By Steven Doyle
A true bowl of Texas red is near and dear to me, and I always am 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 freezing ranges in the coming month, what a perfect opportunity to go out and taste a bowl for yourself.
We have written about the history of chili, and Dallas definitely is a large part of that. The original Tolbert’s downtown served some of the best chili that could be found on the planet. The original Chili’s, the chain that now can be found just about anywhere, opened 40 years ago this year by Larry Lavine at the now defunct Greenville Avenue and Meadow location. It served fantastic chili back in the day, with a recipe inspired by the first chili cook off in Terlingua, Texas.
Dallas chef Graham Dodds makes an excellent bowl of chili, but his new restaurant has not opened yet, and looks like it may be late December before we may taste his chili again.
We bring you some of the more interesting bowls of chili, and a few additional chili laden entrees. Enjoy!
Stephan Pyles makes great chili, and it stands to reason that this West Texas-raised chef knows a thing or two about a perfect bowl of red. You can enjoy the Stampede chili solo, served straight from his can that looks suspiciously like Wolf Brand or as Frito Pie. Actually, it is “Freeto” pie since he makes his own corn chips in house.
Katy Trail Ice House
With two locations in the Metroplex, one in Dallas and one in Plano, the Katy Trail version definitely is rich and meaty. This chili also makes for a great side dish on the weekends when the people here serve some pretty terrific barbecue.
One of our favorite restaurants in Dallas offering such illustrious fare such as a pig face (oh so good,) CBD definitely is one of the top go-to restaurants currently in Dallas. There’s also some awesome bowls of chili very thick with tender meat topped with an egg and a bit on the caustic side of heat. Delicious with a side of Chicharrones.
Ellen’s Southern Kitchen
Try hunting down chili on the menu at Ellen’s and you might have a difficult time. This item actually is 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.
All Good is as the name suggests, all very good. This is home to our favorite chicken fried steak in Dallas and the folks here 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.
Goodfriend Beer Garden and Burger House
Home to some very delicious 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.
Rodeo Goat prides itself on making outrageous burgers that include the Whiskey Burger topped with Irish Whiskey Cheddar, Bourbon Candied Bacon, and a Blackberry Compote. But the chefs also make this wonderful chili that makes it all worth the drive. We do not need much motivation to enjoy Rodeo Goat.
Holy Grail Pub/FM Smokehouse
Both Holy Grail and FM Smokehouse are owned by Brian and Christi Rudolph. Besides having one amazing beer program at both locations, they can cook. The chili they offer is pretty straight forward and very good. But you also may 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 so spicy hot that you cannot enjoy the bowl.
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. We’re told a bowl can be ordered, but off menu.
Carnival Barker’s Ice Cream
Carnival Barker’s uses a great hot dog with a bit of snap, a poppy seed bun, and all the added toppings you might want. The best way to enjoy this dog is with chili, cheese and onion. Not sure you would need much more than that as the chili is chunky and can make this a very large bite. The people here also make their own pickled jalapenos, so you can spice it up even more. 5624 Sears Street – Dallas.
This is home to the very best chili cheese fries. Seriously good chili cheese fries. Using a spicy homemade chili (and plenty of it) along with its own stringy pimento cheese, bacon and jalapenos. Enjoy this platter with a cold local beer.