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October 15, 2009

The best bowl of chili in Baltimore

ChiliPierpoint.jpgThe death of the founder of Ben's Chili Bowl last week reminded me that I had never gotten around to doing a Top 10 on Baltimore chili. As soon as the weather gets cooler, I start getting requests for recommendations, but chili isn't usually served at the restaurants I review.

Other Reviewer Richard did call the chili at Howard Street Delly "terrific" recently. ...

Last January reporter and columnist Susan Reimer asked me to post something so she could get ideas for a food story on chili she was doing. I was surprised at the time that there wasn't a greater response.

There certainly wasn't much discussion of what makes a fabulous chili, or whether it should contain meat or beans to be worthy of the name or be served with cheese. People named restaurants, but for the most part didn't explain why they liked the restaurant's chili so much.

And I was fascinated when Susan's story ran that the chili recipe she printed was from Nancy Longo of Pierpoint, not some scruffy little dive that only aficionados know have great chili. 

Here are the restaurant names I collected from the previous post, but it would be nice to know what there was about these chilis that made them so good:

* Waterfront

* Duda's

* Nino Taco

* Padonia Station

* Wine Merchant

* Sobo Cafe

* Tambers (actually MD Canon did a great description of this one)

* Joe Squared

* Nacho Mama's (RayRay was very descriptive as well)

* Clementine

* Henninger's

* One World Cafe

If you've had any chili from any of these places, tell us what it's like. Or you can nominate a new one.

(Karl Merton Ferron/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 6:17 AM | | Comments (20)


I've had Nino Taco's chili and I liked it. I also like Bill Bateman's chili although it's got a bit more heat than I usually like. I realize that heat is not a negative for the true chili lovers though.

there's no place like home for chili

McGarvey's in Annapolis

Bare Bones' White Chili is quite good, and I'm no fan of White Chili.

As a vegetarian I love One World's chilli since pretty much all other chilli is actually chilli con carne.

I'm partial to my own, slow cooked, left to sit overnight in the fridge and then ready the next day.

However, I'm a big fan of Boordy's chili and wine tastings. They usually feature three styles: angus, white and veggie, and pair them with their suggested features. I think they charge a flat price to get in though.

I see beans. Heresy!

Chili and wine? I think beer goes much better.

I prefer chili con carne.
Wine Merchant at Falls Road and Joppa
Padonia Station
Giant Food

I'm sure this is a minority response, but I happen to like the chili at Texas Roadhouse in Pasadena. I know it's a chain, but the chili really is pretty good. Good amount of spice, it is thick and full of meat. No beans, but that's neither a blessing nor a curse.

One word: Hormel

As a recent transplant to Baltimore from DC, I really miss the Texas chili at Hard Times. They need a Baltimore location.

Still can't figure out why a few people put beans in chili. Hard Times will add beans but the request has to be in writing and submitted ahead of time.

I know where the best bowl of chili in Baltimore USED to be-
Cafe Tattoo.
Rick's Unleaded was the most authentic Texas bowl of red I ever experienced in Baltimore. Man, was it hot, hot, hot!
His Leaded (with beans) and his Blue Ribbon chilis were also superb.
While I do enjoy taking the time to make my own, it was always nice to know that I could swing by the Tattoo if I had a sudden craving and none at home.

I miss the Tattoo also. Rick had so many trophies for his chili that he kept most of them in boxes in the basement. The best chili that I've had recently is at Nacho Mama's.

Hormel's is nasty. Campbell's Chunky Chili is better if you do the canned stuff.

I like Health Valley's vegetarian chili because its not loaded with salt like the meat ones.

PCB Rob,
That was a joke. I do not eat any meat products out uf a can. My two favorite chilis are listed in my post just above yours. Rick's daughter, Jenny still lives in Baltimore, and I've been to a few parties where she has brought a batch of Tattoo's unleaded chili. Jenny did all of the cooking at Cafe Tattoo.

I kinda figured that. I just wanted to point out that Hormel's is nasty.

I remember the Tattoo well and miss it.

I agree, Hormel chilli is nasty. And Velveeta is nasty. Yet, when heated and combined, they make quite a tasty and easy dip

PCB Rob,
I see Rick when he comes into town, 3 or 4 times a year.
He's a bartender in Florida now. I can't remember the city but it's up in the panhandle. Oh, and he finally did buy a Ferrari. 1976. Red.

I've had SoBo's Chilli and it is soo good, both the vegie and the meat! They have other yummie soups too. If your not in the mood for chilli they sometimes offer a great chicken noodle and butternut squash!

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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