If you ever wander in the bartender’s inner circle you will soon find that Charlie Papaceno from the Windmill Lounge is considered the bartender’s bartender. Charlie is not only a mentor but an all-around guy who happens to be a master behind the bar. He was making these cool cocktails with significant historical value before it was fashionable. The displaced New Yorker can also make a mean bowl of red.
The Windmill is the enigma of the Dallas bar scene. By all standard thinking the bar shouldn’t exist in its little realm on the industrial end of Maple, but somehow it works. There is a fantastic synergy that keeps the Windmill spinning. A combination of loyal clientele, drinks half the price than in fancier digs, and a sweet little menu banged out in the back of the house where technically there is no kitchen.
The food menu is short and to the point. You can order these wonderful Panini’s, or during the Fall and Winter months you can have Charlie’s chili.
I called on Charlie this morning to learn his secret to the perfect bowl of red and he was happy to lend a few tips for those wanting to reproduce his chili at home.
“We start with good meat. When I was first making the chili I ran into David McMillan [chef now at the Meddlesome Moth] and he suggested I use beef knuckle,” said Charlie.
When making the chili Charlie strips the meat from the bone and uses no vegetables except for onions. He came up with his original recipe by studying the winners of the Terlingua chili cook-off. He made adjustments to suit his own sensibilities, and what we taste today are the fruits of that labor.
Charlie also doesn’t use chile powder, instead he makes a paste from fresh Anchos. And for a bit of punch he adds a half jar of hot mole to each batch of about 2 gallons. The chili is definitely rich and meaty with no residual greasiness. The chili gravy defintely acts as a medium to suspend the meat in its gravity. The Yankee can make some mean chili.
Not that you needed an excuse to stop by the Windmill this weekend, but if you do you will definitely want to sample Charlie’s chili.Spiciness: 7 of 10 Texture: 9 of 10 Meat Factor: 9 of 10 Chili Bowl Score: 4.5 out of 5 bowls Windmill Lounge | 5320 Maple Ave, Dallas | 214-443-7818 Check out our previous entries in the search for the perfect bowl of red: The Fatted Calf: 4/5 Bowls Tolbert’s Restaurant: 2/5 Bowls Jack’s Southern Comfort Food: 4/5 Bowls