We’d been out and about running errands and it was time for lunch. We were in Lenoir City and we’ve been around here long enough that there just aren’t very many places…other than fast food…where we hadn’t eaten. We were driving along US Hwy. 321 toward I-75 when I decided on our destination.
This is the Chili’s in Lenoir City. Now some might ask, if you’ve lived around these parts for a number of years, why haven’t you visited Chili’s before? It is a fair question… After all, it’s been there longer than we’ve lived in the area.
The problem was my memory of a couple of previous Chili’s experiences from many years ago. In general, ‘southwestern’ cuisine isn’t my favorite and I had an image frozen in my mind of everything being cooked with bell peppers! I don’t like the smell, much less the flavor, of cooked sweet or bell peppers. (No problem with jalapenos though!) Since so many years had passed, I decided that the menu had to have changed and I should be able to find something I’d like to eat.
The inside of Chili’s was clean, bright and shiny…with a big bar and lots of television screens.
Chili's Grill and Bar is a casual dining restaurant chain that features Tex-Mex-style cuisine. The company was founded in Texas in 1975. Chili’s is currently owned and operated by Brinker International. The brand and the company have been pretty successful. They have company owned and franchised restaurant operations in at least 34 different countries… As of 2015, there were 1,580 Chili’s locations worldwide!
As it turned out, this photo illustrates one of my 2 gripes with our dining experience. I asked for coffee never suspecting in a sit-down waiter service style restaurant that my coffee would come in a Styrofoam cup…
With visions of sizzling green peppers in my mind and my nose on the alert for this odor, I took a look at the menu.
The first pleasant surprise was the depth and variety just on the Appetizer menu. From wings to southwestern ‘egg rolls’ to varieties of flatbread and fried pickles, there was a wide variety of items that sounded good even with my limited palate.
We decided to order and share an order of Fried Asparagus. ($6.49) The asparagus was lightly battered and quick-fried. Then it’s topped with crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro and a drizzle of chimichurri sauce. It was served with roasted garlic aioli on the side.
The asparagus was cooked perfectly with even the thicker ends being firm but tender. Laurie and I agreed that this was the best fried asparagus that we’ve ever eaten!
Laurie decided to order what she thought was a lighter lunch so she ordered the Loaded Baked Potato Soup as an accompaniment. The soup was topped with Applewood smoked bacon, fresh chopped green onions and a 3-cheese blend. She really liked her soup!
For the other part of her “Lunch Combo”, she ordered the Smoked Chicken Quesadillas. (Combo Lunch cost = $7.00) Her quesadillas/flour tortillas were stuffed with smoked chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, sautéed red and green bell peppers, caramelized onions and jalapeño aioli sauce. This was another winner…and she said that she’d order this meal again!
For my lunch I ordered the Prime Rib Tacos. ($10.99) The 3 tacos were filled with pieces of prime rib over Jack cheese, then topped with chimichurri sauce, house-made pico de gallo, sliced avocado, chopped cilantro and queso fresco. (I don’t care for avocado either so I had that left out of my tacos) For my sides, I had the citrus-chile rice and black beans.
There was nothing about my lunch that I didn’t like! The beef was tasty and tender with everything else in my tacos working together in harmony. I liked both the beans and rice too…and mixed them together.
An order of seasoned French Fries either came with Laurie’s lunch or the kitchen made a mistake. This nice container of fresh and flavorful fries was delivered to our table…a bit late in the meal. We still managed to eat about half of them and they were good!
Our waiter, Gage, was very helpful and personable… Laurie said something to him about trying out for a role in a ‘Magic Mike’ movie and he happily posed for this photo.
My only other complaint is more of a warning… Do not touch one of those little machines on your table! They are not for ordering…they are for playing games. Once I figured that out, I put it down asap. However, a second caution, always examine your bill. As I wrote this posting I finally took a close look at my bill and noted a $1.99 charge for ‘table entertainment’. Heck, I just touched the dang thing and played with a couple of the buttons...
My minor gripes aside, we really liked our dining experience at Chili’s and this very large restaurant chain is back on my ‘positive’ list! The Chili’s Grill and Bar in Lenoir City Tennessee is at 320 Fort Loudon Medical Center. Phone: 865-988-4061. Company website: www.chilis.com.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for lunch!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave