Sunday, January 25, 2009


Type of experience: Couldn't Eat It!

1301 Highway 100
Port Isabel, TX 78578

Date and time: Monday, January 19, 2009, 12:48 pm Check #0023

Upon arrival, I asked for a Gluten Free (GF) menu. There were none on hand, but the hostess promptly printed one out for me. I then had to ask for a 'regular' menu, as there are no prices on the GF version.

From the GF menu, I ordered the Mushroom Swiss Big Mouth Burger with a side of Guiltless Fresh Vegetables. I reiterated with the waitress that it had to be gluten free with no bread. When the meal arrived, the burger was on a huge bun!

I immediately stated, “I can't eat this. Please send the manager.” She wanted to just replace it, but I felt it was important to involve the manager as my biggest fear in these situations, is that the kitchen staff will take the bun off and send out the contaminated food to me. Usually, the manager will oversee that the meal is recooked to my needs. Not in this case.

The manager laughed. Yes...she may have been nervous, but the fact that offered to bring me something else with a big grin on her face showed me that she and her staff did not understand the seriousness of the event, and most likely, if I ate from this establishment, I would leave very ill.

The charge for my meal was removed from the bill. My husband finished his meal, paid the bill and I left hungry. When we got to the car, we noted they had kept the receipt. I returned for it.

The manager retrieved it from the trash for me. As calmly as I could, I spoke with her, the hostess and two waitresses, indicating my fear that they do not realize how unsafe it is for people with Celiac Disease and other food issues when the restaurant staff does not follow instructions. I suggested they do some training on this issue.

The fact that Chili's has a GF menu, indicates there is a procedure in place to serve us. This particular Chili's clearly does not follow those procedures.

My husband said his meal of Chicken Fried Steak was very good.

Would I eat at this restaurant again? No! This is the second Chili's I visited since going GF, and my second disappointment.

Chili's is owned by Brinker International, who also own one of my favorite establishments: Maggiano's little Italy. I've never had a bad experience at Maggiano's. Perhaps, the folks at Maggiano's could do some training for the people of Chili's.


mrlucas said...

Yes, yes, yes. I have had to stop eating at Chili's for this exact reason, they simply don't get it. I have been brought a steak and potato meal very specifically asked to be gluten free with a large piece of Texas toast on the plate, crumbs everywhere...and the soup that was on the gf menu was most absolutely not and made me very sick...I was given a $20 gift cert for my pain...ugh! Village Inn has been great, as was the Texas Steak house, I forgot to tell them no croutons, and he figured it out, and brought my husbands with and mine without. I was very impressed! Thanks for this very helpful!

Katie said...

I tried to eat at Chili's once, it was a HORRIBLE experience. Will never go there again!

~melissa said...

I have never had luck at any chain restaurant. They just don't take the whole GF serious. I would have sent you to Black Beards in South Padre for the chicken fried Steak for you hubby. I have heard the gravy is incredible.....not to mention the steak is tasty to. But I wouldn't know. I haven't tried it. During the time you were visiting that area, those independent restaurants would have been happy for your business and would have worked extra hard to make sure your meal was GF.

jennifer said...

I don't think Chili's is going to be in business much longer. A few months ago ALL the Chili's in my area closed without ANY warning. The closing crew were told at the end of the night they were out of a job. The opening crew found out when they got there and the sign had already been taken down. There was a delivery guy that was never told and showed up for the delivery and nobody there to take the delivery.
If management can't properly lose stores close stores how can you expect employees to know about food allergies.