Have you visited your local Chili’s Restaurant lately? It’s easy to lose sight of the big, nationally known chain restaurants and focus instead on locally operated dining establishments. But some chains have remained a step ahead in the game and this is certainly the case at Chili’s Restaurant, which just announced a new addition to the menu plus a newfound emphasis on locally brewed beer.
Disclosure: The Following Review may have been Compensated in Goods, Services, or Monetary Transfer but the Opinions are 100% those of Great Beer Now.
Pecan Wood Makes the Difference
Chili’s newest additions to the regular lineup are called Smokehouse Combos. Each combo meal comes complete with your choice of either two or three meats, with selections that include:
- Smoked Bone- in BBQ Chicken Breast
- Jalapeno Cheddar Smoked Sausage
- Hand Battered Chicken Crispers
- Half Rack of House Smoked Baby Back Ribs
Each of the above meats is smoked over pecan wood, for authentic taste. Smokehouse Combos are all served with Roasted Street Corn on the Cob, Homestyle French fries, Chile- Garlic Toast, and House made Garlic Dill Pickles.
Would You Like a Beer with Your Food?
Smokehouse Combos can be enjoyed with any beverage on the Chili’s Restaurant menu, but with an emphasis on meats, smoke, and assorted carbs, these meals just scream to be paired with beer. And to make the beer pairings as enjoyable as possible, Chili’s Restaurants now serve several locally brewed craft beers. This is a vast improvement compared the past, when the best you could get at Chili’s was one of the more nationally distributed craft beers such as Sierra Nevada or Samuel Adams. There is certainly nothing wrong with these two brands, but locally brewed beer is usually preferable and it’s nice that Chili’s Restaurant has responded to consumer demand and enhanced its craft beer selection.
Smoked Meats and More
Chili’s Smokehouse Combos are an excellent means to enjoy a barbecue- inspired meal and compatible beer at one of America’s best known chain restaurants. The meats feature a delicious, smoked flavor and the side items make for a filling lunch or dinner, rendered complete with a craft beer.
I visited one of my local Chili’s Restaurants and tried a Smokehouse Combo of my own with a large serving of Houston- brewed Karbach Hopadillo IPA. I wasn’t feeling extremely hungry at the time, so I opted for the two meat option, selecting the Jalapeno Cheddar Sausage and the Hand Battered Chicken Crispers. The sausage has that wonderful smokiness and the jalapenos add spice, but only a touch of spice, so there should be no worries about the heat factor. The chicken crispers are much better than chicken nuggets or similar restaurant fare and they, too, feature a nice smoky flavor. The sides are also good, but I especially enjoyed the Roasted Street Corn on the Cob. I frown upon the corn on the cob served at most restaurants because it is often nothing more than a piece of corn cob heated in boiling water. It’s bland and forgettable, but Roasted Street Corn on the Cob is much different. It has that roasted flavor that makes it compatible with the rest of the foods and it contains special seasonings that burst with flavor.
One fact that could concern some consumers is that these Smokehouse Combos feature an emphasis on meat and carbs. I love my carbs as much as the next person, but it might be a good idea to have substitute food options for some of the carbs, like perhaps a salad in place of the corn on the cob or in place of the fries. The overall meal would be better rounded if there was a green vegetable included and for all I know, Chili’s Restaurant may have already realized this and started offering substitutions. Knowing how much Chili’s emphasizes service and customer satisfaction, I am confident they will let customers substitute regardless, but it would be nice to see greens as a regular part of the Smokehouse Combos menu.
Chili’s Restaurants are a mainstay of the American dining landscape with locations from coast to coast. I’m not big on the chain restaurants overall, primarily because so many of them serve generic foods and seem resistant to change. Chili’s Restaurants has broken this undesirable trend, offering not only new foods, but also expanding the craft beer menu to include more local options. Check out the combos when you can, and see how tasty smoked meats and local beer can be.