Reviewing the Chains: Chili's Three Courses for $20

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Sure Chili's is a mega-chain restaurant, something we normally shy away from and turn our noses at. But sometimes hitting up a chain is a necessity, like when you're stuck at an airport for an hour long layover or when you're dining with unadventurous family members who refuse to eat anywhere they don't recognize. If you're going to hit up a mega-chain restaurant, you might as well shoot right to the top and go with Chili's, especially with their three courses for $20 special designed for two and all day two for one happy hour.

My Girlfriend Hollie and I drove out to the nearest Chili's (5363 Sheridan Street in Hollywood) to give the special a shot. We breezed past the hostess to sit at the bar for two reasons: the first being the lack of a wait time for a table, the second being close proximity to the never ending fountain of two for one drinks flowing from the bar. A few glossy menus sat at the table advertising the special we were seeking. We're instructed to pick one starter to share, two entrees, and a dessert and assured the bill for the food will not exceed $20.

We decided to start with the Skillet Queso with chips and salsa. It couldn't have been more than a minute after we ordered before our waitress dropped off a steaming hot skillet of melted cheese and an oversized basket of warm tortilla chips. It also couldn't have been more than five minutes before we'd almost completely devoured the skillet. The cheese stayed hot thanks to the warm skillet and the chunks of taco meat added a little spicy kick to the dish. The tortilla chips were freshly fried and, for the most part, light and crispy. There were a few instances where 10 or 15 chips were all packed together making an inch thick chip, but they're easily tossed aside.

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Before we finished the appetizer our entrees were dropped at the table. I'd ordered the Big Mouth Bites and Hollie went the Buffalo chicken salad route. The Big Mouth Bites are essentially sliders served on four sesame buns covered with American cheese, smoked bacon crumbles, sautéed onion, and ranch dressing. The burgers aren't cooked separately however, it's one big burger cut into quarters. Although the inch thick burgers were well done, they were still juicy thanks to the onions and cheese. I was only able to down two of the burgers along with a handful of crispy fries and fried onion straws before I had to stop so I could leave room for dessert.

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Hollie's Buffalo chicken salad was massive, probably weighing in at over a pound. The lettuce, bleu cheese, bacon, carrots, tortilla strips, and ranch dressing (she asked the pico de gallo that normally covers the salad be left off) were covered with a fried chicken breast dipped in Buffalo sauce and cut into eight strips. The chicken was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, but the Buffalo sauce had almost no heat to it.

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Once we finished half of our entrees and boxed them up for tomorrow's lunch, our waitress brought out a molten chocolate cake. No matter how full you might feel, a hot chocolate Bundt cake filled with hot fudge, covered with vanilla ice cream, and topped with Magic Shell syrup is irresistible. We dug our spoons into the moist chocolate cake and watched the hot chocolate pour out from the center. The heat from the cake and chocolate made the vanilla ice cream melt and create a soup that the cake soaked up like a sponge. Within minutes, it looked as if a small bomb had gone off on our table. The waitress dropped our check off at the table. We left $30 on the table, grabbed our leftovers and drove home so full we nearly felt sick. God Bless America.

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Click here for a full list of what's available on the Three Courses for $20 menu and click here to find the Chili's nearest you.








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