Top 7 Best Chili Bowls In The US Most Recommended By Foodies

Chili’s popularity in America stems from a perfect blend of history, comfort, and versatility. It embodies hearty tradition, born from cowboy campfire recipes and pioneer ingenuity. Chili has endless regional variations, from Texan beef stews to Cincinnati chili with noodles. The best chili in the U.S. caters to diverse palates and keeps things exciting. The tasty food also warms hearts and stomachs alike.

Ready for a piping hot bowl of beans and deliciousness? Our eight sources helped StudyFinds compile the seven best chili spots in the United States. Did we miss one? Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

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A bowl of chili
A bowl of chili. (Photo by Frank Fennema on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Chili In America, According To Experts

1. Ben’s Chili Bowl

Ben’s Chili Bowl in Washington, D.C., stands as an historic landmark. They have served steaming bowls of their signature chili to presidents, locals, and tourists alike since 1958. According to Delish, Dwight Eisenhower was president when Ben and Virginia Ali opened up the iconic food spot. Their three children now run Ben’s Chili Bowl, with the original restaurant and recipes remaining in place.

Ben’s also serves their chili atop some American classics at their U Street institution. Bon Appétit recommends trying the Original Chili Half-Smoke hot dog, as well as the beef-filled house-made chili sauce.

Locals and celebrities have taken a pilgrimage to Ben’s Chili Bowl over the decades for the namesake chili served in a bowl or poured over one of Ben’s half-smokes, says HuffPost. The original chili version comes with ground beef, while the vegetarian chili consists of shredded cheese and chopped white onions.

2. Fox Bros Bar-B-Q

Texan brothers Jonathan and Justin Fox have built a barbecue empire in Atlanta with Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, tempting taste buds with slow-smoked ribs, succulent pulled pork, and classic Southern sides, all served with Texas-sized hospitality. Eat This, Not That! raves about the joint, including the restaurant having the highest-rated burger in the country. On top of that, customers say the chili Fox Bros Bar-B-Q has is the best they’ve ever had.

Love Food calls the restaurant’s chili a “firm favorite.” The chili is made with smoked brisket and topped with red onions and cheese. It goes great with the jalapeño cornbread and crackers.

Cheapism says the smoky red served up at Fox Bros is top notch, noting that the best Southern chili options come from barbecue restaurants. They highly recommend getting the brisket chili from Fox Bros.

3. Texas Chili Parlor

Texas Chili Parlor, nestled on Austin’s Lavaca Street since 1976, reigns supreme as a Tex-Mex icon. Beyond its fiery chili, praised by locals and tourists alike, it offers a vibrant blend of traditional favorites and Tex-Mex classics, served with a dash of kitschy charm. The Daily Meal calls it the state’s “most renowned chili place.” Texas Chili Parlor serves a varieties of chili, including white pork, vegan, and black bean and sausage, but the favorite might be the Original XX, a spicy chili made with big chunks of beef.

PureWow reveals there are three heat levels ranging from X to XXX. Their favorite is the XX, but don’t be fooled! It still packs a pretty hefty punch!

The “X” series of chili isn’t the only type that they offer! Delish reveals Texas Chili Parlor also offers the Habanero, a white chili made with pork and a five-bean veggie chili. Another favorite is the Frito Pie, where the corn chip is covered with chili, cheese, onions, jalapeños, and crackers.

4. Camp Washington Chili

Camp Washington Chili, nestled in Cincinnati since 1940, serves up iconic five-way chili — a meaty, cheesy masterpiece loaded with spaghetti, onions, and beans, offering a symphony of textures and flavors in every bite. Bon Appétit explains that you’re gonna either love it or hate it — there will be no middle ground. Customers can order it three-way (spaghetti topped with cheese and chili), four-way (spaghetti, cheese, chili, and onions or beans), or five-way (the works).

Cincinnati-style chili has the notable addition of cinnamon, which is the source of this chili’s controversy. Delish notes Camp Washington Chili serves Coneys — their variation of a hot dog and chili in a bun. Pair that with chili cheese fries and you will be in chili heaven!

PureWow explains the different ways that Cincinnati chili is served. The classic style is the three-way, where foodies get a ladleful of meaty chili and cheddar cheese served over spaghetti.

5. Big Bad Breakfast

Big Bad Breakfast, with locations across the U.S., whips up Southern-style comfort food with a playful twist, offering biscuit-filled bellies and boozy brunch delights. Bon Appétit has several recommendations for the house-made chili — on a griddle-fried hot dog atop a sweet waffle, in a two-egg omelet, or just in a bowl.

The Daily Meal claims this chili from James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence is some of the best in the nation. Currence’s chili is made with ground beef, cinnamon, cocoa powder and coffee.

PureWow says that breakfast chili can be a delicious option first thing in the morning. The Oxford, Mississippi, café is open only for breakfast and lunch, so make sure to plan your day accordingly.

6. Chili John’s

Chili John’s, a Burbank, California, legend since 1946, serves up a signature Southwestern chili, brimming with bold flavors and chunky goodness, all piled over spaghetti and sprinkled with oyster crackers. This warm, no-frills comfort food continues to satisfy locals and curious newcomers alike. Cheapism reveals Chili John’s began in Green Bay before the owner’s son moved to the Golden State and opened a second location there. The Burbank location is still open, however, the original Green Bay spot closed in 2020.

Chili isn’t the only thing cooking up at Chili John’s, as their lemon pie is also said to be a must-have. Delish recommends customers leave room for a slice of lemon pie that has been a staple since the 1960s.

Lovefood.com notes that Chili John’s offers a variety of options, including turkey, chicken, or lentils. But, the Original Beef tops the spot. It’s made with a blend of secret spices and served over rice or spaghetti, with or without beans.

7. The Chili Parlor

The Chili Parlor, a Springfield, Illinois, icon since 1945, serves up generations-old family recipes, boasting signature chili. The restaurant is steeped in local charm and the warm aroma of simmering goodness. Delish provides a history lesson, revealing The Chili Parlor — formerly called Joe Rogers Chili — only sat 11 customers. However, when demand got too high for their firebrand chili, they had to relocate to a bigger space.

Cheapism notes that the restaurant’s servings are individually made to order for customers. They can choose from mild, medium, medium-hot, hot, and firebrand chili. Customers can also have chili topped on hamburgers and hot dogs.

The Daily Meal reveals the meat and beans are kept separate at The Chili Parlor and are combined once the customer orders what chili option they want.

Rich Chili History:

StudyFinds’ list of the best chili in America explores some of the nation’s tastiest culinary icons. Here are a few choice tidbits on the history of this famous bowl of red:

  • Cowboy Cousins: Early chili traces its roots to Texas and Mexico, with chuck wagon cooks simmering meat scraps with peppers and spices over campfire embers. It was a hearty, adaptable meal for long cattle drives, often spiced with chilies grown by Mexican vaqueros.
  • Chili Queens on the Rise: San Antonio’s iconic “chili queens,” began selling bowls of their unique chili variations in the late 1800s. This street food culture helped spread chili’s fame beyond cowboy circles.
  • World’s Fair Wonder: The 1893 Chicago World’s Fair introduced chili to a wider audience, with Texas-style stews becoming a sensation. Regional variations began to flourish, fueled by diverse cultural influences across the country.
  • Bean Bonanza: While some argue traditional chili is meat-only, beans often became synonymous with the dish as it spread northward. Vegetarian chili, for example, adds a variety of beans and showcases regional interpretations.
  • From Bowl to Competition: Chili cook-offs, starting in the 1950s, solidified chili’s place as a beloved, customizable American staple. These gatherings celebrate regional variations, fueling friendly rivalries and further diversifying the chili landscape.

So, next time you ladle up a steaming bowl of chili, remember its rich history, from humble campfire beginnings to its diverse and delicious present.

Sources:

Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.


Comments

  1. Better off making your own Chili using the best available ingredients, including Bison meat, fresh veggies and Green Mountain Gringo Sala. I used Bush’s Chili Magic as the base because it’s very convenient, tasty and reasonably wholesome.

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