Last month, we got the news that Neuer Ochsen, formerly located next to the Schwaben Galerie, had closed and a new “Tex-Mex” chain restaurant had opened in its place. Chilli’s, not to be confused with the American chain restaurant, Chili’s, is now occupying what used to be a pretty decent Swabian restaurant. I have fond memories of visiting Neuer Ochsen when we lived here the first time and spent six weeks living at the Vaihinger Hof. Bill and I visited a few more times since we moved back to Germany in 2014. For that reason, I guess I was a little sad that Neuer Ochsen is no more, especially since German style Mexican food is often disappointing.
Bill and I didn’t have anything better to do today and my car needed a spin. We’d heard that Chilli’s wasn’t too bad as German style Mexican food goes. I was curious. Off we went to the new Chilli’s and I braced myself for yet another interesting interpretation of Mexican food. We arrived at just after one o’clock. A few people were sitting outside in the biergarten, and there were two tables seated inside. Since Bill and I are pretty fair skinned folks who had not put on sunscreen, we decided to eat inside. In retrospect, it might have been better to sit outside, since the restaurant was a little stuffy today. Nevertheless, we were warmly greeted and invited to sit wherever we wanted. Chilli’s kindly offers menus in German and English. All staff members we encountered were fluent in English and very friendly.
Bill looks like a mystery man in this photo.
The English version of the menu. I didn’t get a good look at the German version, but it might pay to look at both. It seemed like the English version may have been abridged. I did get a good laugh at a few language SNAFUs, though.
I ordered a classic margarita. It was priced at 6,50, but during Happy Hour (from 5-7pm), all cocktails are 4,90. I was surprised by how good this margarita was. I had no complaints. It wasn’t too boozy and only half of the glass was salted, giving drinkers the choice as to weather or not they wanted salt. Bill had a plain old German beer. A trainee made my margarita and asked if it was okay. I was glad to tell him he’d done a good job.
As for food, I ordered what was billed as an enchilada, but was actually more like a burrito. It was a soft flour tortilla stuffed with fillings. Since there were two enchiladas, I got one with beef and the other with shrimp. The tortillas were topped with cheese and came with salsa and sour cream, as well as a small salad. I noticed guacamole on the sides menu, but was surprised it didn’t come with any of the dishes.
Bill ordered a pork dish. His entree was strips of pork in garlic with tomato sauce with rice and a salad. He says the dish seemed more Italian than Mexican, though he was fairly pleased with it. It wasn’t very spicy, though.
Bill’s pork dish. He liked it, but it didn’t remind him of Mexico. He was pleased with the portion size, though. It was just about right.
My “enchiladas”, which were really more like burritos. The insides of the tortillas had nothing but beef and shrimp in them. The salsa tasted mostly of chopped tomatoes and lacked the flavors I’d expect with salsa. I didn’t taste any cilantro or peppers. However, despite not being authentic or familiar, I wasn’t displeased with this dish.
I had a mojito for dessert. It was 7,50 and pretty good, though I think the bar staff might need a tutorial on muddling. I think the mint and lime could have stood a bit more. On the positive side, the drink was plenty potent.
The new sign. Notice the ox on the glass.
I liked the way Chilli’s redecorated the restaurant. The inside of what used to be a somewhat drab place is now vibrant with bright colors and flatscreen TVs that show places where Spanish is spoken. They were playing festive Mexican music, too.
The total bill for today’s lunch, which came with a few gummi bears, was 44,40. I noticed a lot of the dishes being offered were reasonably priced. The burritos, for instance, were going for less than 8 euros.
Some of the items on Chilli’s menu are definitely not Mexican. They offer things like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and salmon filets with baked potatoes. Some of their interpretations of Mexican food seem a little lost in translation. Also, bear in mind that I am from Virginia and of Scottish, English, and German stock, so I am definitely not an expert on Mexican cuisine. Bill grew up in Texas and has had his share of Mexican food. He says Chilli’s doesn’t suck. I am inclined to agree.
Chilli’s is not like an American Mexican restaurant, but I think it’s somewhat better than the other Mexican places I’ve tried so far in the area. It’s better than La Cocina Mexicana, if only because there’s no risk of the owner chasing you out of the dining room if you bring a stroller in. It’s much better than El Chico in Tuebingen, too, because no one batted an eye when I ordered mixed drinks at lunchtime.
In any case, I wouldn’t mind visiting Chilli’s again. It’s not too bad, even if I still miss San Antonio for Mexican food.