by Steven Doyle
A true bowl of Texas red is near and dear to me, and I am always willing to order a bowl if found on any menu I stumble across. I am pleased to report that there are more chili offerings this year than last, and many have upped the ante in developing a perfect bowl. With temperatures dipping into below freezing ranges in the coming days, what a perfect opportunity to go out and taste a bowl for yourself. We have a list of some of the best in Dallas, and even one from Fort Worth that you will want to sample.
If you are curious how the chili cook off in Terlingua came to be, you might want to check out this link: The Colorful History of the Chili Cook Off. Continue reading
Around the turn of the century, chili joints appeared in Texas. By the 1920s they were familiar all over the West, and by the depression years there was hardly a town that didn’t have a chili parlor. The chili joints were usually no more than a shed or a room with a counter and some stools. Usually a blanket was hung up to separate the kitchen.
It was during the Great Depression when chili joints meant the difference between starvation and staying alive. Chili was cheap and crackers were free. At the time chili was said to have saved more people from starvation than the Red Cross.
On of the most famous chili joints was actually the highfalutin restaurant – Chasen’s Restaurant in Hollywood, California. The owner of the restaurant, Dave Chasen who was an ex-vaudeville performer, kept the recipe his guarded secret, entrusting it to no one. For years he came to the restaurant every Sunday to privately cook up a batch, which he would freeze for the week believing that the chili was best when reheated (it is). “It is a kind of bastard chili” was all that Dave Chasen would divulge. Continue reading
by Steven Doyle
When it comes to modern home chili remedies we have a few people to thank. First there were the “powder men”, a term I believe chili maven Frank X Tolbert to have coined, and then there are the butchers who first canned and made brick chili to sell to the chili loving consumer. The former dating as far back as the mid 1800’s, and the latter at the dawn of the 20th century.
Tolbert devotes a chapter of his book “Bowl of Red” to the powder men, and waffles on who he thinks brought powdered and packaged chili to mankind. He first attributes William Gebhardt of New Braunfels, but paragraphs later he names DeWitt Pendery of Fort Worth. A little digging shows that both started grinding a powder chili mix in 1890, so it is easy to understand Tolbert’s quandry. Continue reading
by Steven Doyle
Temperatures are dropping this week and many of you will be seeking out great bowl of chili. We have some to recommend. We also have the tale of the original chili cook off in Terlingua if you are interested in any more history today. This article was read last week on the main stage of The Original International Chili Cook Off held in Terlingua each year, which we are honored. That cook off is always held in Terlingua the first week of November.
In the past few week we have been discussing the perfect bowl of red, as we do each year about this time. It is certainly something we enjoy and take to heart as a true Texas original. However, it has been disturbing as each one of these conversations always ends with a debate on “beans or no beans”. Our stance stays true to the no beans camp. We have a few original chili recipes to prove that this is the way God intended chili to be served. Beans may join the table as a condiment, just as you might add fresh brunoise of onions, or even Fritos to make your own pie. Continue reading
From the 1860s until the late 1930s, one of the primary amusements of both visitors and locals was the food and entertainment offered in the plazas of San Antonio by the Chili Queens.
These women served chili con carne and other Mexican American delicacies from dusk until dawn at various San Antonio plazas over the years — setting up tables and benches and bringing pots of food to cook or reheat over their flickering mesquite fires and to serve by the light of their oil lanterns. As morning came, their families helped them cart everything away. Wandering musicians and singers provided a festive air to the unique proceedings—unique, that is, outside Mexico. In Mexico, the open-air plaza restaurants were not celebrated for their charming food-servers. Only San Antonio had Chili Queens—and while they liked to joke, banter, and flirt with customers, they were well chaperoned by family members who guarded their virtue.
At first, only a few women — such as Sadie and Martha, sometimes pictured in old books about San Antonio — were called Chili Queens. Sadie was called “Anglo-Celtic;” Martha was Hispanic. Eventually, the royal title was applied to all the women—most of them young and virtually all of them Hispanic. Continue reading
photo by Robert Bostick
by Steven Doyle
There are few restaurants in the Dallas area that speak to its Texas roots as Stephan Pyle’s restaurant Stampede 66 located in its sprawling digs as big as Texas itself in the tony base of the Park 17 on the southern most cusp of Uptown. Here you will witness a sultry West Texas big sky as you dine on refined vittles under the moonlit caricature Pyles has created. Nothing is business as usual in the Pyles world; instead things are larger than life as honorably displayed on large platters of fried chicken oozing honey, or v-shelved tacos filled with rich and meaty brisket or delicately fried Gulf oysters.
Stampede is where locals and tourists alike get to play JR Ewing to a fanciful version of chicken fried steak. Executive Chef Jon Thompson calls this menu “Modern Texan, but we call it dinner. Things are kicked up a few levels at Stampede as evidenced by the shrimp and grits dotted with a largish sphere of condensed shrimp broth that is to be macerated in the bowl to create this explosive flavor bomb. An unusual touch that begs for another bite. Continue reading
by Steven Doyle
Pop Diner is this new and over-the-top 24-hour diner in Uptown Dallas. One of the last tenants to fill the Borders Books location the diner serves breakfast and diner fare all through the day and in the dark stretches of the morning hours. The owner, Nik Gjonaj, is originally from Detroit where he owns a successful chain of steakhouses called Luca’s Chophouse. Detroit is where his roots are, but he now divides his time between Texas and Michigan.
Detroit has their own style of cuisine that is a different take on many items we serve in Dallas, such as the hot dog. The Michigan dog is a definite style of dog you find primarily in that state, but seldom referred to it as such. That term is used by other states to describe the steamed dog, steamed bun and a rich beefy sauce. A coney if you with chile con carne. Continue reading