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Sep 14, 2006 04:19 PM

Two Chili My Soul notes ...

Not sure if this matters to anyone ...

Had lunch at Chili My Soul yesterday, it seems to be the halfway point between my office in Westwood and some friends who work in the Valley, so every couple of months we meet there for lunch.

Same food as always, the chili is good, the turkey patty was good (I had the soul size) ... it's a fine lunch, though sometimes I feel it's a little expensive for what you get, but not too much.

Two notes:

They have a sign that says Kobe Beef is coming. If anyone ever wondered what Kobe beef would taste like in chili, you won't have much longer to worry.

They also are featuring -- with a sign on the wall -- Mexican Coca Cola. It points out it's made with real sugar and tastes better. I drink diet, so I didn't have any. But I've noticed it mentioned in a couple of threads here and thought it was worth noting.

Final comment: There aren't that many places to get good chili in LA. Chili My Soul is on the short list, no matter who is writing it. And I think because it's good chili -- and they have about 20 different types a day that rotate -- the place is popular. But it is always chaos in there. It's as if they are one person short staffed every time I go. Once they only had one person in the whole place, the kitchen staffed walked out on the counterperson. Other times, it's just that weird system. It takes forever to order because everyone is sampling chili and then standing around trying to decide and the phone doesn't stop ringing and the person taking the orders keeps interrupting you while you are ordering to answer the phone and when your food is up it takes forever for someone to come around out of the kitchen or from behind the counter to bring you your food and the tables are never bussed because the place is so busy and there seems like there are only two people in there. I picked up yesterday and the countergirl (counterwoman? -- she was a girl to me, no offense meant) was the daughter of the owner because she kept referencing her dad and she was on the phone in the midst of everthing trying to get someone in to help her out ...

Anyways, Chili My Soul has good food and I go back all the time. But the chaotic way they run the place is sort of like a stage show, once you get used to it. OTOH, it seems like one more person on the lunch shift solves the whole situation ...

I guess that was three notes.

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  1. Thanx,
    I appreciate this. I pass by all the time and have meaning to try but, chili is never first on my list. Maybe I should change my list......:)KQ

    2 Replies
    1. re: Kitchen Queen

      If it was nearby for me, I'd do take-out.

      The parking is really easy at CMS, so getting in and out is no problem. They really work hard to make a variety of good chilis. I prefer the spicier ones, but yesterday opted for a turkey chili that was milder because I was feeling desirous of being healthy.

      I live and work on the Westside. I'm not coming over the hill just for takeout. But if you are close by, I'd say take out is the way to go and I think you'll enjoy the chili.

      1. re: PaulF

        I will wait for cooler weather. I understand they also have good vege chili's. That'b my choice. Thanx, I'll look forward to it! :)KQ

    2. They've had that Kobe beef sign up for a while. Consistent with the comment about they way the place is run, they often advertise plans to add things to the menu and then take a very long time before they actually make the menu. When they added burgers, the "coming soon" signs were up for months and they even had a coupon offering a discount on the burger months before they actually began serving burgers. The same thing happened with the dinner entrees.

      As for Kobe beef, are you sure they are planning doing Kobe chili as opposed to a Kobe burger? I don't understand how chili would work. Chili My Soul cooks the chili for several days to eliminate the fat. The reason to get Kobe beef is because it has a higher fat content and is more marbled than other beef. The result is more tender and flavorful meat. I'm not sure if that would translate to chili, where the beef is ground up and slow-cooked.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Jwsel

        You could be right.

        I just assumed it was Kobe Beef Chili.

        Maybe it is Kobe Burgers to go with the Chili.

        This is the kind of place where the owner should partner up with some really smart MBA type. That way, the owner can concentrate on really good chili and the other person could run the business side. I'm not one to encourage expansion, necessarily, I wouldn't want to risk the quality. But Chili My Soul seems like a ripe concept for more stores, if they could work out the kinks.

        I hope no one takes my observations on the service as too much of a negative. This is a worthwhile restaurant, IMO. It's just a little nutty at lunchtime and you've got to get used to it.

        1. re: PaulF

          There have been expansion discussions in the past, but I think Randy's health problems have been the major stumbling block. At one point, they were negotiating for a location at the La Reina complex in Sherman Oaks (a big mistake, imho) and for a location on the westside (Westwood, I believe). Randy also prizes himself on quality control, and I think has concerns about expanding too much.

          I love the food, but I also go in off-hours and always get take-out. In fact, an order of CMS nachos for dinner is sounding really good right now.

          1. re: Jwsel

            You are so right about not taking the la reina property - wanna buy a restaurant?! Randy's health is the issue, and his daughter is trying to keep things going, and they need to relocate location #1 to a better spot than post office adjacent, yet he will not due to high rents everywhere.
            A convenient, larger facility is what is needed, and have people come to him.

            1. re: carter

              I didn't know anything about the health issues of the owner.

              Didn't mean to come off callous about the nutty service ... how could I know?

          2. re: PaulF

            As an ex owner of a small business, I can truly say that these small indie restaurants run on thin margins due to high taxes, workman's comp insurance, liability insurance...hey the list goes on which is why they probably can't afford the MBA. I would do take-out and continue to support the establishment. Thank you for the review.

        2. The chaos probably depends on when you go in there. I've been a few times, always in the late afternoon/early evening for take-out orders, with no problems and hardly any other customers in there with me.

          1. Kobe beef chili? What a waste.

            What's next? Kurobuta pork hot dogs???

            1. I do agree that Kobe-STYLED beef in chili is a bit of a waste (I really doubt they throw in the $20/oz. stuff from Japan in there) -- considering that their long (40+ hours) cooking process tenderizes meat anyways, and they de-fat the chili (and Kobe-styled beef tends to be fattier) -- but hey, I'll give it a go when it's available, provided it's not overpriced.

              I usually go to CMS during the off-hours (usually a take-out to eat @ home later, they save very well) so usually not much of a fuss for me. Their chili fries are unbelievably good though!!