Veganism is not a trend, it’s a way of living. For those that follow this lifestyle, there’s a common behavior that binds them together — a common google search.
“Does XYX restaurant have vegan options?”
That’s one of the most popular Google searches among vegans. In fact, that number is growing by the day. But why would a vegan search for options in non-vegan restaurants? Well, sometimes we don’t have a choice, and we can’t just force people to go to a vegan restaurant and expect them to feel great about it.
Instead, we’re the ones willing to compromise… and so we start typing on Google hoping that there are some interesting vegan options available.
So, does Chilis have vegan options? Yes, it does have some vegan options, including:
- Black Beans
- Margarita Fresh Mex Bowl (Exclude Meat)
- Bottomless Tostada with Chips and Salsa
- Caribbean Salad (Exclude Meat)
- Santa Fe Salad (Exclude Meat)
- House Salad
- Sweet Corn on the Cob
- Fresh Pineapple
- Mandarin Oranges
- Garlic Dill Pickles
- Asparagus and Garlic Roasted Tomatoes
- Mexican Rice
- Corn & Flour Tortillas
- Original BBQ Sauce
- Pico de Gallo
- Citrus Balsamic
While these are quite a few options, most of them are not originally vegan, which is why it’s important to go over them in more detail.
Don’t Settle For Only What’s “Vegan”
Before you go to any restaurant, thoroughly check the menus.
I’m not referring to the vegan part of the menu — look at the vegetarian food as well. Most people are not willing to go through the trouble, but instead of simply removing ingredients from a vegetarian dish, you can ask for replacements.
Try figuring out what kind of ingredients you can get in exchange for the cheese.
Actually, I would try to call the restaurant in advance to get that information, as it allows me to envision every possibility. If there’s something I loathe is paying for a $7-10 bland salad— the exact same amount you’d pay for a regular, tasty dish in a restaurant. If you wish to avoid that, don’t just accept what they’re willing to give you. Bargain.
Last but not least, if you’re highly interested in video content, here is an interesting one that can show you how to order vegan food at Chili’s:
18 Vegan Options at Chili’s
In this section of the blog post, I’m going to share some of the options available at Chilis, by including images of the actual food.
There’s nothing better than having visual proof of the food to decide whether or not it’s worth it. You’re probably going there anyway, but I’d rather not create fake expectations.
Mains & Salads:
Typically, Chili’s black beans are made with sugar, ground cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and they may sometimes include tortilla chips sprinkled on top.
Margarita Fresh Mex Bowl (Exclude Meat)
This dish is a mixture of grilled chicken, pico, field greens, Mexican rice, corn & black bean salsa, avocado, shredded cheese, tortilla strips, cilantro, chipotle pesto, and house-made ranch.
Naturally, in order to make it vegan, you would have to remove every bolded ingredient.
Grilled chicken and shredded cheese are self-explanatory, but chipotle pesto and house-made ranch (dressing) is not as obvious. Chipotle pesto contains grated parmesan and house-made ranch combines buttermilk and mayonnaise.
Bottomless Tostada Chips & Salsa
Here’s something you can order and share with your friends— tortilla chips and a salsa dip. Generally, the salsa dip is made with tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime, coriander, and white wine vinegar.
However, there’s a chance a non-vegan ingredient may be added to the salsa dip — so be sure to ask the waiter before ordering.
Caribbean Salad (Exclude Meat)
The Caribbean Salad has pineapple, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, red bell peppers, green onions, cilantro, and is topped with a honey-lime dressing. Unfortunately, it also has a few slices of grilled chicken on top, which you’ll have to ask to be removed.
Santa Fe Salad (Exclude Meat)
This salad can also be easily converted into a vegan salad. It contains grilled chicken, pico, avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips, house-made ranch & a drizzle of spicy Santa Fe sauce.
Remove the grilled chicken and the house-made ranch dressing and you have a vegan salad.
The House Salad is a combination of tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, shredded cheese, and garlic croutons. In order for this salad to be vegan, you have to remove the shredded cheese.
You also can add any dressing you like.
Sides & Extras:
Sweet Corn On The Cob.
There are actually 6 different ways to cook corn on the cob. At Chili’s, if I’m not mistaken, it’s cooked similarly to other cook and grill restaurants. The corn on the cob is oven-roasted or grilled at extremely high temperatures.
Typically, grilled corn on the cob is brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Though, oven-roasted corn on the cob may get butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Make sure you communicate your preferences so that no animal-based ingredient is used in the cooking process.
Pineapples are a wonderful way to finish your meal because of their digestive benefits. They’re also a great source of vitamin C.
Every good restaurant must have fries. Whenever I’m hungry, and it’s a tad too late, I go to the Burger King nearby and buy some fries dipped in ketchup sauce.
Frankly, there’s not a better side than that. 😉
Mandarin Oranges are also a good way to finish your meal. They’re an equally good source of vitamin C.
Garlic Dill Pickles
Garlic dill pickles are sour and salty. The recipe is usually a mixture of fresh dill, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes (or habaneros), water, pickling salt, cider or white wine vinegar, and THE cucumbers.
Asparagus and Garlic Roasted Tomatoes
Another healthy side you can order to go with your black beans is the asparagus and garlic roasted tomatoes. Feel free to ask if they have some mushrooms to spare.
Tomatoes and mushrooms go really well together, especially when the juices gel together.
Broccoli is another possible option, though you will probably want to add a vegan dressing on top. It’s something you can add to the black beans or a vegan-turned salad.
A meal I have plenty of times throughout the year is black beans on top of white rice. It’s what Brazilian’s call the “feijoada”, but I make sure I remove all the meat.
At Chili’s, you can order the black beans and pour ’em on top of the Mexican rice. I’m sure it would make for a plentiful, delicious dish. Don’t forget the vegetables on the side. 🙂
Corn & Flour Tortillas
Some people forget, but most tortillas are vegan. And there’s plenty of vegan things you can ask at chili’s to fill the tortillas with. You can stuff them with black beans, broccoli, or even fruit-packed salads.
Original BBQ Sauce
BBQ Sauce is also vegan, despite being commonly used on top of the meat.
Here are the ingredients in most BBQ sauces: tomato puree (tomato paste, water), vegetable puree (butternut squash, carrots, spinach), light brown cane sugar, vinegar, salt, natural smoke flavor, garlic powder, all Spice, and onion powder.
Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo is a classic Mexican dip that adds a fresh, healthy, low-calorie boost of flavor to just about any Mexican meal. This Mexican dip is a combination of tomatoes, onions, cilantro and jalapenos diced into a bowl. It goes really well with tortilla chips.
Citrus-balsamic is a sweet and tangy alternative to salad dressings. It’s a combination of vinegar, shallot, zest, lime, and orange juice. It’s perfect for salads.
Summary: Chili’s Has Vegan Options
Yes, there are vegan options, but they’re limited.
Before you visit Chili’s, you should first look at the ingredients and figure out combinations that would work well together. I personally eat tortillas stuffed with black beans quite often (at home), so that’s a combination I could potentially think of while visiting Chilis.
What’s important is that you don’t just settle for bland salads, and you start figuring out ways to eat in non-vegan restaurants you’ll be visiting sporadically.
If you feel like I’ve missed something that should be definitely addressed, please be sure to leave me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. In Portugal, we have a Chili’s, but I’m not a frequent customer, so I really appreciate the feedback.
Thank you for reading!