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Weather too hot? Get a little chili at Petro’s Chili & Chips


By Kathryn Kelly

The newly constructed, drive-thru-only building in Freedom Town Center has certainly raised some eyebrows in the last few months as everyone has wondered what new establishment will be joining the shopping center and its bustling day-to-day operations.

In mid-June, we got our answer with the arrival of Petro’s Chili & Chips, a fairly new establishment to the Carolinas region.

Started in 1982 out of Knoxville, Tennessee, this establishment got its start serving homemade chili to a very satisfied crowd at the World’s Fair of that year. Hosted in the renowned college town, that year’s theme for the fair was the International Energy Exposition – with a heavy focus on petroleum.

With such positive reception and no name for this business, the original creators settled on Petro’s (short for petroleum) and began building their chili empire.

Over the last several decades, Petro’s has become a game-day staple for University of Tennessee students and fans and has spread to other parts of the state with similar success.

Only in the last year or so has the chain spread into North Carolina, thanks to regional owner Curtis Hale. It all started with the Burlington location, followed by Fayetteville and most recently Southern Pines. Hale said they hope to expand to Raleigh and Charlotte but are working on engaging with the communities of the existing restaurants before going any further.

Petro’s signature item is called, unsurprisingly, the Petro. This concoction is more than just chili, as it’s a meticulously layered experience designed to invite unique flavors in every bite. On the bottom you’ll find Fritos corn chips, a staple to the Petro’s brand. The Fritos are topped with their famous chili, either original or vegetarian, cheddar and jack cheeses, tomatoes, sour cream and green onions. You can customize it with black olives, jalapenos, chicken, pulled pork, guacamole and more. They even have a vegan version!

In addition to the Petro, you’ll find nachos, potatoes, hot dogs, salads and various items with and without their famous chili. If you need something to wash down the goodness, try their Hint of Orange iced tea, brewed with orange rind and garnished with a fresh orange slice. Available in lightly sweetened or unsweetened, this refreshing drink is a new take on our beloved Southern sweet tea.

Petro’s Chili & Chips is drive-thru only and open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Menu options vary from $5 to $9, and their staff is more than willing to help you decide what to order.

Owner Curtis Hale is excited to introduce Petro’s to the Fayetteville community. Although a chili restaurant is a bit out of the ordinary, he’s eager to change the minds of loyal hamburger and chicken sandwich lovers to add Petro’s into their takeout rotation.