While Chili’s and its long-time competitor T.G.I. Friday’s may seem quite similar on the surface, there are a number of differences when one investigates their respective menus. Some of the differences are subtle, but the small subtleties are sometimes what distinguish one restaurant from another (an may win over customer satisfaction). The following paper will contrast the menus from these two restaurants, paying attention to foods, specials, unique menus and prices.
Generally speaking, both restaurants feature the usual categories of food (e.g., appetizers, desserts, and burgers), but there are quite a few differences as well. For one, Chili’s specializes in Tex-Mex food, including dishes such as guacamole, chicken and steak fajitas, tacos, quesadilla explosion salad, and terlingua chili. T.G.I. Friday’s, on the other hand, specializes more in grilled foods, especially steaks. While both restaurants feature steaks on their menu, T.G.I. Friday’s has 16 separate steak dishes, including rib eye, flat iron, and sirloin. This does not include the Jack Daniel’s Grill, which features more steak dishes and combos with shrimp and chicken. Conversely, Chili’s only has 3 steak dishes on its menu (country fried steak, classic sirloin, and fire-grilled rib-eye).
Another difference between foods offered is that T.G.I. Friday’s offers 3 pasta dishes on its menu, while Chili’s offers only one. As far as appetizers, Chili’s offers mainly Tex-Mex foods, with the only exception being buffalo wings and onion rings. The soups all have a Tex-Mex twist as well. T.G.I. Friday’s has a bigger variety featuring appetizers such as chicken strips, loaded potato skins, Florentine flatbreads, and fried mozzarella. Additionally, T.G.I. Friday’s offers a “Taste & Share Menu,” which lists items that are a little cheaper than the regular appetizers and come with 4 portions. The menu is meant to be shared among diners so as to be able to taste a little bit of everything. There is an option for 3 or 5 appetizers for a set price.
Both restaurants feature lunch combos; however, T.G.I. Friday’s offers a unique endless appetizer special for just $10. From 11am to 1am you can order the same appetizer over and over again. Chili’s does not have any such appetizer offer, but they do have a $20 “Dinner for Two,” which includes an appetizer to share and two full-sized entrees (one for each person). The menu is hand-selected for the offer and does not feature everything on the regular menu. In addition, T.G.I. Friday’s offers daily specials (on certain days), featuring drink and ½ appetizer specials. For example, they offer “Tuesday’s with Jack,” where customers can get $5 beverages with Jack Daniel’s and ½-priced appetizers. This offer is only valid at the bad, however. In fact, T.G.I. Fridays offers a lot of alcoholic beverages and has certain ones on special every day, whereas Chili’s does not seem to put any emphasis on drinks.
On subtle menu difference between the two restaurants is that Chili’s makes the nutritional information readily available for all of its foods, while T.G.I. Friday’s does not. In addition, Chili’s offers a vegetarian menu (modified version of regular menu), while T.G.I. Friday’s does not. On the other hand, T.G.I. Friday’s offers a “Gluten Sensitive” menu, where regular menu items have been modified to accommodate those with gluten allergies or sensitivities. Both restaurants feature an allergen menu, but the one at T.G.I. Friday’s simply lists the entire menu with symbols for common allergies (e.g., fish, soy, dairy, eggs, and wheat, etc.) next to each food. For example, the burger features wheat, soy, and mild next to it. The allergen menu at Chili’s is categorized according to type of allergy, with foods featured under it that would be safe for someone with that particular allergy to eat. For example, under the “Menu Made without Milk-Containing Ingredients,” one can order the margarita grilled chicken salad without tortillas chips or the baby back ribs.
As far as prices, the prices at T.G.I. Friday’s are substantially higher than at Chili’s. Most items at Chili’s appear to be approximately $1 less than their T.G.I. Friday’s counterparts. For example, the rib eye at Chili’s is $16.99 and the one at T.G.I Friday’s is $17.99. In fact, the baby-back ribs are a full $2 more at T.G.I. Fridays. Even the soup at T.G.I. Fridays is $4.69, while a cup of soup at Chili’s is $2.99, with the bowl option still lower at $3.99.