There isn’t a more comfortable, divey hometown restaurant than George The Chili King Drive-In. The small drive-in successfully runs as one of the old school restaurants in the Des Moines area. Everywhere from the LED sign outside the building, to the red high chairs watching the grill, The Chili King has been producing food the original way since the 1950’s.
The Chili King has history dating back nearly 100 years. The original restaurant was called “Coney Island Lunch” which opened in 1920 by George Karaides. Fifteen years later, they closed, opening George The Chili King Drive-In shortly after. Throughout the years, the restaurant has kept its originality. “This is definitely old school, the only time we get anything new is if it breaks,” explained Chili King employee Cam Bottenfield. “The original phone from 1952 broke this summer, and it was replaced with the one in the back.” The Chili King is a small restaurant located at 5722 Hickman Road. Although the building is small in stature, it holds true to its roots back in the 20th century. The interior of the building is decked out with old school decorations such as the Pepsi clock and menu, the red leather spinning high chairs, and best of all, the neon sign outside the building inviting everyone inside.
Past all the decorations, the menu is nothing short of delicious. Since George Karaides really is the king, the coney dog and the classic chili bowl are some of the favorites. Burgers, hot dogs, and tenderloins are popular too, especially the special tenderloin called “The Fatman.” “The Fatman” is a large tenderloin with ham and cheese along with your favorite condiments. When the food is served, it comes on a couple pieces of paper that is placed right on the countertop, plates come shortly after just in case. Another example of The Chili King doing it the old fashioned way.
George The Chili King has even gotten the attention from the Food Network Television show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Guy Fieri came to The Chili King in 2014. The show aired in October of that same year called “Oldies but Goodies.” Fieri has shown interest in a return to Chili King to honor the 100 year anniversary.
From the time the restaurant is visible from the streets to the time one walks out the door, George The Chili King gives the classic restaurant environment. The “old school” way of restauranting has been their way ever since opening day. Because of that, The Chili King remains one of the favorite hometown restaurants in the area.