Chili’s; not so red hot

Emily Goligoski

Upon entering Chili’s Tuesday night, a friend and I were greeted by Michael, a waiter who immediately offered us two Margarita Presidentes. “It’ll keep you warm for the way home,” he encouraged. But, to my surprise, I didn’t think too much about leaving during my visit to the new Chili’s, 1765 Maple Avenue.

The hostess told us that the middle of the week is usually the slowest, but there were no booths left when we arrived. I doubt it was the decor that attracted the crowd, however. The design was that of any other themed restaurant across America: tile tables, red booths, non-descript bathrooms.

Chili’s offers three “Guiltless Grill” selections, in addition to seven $7 salads. Allie Baker, a Boston College student said that the chicken in her Crispy Chicken Salad was “really good.” She said that the new eatery is better than other Chili’s locations she had been to.

The Dreamy Creamy Orange Shake was worth the $3, but my friend said his chocolate shake left much to be desired. But what should one expect from a restaurant where there is an option between country-fried catfish, a $15 steak and quesadillas?

When I asked Michael about choosing between the Fajita Pita and the Classic Fajitas, he told me to go with the traditional version; he sold 42 fajitas last week. He proudly displayed the new addition to his Chili’s uniform: a “Sizzle” pin earned through his sales.

My friend chose the Oldtimer Burger, and it was about the same quality as my Classic Fajitas — good, but nothing spectacular. We probably could have gotten identical versions at Applebee’s, or T.G.I. Friday’s. In fact, the only chain restaurant where I would not be able to find a dish resembling the Fajita Trio is the Olive Garden.

The biggest surprise about Chili’s, however, was the emphasis on customer service. It could be because the restaurant recently opened, but our waiter repeatedly checked in, followed by the manager and the hostess.

Chili’s was better than I had expected. With a Southwestern eggroll appetizer and drinks like the Raggae Sunsplash, Chili’s offers plenty of options. What it does not offer is creativity. But few will go to Chili’s expecting the best meal of their lives. nyou