Perhaps the strangest thing about Joe Rogers is that it spells chili the normal way. In Springfield, Illinois, at least as far as chili is concerned, normal is abnormal. In 1993, when the state legislature formally declared the downstate Capital to be the “Chilli Capitol of the Civilized Universe,” it purposely used the rare double-L spelling of the word, which was ordained by force of Senate resolution.
Matters of style aside, Springfield chili, as made at Joe Rogers, is pretty wild stuff, definitely not for the fastidious epicure. The cooked ground beef, which resembles loosemeats, comes swimming in grease — known slightly more politely as hot oil — and is almost always accompanied by beans. It is possible to ask for the oil to be skimmed off when you order a bowl, but that would negate the purpose of the little oyster crackers that come alongside. They are a nice sponge for the oil, sopping up its chili pepper zest.
Speaking of zest, Joe Rogers chili comes in six different degrees of it: Mild, Medium, Medium-Touch, Medium-Hot, Hot, and Firebrand, that last one known as the J.R. Special. If you eat a bowl of Firebrand, your name will be inscribed on the Joe Rogers honor roll, posted on the restaurant wall, so that your survivors can come and salute your daredevil spirit. Frankly, I never have tried Firebrand, but Hot was plenty, plenty spicy for me. Too spicy, I dare say.