People are pulled in by the old flashing light sign, the wooden picnic tables, and covered parking spaces with giant hand-painted menu boards. “Flash Lights for Car Hop service” reads one sign, but I’ve never seen it happen.
There is only one good reason to visit George The Chili King. Or there might be two if you count the Coney Dogs topped with chili. Then there are the chili-cheese fries with even more chili. The chili is a dark grayish-brown concoction with a deep beefy and spiced aroma. There is a minimal amount of beans, and no discernible tomato. It is rich with beef and the container it’s pulled from has steam rising from its depths.
This is actually George the Chili King #2, opened in 1962. There was once another location at 7th and Mulberry downtown which closed in 1946. George the Chili King was founded by a first generation Greek-American, and is still owned by the same family.
The classic Greek-American hamburger grill items are here: onion rings, grilled hamburgers, French fries. Do not get the tenderloin. Although there are some old newspaper clippings describing a tenderloin the size of a hubcap, the current incarnation is a small fritter pulled straight from the freezer. The chili-cheese fries start with accordion-cut French fries that are nothing special until they are topped with the signature chili and shredded cheddar.
Service often consists of one high school-aged kid running the cash register and another at the grill and deep fryer. Be prepared to leave with the odor of grease stuck to your clothes.