Chili is like DNA: everybody’s is different. Texans claim (rightfully) to be the first to have made a big deal of it; and they also contend that chili can be only chili con carne — chili and meat, nothing more or less. The dozen excellent chili parlors listed here are exemplary versions of regional styles, varying dramatically from the Lone Star classic to vegetarian chili sin carne. Each serves chili as a meal, not simply as a topping for hot dogs or hamburgers or a garnish for something else.
Dot's is a best-of-Vermont town cafe serving from-scratch square meals, great burgers, and memorably fruity berry pancakes at breakfast.
Breakfast and lunch are outstanding at Hidden Valley Eatery, a casual, rustic restaurant in the foothills of the Berkshires.
Camp Washington makes the best 5-Way chili in Cincinnati. Open round the clock, it also offers great chili-cheese Coneys and mile-high double-decker sandwiches.
Real Chili serves bowls of chili mild, medium, or hot, with spaghetti or beans, or spaghetti AND beans, the full package known as the Marquette Special.
The hot-oil chili that is a specialty of Springfield, Illinois, comes in six degrees of heat at Joe Rogers, from MILD to FIREBRAND. The latter is ferocious.
Visit Topeka's Porubsky's between October and March, when Charlie makes his hearty chili. Top it off with ferociously hot horseradish pickles!
Ike's is an early 20th century urban chili parlor in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Eats are cheap and cross-counter attitude is served in abundance.
Tolbert's menu is broad, including steaks, seafood and bar food; but true-Texas chili con carne, aka bowl of red, remains true to its origins.
Little Diner of Canutillo, Texas, just outside El Paso, offers the best true Tex-Mex food: superb chili con carne, flautas, gorditas, and made-here tortillas.
Garcia's is a fun, friendly place (6 locations in Albuquerque) that serves some of the best New Mexican food, especially breakfast, available any time.
In the heart of New Mexico chile growing country, Chope's is the locals' favorite place to go for chilies rellenos, enchiladas, tamales, and tacos.
Mike's is a Seattle dive bar dishing out spicy-sweet, greasy chili by the bowl or atop hot dogs or spaghetti noodles. It's vintage urban Americana. Adults only.