There was a time when Dallas was ripe with bowls of chili. I’m not talking the bean-ridden nonsense infiltrated by our neighbors to the north. I refer to the perfect bowl of red that has somehow escaped our dining landscape.
Back in the 1880’s the San Antonio chili queens dominated the Plaza, hawking their home-made chili that was often made with just meat, tomatoes and chiles, served with a side of beans and tortillas. The queens would offer chili to the soldiers and just about anyone that happened by as they kept the pots waed over a mesquite fire. In 1937 with a concern for public health, the chili queens were banned from the Plaza, and some of them took to brick and mortar restaurants. Consider these dames the early pioneers of the modern day food truck.
Throughout early Dallas history, chili parlors dotted the downtown area. The late Stanley Marcus was a noted chili aficionado, and was a particular fan of Frank X. Tolbert who was the recognized foremost authority on chili throughout his life. Today a version of Tolbert’s chili lives on through his daughter Kathleen who operates Tolbert’s in Grapevine. We will be sampling her chili once again very soon.
With all this being said, I have been on the hunt for a great bowl of red in the Dallas area. Recently chili has been making a comeback as a staple on menus in Dallas, and we have been slowly visiting each of these restaurants to find a perfect bowl. In coming weeks we will feature chili and rate them using science and other fictitious rating methods.
Today we visited a relative newcomer to the restaurant scene and had many readers extol the virtues of the chili being served at Jack’s Southern Comfort Food located on Lowest Greenville Avenue. Here owner Scott Jones is cranking out fantastic comfort dishes such as a heart shrimp and grits, homemade pies and of course chili.
The chili served at Jack’s is meaty and spicy with very few frills involved to interfere with the true nature of the chili. This is a bowl of red in every sense of the word. The meat is shredded smoked brisket that lends a mean and lean bite and is extremely tender. The gravy that makes up the chili is simply a binder to hold the meat together, and not a major sense of the dish itself, which is as it should be. The spice level is strong but does not over power the dish.
You may order the chili in a small or large size to go, or have the bowl prepared with fixings such as jalapeno, cilantro and layers of sharp cheddar cheese all atop a polenta corn cake. At brunch they would add a fried egg (bonus!) for what they call a Texas Benedict. I approve of this dish on the description alone.
Look for delivery service in the neighborhood. This would be excellent for my flu-ridden friends needing a jolt of spice to kick what ails them.Spiciness: 8 of 10 Texture: 8 of 10 Meat Factor: 9 of 10 Chili Bowl Score: 4 out of 5 bowls
We will continue this short series in the coming month. If you have a bowl of chili we need to sample, drop us a line.