I often get the chili at brewpubs and similar places, but I am rarely pleased with the results. For example, the house beef chili at Barclays is just not interesting – too one note. I also don’t really like big chunks of tomatoes in my chili. The chicken chili at Pyramid is likewise boring – just tastes like beans and chicken thrown together, in my opinion. The vegetarian chili at Triple Rock is just that – vegetarian. While not bad for what is, I want meat in my chili (I actually think Triple Rock has a meat chili, but for some reason I have not been able to try whenever I’ve been there – can’t remember why). The vegetarian chili at Cato’s is better (not as vegetably, more black-beany), but I don’t like the place that much, so I can’t recommend going just for some *vegetarian* chili. I feel like I’ve had chili at Ben & Nick’s as well, but I can’t remember anything about it (typical for the place).
By the way, in terms of not in the East Bay, Bear Republic up in Healdsburg has a chili of the day that can be quite good. Last time I was there, it was wild boar and elk – very good.
re: matt c
Hmm ... what is killing me is that I did have some good chili somewhere but it was long ago. I remember it didn't have beans. Probably that place that was once on Van Ness & Market so it wouldn't matter.
OK, given Oakland, I won't go any further out than Berkeley. It seems though that Point Richmond is the home of house-made chili in the East Bay ... but knowing the restaurants I won't list them since I doubt they'd be worth the trouble to get to ... Not bad restaurants, just fine if you live in town.
Looking at my menus ... at the least, here are some places to explore. Haven't tried them, but maybe someone else has.
- The Warehouse Bar & Grill in Jack London Square. Not sure about home-made status but given they are charging $4 a cup, I would assume it is house-made. Funky cop bar.
- La La Borinquena in Old Town Oakland. Ok. It is chile colorado and chile verde, but it is house made and given the Mex-American food, might fill you craving.
- FatApple's - Given the all-american food here, I'd say this is your best bet
- Gillman Grill - Basic breakfast ... chili from scratch ... probably comforting and old school
- Kensington Bistro (near Solano Ave in Berkeley) - definately home-made spicy beef and pork chili
If you are ever in SF at the right time ... out of your area I know ... I would guess The New Crockery Cafe would have a nice old school chili. A lot there is house-made ... average ... large portions ... low prices ... but house-made ... the menu isn't clear about the chili
The problem is that most chili seems to come from a can. I wonder if a better way to ask this topic would be to ask for the best chili dogs, chili burgers, omelets with chili. If they put it on stuff, then they serve it in a bowl too. Some of those places that make these items make good food so you would think the chili would be from scratch.
I did try Nation's chili ... It is a saucy chili with a fifty/fifty mix of beans and ground beef. It is a little salty, but for $1.80, it makes a filling lunch. If it isn't canned, they shouldn't have gone thru the trouble. Smokehouse's canned chili was better ... with ground beef & beans … not too salty or soupy … topped with a bit of shredded cheese & chopped onions on request. Neither rose above anything you'd buy from a can at Safeway.
Its not? Well then we better get a little more specific about what we're talking about.
I have tried Nation's (but not the chili) and thought it was horrible. I will never go back! I don't know what all the fuss is about.... its really just another fast food joint that sells pie.
Ooops, I just realized that this should've been a reply to Robert's post... sorry!
Verde ... Colorado ... beans only ... meat only ... beans with meat?
That's actually a really good question. I'm thinking there might not be a good answer. It seems to me that unles it is part of a burrito, there's not a lot of good chili out there. A lot of it is of the canned variety ... but ...
What does good chili mean to you? Also, what part of the East Bay?