Most of us would blow a gasket if someone removed the molten cheesy center of our pizza, but at Grinders in Kansas City, Missouri, chefs have something bigger in store for the vacancy—much bigger. First, they fill it with some crispy, fried tater tots, then plop on a scoop of chili, slather that with a hefty helping of Cheez Whiz, and, to lighten it up, sprinkle the potato, meat, and Cheez mountain with fresh, green onion. Voila, that pizza has just been Chili Bombed.
The Chili Bomb, a combo that can grace any pizza on Grinders’ menu, is the brainchild of Stretch Rumaner, a Kansas City–based sculptor who owns the restaurant. Rumaner’s artistic background is apparent in the giant metal sculptures and repurposed antiques that decorate the establishment (a closer look at a lamp, for instance, reveals it’s actually made from a 1940s British army helmet).
Perhaps more importantly, the artist-turned-restauranteur is a Philadelphia native, which informs the gooey, creamy topping that accompanies each Chili Bomb. Along with American cheese and provolone, Cheez Whiz reigns as one of the most popular toppers on a Philly cheesesteak. And when the Philly favorite combines with New York–style pizza, tater tots, and Western-style chili, it makes each Chili Bomb a decadent East-meets-West mashup.
Need to Know
You can bomb any pizza on the menu (other pie toppings range from smoked salmon to tandoori chicken). For the uninitiated, it might pay to start by chili bombing a simple cheese pie.
Where to Try It
This is Grinders flagship location, which also has franchises in Lenexa, Leavensworth, and Lawrence.