For a restaurant chain I don’t particularly consider vegan friendly, VegNews has compiled a useful list that plant-based eaters can use if they’re dining at Chili’s. I’m sure figuring out what you can get is somewhat of a pain in the ass, so this seems like some good notes to have on hand.
Unfortunately, the flagship appetizer, the Awesome Blossom Petals (which are indeed, awesome), aren’t vegan. But there’s a few things on the menu you can order.
- Chips, guacamole, and salsa
- Fried pickles, sans ranch dressing
- Classic Nachos, minus meat, cheese, queso, sour cream (which leaves you with guacamole, black beans, pico de gallo, jalapeños, and shredded lettuce)
Big note, everyone: The fryer that does fries also does fried chicken.
Sorry to be a bummer, but both the bun and the black bean patty contain milk and eggs. VegNews suggests you just poke at the chain by emailing them and asking them to consider carrying popular vegan meat substitutes and vegan versions of the bun. It sounds like an uphill battle, but trust me, brands do listen when people ask for stuff. This just might take a while to happen.
All salads at Chili’s comes with cheese, meat, or both, but obviously, every salad can be modified. Veg News suggests you change around a few, which will result in salads that aren’t just lettuce and tomato.
- Caribbean Salad, remove shrimp and sub in the Citrus Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Grilled Chicken Salad, remove cheese, chicken, and honey-lime vinaigrette
- House Salad (for a side), remove croutons and cheese
Don’t forget, you can add avocado to any of these for some extra heft.
Oh, those sizzle platters are so tempting, aren’t they? The vegetarian version of the fajitas include the same burger patty listed above (black bean, but containing egg and dairy), so you’ve got to nix that. Instead:
- Swap patty with black beans, and subtract queso fresco, chipotle butter, cheese, Santa Fe Sauce, and sour cream
What you do get is still substantial. Along with the black beans, you’ll get roasted asparagus, mushrooms, grilled peppers and onions, avocado, corn and black bean salsa, along with corn or flour tortillas and some Mexican rice. Sounds good to me.
In the chicken and seafood section of the menu, there are two Fresh Mex Bowls tucked in there. All you need to do is order them in a specific way.
- Remove meat, cheese, ranch, and pesto
You’ll be left with Mexican rice, greens, corn and black bean salsa, cilantro, avocado, and tortilla strips. VegNews suggests an addition of mango if you want to liven up the bowl.
Your choices are pretty decent at Chili’s, and here’s what’s vegan:
- Corn on the cob (ask for it plain)
- Roasted asparagus
- Steamed broccoli
- Either corn or flour tortillas
- Black beans
- Grilled avocado
- Pico de gallo
And for dipping, the Original Barbecue Sauce is vegan. So there you have it. Hopefully these tips will come in handy if you’re vegan and navigating the Chili’s menu.