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Jan 20, 2010 01:21 PM

Best Restaurants for a Bowl o' Red

Texas is, of course, regarded as the home of red, beef-based chili. Funny thing, though--I almost never see it offered on menus in Texas restaurants. It seems that true chili seems to be the desmesne of the chili cookoffs and the home-cooks.

But surely there are SOME restos out there that offer up a really good bowl of the good stuff. What are they?

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  1. Have no idea where you are, but if you're within driving distance of Austin, I'd recommend the Texas Chili Parlor:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jaymes

      I'm about 400 miles northwest of Austin.

    2. In Houston Goode Co's Armadillo Palace for venison chili; Tolbert's in Grapevine for the 'original' Tolbert's of red. You might also try Shady Cove in Austin.

      What's in your Blowcharged Bowl of West Texas Red? Have you posted a recipe somewhere?

      13 Replies
      1. re: dexmat

        Chapman's Chile in Dallas. Go full on spicy.

        1. re: dexmat

          Haven't posted it, but will do at some point.

          PS--What can y'all say about this Chapman's? Do they prepare different types of chili, or is it all the same chili at different spice levels? And what else do they serve besides chili?

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            Chapman's Chili Kitchen uses Bison for their chili. It's available in 3 temps of heat. And, as we're in Texas, no beans.
            They also have killer jalapeno poppers which they make themselves as well. Excellent tamales are also avaiable stuffed with pork, beef or chicken. But, they buy them from a respected Mexican kitchen nearby.

            1. re: twinwillow

              At the risk of coming across as ridiculously obsessive, is the bison ground, chili ground or diced?

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                It's a fresh grind.

                The thing about chili is that it is terribly subjective, more so than a bowl of pho or a saimin in other cultures. I was at Terlingua this year and found many of the prize winning bowls to be lacking in one area of the other. Many simply overtly sweet, even in the presence of extreme heat of one style of pepper or another. The perfect balance is difficult to find to say the least.

                That said, the places mentioned all serve respectable chili. Chapman's is a young family that have been making a go at it basically selling just chili. They have the poppers (baked not fried) that are crisped using the delicate panko breadcrumb, but little else. Their chili can be found where I had it last weekend, the Dallas Farmers Market.

                They carry limited amounts of the full on hot stuff as they sell more of the 50/50 blend. If you cannot make it to their store, you might wish to call and reserve a quart of their hot and pick it up at the DFM. Their store closes at 4 each day making it difficult unless you live or work close by the Fairpark area of Dallas.

                1. re: DallasDude

                  Can some Dallas hound advise whether the Chapman's chili is hamburger grind or chili grind bison?

                  FYI Bubba's Texas Burger Shack in Houston serves a bison chili, also (chili grind).

          2. re: dexmat

            Here it tis, dex. Read it and weep.

            2 1/2 lbs. top round
            5 cups beef broth
            3 T. bacon fat
            4 T. guajillo chile powder
            3 T. pasilla chile powder
            1 T. New Mexico green chile powder
            1/4 t. ground clove
            2 t. salt
            3/4 T. oregano
            2/3 T. cayenne
            2 t. garlic powder
            2 t. ground cumin
            4 T. onion flakes
            1 jalapeno

            1. Chop steak into small cubes and rinse under water.

            2. Melt bacon fat in large pot and brown beef after it has been well drained.

            3. Add two cups of broth, the pasilla powder, one teaspoon salt, one tablespoon oregano, one teaspoon garlic powder and the jalapeno. Bring to boil and simmer for one hour and fifteen minutes.

            4. Add remaining three cups of broth, green chile powder, clove, one teaspoon salt, one tablespoon oregano, one teaspoon garlic powder and onion flakes. Remove jalapeno and squeeze juice into pot. Simmer for one hour uncovered.

            5. Add guajillo powder, cayenne and cumin. Simmer for 15 minutes uncovered.

            1. re: Perilagu Khan

              Hey that looks really good. I've used guajillo and a little pasilla before but never New Mexico green. I will have to try that. Thanks for the recipe.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  Made the chili a few weeks back, btw - very good. Thanks for that. I didn't follow the recipe verbatim - I never do. Didn't have NM Green Chili Powder so subbed a fresh pepper.

                  Shuffling through the dried chilis I had on hand I came across one I had - don't know when I bought it but forgot about it - Pico de Pajaro, 'bird's beak,' a product of Burma. 'Moderately high heat and adds a fruity plum taste to foods.'
                  I was tempted to try it but wanted to sample yours close to the original recipe.

                  Re: the lack of chili parlors - perhaps part of it is that no chef has taken on chili as a signature dish and it's considered an afterthought on menus. Even Texas Chili Parlor, as I recall, has only one version of chili on the menu. Chili is usually listed under soups or appetizers instead of entrees.. Chili My Love in LA has a couple dozen varieties of chili on the menu.. (Of course, it's Left Coast "chili" so who knows)?

                  So, how's the application for a permit for your chili parlor coming along?

                  1. re: dexmat

                    Glad you liked the chili, dex. And you can get NM green chile powder at if you are inclined to pursue that particular grail.

                    I'm not yet at the stage of seeking permits and securing a building. At this point I am experimenting with recipes for inclusion on the menu. My most recent chili (I made it yesterday morning) featured all the usual suspects plus New Mexico red chile powder, fatalli puree (from CaJohn's), smoked serrano powder, cinnamon and ground coriander. Was very good, if I do say so, but the ground chuck I used was riddled with gristle and bone. Slightly offputting.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                Looks good, but the written directions are in conflict with the ingredients list. The spice measurements don't match.

                1. re: aynrandgirl

                  Right you are. I altered the ingredients of the recipe without altering the instructions. Hence, the 3/4 T. of oregano is the correct measurement and it should be added in step #3. Disregard the oregano in step #4.

              1. Tolbert's in Grapevine. This is the family that wrote the book "A Bowl of Red" and founded the World Chili Championship held annually in Terlingua, Texas. It is now named after them.

                423 S Main St, Grapevine, TX 76051

                1. Tip's Tap Room, Frio City Rd, SATX

                  DeWese's Tip Top Cafe, Fredericksburg Rd SATX