America's 9 Best Chili Places

By Andrew Knowlton, Bon Appetit

Beans versus no beans, mild versus tongue-searing, ground beef versus chunks of chuck roast--let's agree to disagree that there's no one perfect bowl of chili. (Yes, we know: except, of course, for your own.) Here are our top nine chili joints with a range of styles from coast to coast.

1. Ben's Chili Bowl
Washington, D.C.
No reasonable discussion of great chili joints can take place without mention of this U Street institution, open since 1958. Try the Bill Cosby's Original Chili Half-Smoke hot dog and the beef-filled house-made chili sauce, a decadent french-fry topping.
1213 U Street NW; 202-667-0909

2. Joe Rogers' Original Recipe Chili Parlor
Springfield, Illinois
Bon Appétit features editor Hugh Garvey was weaned on the chili at the Den, as locals call this 63-year-old no-frills legend. The chili comes with or without beans and in a range of heat-from mild to the scorching J.R. Special.
820 South Ninth Street; 217-522-3722

Related: Our Top 5 Chili Recipes for the Super Bowl

3. Slim's Last Chance
Part chili shack, part music venue, this Georgetown-neighborhood hangout serves four chilies (Texas red, brisket and bean, chile verde, and turkey and white bean), with optional white-cheddar grits or jalapeño mac and cheese.
5606 First Avenue South; 206-762-7900

4. Daisy May's BBQ USA
New York
At the best barbecue joint in the Big Apple, chef Adam Perry Lang's chili is thick with braised cubes of beef and served with house-made chipotle sauce, cheddar cheese, onions, sour cream, and a warm tortilla.
623 11th Avenue; 212-977-1500

5. Camp Washington Chili
You either love Cincinnati-style chili or you despise it-there is no middle ground. Order this mild, somewhat sweet, fine-ground beef sauce thusly: 3-Way (spaghetti topped with cheese and chili), 4-Way (spaghetti, cheese, chili, and onions or beans), or 5-Way (the works).
3005 Colerain Avenue; 513-541-0061

6. All Star Sandwich Bar
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Fiery-hot Texas State Pen Chili (made with brisket and no beans) is a best seller. Cornbread, sour cream, Jack cheese, lime, and cilantro (served on the side) help tame the flames.
1245 Cambridge Street; 617-868-3065

See Also: Secret Chili Ingredients Unveiled

7. Tomasita's
Sante Fe, New Mexico
This is one of the best places to try stew-like New Mexican green chili (named after its green Hatch chiles), filled with your choice of pinto beans, posole, beef, chicken, or cheese. A crispy sopaipilla (puffy fry bread) comes on the side.
500 South Guadalupe Street; 505-983-5721

8. Tolbert's Restaurant
Grapevine, Texas
From the Chili Queens of San Antonio to the annual cook-offs, no state takes its chili as seriously as Texas. Halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth, Tolbert's serves a classic bowl of Texas red, bean-free and super-thick with beef chunks.
423 South Main Street; 817-421-4888

9. Big Bad Breakfast
Oxford, Mississippi
At chef John Currence's new breakfast-and-lunch-only diner-like spot, you can have the house-made chili on a griddle-fried hot dog atop a sweet waffle, in a two-egg omelet, or simply in a bowl.
719 North Lamar Boulevard; 662-236-2666

Photo Credit: Marcus Nilsson

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