more crispy seeing as it was served hot off the fryer. The onion rings had a sweet undertone, but again, nothing to write home about. Lastly, the Chocolate Milkshake was pretty good; we opted for the basic chocolate because there is absolutely no way anyone can go wrong with that.

Overall, the food was decent, but having glanced at the prices on the menu, we are inclined to say the portion sizes may not be as big as we’d hoped.