burgers Chili's Grill & Bar
The three burgers in test, from left: Chili’s Chili burger, Chili’s Boss burger and Alex’s Santa Fe

Chili’s teases new burgers by going #Underground

Brand offers glimpse at menu items in test

Chili’s Grill & Bar on last week offered two dozen media members an early look at new burgers being tested for an as-yet-undefined rollout.

Chili, a division of Brinker International Inc. invited bloggers, social media influencers, reporters and others to a test kitchen at its Dallas headquarters to try items that may soon make it onto the menu systemwide.

Last September, Chili’s pared back its menu by 40 percent to focus on burgers, ribs and fajitas. The so-called #ChilisUnderground test items are part of that continuing evolution for the casual-dining brand.

Ron Ruggless

The Chili’s test kitchen team that produced the Chili's Underground food included, from left: Fidel Castellanos, Greg Stockdale, Fernando Loperena, Alex Gomez, Marie Taccino, Stan Whiteman, Nicholas Foley and David Stadtmiller.

Steve Provost, Brinker’s chief marketing officer, said the test items are a return to Chili’s “original gourmet burger concept” roots of when it opened in Dallas in 1975.

“America’s love of burgers has never waned, but the bar for an exceptional burger keeps getting higher and higher,” he said in a statement.

The new Chili’s Boss burger towered as the centerpiece of the new offerings, featuring a beef patty topped with smoked brisket, rib meat, jalapeno-cheddar smoked sausage, bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato as well as house barbecue and ranch sauces.

“At almost half a foot tall — and with bacon and rib meat and sausage and brisket stacked on top of our one-half pound of burger meat – it’s hard to get any higher than The Boss,” Provost said. The Boss weighs in at 1,650 calories.

Ron Ruggless

Chili’s is testing the Chili’s Boss burger, which was bestowed with its own ChilisBoss hashtag, that features a beef patty topped with smoked brisket, rib meat, jalapeño-cheddar smoked sausage, bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato as well as house barbecue and ranch sauces.

Two other burgers are in test: Alex’s Santa Fe, with avocado, pepper jack cheese, red onion, roasted jalapeños, tomato, pickles, cilantro and a spicy Santa Fe sauce;  and the Chili’s Chili burger, featuring chili, shredded cheese, American cheese, sautéed onions and tortilla strips. 

The Alex’s Santa Fe was created by longtime Chili’s employee Alex Gomez, who has been working with the brand for more than 20 years.

The Chili’s Chili burger was on the original 1975 menu, and the corporate team is bringing back the original chili recipe.

Ron Ruggless

Chili’s sampled the Cherry Blossom Margarita, which is offered at a special $5 throughout April.

As of Dec. 27, Brinker owned and franchised 1,682 restaurants, including 1,630 Chili’s and 52 Maggiano’s Little Italy units.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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