Chi'Lantro BBQ is a Korean Mexican fusion mobile truck and catering service which opened in Austin, Texas in 2010. Since then, the former food truck operation has opened four restaurants in the Austin area, with a 5th location opening in Fall 2016. The name "Chi'Lantro" is a fusion of "kimchi" and "cilantro", two distinct cultural staples, aiming to reinvent traditional Korean and Mexican cuisine. They are locally known as the originator of a dish known as "Kimchi Fries".
In February 2010, the business was opened by Jae Kim, who was born in Korea and moved to the U.S. when he was eleven years old. He graduated from California State University, Fullerton and opened his first food business at the age of twenty-one, a coffee shop called "Foothill Café", which he owned for three years. He relocated to the "culturally diverse" Austin area to open the food truck business, at age twenty-six.
The food truck operations initially served only the Austin and Fort Hood, Texas areas, expanding beyond the Austin market in early 2012 with food truck service in Houston, which was discontinued in December, 2014, with an announcement that the business was looking for a restaurant space.
The menu features hybrid cuisine inspired by Korean and Mexican food traditions. Items include Kimchi Fries, Seoul Burritos, Spicy Fries, Tacos, Quesadillas and bulgogi Burgers. Ingredients include combinations of bulgogi, Korean vinaigrette salad, eggs, Monterey Jack Cheese, limejuice, a proprietary "magic sauce" and sesame seeds. Its signature food, Kimchi Fries, are covered in caramelized bulgogi, shredded cheddar cheese, chile mayonnaise, yellow onion, chopped fresh cilantro, Thai chile sauce, and sesame seeds.
Prior to opening a restaurant location, the business functioned primarily as a mobile kitchen or food truck. The trucks make scheduled stops in the mornings, afternoons and evenings in highly commercial areas, in areas that appeal to consumers in the white-collar workforce, in addition to manual laborers, the stereotypical customers for such establishments. Example stops include tech-industry hubs like the offices of Google, NCSoft, and BioWare. Another part of the service is catering for parties, corporate events, promotions, weddings, festivals, conventions, and various large social events in the area.[unreliable source?]
As of April 18, 2016 all Chi'lantro brick and mortars will not accept cash. All locations support Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and all major credit and debit cards.
The business makes extensive use of social media applications such as Twitter, Foursquare, Yelp, and Facebook to connect with a "tech savvy" customer base. Publishing of tweets keeps customers informed about where each truck is going to be located. The trucks are one of the many food trucks nationwide to pioneer the use of Android and Apple mobile devices for credit card transactions and the organization of finances. They are popular on YouTube for its series of commercials targeted to its fans: It's That Good, Fries Like a G6 and Chi'Lantrofied!
By 2011, the food trucks had been featured on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel; and in 2014 were named one of Huffington Post's favorite food trucks at SXSW. In November 2016, founder Jae Kim appeared on Season 8 Episode 8 of ABC's Shark Tank and secured a $600,000 investment from Barbara Corcoran for a 20% stake in Chi'Lantro BBQ.