Oh, Chili’s. The quintessential American restaurant that was made possibly even more famous thanks to the episode of The Office when they hosted the Dundies there and Pam “felt God in this Chili’s tonight.”
We have a Chili’s in my hometown, which serves many purposes, including being the place you go when you’re sad, when you’re happy, when you’re meeting a friend, when you’re having a family meal, and when you can’t find anything else to do.
If you’re traveling to the UK or London and wondering, “is there a Chili’s in the UK?” or “Is there a Chili’s in London?”, then I’ve got some information for you.
Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!
You can also check out my ultimate guide to visiting London here, which comes with 70+ topics including how to stay safe in London, how to budget for London, and what to skip in the city!
“Is there a Chili’s in the UK or England or London?”
The answer is no. There is no Chili’s in the UK or London, but there used to be – more on that in a bit.
Before I get too far into the history of Chilis in the UK and the alternatives to Chili in the UK and London, I just wanted to share some articles that I’ve created to help you navigate your way across London and the UK.
It doesn’t matter if you’re visiting for just a few days or are coming here as a study abroad student or as an expat – these are meant for everyone.
Firstly, no matter your reason for being here, you need the best book on living in the UK for Americans ever written – the book is called “Girl Gone London: An American’s Guide to Surviving Life in the UK” and you should click here and check it out.
I also may have written it, so I’m biased. But truly, if you’re coming to the UK as an expat, a study abroad student, or even a visitor, my guide to life in the UK contains both personal anecdotes and maybe too-honest experiences, as well as resources and advice on topics ranging from homesickness in the UK (or how not to rage book a flight to America like I did), driving in the UK, being a student in the UK, and more practical advice about bank accounts, buying houses, and more.
It’s truly a one stop shop for all of the weirdness and wonderfulness (is that a word?) that comes along with life in the UK, and also there is plenty of opportunity to laugh at me as I share all of my expat fails so there’s that.
I’ve also got some great resources that mention things like culture shock, learning how to use money in the UK, and figuring out whether or not it’s worth your time and life to learn how to drive in the UK (spoiler alert: if you’re here for just a short time – don’t!)
- Culture Shock: The Things We Don’t Talk About
- An American Girl’s Guide to Surviving the London Underground
- Understanding UK Money: Pence, Not Cents!
- Driving in England as an American: An Apology to UK Drivers
Anyway, now onto Chili’s in the UK and why you cannot cry your tears away into their nachos.
History of Chili’s
While there isn’t a Chili’s in London or the UK anymore, there used to be! This doesn’t help those of you who want want know, but I think it’s important to explore their openings and closing so that we can all have a glimpse of a time when it was possible to sing the “baby back ribs” jingle inside a Chili’s in the UK.
Chili’s opened in America in 1975 as a casual dining restaurant, and it remains a family-friendly experience to this day.
Today, there are over 1,600 locations and Chili’s has restaurants in countries such as India, Germany, Mexico, and Brazil.
It was 2006 when Chili’s first planned to come to the UK. At the time, the idea was to bring the same type of American food to British audiences and there were big plans to open as many as 100 locations.
And some of these locations did open up. But a bit of sleuthing shows me that in 2009, the UK Chili’s locations went into administration and were open no longer.
Thoughts on the closing of the Chili’s were mixed, with some citing it as a reliable family restaurant and others claiming it was overpriced compared to the American locations and didn’t have the same menu.
Since closing in 2009, Chili’s has not come back to the UK, though there are some other options to consider below. It all points to the difficulty in running an American chain in the UK – tastes are different, the audience is different, and word can spread very quickly regarding high prices if American visitors and residents in the UK are used to cheaper prices, such as in the case of Five Guys in the UK.
Equivalent to Chili’s in the UK
If you’re just craving Chili’s, it’s probably means you want a burger, nachos, maybe some sort of fajita dish or possibly some other types of meats including ribs or pulled pork.
While you can’t go to a Chili’s in England or the UK, you can definitely go to some other places that will give you the Chili’s feel.
I’m not sure you’re going to get an equivalent to Chili’s in the UK closer than TGI Friday’s. It has the same type of American style menu, and it’s also an American chain that has come over to the UK and expanded.
Unlike Chili’s, TGI Friday’s as an instant success in Britain thanks to an owner who really understood the property market and where best to place restaurants for success.
For a more British version of a family-friendly restaurant, check out Harvester’s. It’s the same concept – the food is definitely not cooked fresh and is instead reheated and served, but you know what, sometimes that’s what I’m in the mood for.
They do an amazing breakfast buffet in the UK filled with as many french fries as you can eat (seriously) and the interiors are always decorated in a nice, inoffensive way that you expect from a family dining chain.
Coming to London Soon?
Hey! Since you’re here I’m assuming you’re intent on visiting this amazing city soon! A great way to really immerse yourself in UK culture is see the sights with the help of a guided tour. I’ve picked out a few highly recommended ones below!
Tower of London Tour with Crown Jewels: One of the best things about having a Royal family is imagining you’ll be a part of it one day… and what better way than to imagine yourself in their jewels! Or at least stare dumbfoundedly. Either way, this tour is a sure fire way to get dazzled by London.
Westminster to Greenwich River Thames Cruise: London is built around the River Thames, and one could even say it’s the most important part of the whole city! As such there’s no better, or relaxing for that matter, way to see the sights than from the view of the river itself! This tour takes you around the city and shows why all Londoners are really still rugged sea voyagers at heart, if maybe just a little more posh now.
Oxford, Stratford, and Cotswolds: Londoners would have you fooled, but there’s more to this beautiful nation than just what remains within the confines of London… shocker I know!! And if picturesque beauty is what you’re looking for I really recommend checking out the quaint and historical towns that scatter the outskirts. If nothing else, this tour will give you a break from commuting by the tube, and we all need that eventually.