by Steven Doyle
We have written about the history of chili, and Dallas is definitely a large part of that. The original Tolbert’s downtown served some of the best chili that could be found on the planet. Also, the original Chilis’, the chain that can be found just about anywhere, opened over 40 years ago by Larry Lavine at the now-defunct Greenville Avenue and Meadow location served fantastic chili back in the day, with a recipe inspired by the first chili cook-off in Terlingua. By the way, Terlingua’s Chili cookoff(s) are the first week in November.
As we do each year, we bring you our favorite bowls of chili in the DFW area. Please note there is not a bean to be found on this list. If you do enjoy beans with your chili, we invite you to check out another article we wrote some time ago on the subject. But feel free to legume!
This year a few favorites fell off the list, not due to a bad chili, but rather they removed the item from their menu. It may return as it gets colder, but sayonara CBD Provisions, Ferris Wheelers and Katy Trail Ice House. They all have amazing food.
Check out our list:
Ellen’s Southern Kitchen Try hunting down chili on the menu at Ellen’s and you might have a difficult time. This item is actually found on the breakfast side and is served with a few eggs for good measure. This chili is a bit on the sweeter side but packed with meat and a rich chili gravy. While at Ellen’s, try the BLTEA, which is a kicked-up BLT with thick cut Texas hickory smoked bacon, crispy lettuce, tomatoes, a fried egg and avocado on multi-grain toast. This pairs very well with chili. Also, the bowl has an egg option.
Stroker’s Ice House has great chili and even better chili dogs. It was good enough for Joe Perry of Aerosmith when we escorted him across town, and it is good enough for anyone reading this today. Pictured is Diane Fourton from Pecan Lodge with Joe Perry.
AllGood Cafe All Good is as the name suggests, all very good. This is home to our favorite chicken fried steak in Dallas, and they also make a fantastic bowl of chili. You can order this as a straight bowl of red, Frito pie, or as a powerful omelet ingredient. Allgood makes a lot of our lists including best chicken fried steak, best eggs, best pancakes and pie. No downside to visiting this Deep Ellum legend.
Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House Home to some very tasty burgers, beer and, of course, chili. Pull up a bar stool, apply the napkin and dig into this brick red bowl of delicious beefy chili.
Holy Grail is owned by Brian and Christi Rudolph. Besides having one amazing beer program, they can cook. The chili they offer is pretty straight forward and very good. But you may also order the ghost pepper version, which is the one we recommend. The ghost peppers in this chili are tempered down quite a bit, but you still get a little of that “bite of a rattlesnake” numbness on your tongue, but it is not searingly hot where you cannot enjoy the bowl. And ghost peppers have an extraordinary flavor.
Haystack Burger This is a bit of a cheat since Haystack does not officially have chili on the menu in bowl form, but you may still order the burger topping that is house made and quite good. They tell us a bowl can be ordered, but off menu.
Fred’s Texas Cafe in Fort Worth has their own brand of chili that graces the menu when the temps drop in Texas. Look for this sirloin-based bowl to give off some heat solo, or as a topping for their fries and burgers.
There is a lot of family history behind the name Tolbert’s, located now in Grapevine. The chili is not exactly the same we enjoyed many years past in Dallas, but still a sturdy bowl.
White Elephant Saloon in Fort Worth is home now to Tim Love’s chili parlor. Chef Love is a bit on the wily side, and knows his Texas cuisine. His restaurants serve everything from burgers, to ribs and even rattlesnake. This bowl is superb.