The thought of reviewing Čili Pica has for a long time felt like reviewing a glass of milk. Everyone's had one, so what's the point? Lately, though, I've started to reconsider. It's popularity never seems to fade (the place is always swarming with teens), and it's one of those all-over-the-place, hard-to-miss eateries that attract many foreigners coming to Riga for the first time. When the young and the ignorant are involved, I feel it's my civic duty as a food critic to provide some consumer guidance.
There are so many similarities between Čili Pica and Gan Bei/Thali that I'm surprised that they haven't yet joined forces. Everything is the same except for the type of food that they serve. So, what does this really mean in practice? In a sentence: decent, but massively overpriced food that you'll try to enjoy while abused by incredibly annoying music.
”chances are that you will simply feel robbed”
In a few more sentences: Čili Pica is a big franchise, and it shows. Entering one of the restaurants feels like being thrown inside a machine. It's busy, it's well-oiled (although not always very fast) and it's anything but intimate. If you've seen the fantastic comedy ”Office Space” (shame on you if you haven't), you probably remember the ”pieces of flair” scene. This could easily have been shot at a Čili Pica. And like with any huge franchise, you won't have the dining experience of a lifetime here. The food is only decent, the cheese and ham pancakes a tasty exception. Big menu, medium satisfaction. And when you factor in the price, chances are that you will simply feel robbed. For some normal-sized pizzas you'll have to pay a staggering €11,29 which is way too much for what you get (this immediately makes me think of a pizzeria in my Swedish hometown which had a €1,200 pizza on the menu, but then one of the ingredients was gold leaf. Not sure if anyone ever ordered it, though). Also, Čili Pica actually charge you for the lime wedge they put in your Coke. I mean, come on! How greedy can you get!?
”Čili Pica is for people with more money than sense”
So, I think we've established so far that Čili Pica is for people with more money than sense. But there's more. It's also a place for people who hate their ears. Prepare to endure the most intrusive music ever created: equally upbeat and brain dead porn bossa nova, club tracks, elevator dance music; all having in common that the lyrics are never more than 6 words long, and those 6 words are repeated over... and over... and over... nibbling away at your ears, your eardrums, your brain, your sanity... You starting to get the picture? You starting to get the picture? You starting to get the picture? You starting to get the picture? You starting to get the picture? You starting to get the picture? You starting to get the picture? You starting to get the picture? You starting to get the picture? You starting to get the picture? You starting to get oh here I just finished my last bite let's get the hell out of here go go go ejam davai!
What speaks for Čili Pica is its accessibility. You will find one almost everywhere. However, you won't have to look far for cheaper and tastier alternatives.