best chili restaurants in the country


No matter how you make it, a hot bowl of chili always hits the spot.
No matter how you make it, a hot bowl of chili always hits the spot.

With a crisp fall chill now in the air, it’s the perfect time for a bowl of hot chili to warm you up. Second in warming capabilities only to campfires and hot chocolate, chili across the country varies in heat level and ingredients.

Some chili connoisseurs prefer theirs green (chili verde), made with tomatillos and pork or chicken, and some are adamant about it not containing beans. Whatever your preference and wherever you are, check out the following places for instant, comforting, steaming-hot chili.

Pantry Restaurant
What: For breakfast, order egg dishes or burritos with your choice of green or red chili (called “chile” here), and for lunch, order a bowl of chile with pinto beans, ground beef or both or the green chile stew, a mouthwatering combination of slow-roasted pork, green chile, potatoes, onions and tomatoes. Both red and green chile here have a rich, balanced bite with an understated depth of flavor.
Where: 1820 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505

L&J Café
What: Get your chili fill at L&J with the Mexican Combination plate, served with a ground beef taco, red chili cheese enchilada, chile relleno, chile verde con carne and beef flauta, or the Chile Verde or Chile Colorado con Carne plate. The Chile Verde has tomatoes, potatoes and pork and earns its green color from the green chiles and cumin in the dish. The Chile Colorado con Carne is made with two types of red chiles and rich stew beef and gets its red color from the chile soaking liquid – not from tomatoes.
Where: 3622 E. Missouri Ave., El Paso, TX 79903

Camp Washington
What: On the opposite side of the chili spectrum, Cincinnati chili has nothing to do with its Texas/New Mexico counterpart. It’s more Greek than Tex-Mex, with the sweet, mellow addition of cinnamon in its stew. The chili at Camp Washington isn’t as sweet as other Cincinnati chili joints, and its spice factor is slightly elevated. Order it on its own, piled with cheese, “5-way,” with spaghetti, chili, beans, onions and cheese or atop a Coney dog.
Where: 3005 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45225

Greek Deli and Catering
What: A Greek deli for chili? Believe it. On Mondays only, the restaurant serves up richly colored, spicy, slightly sweet chili over orzo pasta. It’s regarded by locals as the best chili in town, and if you ever see it available, order it – besides Mondays, it’s rarely on the menu.
Where: 1120 19th St. NW, Washington, DC 20036

Mateo’s Hot Spot
What: Some consider hot dogs as merely a chili vehicle, but both the dogs and chili at Mateo’s are top-notch. The hot dogs are juicy and thick, though you may want to switch it up and order a chili cheese Polish sausage (with onions, of course). Like most hot dog chili, the meat is simmered with the sauce so it’s evenly distributed throughout the chili, instead of browned in bigger pieces like in traditional chili.
Where: 4479 Everts St., Pacific Beach, CA 92109

Photo credit: Shutterstock / MSPhotographic



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