It's especially doubtful that he tried to make his way out to the newly opened Cheeseburger In Paradise (1705 Village West Parkway) in Kansas City, Kansas. There, however, he could have taken his pick from several versions of the restaurant's namesake dish: minicheeseburgers, the Dock Side Burger (dripping with melted Velveeta) and the Mardi Gras Mushroom Swiss Burger.
But am I the only one who finds it odd that the metro area's nine or so Chili's Grill & Bar locations don't have chili listed on the menu? Oh, the restaurants have the dish, but because it's considered one of the soups of the day, patrons must request it.
"The chili in the restaurant's name has more to do with the spice than the actual dish known as chile con carne," says Mike Dougherty, manager of the Chili's in Westport (554 Westport Road). "But you're not the first person to ask that question, and you won't be the last."
I have no particular yearning for chili, but some of my friends absolutely crave the dish when the temperature gets, you know, chilly. Thinking that any restaurant named Chili's would specialize in it, my chili-chasing chum Bob was shocked to find the restaurant chain giving such short shrift to the traditional bowl of red.
"It's too salty, and it's not served hot enough," he said after actually sampling the stuff. "But it is nice that they give you crackers and cheese and chopped onion, just like it was real chili, which it's not."
He noted that Chili's doesn't add beans to its beefy brew, though there's some historical accuracy there. The corporate owner of the Chili's chain, Brinker International, is based in Texas. And Texans, I'm told, consider beans in chili to be downright sinful.
Walt Bodine swears by the chili at Town Topic (1900 Baltimore), which is loaded with beans and has just the right heat intensity. It's particularly good alongside one of this 12-stool diner's lovably greasy double cheeseburgers. Even better, you barely have to break a ten-spot (and that includes a slab of pie). Paradise it's not, but it tastes like home.