The Best Bowls of Chili in the Whole Damn Country
We’re calling it: The official dish of the gloomy post-holiday winter slog is chili. It hits the spot, whether you’re getting your hygge on with a simmering Crock-Pot and a cozy pair of slippers or you’re cooking up a big batch for a tailgate party. Chili is also one of the most fiercely regional dishes (trust us, you don’t want to put beans in a Texan’s chili), so there are endless enticing versions across America. Here are ten of our absolute favorites.
Tripe Chili with Fritos at the Brooklyn Star (Brooklyn, NY)
OK, hear us out. We know tripe isn’t exactly on your list of favorite foods, but when it’s slow-cooked with bacon, beans and ground beef at this New York City haunt, it’s heavenly.
593 Lorimer St., Brooklyn, NY; 718-599-9899 or thebrooklynstar.com
Classic Chili at Barney's Beanery (Los Angeles, CA)
An L.A. landmark since 1920, Barney’s is known for movie cameos and great chili. There are five different kinds on the menu, but we tend to go for the classic beef-and-bean, with tortilla chips on the side.
Multiple locations in California; 323-654-2287 or barneysbeanery.com
Chili Three Ways at Camp Washington Chili (Cincinnati, OH)
In Cinci, the classic style is chili three ways—which means a ladleful of meaty chili and a handful of cheddar cheese, served over spaghetti. (Don’t knock it ’til you try it.) If you want to get fancy, you can go four (plus onions) or five (plus beans).
3005 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati; 513-541-0060 or campwashingtonchili.com
Kickin' Green Chili at Sam's No. 3 (Denver, CO)
In Colorado and New Mexico, it’s all about the green chiles. Chili there is often served over enchiladas or tamales, but we like a big bowl of it at Sam’s—made with chiles, tomatoes, onions and pork.
Multiple locations in Denver; 303-333-4403 or samsno3.com
Chili Fries at Ben's Chili Bowl (Washington, D.C.)
The only thing anyone can agree on in D.C. these days is Ben’s Chili Bowl. Since 1958, it’s been famous for chili-smothered “half-smoke” hot dogs, but we like to get our fries topped with it, too.
Multiple locations in Washington, D.C.; 202-667-0909 or benschilibowl.com
Chili and Tamales at The Institute of Chili (San Antonio, TX)
From the early 1800s through the Great Depression, the “chili queens” of San Antonio would set up stands in the public squares. Chef Ana Fernandez has revived the tradition with her food truck, often parked near the Alamo. The chili is a spicy mixture of ground chuck and beef brisket, and you’ll want to get some homemade tamales on the side.
San Antonio, TX; 1-800-568-9370 or roaminghunger.com
Original XX Chili at Texas Chili Parlor (Austin, TX)
The chili at this quintessential Texas roadhouse is made with big chunks of meaty beef brisket, with nary a bean in sight. There are three heat levels (X to XXX); XX is our favorite, and the most popular, but beware—even the middle level packs a pretty big punch.
1409 Lavaca St., Austin, TX; 512-472-2828 or txchiliparlor.com
Venison Chili at Peekamoose Restaurant (Big Indian, NY)
The menu changes daily at this farm-to-table Catskills restaurant. But if you’re there during the winter, you might luck out with a bowl of venison chili, which comes with two kinds of roasted squash, smoked jalapeños and pickled honeycrisp apples.
8373 State Route 28, Big Indian, NY; 945-254-6500 or peekamooserestaurant.com
Pylon Chili Waffle at Big Bad Breakfast (Oxford, MS)
Yup, you read that right. This Oxford, Mississippi, café (open only for breakfast and lunch) is bringing chili to your morning meal. Get it in your omelet, or spooned over your Belgian waffle if you’re really feeling naughty.
Multiple locations in Mississippi; 662-232-8080 or citygroceryonline.com/big-bad-breakfast
Chain Gang Chili at the Jimtown Store (Healdsburg, CA)
This quaint little café in the heart of California wine country is so adorable, we’d go even if the food wasn’t good. In fact, it’s great—especially the smoky Chain Gang chili, made with beef, pork, kidney beans and a dozen different spices.
6706 Highway 128, Healdsburg, CA; 707-433-1212 or jimtown.com