Chili's, Clarke Quay The Central

Chili's is one of my favourite places for Tex-Mex cuisine. And ribs! It may be considered peasant food or cheapo diner fare in the US, but here, in this part of Southeast Asia, the lipsmackingly good ribs are one of the best around.

We regularly hit up the original branch at Tanglin Mall, but we thought we'd dine at its sister outlet at The Central, so we can pop by Meidi-Ya at Liang Court thereafter for groceries.

The customer demographic between the Tanglin Mall and Clarke Quay outposts is immediately apparent; the former an expat enclave, and the latter more local-centric. Service also differs, the Tanglin Mall one being better staffed, with more efficient service, whereas the staff at Clarke Quay were a little more frazzled and bumbling. Food, too, was a little lackluster at Clarke Quay compared to the commendable grub at Tanglin Mall. Clearly, the standards between the branches are inconsistent; methinks I'll stick to the Tanglin Mall branch from now on.

The Beef Chili ($12.50), done Texan-style, with beef mince slow-cooked with onions, chili, and peppers, was topped with sour cream, mixed cheese, and tostada chips. This was a little charred compared to the ones at Tanglin Mall, like someone left it on the burner a tad too long. Still a decent starter nonetheless.

The Chicken Enchilada Soup ($9.90) was subtly spiced, swirled with cheese, and served alongside chips. This was lovely, if a bit stingy on the chicken chunks.

Ditto for the Bacon Ranch Quesadillas ($24.90) of flour tortillas stuffed with grilled chicken breast, smoked bacon, mixed cheese, ranch dressing, sided by citrus-chile rice, black beans, sour cream, pico de gallo. These were a little anaemic, and less generous with the fillings than at Tanglin Mall.

The Mango Chile Chicken ($19.90), chicken breast seasoned in 6-pepper blend, grilled, and drizzled with spicy habanero mango glaze, topped with cilantro-mangoes, house-made pico de gallo, diced avocados, and sided by citrus-chili rice and steamed broccoli was wholesome, healthy, and delicious. The chicken was very nicely done, moist, flavourful and tender.

The Grilled Chicken Fajitas ($27.90) with sliced bell peppers, caramelised onions, chipotle-garlic butter, warm tortillas, mixed cheese, fresh guacamole, pickled onion and jalapeno relish, cumin-lime sour cream, pico de gallo, salsa, was one of the highlights. Succulent chicken, thoroughly marinated, and imbued with an aromatic smoky accent.

The Classic BBQ Baby Back Ribs ($40.90 for full rack) was outstanding as usual, hearty, flavoursome to the bone, fantastically burnished, with meat that was so tender it was practically fall-off-the-bone. This was served with excellent homestyle fries and a disappointingly dry skillet macaroni & cheese.

#01-18 The Central
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
Tel: 6225 1687
Open Sundays to Tuesdays from 11.30am to 10pm;
Wednesdays to Thursdays from 11.30am to 11pm;
Fridays to Saturdays from 11.30am to 12midnight
Website: chilis.sg

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